Content warning: This article discusses responding to sexual assault on campus.
I recently found myself in a situation where I felt it was my responsibility to report an incident of sexual battery that occurred on campus. I felt like it was hard to talk about because there is so much social stigma against discussing sexual battery and sexual assault. I hope that sharing my experiences here can provide comfort and guidance to someone else who finds themself in a similar situation.
My interactions with the Title IX Coordinator went better than I expected. Pitzer’s Title IX Coordinator, who is named Corinne Vorenkamp, was kind and willing to listen. She provided information about other resources like the Empower Center and groups like Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault. Corinne checked in with me before taking any further actions, and she made sure my presence in her office was private.
The actions were mutually agreed upon and made me feel more safe on campus. Rather than “punishing” the perpetrator, the measures taken were intended to provide the people affected with the space needed to heal. When the perpetrator was contacted by the Title IX Coordinator, a clear message was sent that the person’s actions were unacceptable and needed to change.
Sexual battery is a common issue. When I say sexual battery, I’m referring to unwanted, sexual touching. An example would be a person standing in a crowded party who is touched without consent. I choose to use the term sexual battery to refer specifically to acts of sexual assault that are not rape (while I also acknowledge that other definitions co-exist). I want to address the misconception that only rape is a “serious” sexual assault. All sexual assaults are serious, no matter the duration or setting in which they occur.
Everyone at our college consortium deserves the freedom to report to a Title IX Coordinator, if they choose. The Title IX Coordinators are here to provide resources for people of all identities and sexual orientations. Many people visit the Title IX Coordinators every year – we just don’t find out.
I want to work towards a world where there is no more sexual battery, ever. In the meantime, however, we need to create a world where people can talk about what is happening without fear of repercussions. Many people hesitate to report sexual battery due to the concern that other people will brush off what happened. I’m here to say that many people care and will take you seriously!
For me personally, talking to a friend and then reporting to my Title IX Coordinator was the course of action that made me feel safe. I hope that if you have been through sexual battery or witnessed a sexual assault, that you can access the many resources on campus that are available when you feel ready. Let’s keep the conversation going and make sure people know that they are not alone. Let’s take care of each other and work harder to support survivors.
Click here to find more resources related to sexual assault at the 7Cs
Abby McCarthy PZ ‘21 likes to read, write poetry, play roller derby and eat chocolate. She is proud to be a woman scientist and can’t wait to make the world better for other women scientists!