To Women Everywhere: It’s Not Your Fault

Today’s blog isn’t going to be about pageants, fashion, sorority shenanigans or job interviews; today is much more serious. A brief warning that this is going to be an intense entry with detailed personal trauma, extreme opinions and shocking statistics. It’s not meant to be insightful, funny, or witty. It’s just something I feel needs to be shared.

September 2007. I was a naive 19 year old college freshman about a week into my first year at IU with way too much trust in the people around me. I lived on a co-ed floor, with one hallway for men and one for women. I had friends on the guy’s side so my gal pals and I frequently visited them. One warm Friday night, I was invited to go to a Playboy themed party on Greek Row with some of my dormmates. I hadn’t been to many fraternity parties before, so I was both excited and cautious to go. I had a couple drinks, danced with my friends and had a great time. At about 1:30 I decided I was ready to go home. I told my roommate and a couple of my other close friends that I was going to head out and when 1 of the guys from our floor offered to walk me home because he was ready to leave too, they thought it was a good idea. I agreed, feeling safer not walking home alone. We talked on the way back about our majors and how we liked our classes so far and where we were from, the usual freshman chit-chat. When we got back to the dorm, I thanked him for walking me home and headed to my room. He was still walking behind me, which I didn’t think anything of because the guy’s bathroom was near the door separating the guys’ & girls’ side of the floor. When he followed me through that door, I started to get an uneasy feeling. I turned around to ask him what he was doing and he asked if we could hang out sometime during that week. I told him my class schedule and told him to just let me know. He turned around and I thought he was heading back to his room.

I was wrong.

I unlocked my door and as I was entering he forced his way in behind me. I told him to get out, that I just wanted to go to bed and he said that “I owed him for leaving the party early to walk me home”. I told him “You said you were leaving anyway….please just get out of my room.” and he shoved me on the bed and locked the door. I tried to push him off of me but he was too big. My first thought was “Oh my God, this isn’t happening….not now, not to me.” It got to the point where I stopped fighting—I just wept. This wasn’t how my college career was supposed to start off. The pain was excruciating. I had only been with one man before this and it had been almost a year prior. It felt like he was tearing me apart from the inside out. When he was finished, he got up and said “Do not tell anyone about this. I’ll be around every corner and you’ll pay for running your mouth. I promise you that.” When the door shut, I curled up in a ball and cried harder than I ever had in my life. I took 3 showers and washed my bedding more times than that. I just wanted to forget this horrible moment.

The following Monday, my best friend from the floor asked me what was wrong when I had missed the class we had together. I broke down and told her everything. Somehow word got back to him that she had found out and he said that I threw myself at him and I had asked him to come back to my room with me. I heard the whispers and felt the stares as I returned from my classes later that week. Less than a month into college  I had already been labeled, and I was terrified to walk alone anywhere for fear he’d be there. I went to counseling, spoke on some panels, and tried to move on with my life as best I could.

I, like 60% of women attacked, did not report my rape to the police. I was scared, ashamed, and somehow felt that in some way it was still my fault. Maybe if I hadn’t gone out to the party, maybe if I had walked home alone, maybe if I had just stayed until one of my friends left then none of this would have happened. I struggled with what-if’s for several months after the assault and battle depression for the next year.

Every 2 minutes, someone in the US is sexually assaulted. Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger. 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. 80% of all victims are under the age of 30, with girls ages 16-19 being 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. In Indiana it was legal to rape your wife until twenty years ago. Only twenty years! And yet, somehow….it’s not the attacker’s fault…..

Yeah….so what about the offenders?

Shocking statistic, isn’t it? In today’s society, women who are attacked feel far too often that it’s their fault. They drank too much, the flirted and gave the wrong idea, they were dressed too provocatively, etc. I saw this picture on Facebook a couple weeks ago and it’s shockingly accurate

I’m choosing to speak up and not be another unreported college statistic. I’m choosing to take a stand and let others know that regardless of what you said, what you wore, or what you had to drink, that rape is NEVER ok. It all goes back to “no means no”. If a man (or woman) forces themselves on you and you say no but they continue, THAT is non-consensual sexual contact and THEY are the ones in the wrong.

I suffered in silence for far too long. It’s time to stand up, fight back, and speak up. I refuse to be a victim any longer—I am a survivor.

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Not Four Years–For Life

In the Fall of 2008, I decided to go through PHA Formal Recruitment at Indiana University. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited nonetheless. While most girls go through rush as Freshmen, I had been sick for recruitment my Freshman year and had to drop out. So, as a Sophomore, I gave it another go. IU has one of the biggest Greek communities in the nation, housing 19 (now 20) of the 26 Panhellenic sororities and 28 IFC Fraternities (4 colonies). I knew because of its size that some houses had reputations and stereotypes, but I ignored them and paid attention to what mattered to me the most: Sisterhood. One house in particular stood out the most.

Alpha Delta Pi

From the moment I first walked through the doors at 19 party, I knew there was something special. The smallest house on campus had the strongest sisterhood and the most personality. I’m eccentric, they loved me anyway. I wanted to be a part of whatever it was they had. I went back every round excited to see who I was going to talk to next. However, everyone around me kept talking horribly about the house I loved so dearly and I began to wonder if it was really an adventure I wanted to take. In the end, I decided I didn’t care what everyone thought. All that mattered was what I wanted, and I wanted Alpha Delta Pi.

On January 11, 2009, my Rho Gamma Emily showed up at my apartment with an envelope. The envelope contained this card:

What to most looks like nothing special, to me is the card that changed my life forever. I showed up on Bid Day with 10 other girls who chose to accept bids from ADPi. What my Alpha Class lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality. I loved each and every one of my sisters from the get-go and I never stopped. Never, in a million years, could I imagine what was in store for the Beta Alpha chapter in the years to come.

From a pledge class of 11 to a pledge class of 85, Alpha Delta Pi has gone from 40 members to over 200 in 3 years. I could not be more proud to call myself a Beta Alpha Alum or an Alpha Delta Pi. I wish more than anything that I could relive the past 3 years over and over again for the rest of my life. They were the best years of my life and I can’t imagine my college life without being an Alpha Delt.

ADPi, like diamonds, is forever. It’s not for 4 years, it’s for life.

OBIC <> PLAM

A Thankful Season

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, what better topic for a new post than being thankful. I do have to admit, though, that it’s kind of sad that we only take one day a year to share everything we’re thankful for. I make sure to thank God on a daily basis for everything I’ve been given in life, ranging from my incredible friends and family to my college education. I’ve been blessed with so many amazing people and opportunities that I can’t even imagine the person I’d be without them.

These past couple days I’ve been the epitome of the Debbie Downer because, well, being dumped does that. I looked so far into what I had lost that I forgot to look around at all I was lucky to have. Nothing like a swift kick in the arse from reality to snap a girl out of her self loathing. So, as I sit here with Makenna watching Team Umizoomi (and getting overly excited that they found a diamond key in a cave around the neck of a lion…..yes, I find ADPi references in children’s shows), I’m remembering everything I’m thankful for this year.

Family–I’ve been beyond blessed with an incredible family who supports me in just about everything that I do. Things have been rough this past year since Grandpa died, but our bond has become stronger and I know he’d be proud of how our lives are progressing. I’m closer with my cousins than most people are with their own siblings. We’re just a big group of fun-loving, crazy, musical towheads and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Friends–I can honestly say that, for the most part, I’ve had the same friends my entire life. My best friend Tabby and I met the first day of kindergarten and the rest is history. I’m so honored that she chose me to be her Maid of Honor and I can’t imagine my life without her. Most people say “Oh, we were friends when we were kids” but I’m lucky enough to say “Oh him? Yeah, we’ve been friends since preschool. We’ve been through just about every awkward stage of life together.” To me, that’s a pretty big deal. And, thanks to the glorious invention that is social networking, I’ve been able to reconnect with childhood friends that moved away as well. *Freddie Mercury Pose* Love it.

Sisters–I grew up always wanting a sister, but didn’t have any until I went to college……and now I have over 100 (Your move, Duggars). I would die without them and I’m so proud of the progress our chapter has made in the past 2 1/2 years. I’m not afraid to wear my letters proudly wherever I may be. I’m an Alpha Delt and, for that, I am beyond thankful. I’ve learned so much in the years since I accepted my bid. Little did I know how much a little piece of paper could change my life—-but boy, am I glad that it did! With the love and support of my beautiful sisters, I was able to make it through some of the darkest moments of my life. OBIC

Opportunities–It’s weird to say now that I’m a college grad, especially because I have the super expensive piece of paper and loan payments to show for it. I was lucky enough to get a job in my field right out of college, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Sure, it’s not the most glamorous job and I get sworn at by 8 year olds, but I know I’m making a difference in the lives of these kids when their only other alternatives were being ignored or sent to DOC. Even though they may not always talk to us with the greatest amount of respect, I know they’re grateful for the help that we’re giving them and they’re willing to make a change…..most of the time. Every opportunity I’ve had whether it be pageants, college, jobs, whatever, has helped mold me into who I am today.

Life–Finally, I’m just thankful for life in general. Over the past year and a half I’ve been reminded that being young doesn’t necessarily mean you have a lot of life ahead. I’ve been reminded more times than anyone should that life can change in the blink of an eye and you never know when a day may be your last. Because of this, I live each day to the fullest and pursue my dreams full steam ahead. I have done so much in my 23 years on this earth, and there is SO much more I want to do in the next 50+ years. I want to meet my Prince Charming, get married, raise a family, and grow old with the love of my life drinking sweet tea while sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch. Outside of the big picture, I want to be successful in the job that I have, continue pursuing my career in music, and ideally go back in 5 years or so to get my masters degree in sociology and become a college professor. I’ve been ridiculed on multiple occasions for having my ideal life planned out, and I do realize that things change. However, I don’t give up without a fight and when it comes to something I want more than anything, I’m going to pursue it until I’ve hit the very end.

So, dear friends, this holiday season take time every day to be thankful for what you’ve been given. Tell those around you that you love them, because you never know when that ability may be taken away. Finally, Carpe Diem–Seize the Day. Follow your dreams and remember that there’s no such thing as a dream too big.

Much Love ❤

I Didn’t Buy My Friends, I Was Blessed With Them

For those who don’t know, I’m from a very small town–A very conservative, closed minded, secluded from the real world small town. I graduated 11th in a class of 132 and was one of 3 to go Greek in college. I was the ONLY one from my class that joined a PHC sorority. Everyone always pegged me for a future sorority girl when I was in high school, but somehow were surprised when I announced in January 2009 that I had joined Alpha Delta Pi. I got mixed reactions from people, ranging from “OMG that’s so awesome” to “What’s A-Triangle-Table mean?”.

My main reason for joining a sorority was for the sisterhood. I always wanted a sister growing up, but never got one. Yes, I have pretty much the coolest little brother ever, but I resented him for the first 12 years of his life for being a boy. I also was interested in the philanthropy aspect, with the social perks coming in last place. I’ve heard a lot of crazy things regarding Greek life in the years since I joined, but the one thing that continually grinds my gears is

“Oh so you buy your friends, huh? That’s all fraternities and sororities are about–buying your friends. You join for the reputation and all the wrong reasons.”

Well, I hate to break it to you Ginger GDI, but that’s not at all the case; especially for me. When I accepted my bid to  ADPi, I came into a struggling house with a pledge class of 11 girls. I had people tell me to leave, that I would be better off NOT being Greek than being a member of the sorority I loved. I also was taunted on a daily basis for wearing my letters proudly across the Indiana University campus. I didn’t let it get to me; I was proud to be an Alpha Delta Pi and nothing that anyone could say or do could change my mind. I was determined, along with the rest of my pledge class, to expand our chapter and grow into the house we knew we could be. In 2 years I saw our house grow from under 50 members to having over 120, from a pledge class of 11 to a pledge class of 82.

Being in a sorority is not about themed parties, tailgate kegstands or welcoming home walks of shame. It’s about sisterhood, loyalty, love and perseverance to beat the odds when everyone else is against you. The creed of Alpha Delta Pi says

“I believe in Alpha Delta Pi. I believe that my sorority is more than a ritual or a symbol; that it’s a way of life”

I DO believe in Alpha Delta Pi, and the fact that it is far more than a ritual, symbol, or a mere extra curricular activity. Being Greek is far more than parties, pairs, and formals. It’s about being with a group of people you couldn’t live without. It’s about standing together to support a philanthropy. It’s about making friendships that withstand anything. I now have over 120 sisters that I can literally say I could never live without.

So why do people continually pull the “Buying Friends” card? Is it jealousy? Is it misunderstanding? Perhaps we’ll never know, but to all of those who don’t understand–think of it this way. It’s merely putting letters and a house with a group of your best friends. Simple, right? To me, it will always mean so much more. Some people think that after your 4 years are done, you’re no longer Greek. For some organizations, that may be true, but Alpha Delta Pi prides itself on being the first, the finest, and forever–I am and will forever be an Alpha Delt.

I didn’t buy my friends, I was blessed with an abundance of them.