You Are Not to Blame

Posted by Haely Chadwick
Posted on December 30, 2013

By Haley Chadwick

Haely PictureOne of the biggest fears that all survivors have to overcome is sharing their story. At an assembly for rape survivors the keynote speaker told the crowd that the first person a survivor shares their story with could possibly be the most important person/detail in the healing process to follow. I believe that this is completely true. So survivors, make sure you tell the right person. Everyone should not be privileged with this type of personal information.

It took me over a year of doubt and confusion combined with months of therapy to say the words “I was raped”.  About six months later I spoke out publically for the first time at an event entitled “Take Back The Night” and shared my story with fellow students at my university, faculty and staff, and members of the community. Leading up to that night I was so scared.  I feared that people would look at me differently, wouldn’t believe my story was true, feel pity on me, not understand what it was like, or worst of all feel that it was my fault. Self-blame is something that I struggled with while going through ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ counseling and continue to struggle with today. When you hear stories on the news about young girls reporting a rape you most often see the ridicule she is put through. If alcohol is involved, they blame it on that. Often times, people go as far as to say that women ask to get raped, by flirting or wearing revealing clothing. Watching news stories such as these just makes me think, “No wonder so many rape crimes are unreported”. How can we feel safe to report these crimes when case after case proves that our voices are so often not heard? I write blogs such as these, and speak out for rape awareness for every individual like myself who thinks their voices do not matter. I refuse to be silenced. I have made it my mission to share my story with the hope that my testimony will inspire others to fight for their voices to be heard as well.

I find it necessary to mention the responsibility that I feel women do have. I do not want it to be mistaken that I think that women “ask” or “deserve” rape in any case. I only wish to help empower women to hold themselves to high standards, and to be proactive in protecting themselves. As women we are biologically weaker than men, because of this you should be conscious of the situations you put yourself in. The two men that raped me were people I knew and it took place in a house that I had been to many times. It was not at all expected. You are not invincible; THINK about how safe you really are in every situation. When it comes to choosing clothes and choosing how you act in public, I understand that this is a personal choice and a form of expression. However, think of it like this… if you were to have a daughter or if you have a little sister, would you want her wearing or saying the things you do. Dressing with little to no clothes or behaving promiscuously will not attract the kind of people that will love and take care of you. It only attracts the people that will use you. You deserve better, so be better.

I am not giving advice because I dress in long pants and turtlenecks and stay in the house every weekend. I say these things to help other women who have no one to lead them in the right direction. The truth is my rape was not my fault and I am not to blame, but if I wouldn’t have drank and I wouldn’t have put myself in a situation that was impossible to get out of, it may have been preventable. Never blame yourself no matter what people may tell you, but love yourself enough to prevent something like this from ever happening.

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Posted by Remington Bennett
Posted on December 20, 2013

By Remington Bennett

Remington BennettMy name is Remington Bennett and I’m a freshman in college. It’s my first time living away from home and having to navigate life’s challenges, pressures and everything else. In the past, I have relied on the support of my parents and in many cases “used them” as reasons why I could or should not do something. But now on my own and far away at college, I have to rely on everything I have learned and make decisions based upon what I believe to be true for myself.

As I journey into adulthood, I have been able to see things a bit clearer.  I do not look at the certain situations, relationships, and circumstances in my life as coincidental. Even though there are a few occasions when I question how or why things just seem to happen, I am truly a firm believer that everywhere I am, everything that I come across, and everyone that I know is present for a reason.

I have always been aware of my potential and ability to do great things. Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I came here to be my best, be a positive influence, and make a difference along the way. Unfortunately, no matter how positive I am, old-patterns, thoughts, and insecurities can hinder my personal growth.

There are many people that I have met at college that bring out the happiness and warmth in me. However, there are others that I have met that bring a negative, yet familiar energy.  I could deem these people as rude, but I would be doing myself a huge disservice.

Allow me to get a little personal. I have a long history of comparing myself to others. For some reason, inside of myself, I always felt the need to be the best at everything and I never wanted to be out-shined or out done by anyone. No matter how many times my parents told me “as long as I do my best,” I still battled with feeling “less than” if I felt I didn’t.  Over the years, I found I have developed this pattern, which continues to repeat itself and show up in various situations and people. It is hard for me to initially recognize when it happens because the faces and situations are different, and it is easier to believe it has nothing to do with me. What I have learned to look for is the common denominator, and what I have found is that I am the common denominator. Although these people and situations may seem new, they are here for the same purpose: to bring out my insecurities so I can either relive them, recreate them yet again, or conquer them and move on.

I thought I was going into college with a clean slate. I thought everything would be different, and I would wake up and become a whole new person. But it’s just like the saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”  Even though no one knew my past, I still seem to encounter people who pushed my buttons and hit very old very soar spots.

By understanding the power of thought and energy, it is my job to continue reinventing myself so that I don’t give into these patterns.  They may feel hard to break, but with persistence and repetition, I am changing. It’s important for me to enjoy life based on my own opinions of myself, and live my life accordingly.  My goal is to live the upmost wonderful and happy life ever.

In my blog, I will share stories about my personal journey, and how I stay true to me in a very challenging environment filled with other options. I am hopeful this blog will help you, and give you the courage to stay true to you as you journey on your way to and through college and life.

The Little Things

Posted by Haely Chadwick
Posted on December 13, 2013

By Haely Chadwick

Haely PictureAmidst the hustle and bustle of finals and preparing for the holidays I received a subtle reminder of what is really important in life. This reminder came in the form of an email from a middle aged professional in the city of Augusta. I have never met this person, nor have I ever contacted this person before.  The email said, “Dear Haely, I have never met you, but I just wanted to let you know how inspiring your story is and how impressed I am by your enthusiasm for spreading awareness along with your writing skills. Keep doing what you are doing, and you WILL change the world. From one survivor to another, you are changing lives. Also, my daughter attends your school and is not very well known or outgoing. She knows of you but you have never met her acquaintance. Despite this she came home last night smiling because she was having a horrible day, and you saw her in line at school looking down and reached out to her to simply ask how her day was going. It is little things like this that show true character. Thank you.”

I am not sharing this to brag, or to make it seem like I am a saint, because trust me I am not. I only wish to remind people that someone is always listening, always watching, and the little things like this do truly matter. It is so easy when you are stressed or busy to just walk by people and unintentionally ignore them. You may think that whether or not you notice them heading toward the elevator or that taking the time to say, “excuse me” in a busy crowd will matter, but it does. Everyone has a struggle they are trying to overcome on a daily basis. Whether it be something as small as trying to get a 90 in a class instead of an 89 or as serious as trying to have enough money to pay the electric bill, or trying to pretend that your significant other isn’t hitting you, carrying on like you are ok when inside your entire world is crumbling. Every day I meet or notice people who are dealing with something that they hide so well. The only way I make it through the toughest of days is with the support of my family, the sweet texts I get from girls in my sorority, or the notes left on my car from my best friends! Because of these people in my life, I succeed every day. However, everyone is not as fortunate as me therefore, I have made it a priority to uplift others around me. Life is HARD, and just by waking up every day we are all survivors. We each have a story to tell. They may be different, but we each have our own unique story… That is what links us all together. Take the time in your daily life to simply smile at others around you. Say hello to that janitor you pass every day on your way to class, or to the student that sits in the back of the room. They may need a smile just as much as you do. And from my experience, making someone else have a better day will make yours better as well. Never forget the little things!

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