The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Stay strong, Richmond and Rihanna

A girl was murdered a few days ago at Gettysburg College. I knew her, but not very well. In fact, I've only met her once. She was roommates with a good friend of mine. The person charged with murdering her was her ex-boyfriend. He allegedly strangled and stabbed her until she died. It makes me sick to think that she was so brutally murdered and it makes me even sicker to think that Gettysburg College is no exception. This could happen anywhere.

Ironically, the same night she was murdered was the night the University of Richmond hosted our annual Take Back the Night event, in which men and women came together and shared their stories of sexual assault and violence. Multiple students shared stories of friends, sisters and girlfriends who had been sexually assaulted. There were also many personal stories about being raped, abused and violated.

Violence in any kind of relationship is wrong, no matter whether it is physical, emotional, sexual or verbal (the list goes on and on). I can't help but ask, what are we doing wrong? Is there even anything we can do? We can be more aware of the problem for one. We can stop buying Chris Brown's CDs of course. But what does that actually solve?

Take Back the Night was phenomenal. It gave victims a voice. It put the power back into their hands. It allowed them to express in raw form the emotion, frustration and anger they've been harboring for so long.

We can't stop here. We need to be proactive about this issue. But how? One girl at Take Back the Night said she was scared to walk down the path through the woods on campus alone, especially at night. I don't blame her. I never even consider going that way at night alone. I'd feel like a sitting duck waiting to get jumped. So now what, should we put more blue emergency buttons in the woods? You really think you're going to be able to get to one if someone attacks you? I doubt it. And what's worse: What if you know who the person is? What if you sit next to them in econ every day? What do you do then?

I'll tell you what you do. You report their ass because no one deserves to be raped. Someone will believe you, and it is possible to be OK again.

During spring break, a friend of mine was raped. She didn't think she was at the time, but she was. She had had a few too many drinks (all of which he, the "innocent spring breaker," was buying her all night), and he took her back to his resort. He had to bribe the bellman to allow her inside the hotel. He had a single room. What freak on spring break, a time when people spend all week surrounded by friends, would have a single room? She woke up the next morning not knowing what had happened, but saw a used condom lying on the floor. She had not been conscious when they had sex. He had raped her.

The next day he sent her a text that said something along the lines of, hey you probably don't remember me, but we should hang out again. So let me get this straight. He knew she wouldn't remember him, and yet he still proceeded to have sex with her.

I think men and women alike need to take a good hard look at themselves. We need to look out for our friends, sisters and loved ones. We need to stop saying, "Boys will be boys" and, "Watch that cougar pounce." We need to change the status quo.

If anything, we need to be there. We need to be a presence for those who have suffered and are still suffering. To the family of the Gettysburg College girl, stay strong. To my friend whom I love very much, stay strong. To Rihanna and all the little girls that look up to you, stay strong. You are not alone when you are among friends.

Contact assistant opinion editor Liz Monahan at liz.monahan@richmond.edu

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