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I wasn’t expecting to find this type of article about sexual violence and assault in a Cosmo magazine.
Please support your friends when they say your help is needed. The aftermath of my own sexual assault was extremely overwhelming. Supportive individuals along the way made a huge difference in my well-being and ability to seek legal justice.
Jarring were the words written in the article titled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”. I had to take breaks between the photos so my mind could process the reality these individuals lived through. Below are the top ten themes that stuck in my mind as the article kept going and my heart grew dejected:
- Individuals using normal behaviors to mask their ill intentions resulting in betrayed trust and violation.
- The social price of reporting. Close friends seeing the victims going public as tantamount to group betrayal.
- Doubting victims, brushing the incident off, leaving the victim feeling isolated and misunderstood.
- Comments from others blaming the victim for potentially putting a school or organization in a bad light.
- Leaders who are less concerned with protecting victims than it is with protecting its reputation from scandal.
- Emphasis on organization or agency honor yet prestige is their downfall.
- “Compelling and believable” story of the victim’s reality yet betrayal once again by individuals in the justice system that portrayed itself as victim centered.
- Survivor resilience through the difficulties in hope to protect others… only to find out they aren’t the first victim and probably won’t be the last.
- Backlash, especially from those who felt the victims loyalty was broken or those who identified with or commiserated the perpetrator.
- At the end of the day, everyone is outraged. Outraged for different reasons.
Reading the comments that followed the article, some people chose to focus on UVA as a problem campus, a party school, or the Greek life. Some chose to look at the Sexual Assault Misconduct on college campuses and how that attempt at justice is failing. To me, this is a much larger problem, a cultural issue. Continue reading
In May 2011, I volunteered with Service Women Action Network during their Truth and Justice Summit. While waiting to speak to a Senator, one of their staffers asked which branch each person served in. Marines, Navy, Air Force, Army, and then they got to me.
“I just served in the Peace Corps,” I said.
“Sandi, you say that as if it doesn’t mean something! You are one of us!” said one of the Veterans.
As Peace Corps Volunteers, we swear the same oath as the military. We serve our country in different ways and I’m very thankful for our Veterans who have served our country with dignity. Shout out to my dad, DavidandShirley Giver, who served in the Air Force and brother, Frank Giver, who served in the Marines.
(btw- that conversation inspired the name of my book “One of Us: Sex, violence, injustice. Resilience, love, hope.”
Peace Corps asked Volunteers and RPCVs to share “defining moments” from their Peace Corps Service. Although I did not submit any photos, I volunteered with the Defining Moments video team and am the first person with the red shirt which is pretty sweet. Since I didn’t actually take the photo of the children running, I’ve decided to share a few defining photos from my service in Uganda.
Sexual exploitation knows no bounds. Its injustices do not happen to specific people, committed by one type of assailant, with precise variables leading to the same crime. Sexual predators may use a demeanor that gets them close to their victims that goes unnoticed by others. Individuals we would never label by their appearance traumatize our friends and members of our families. While a few of these perpetrators are being held accountable, the majority are not. This is not a women’s issue that only affects females. Men have also come forward with stories of abuse. The impact of sexual assault goes beyond the primary victim to impact those around them. This is a human rights violation that we have the power to stop.