- By Veronica Cogan
- Nov 05 2010
- Volume/Issue: 2/14
V is not for Victim
Domestic violence. Sexual assault. These are the silent crimes.
I knew the dangers of walking around by myself. I knew stranger danger. But never for a second did I think that either of these would happen to me. I suppose that this is why they’re called ‘silent crimes.’ No one talks about them.
Granted, I’m not completely traumatized. I was already paranoid with people walking behind me. It seemed that just when I got over the pain of Aug. 8, 2010, another load of fear and paranoia was dropped upon my shoulders.
Let me step back for a second and explain.
Over the summer, I went to stay with a boy named Joshua at his grandparents’ house in Northern Michigan — the village of Benzonia, Michigan, to be exact. It’s not even big enough to be a town.
Everything went great for the first two months.
But then, it was as if we had spent too much time around each other. And argument after argument took place. Yelling and screaming took place. A perfume bottle put a dent in the wall near my head.
The worst argument of all happened on Aug. 8.
This argument, in particular, ended with me pushed up against the wall with his hands around my neck, unable to breathe. I spent the next six days living in fear. He was my ride back home.
After two months, lots of tears,and a very deep, very personal poem read to a room full of strangers, I got over it. Or rather, as over it as I’ll ever get.
I didn’t tell anyone about it for weeks. Not family, not friends. No one knew but me and Josh.
I suppose that’s why people call them crimes of silence. Those who are the victims are too afraid to talk about it.
My most recent brush with a sexual assault happened just two weeks ago.
It was Oct. 22. I was walking home from work, and, against my better instinct, I decided not to wait for my roommate Jerry. And I decided not to take the front way home, going on the Market Avenue side of the Stark County Library.
While walking down Cleveland Avenue, I was being followed by a strange man. He walked up next to me, holding a phonebook, trying hard to strike up a conversation. This conversation quickly went from something so innocent as “you have a pretty smile,” to such lewd comments that I cannot really mention them.
I asked him to leave me alone and took off running. It was unlucky for me that I decided to wear a very loose pair of white Vans sneakers. It was hard to run. He pushed me to the ground and laughed in my ear as he touched me inappropriately. I began to kick and scream, attracting the attention of a patron of Heggy’s Candy Company and a woman who worked at a private school on Cleveland Avenue.
I managed to kick him off of me, and, as they both yelled “Hey!”, he ran off.
The woman took me across the street to Heggy’s. I sat behind the counter and called my boss, Amadeus, while she called the cops.
A very nice officer came and I described what happene, and what the man looked like. We then filled out a police report, and I came back to the office.
I may not be over this yet, but I am not traumatized. I am not a victim. And I am breaking the silence.
My advice to any other victims: talk about it. Nothing’s going to change if you stay silent.