By Charlie Wood
I was walking on-campus with a friend at night and stopped to talk to some guys we met a few days before.
They were just finishing up a party they’d had. The group shrunk to us and two guys and there was nobody else around. They offered me a drink and I politely said no. At first I thought they were friendly and playful; they chased me down the path and I stopped to check on my friend who was somewhere behind us. I should have kept running.
Something hit my leg, a thick branch. I laughed with them because they were smiling and it only hurt a little. But then he swung again and again. The swings got harder, eventually higher. He swung for my head. I blocked it, asking him to stop. I let go and pushed the branch out of my way and tried to walk past him but he blocked my path. When I swerved to get around he grabbed my legs and I tumbled to the ground. Each time I tried to get up he pushed me back down, until I was on my back and he was sitting on top of me holding me there. He called his friend over and they poured the drink I refused on my face. I thought it was over.
He stood up but still over me and I had to crawl between his legs to get up. No sooner was I standing was I back on the ground facing another swing to the head.
This is an article for anyone who has experienced assault on campus but are reluctant to report. I did, and I can’t stress enough how well it was handled by Curtin once I did.
Too often assault on-campus goes unreported. Shoved under the “it happens all the time” rug because “we’re at university” and “shit happens.” In fact, many people are of the cruel assumption that if you follow the ‘rules’ you won’t get hurt, and if you don’t follow the rules – then it’s your fault.
The remarks and opinions from people who had heard small details of what had happened to me were worse than the attack. I started second guessing myself when someone said I had “overreacted”. I was told by another friend that I should feel guilty and that I should take a walk in his shoes before I “ruin his life”. I remember thinking the physical pain of the assault was easier because bruises fade; mental scars never go away.
Contrary to popular belief the steps I took were never to “seek revenge” or gain any kind of justice on my behalf; it was to protect the future victims who cross the attacker’s path. I actually did feel guilty for some time after reporting it. It’s my goal now by writing this article that I can help others to speak out and report their attacks to the University.
HOW CURTIN UNIVERSITY HELPS VICTIMS OF ASSAULT:
It was difficult alerting the University to what happened but their reaction was immediate and very caring. Curtin is one of the Universities that actually do a lot to help their students in these situations. If it goes far enough there is a process where you may have to attend a small panel and explain what happened, but it is just part of their procedure and nothing to worry about. Here is what I learned from my experience.
WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY:
• CALL THE CURTIN UNIVERSITY SECURITY TEAM STRAIGHT AWAY ON 08 9266 4444
• Write everything down as soon as you have a chance in as much detail as possible. The longer you leave it the more your memory will change/ facts will be forgotten.
SERVICES THEY OFFER:
• Counselling. I benefited so much from talking to someone that wasn’t involved that could help me understand how I was feeling and find ways to overcome it.
• Safe Zone app. Download it now. It has the ability for you to ‘check in’ if you feel unsafe and it can locate you.
There are also buttons for First Aid, Help, and Emergency, that will put you directly through to the person you need.
• Security. You can call security if you feel unsafe walking around campus alone at night and they will escort you.
•Self defence classes. Curtin Experiences offer self defence classes at the stadium that I highly recommend. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about how to protect myself and get away.
I felt I had so much support from the University and because I accepted all of the services they offered, it helped me heal much faster. You don’t have to go through this alone. Some people don’t speak up for many different reasons; sometimes we think that if we don’t talk about it, it will go away. That is the biggest lie you can tell yourself and I am telling you now:
You are worthy of feeling safe. You are valuable. Don’t
let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
If this or something similar happens to you, report it. If not for yourself, for the next person you might be protecting.