No one should suffer in silence from sexual assault


Noura Abukhadra

It doesn’t matter if someone is a month away from being 18 (the age of a legal adult in most states) or if someone just turned twelve cases of sexual assault need to be taken seriously and assaulters must be held accountable. Other wise we are teaching the newer generations that sexual assault it acceptable. Statistics from Center for Disease Control and National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010.

Lil Crawford, Staff Writer

South high says it’s a safe environment, and for the most part it is, but some things still go unnoticed. Freshman year I experienced two different cases of sexual assault, with two different guys. My first year of high school was super intimidating to me, due to movies and high school soap operas, I was a little frightened about what high school would be like.

I thought that high school was going to be a watering hole of different social classes and scenarios where the upperclassmen pick on the freshmen. Of course due to overwritten, stereotypical sitcoms, this was not at all what actual high school is like, but still having this idea in my head, I was rather quiet and shy. I knew two or three people and I generally didn’t talk to anyone.

About a month into school after I had gotten a little more comfortable with everything, this guy who I had gone to middle school with sent me a message on Facebook, asking me on a date. Now, at this point in time, I wasn’t interested in dating anyone but I said we could be friends.

Naturally he agreed but looking back now, I know he wasn’t happy with that answer. A few weeks went by and things were good, he became an older brother type in my life (I never had siblings growing up, so I tend to grow attached to people quickly). He would yell at cat-callers that gave me attention, made sure I had gotten enough to eat or enough sleep throughout the days we spent together, and eventually he started giving me hugs, which, to me seemed perfectly innocent at the time, and it was, for the most part.

Eventually the hugs started to get longer and longer, and my friends told me that, that wasn’t what normal friends did, which I disagreed with. After weeks of the hugs getting longer, one day he “surprised” me by giving me a hug from behind, and pulling my waist against his, in which I felt, way more than I wanted to. After letting this go on for a month or two, I asked him to stop. And that’s when he got mean, he called me derogatory names, he threatened to leave me alone, and told me if I treated other people like that, that I was going to die alone.

It took a lot of support from friends to finally go to a teacher about it. I went to my math teacher, who transferred it to a counselor and at that point I stopped receiving updates about the situation. Then a week or so later I got an email saying that the boy, had gotten a “stern” talking to.

That was it. After everything happened with him, I promised I wouldn’t let myself get into anything like that again and later I continued my freshmen year without serious conflict, until about two months before the school year ended. Still being in my shy, didn’t-want-to-talk-to-anyone phase I thought it was the best thing ever when new people wanted to spend time with me. I took a random meeting outside of school with a senior who I had never met before, but had taken an art class with at the beginning of the year. (To avoid confusion I will refer to him as G).

Later in the week he started messaging me over Facebook, which of course I responded with eagerness, wanting a new friend. At this point in the year I was dating a sophomore I had met, so I was in a committed relationship. After talking to G for a week or two he asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend, and then of course I declined politely and explained that I was already seeing someone.

G then stopped talking to me for three days, sending me a message at three in the morning saying; “I’m going to give you three days to change your mind, and if you still feel the same we can go from there.”

That alone started to scare me but for some reason I waited for him. And at the end of the three days he messaged me again and we talked about it. In my mind talking about it seemed to fix it, and everything was calm for about a month. Then he started to message me inappropriate things, such as certain photos that I didn’t want to see or detailed messages about “what he wants me to do” to him. After repeatedly telling him to stop, he gave me another ultimatum where he essentially told me “I’m going to give you another three days to stop acting like a bitch, when the three days are over, your attitude better be as well.”

Again, I waited for him to come back to me, then apologizing for the way I acted, thinking that this had fixed things. Then I hit the worst point of anything I had experienced that year. G started to follow me up to my locker on the third floor in the far corner, near the Chinese room. He told me he was worried about guys bothering me when I was alone (ironic).

When walking back down to the commons before first hour, G would push me against the wall and grab me, when I asked him to stop he would grab harder or hit me across the face. This made me so terrified of him but this was the end point for me, I was done with everything that had happened to me.

I told the same teacher about what was happening and she said that she would handle it. I wasn’t told anything for a long period of time until close friend of mine confronted him about it, to which he said he’d leave me alone. And he did, until graduation day, when he sent me photos of him in his cap and gown, saying “I did it without you.” If you or someone you know is experiencing anything of this nature, please tell someone, no one deserves to suffer in silence.

This happens more than people think, Katy Harriss a graduate of South, shared her story with me. Her Junior year (2015) Harriss was sitting in her Government and Economics class doing a worksheet, when a male classmate, whom she had never spoken to before walked by her desk and grabbed her breast. She immediately stood up and yelled “What was that?” he laughed and said he tripped when obvious it was on purpose.

The students friends laughed and told her to calm down. Harriss started to yell at him, and the substitute teacher told her to go into the hall, which she did. A teacher who walked by overheard Harriss while she was upset speaking to her friends about what just happened to her. The teacher stopped and asked her to explain, Harriss told them, she was then brought down to the assistant principal’s office where she filed a report.

The school  interviewed the students who witnessed what had happened, which coincidentally were the friends of the male student. Before they brought them down to be interviewed, she was sent back to class and heard the friends talking behind her about how they were going to “get him out of this”, and this was “complete bullshit”.

The school emailed Harriss’ mom explaining the situation they wrote it off as an accident, but moved the student out of Harriss’ class. Senior year she was put into three classes with the student who sexually assaulted her that’s the worse part, when policies aren’t followed by school administrations. You have to be in the same environment as them, see them in the halls take classes with them.

Later,  Harriss experienced more harassment. A girl in Harriss’ H-Art class sent her a message one night asking for her Snap Chat, Harriss gave it to her and the girl proceeded to tell Harriss that someone was messaging her in Harriss’ name, telling her to kill herself. Harriss told the girl that it wasn’t her, the girl understood and believed her but they still didn’t know who it was.

Soon after, someone made a Twitter called “@hoesatsouth” that followed Harriss and three other girls from her H-Art class. Soon the account tweeted Harriss saying hoe that lied about [Harriss’ ex boyfriend] beating her.” The account soon tweeted the three other girls, calling them hoes as well. They were especially mean to one girl, telling her to “go get molested.” She and a few other girls from the class eventually brought the account to the teacher’s attention, which was brought to administration.

Harriss was brought down to the office where she, and the three other girls had a three hour meeting with their teachers and other administration members. They eventually brought down the school police officer who told them that they should just delete their Twitter accounts.

Harriss and the girls talked together about who could be running the Twitter account. The school told them that they couldn’t do anything about it without proof. After this Harriss started to notice a classmate from H-Art, staring at her and acting strange around her. He would stare at her and mouth things to her in class. Harriss would turn around in the halls and he would be right behind her, multiple times a day.

The typing style from the account and the way he spoke were very distinct, noticed Harriss. She told administration, but again they told her that they couldn’t do anything without solid proof. Teachers spoke to Harriss and the girls multiple times after the incident but weren’t convinced that it was the boy that was behind the accounts.

Teachers were very supportive and helpful, but the student remained in Harriss’ class making her feel uneasy and unsafe in her favorite class, where you’re supposed to be in a safe space and appreciate each other through communication and art.  Harriss missed a lot of classes that semester.

The Minneapolis Public Schools, policy (policy 4002, part F) states; “The District will discipline or take appropriate action against any student, employee, or personnel of the District who harasses or is violent toward any student, employee or other personnel of the District…” This of course ranges differently throughout each school, some school may have different discipline acts, or different rules, but until cases like my own, and Harriss get resolved, what have you done for us lately?