Taking A Stand: Why I'm Fighting For Sexual Assault Education
My name is Michayla Owens. I’m sixteen years old, and I attend Columbia High School in Mississippi. I was fifteen when I was sexually assaulted by two boys at my high school.
The sexual assault took place on November 11th, 2012 after a positive incentive trip for good students at Columbia High School. It happened right on school grounds, in one of the school bathrooms. After the field trip, the bus returned us to the school. After getting off the bus, I entered the building. I was forced into a bathroom stall. My pants were removed, and I was sexually assaulted. One of the boys is a football player and one used to play football. Three boys were arrested that night, but only two are being charged. A rape kit was done that night at the hospital, and I will now have to testify against these boys in court.
I was so traumatized after the incident that I didn’t want to return to my own school. After a few days, I decided I wanted to face my fears and go back to school, but the principal sent me back home. The principal decided to suspend me for going into the school the night of the sexual assault and didn’t let me come back for another 4 days. My grandmother went to the school almost every day to ask for my class work, but she was never given anything to bring home for me. Because of the way the situation was being handled, I felt like I was being blamed for the assault. When I came back to school, everyone hated me because they thought I lied. No one had heard my story, but many rumors had circulated in my absence, and people believed them. I’ve been bullied to the point where I’m about to give up.
This bullying is still going on to this day. I have to eat in the restroom, and hide at break time in the bathroom. I’m scared and I wish this could all be over. Everyone hates me and they call me names like useless, easy, hoe, slut, liar, fat, and more. Sometimes I question myself and wonder if maybe it was my fault, BUT IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. People ask why I didn’t scream…well I was so scared, and I didn’t want to get them in trouble because they were my friends. I was embarrassed and didn’t want the boys to turn the situation around. I would never in a million years think (as a fifteen year old at the time) that my teenage friends would do something like this to me. It's not okay to force sex on a girl when she clearly doesn’t want it: rape is not okay. I made it clear to these boys that I didn’t want to engage in any sexual activities with them. People need to understand the facts about sexual violence and guidance should be provided to children before they enter high school. It is very important to me to do whatever I can to stop this from happening to others. I hope no other girl ever has to go through what I have.
I've reported kids harassing me every day to the Principal many times but there haven't been any consequences for any of them. I feel like I have been charged with a crime when it should by my attackers who are charged. I am not being offered any protection from the continuing abuse. Bullying is very serious, and can ruin a child’s life and the bullying that's happening to me isn't being taken seriously at all.
My family and I have been affected by this in so many tragic ways. I have so much anger inside because of the pain I am forced to deal with at school as a result of this sexual assault. I end up taking my anger out on my family and my family blames themselves for this happening to me.
There are currently no policy guidelines regarding bullying within Columbia Schools, and no punishment for the bullies, and there should be! Kids should feel safe and protected at school, so learning can be the focus. It's time for a change. I want to increase awareness in my community -- amongst students, teachers and principals -- as to how devastating sexual violence, and the bullying and victim blaming that often accompany it, can be.
I believe that it should be required that every young student be respectfully educated on the topic of sexual violence before they enter high school. I am also petitioning for Columbia Public Schools to make policy guidelines stating that once a student is justly reported for bullying three times, corrective measures must include a minimum suspension of 3 days. We need better policies in schools against bullying and around education about sexual violence.
More articles by Category: Education, Feminism, Girls, Media, Politics, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Title IX, Rape, Sexualized violence, High school, Americas, News