Response to Flyer who found her voice

By: Kristen Altenau Keen – Sexual Violence Prevention Educator & Becky Cook – PH.D, Counseling Center

Dear anonymous Flyer who found your voice after experiencing an assault,

First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for your strength, for sharing your voice and for putting yourself out there to help other Flyers in the same situation.

This whole conversation is so difficult. It’s hard to accept that you experienced violence. It’s hard to pick which friend to confide in. It’s hard to say these things out loud. It’s all challenging. Your strength to share your story is amazing. You are a role model to survivors across our campus, and we hope that others will now have the courage to find their voices– just as you have. Thank you.

Dear Fellow Flyers,

This conversation is personal for all of us. Men and women across our campus have experienced power-based personal violence, and many of us will have loved ones share their story of violence with us.

That moment can be overwhelming as we hear our friend’s story– your heart starts to race, you lose your breath and your mind is overwhelmed. It’s so easy to blame your friend. We want to find the “cause” so that we can fix it for ourselves and others. So we start asking questions such as: Why were you there alone? Why did you drink that much or do those drugs? What were you thinking? If we “blame” our friend, we have no personal responsibility and can “fix” the issue. But the truth is this: None of those questions will ever “fix it” and certainly none of them will ever help your friend. The answers to those questions don’t matter. Your friend needs you to listen. They need to hear you say out loud that it’s not their fault. That even if they had been drinking, it didn’t give that other person the right to do something to them that they didn’t want. They need to know that you believe them. The number one reason that people don’t get help and don’t report the violence they experience is because they fear they won’t be believed. If your friend decides to share their story, and the first person they tell puts them down, says they don’t believe them, and that it was their fault, they are much less likely to ever get the help they need.

We have to do better, Flyers. We have got to come together to show one another that we care. We have to do better at asking for consent. We have to create more green dots. We have to put one another first. If a friend shares with you that they have been assaulted, please tell them three things: I believe you,  it’s not your fault  and you have options.

There are three confidential offices on campus: the counseling center, the health center, and ordained ministers in campus ministry. Visit any of these folks to find a safe, listening ear. If you are interested in reporting your experience so that the university can investigate, we recommend contacting the dean of students office in 202 Gosiger Hall (937-229-1212).

We won’t lie to you. The Title IX process can be challenging and difficult. But we have processes in place to make it easier for you. We will do everything in our power to be fair, supportive and answer the questions of all parties involved.

Not sure you want to report? That’s okay. Contact Becky (rcook1@udayton.edu) in the counseling center or Kristen (kaltenau1@udayton.edu) in the dean of students office to ask your questions. Then you can make an educated decision. While the reporting process can be long and challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding and provide powerful closure. Please consider coming to talk to us.

If you are interested in participating in Green Dot training, like our anonymous Flyer, we would love to have you! Visit go.udayton.edu/greendot to learn more and to register for one of our spring trainings.

Anonymous Flyer: Thank you for starting this conversation. Your voice is a powerful one.  Don’t ever lose it.