Sharmeen C., 18, MI,
NOTE: This is completely uncensored and may offend some viewers. To read the censored version, Click Here
There is an elephant in the room, not just one room but in every room of almost every high school and college
campus in the United States. Sexual harassment, assault and abuse is one of the most relevant yet under addressed
issues facing today’s teens. How can people seek help when everything about this epidemic is deemed so risqué that
the mention of the word “sex” sends listeners running for the hills? Here are the facts:
● About 20 million out of 112 million women (18.0%) in the United States have been raped during their
● Only 16% of all rapes were reported to law enforcement
● About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults, compared to 14% of women
without an early rape history.
● 28% of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
● Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6
boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
Research provided by The U.S. Department of Justice.
Still don't think this problem hits close to home? Picture this. You are that one in four, you are the statistic.
It's a Friday night, your friends are outside, people you know, some you've met before. You leave, not a second
thought. You get in the car, you're laughing, it's about to be one good night. You're there, someone’s backyard, logs
around the fire, the drinking starts, the smoking follows. You have somewhere to be in the morning, so you shy
away from it, or maybe you don't, maybe you drink all your worries away because tonight is a good night, tonight is
your night. Either way the night progresses, some of the others seem to be doing more than just drinking and
smoking, but you don't pay it any mind, after all, it's not you that is doing it, you are just here for a good time.
Someone taps your shoulder.
(Click Read More to continue)
-Hey what's going on? hahah (you're not drunk enough to consider this an option, this incites the short laugh at the
end of the question)
-Hey….lets take a walk… It's a pretty night, have you seen the woods this way
-Yeah okay (the party’s winding down anyway, might as well take a stroll, this guy’s familiar, it's a good night, your
You walk. And walk and walk and walk. The night is pretty, he was right. The stars are out, there's a warm breeze.
The trees are endless, when was the last time you just took a walk anyway? Such a peaceful moment.
-Come here sweetheart
-I said come here.
Nothing that comes next will be sweet. One minute you're looking up, the next you're getting shoved, down,
towards the ground. You're stunned.
-What the hell? Let me go.
You push him off just enough to not get on the ground, before you can think of anything else, he has you. You're
up against one of those endless trees, arms swallowing you. You're pushing against this laden force. His arms feel
like lead weighing you down.
-Stop...stop! Help! Help me somebody help me!
You could've said it a million times, you screamed it at least a thousand, no one can hear you. Some walk, how
long had you been walking?
It';s happening, you've never even wanted this with someone you actually liked before. You are just sixteen. How
did this happen? You're numb, you're out of your body, it's like you can see it happening, you want to stretch out and
save yourself, but you can't. You just stand there and watch.
It's over. You feel a force lift you up, you are hoisted over a shoulder, carried like a dead body the way you came
so long ago. How long? How does nobody know of your absence? How long? You are set down. On a tree, a log
you assume, you feel the fire. You are numb.
-Hey...man….hahaha think I just got raped hahahah
What did he just say? Who is he talking to? Why is he laughing? Why are you still here. You lay there until your
friend leaves, you are just drunk and passed out she assumes.
It's Monday now. You're screwed at home, you didn't go home for a couple days. Your friend approaches you.
-I heard what happened, hahah didn't know he had a shot
-I was just really drunk. (Don't let him find out. This is embarrassing enough, don't let me him look at you like that)
What is like that? What does that even mean? Anyone in this situation should follow the steps every Sex Ed
class ever has taught, right? Go to a trusted adult, your counselor, your teacher, perhaps the school cop. They
are here to help. They have all the answers. They are your friends. Why are you scared? This hypothetical
version of you is so afraid to say what really happened, but why?
Well, let's say you go, you finally build up the courage to go. To get help. You cry your eyes out to a
counselor. “It'll stay between us, she says, she promises.” You tell her, every detail, every awful moment,
every painful sound and sight.
-I'm going to have to report this to your normal counselor.
-B- b-ut you said-
-This is a matter of personal and peer safety.
Your story is told to your counselor, who then tells your school cop. You are mortified. You want to run
away. Some help. You explained to counselor number one that you can't tell your family, you just can't. She
then has a meeting with the pity committee and they decide that isn't up to you. You are now required to tell
your parents. In case you decide to take any “irrational actions” they don't want to be held responsible they
say, it's for your own good, they say. So instead of actually helping you get through this, they probe you for
details and get rid of you to the best of their ability. Until you tell your mother, daily passes down to the
office. You finally break, tell her and they call her as well. She finds it preposterous that your school would
call her for a matter such as this, then she blames you for everything that you’ve just been through.
Somehow, the system has failed.
It's not always going to be the worst possible scenario if you decide to speak to a trusted adult, the possible
reactions should not discourage anyone from speaking out or seeking help. Picture this.
You are crying, you are alone. You're in the school bathroom trying to calm down before you have to go back to
class. A girl walks in.
-Are you okay?
-Yeah, I'm fine, thank you.
-You're not okay do you want me to get someone?
You might as well give in now, there's no way to talk yourself into sanity with tear stained eyes on the floor of a
questionable school bathroom. You tell her the name of a teacher you think would be least difficult. Minutes pass,
you're alone again. The calm returns to you and you feel ashamed, someone saw that. You're interrupted-
-Hey-what's wrong, get up come here sweetheart.
-I- I'm not okay.
-Just let it out, it's okay just let it out, you can explain later.
So that's what you do, you cry until your eyes won't let you anymore and then in broken language you try and catch
her up on the last two years of your life. With words you've never heard before she comforts you
- It isn't your fault.
She tells you that she loves you and that you are important. It's been two years, but you finally feel like speaking
out has helped something. You feel at peace, even just for a minute, you feel loved, you feel important. You feel like
everything she tells you that you are, because you are. This teacher could have helped you just the same two years
prior if you hadn't kept this to yourself. This teacher does not have to be restricted to one human being, this teacher
is anyone who cares about you. It will surprise you tremendously how many people really do care. You can find
love even in a stranger's words sometimes. Do not be discouraged by one bad reaction, or by the incident itself.
There is nothing that can be said to further drive home the point that speaking out is important. You learn from the
good and the bad. You learn that you are important and you learn that not everyone is able to understand the depth
of what actually took place that day.
The only way to overcome this stigma for sexual abuse cases is to speak out. Obviously a school counselor, or
perhaps any counselor is not the way for everyone. It needs to be understood that it is not the only way to speak out.
It does not matter what outlet you choose, as long as there is an outlet. If it happens to someone near you or even to
yourself, fight every urge to hide away in a corner and forget it. It is not your fault. The more that it is spoken about,
the more people in power are forced to take action, do not let your school be a part of the statistics. If the students
speak out, the staff will be forced to listen, and if you do speak out, you will be taken aback by how many people
stand with you. Take a stand to stop sexual assault in your community and in communities throughout the country.
Its time to speak up and be heard. There are so many ways to make your story heard, you can make a profound
difference, even if it is just writing a piece for your high school newspaper.
References for people providing help to stay informed
● http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse- and-neglect.htm
● https://rainn.org/about-rainn/programs- expertise
● https://www.haven-oakland.org/education- prevention
● http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/11/14/by- the-numbers-
○ HelpGuide.org- Information on child abuse/neglect and how to handle it
○ RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)- They have public education seminars and
○ HAVEN- Education and Prevention for sexual assault and abuse
○ The US Department of Justice NSOPW- Information and statistics
○ Aljazeera America- article on sexual assault/abuse in high schools
Where to get help:
○ Tweet about your experience, reach out to others, the internet is the whole world at your
fingertips. Facebook is home to many different organized groups, start one for crisis help or even
just sharing experiences, everyone needs a way to let things out.
○ 24-HR Crisis & Support: 248-334- 1274
■ HAVEN Oakland: Each year HAVEN serves nearly 20,000 domestic violence and sexual
○ National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656- HOPE (4673)
■ RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): Call to be connected with a trained
○ The Listening Ear Crisis Intervention Center: (517) 337-1717
■ The Listening Ear: The Listening Ear Crisis Intervention Center has been open 24 hours a
staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
day, 365 days a year since July 15, 1969. We provide free and confidential service for
telephone and walk-in clients in crisis
○ Michigan Department of Community Health Crisis Hotline: 1 (866) 289-2641
○ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255)
○ National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) SUICIDE (784-2433)
○ Oakland Court Crisis line: (248) 456-0909
○ Dearborn Crisis Center: (313) 823-2530
○ Emergency Telephone Service (ETS): (313) 224-7000
■ If you are in danger or need to speak to somebody while in crisis
○ Henry Ford Hospital: (313) 916-2600
■ Psychologists available 24/7
○ Wayne County Crisis Line: (313) 224-7000
○ https://www.michigan.gov/datingviolence/0,4559,7-233- 46552-173574- -,00.html
○ https://www.mcedsv.org/help/find-help- in-michigan.html
○ Parents, know your relationships, but more often than not, your mom or dad will have your back,
○ Teachers, the ones that care more about you than your grades
○ Friends, again choose wisely, but when you just need to cry and eat ice cream, they’re here
○ Counselors, know what their legal obligations are before you say anything, but they are
■ The Listening Ear: The Listening Ear Crisis Intervention Center
■ RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
■ Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board
■ Women’s Resource Center - Local Crisis Centers
■ Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence
it is very comforting to have someone at home who can provide support for you
professionally trained to help in these situations