A Call For Help

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Hi everybody!

I have a special request today-one that is of utmost importance. And sensitivity.

If you, or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, rape or abuse of that nature AND feel comfortable talking about it (anonymously is fine) I need your/their help.

I don’t know how many of you recall, but I mentioned that I was entering my IMADTTO (I Made A Difference To That One) proposal into the President’s Prize review. I have been selected (with others) to move to round two (out of three). For round two, I must come up with a timeline and some other things. And here’s where I could use some help.

What things (resources, technology, support, programs, ideas, etc) would have been helpful in your traumatic event? What do you wish there would have been but wasn’t? What suggestions do you have for prevention? What would you like to see changed in the reporting/justice system? What factors impacted your decision to report/stay silent? What information did you not have that you wish you did? What coping mechanisms work best for you?

This project, to give an overview, is a response to collegiate rape statistics-with implications for ALL rape and sexual assault victims. I have plans to go into high schools and talk about body positivity. Plans to make a mandatory education module for my college (which can then be used at other colleges). Plans to make an application/link with existing ones to better educate the public (and alert students to the areas which aren’t safe on campus). Plans to make small support groups which will be other survivors, who can be there for “trigger” days. Plans to make children’s books about body safety and positivity.

These are the ideas of both myself and a beautiful friend who has also been concerned. But we are just two people. What I know is that everyone experiences trauma differently. And you may recall that I mentioned how of the statistic (depending on sources) is 1:6 college aged women will experience this, but that when I looked at 5 of my female friends, way more than 1 had been assaulted. This is a problem I take very personally-because when it happened to me, I didn’t know it was sexual assault. I blamed myself. I never went forward.

And that has to stop. Women need to be protected under the law. And I will be a leader in that movement. I live close to the statehouse. I have access to a large university worth of resources. I just need to know what to focus my attention on. And that is why I need people to help me.

Any thoughts are appreciated-whether the survivor was a college age or not. Tell me what you feel works. What doesn’t. Becuase when I go to submit round two, I will be submitting (perhaps) the most important proposal I may ever turn in-in my life. I am using my experiences, my voice, to be the “change I want to see in the world”. I don’t want to grow up in (or raise children in) a world that defines women as “less than”-or tells men that this can’t happen to them because they are men.

If you, or a friend, wish to talk about this (and I don’t need details-unless you WANT to give them) you can reach me at my email: anthromichelle@outlook.com

Everything I receive will be anonymous, I will share nothing without consent. (Waiver: If I receive an email full of suicidal ideation or threats of harm to others I have to report that. Because I care.)

Also, if you have thoughts in general-ideas you think might be beneficial in this fight, I won’t turn those away! I will take what I can get and make it into something magnificent.

Thanks!

Oh and a quick side note: Rapist Brock Turner (the Stanford guy) is coming back to Ohio this weekend. I am not pleased, but I will also be actively fighting to make legislation more strict.

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On Settling

I had a conversation with my sister recently about college and about passion and careers. I tried my best to be a guiding voice, as much as I could be, but I also am very conscious that everyone must make their own mistakes. I know I would not be the same person if I hadn’t “wasted” my time or made the choices I did. So I try to keep that in mind every time I give someone advice. Usually, I end up giving myself advice and they just listen.

But talking with her really was like talking to a younger version of myself. She hasn’t decided quite where she wants to go to college, what her passion is, what she wants out of life specifically. And I can appreciate that on so many levels. (Most of which come from making those mistakes I was talking about.)

I told her that it didn’t matter what she chose to do, as long as she chose it with her whole heart. Because settling for anything less than your passion is killing everything unique and creative about you. That applying to college as a high school senior was doing something insane that would work out in your favor later. And with that in mind, I told her if she wanted to go out of state, do it. If she wanted to stay at home and commute, do it. If she wanted to major in underwater basket weaving, do it. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, so long as you get there.

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I remember being a senior in high school and thinking that I had everything figured out. I would go into medicine, wear the white coat and then devote my life to saving kids (I wanted to be a Pediatric Oncologist-aka children’s cancer doctor). I thought I could do that, have time for hobbies and maybe, just maybe do something great with my life. I looked into all girl colleges, co-ed ones out of state, universities in Ireland. I literally wanted to run away from Ohio and never come back.

I never left Ohio. And I don’t really regret that as much as I thought I might. Mind you, Ben and I are looking for law schools out of state, but if we stay here, it isn’t the end of the world. High school doesn’t really give you the sense of “everything will work out”. Instead it gives you unrealistic ideas about college, and incomparably ridiculous amounts of unnecessary stress.

I couldn’t find a way to convince my sister of this, and that’s okay. She’s got to find her own path. But in the end, I think that what I said was the only thing I could have said. Because I didn’t know it then, and I wish I would have.

You have to commit to an entire lifestyle when you pick a career. And if you want to live to the fullest, you’re going to need to find out what drives you enough to make that easier. Anything less than your passion isn’t living-it’s torture.

I’ve decided on a few proto-ideas about what makes a person passionate, that I will be honing throughout my life, so maybe if I have kids, I will be able to help them more than I could do for my sister, but for now, that is what I will leave her with.

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What do you want out of life?

What do you want your typical day to be like?

What things can you not do without?

What things do you not want to do without?

What are your hobbies? Favorite classes?

Who are your role models? Why?

Who are your favorite teachers? Why?

What do you want out of your career?

What will it take to make you happy?

What would you do first if you were given a super-power?

What kind of super power would it be?

The Part that Slapped Me In The Face

I made my post earlier, about the things that bother me and I’m going to add a little to it,but also record my experience today. I’m going to approach it all as openly as I can. I’m not trying to prove anything, I just want to write today. I admit, the irony is a little astounding, and I will just say that I am human and sometimes I make mistakes.
The Background:I celebrate Christmas because it’s engrained in my head as something I shall always do. I also celebrate Yule, because I enjoy the solstice. I looked at the clock, after trying in earnest to get some homework done. I  switched gears a little to explore housing for next academic year. And I found some potential places which look wonderful. I shared my finds with my husband, we settled on a couple and  began to dig into them a little deeper.

The Emotion:I seldom feel so defeated as when I look at the cost of things. Like, basic necessity, right to life things. It amazes me how much it costs to live, even when you skrimp and save to afford the basics. Not luxury items, just the bare necessities to get by. So I closed my screen and curled up beside my husband and just cried. I cried for myself, for us both, for people out there who also have to make hard decisions each and every day. I felt overwhelmed, broken down and exhausted. He said “at least we have each other.” I couldn’t even make myself smile about that. How sad on my part. I was so overcome by all the things that were hard.

The Reality:I made up my mind that I hated being poor. I hated that we had to choose our level of comfort based on the electric bill. I hated that we had to show up to our parents’ houses without presents for everyone so that we had enough money to buy groceries. I hated that we were given a  1-foot tall tree (by my wonderful parents) that we couldn’t afford to decorate nor could we afford to turn the attached Christmas lights on, because we need every dollar we have. I hated that we are so close to the holiday season and we can’t give our friends anything more than a smile and a text message. I felt so disheartened. So I got on my phone and looked at the Christmas radio station. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas came on and I was offended. How dare music try to force me into a good mood when I had so many complaints? 

 I still have all of those feelings. It makes me sad, and very much so that I cannot afford many of the luxuries that accompany the holiday season. And in the back of my head, there was a little voice that urged me to please, just believe in all the good things, that there are so many who have even less than you. I’m not sure why people use that line. It’s meant to get you to stop whining, but it honestly just makes me feel like a 1. bigger piece of shit and 2. even more upset for them. I just sat, curled into my blankets crying, wondering why it was so painful, why it was so hard to just live.

The Slap:Why couldn’t I have been born without the need to help people live better lives? Then I could work at a meaningless job and make money and have whatever I wanted. Or if I had to help people, why couldn’t I have been born to a wealthy family who could use their resources to further my ability to help, making it possible to first help myself? But you can’t always get what you want. And I know that. It just hurts my feelings that so many people have loads of things that they aren’t thankful for, and I have so little. And it was that thought, that singular thought that halted me.

Why did I feel entitled to anything more than the body I live in? What really are the basic necessities of life? The universal rights of human beings?

The Resolution:And I decided, over a cup of coffee, that it didn’t matter. I cannot let the world bring me down forever with its injustices and unfairness. If I want the world to be a better place, I am exactly where I need to be. Because if I were rich, how could Ipossibly understand the way that “socioeconomically underprivileged” people felt? How could I possibly relate? So in all honesty, yea, I still hate that life isn’t fair. But maybe that’s why I have to experience it. I can’t know how to help if I don’t even understand why the help matters so damn much.

And for the record, I’m making our ornaments out of a cardboard box, with tin foil and markers. Because:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Where I Come From

For the longest time I was a member of ancestry.com. I simply couldn’t afford to pay the fees, and had to take a brief pause. However, before I left, I was able to find the name of the town my great grandfather came from as well as the boat he sailed on to come to America. Also of interest, I found the church that a 7x great grandfather was baptised in.

There is no problem locating the church, as it is in Ireland, and the records are quite precise.

But I cannot find the little town that my Russian great grandfather came from. So I guess, if anyone has any idea how to go about finding it, or knows anything about small places in Russia which may or may not exist anymore, I’d be interested in speaking with you.