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We Are Survivors Too: A Parent’s Perspective

(featurecreature)– There are days, places, and moments in your life that you will never forget. For us it was a Thursday evening around 7:20 PM when our daughter called from campus. We knew she hadn’t been feeling well recently and we were anxious to hear from her.

This time the conversation was direct and began with a short, simple question:

“Dad, are you sitting down? Please sit down; I have something to tell you.”

I knew right away something was wrong but I didn’t know that from this point forward my life was going to change.

“Dad, I was raped.”

I still get chills today when I recall these words, these words that changed our lives forever. How do we go forward from here? As parents we learned how to feed, care for and protect our children. No one instructed us on how to move forward from here.

What was clear to us right away was that our daughter received support. Her call home informed us that help came immediately from the Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect on campus. She went to the hospital for a sexual assault examination and began one-on-one sessions with the school’s Sexual Assault Counselor.

Our daughter’s healing had begun.

We learned about the rape that happened 10 days prior. But this call wasn’t about any feelings of shame. It was about facing the tough call to Mom and Dad.

This call told us our daughter was not remaining silent. She was pursuing disciplinary action and the hearing was in three days.

The disciplinary process moved quickly. Our best hope was to make sure we had legal representation at the hearing. Our presence and the presence of our attorney in those three days delivered a clear message that we supported our daughter wholeheartedly.

We are survivors for one very important reason: the availability of a survivor’s  support network on campus enabled our daughter to receive the support she needed and wanted. It empowered her.

It made the difference between despair and resolution.

Students know what happens on campus long before the administration, campus police or parents. It’s this student network that first supported her.

The Sexual Assault Counselor also supported her and us—day and night. We found relief knowing we could call the Sexual Assault Counselor any time. I made that call at 1:00 am one morning.

I just got off the phone with my daughter. She was despondent and alone walking around campus. I was terrified and knew she needed help. A call to the Sexual Assault Counselor at 1:00 am mobilized a Peer Advocate to find my daughter that night.  Through her, we began to understand how our daughter was feeling and we learned how to respond. None of this was in our parenting instruction guide.

Survival for us has been a process and there were (and still are) many challenges along the way.

We seriously considered the decision to not come back to Amherst College. But, the reason for her decision to return was her support network on campus. As parents, it’s daunting to play the “what if” game. After the rape, we wondered, what if we didn’t go to Amherst College in the first place?  But we know we cannot play that game anymore.We have moved forward and are thankful that there was a support network for her and that caring professionals were there when she needed them.

About featurecreature

The editors of AC Voice use featurecreature to publish anonymous and guest submissions. If you are interested in posting to AC Voice anonymously or as a guest, feel free to contact us.

11 comments on “We Are Survivors Too: A Parent’s Perspective

  1. Father of alleged criminal
    November 26, 2012

    I too am thankful.
    Our son faces nothing more than disciplinary action. The school’s counselors kept him from being disempowered by the Commonwealth & the court system.
    A doting dad

    • Anonymous
      November 26, 2012

      What?…. ??? What in the hell is wrong with you?

    • The Average Bear
      November 26, 2012

      That is how it feels to be the father of a rapist, huh?

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  3. M Nell
    November 26, 2012

    Perhaps your “my son can do no wrong/boys will be boys” doting dad mentality is partially to blame for this. You obviously feel the need to discredit and diminish the grief of another father, which only makes your son look all the more guilty. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  4. Liya Rechtman
    November 26, 2012

    I would just like to remind commenters that while I, too, felt incredibly uncomfortable with some elements of the comment from “father of an alleged criminal,” as the editor of this site, I will not publish comments that unnecessarily use expletives or act disrespectful to others. If you disagree with something you see here, use it as an opportunity to educate other readers about why you disagree instead of shutting down the other person.

    There are a lot of complicated elements both to this piece and to the first comment that are worthy of careful consideration. I implore you to pursue those avenues and use this site as a forum for that discussion.

    • Father of alleged criminal
      November 27, 2012

      OUTED! Poster 1 is not a “Father” at all – he’s James K. Herms, MIT ’87, of 14 Lawrence St., Cambridge, the p/t SO of a very fearless & outgoing lady who years ago was raped by a stranger on her way home from a New Brunswick NJ high school. She gave the city’s Sensitive Crime unit a detailed description but the local university (Rutgers) police didn’t have a comprehensive file of student offenders that they could check it against.
      Same issue at Amherst, it seems. Sexual assault counselors getting paid to steer students *away* from city police. Or even campus police.
      What if some nosy detective finds traces of rape drugs (ketamine and such) in the suspect’s room? Or what if it turns out that the guy’s got a record?
      -J. Herms, herms @ alum mit edu

      • Anonymous
        November 27, 2012

        pt SO?

  5. Jill F.
    November 26, 2012

    Obvious troll is obvious.

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