As you might be aware, an anonymous group at DePaul University is claiming that the university and athletic departments are covering up an epidemic of sexual assault. The group has dropped banners, disrupted a yearly discussion group held by the university during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and most recently, posted their manifesto in campus bathrooms. While I admire the tenacity of these young people, I counter their attempts with the argument that they are inadvertently harming the very people that they want to protect.
Hiding behind anonymity does nothing to help forward the movement to end rape culture. Taking a stand and telling your story does, so here you go: My name is Michelle Cahill, I am a sophomore at DePaul, and when I was 21 years old, I was raped by an off-duty Chicago Police officer.
It took me years to recover, but in the last five, I have become and remained an advocate for survivors of sexual violence, and I volunteer with an organization that does amazing work in Chicago.
I work very hard to live with the after effects of my assault. Eleven years later, I still have nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety; I grind my teeth, and I am afraid to walk alone at night. I'm afraid to call the police for help because I never know if the responding officer will be my rapist. One of his friends threatened to "end my life" if I ever told anyone what happened. Living with that fear every day is a challenge and being constantly confronted by this group that claims that it is trying to help me actually makes it harder.
A radical movement attempting to make a name for itself doesn't help us. Creating a space for discussion and the development of solutions does. If this group wants to help survivors, there are plenty of organizations that need volunteers. However, this group is taking many survivors hostage and making us pawns in their bid for attention.
If you want to end a rape culture, please don't make universal and unfounded claims. Not every athlete at DePaul is a rapist; in fact the athlete that you're accusing might be a survivor.
Anyone can hide in the dark. It takes courage to stand up and take ownership of your experience, to take your power back. That's what I am hoping to do here.