Katie Seder is our guest this week during our survivor series. She has become an amazing friend since she asked me to speak as a part of senior research project, and we are so excited to have our on our blog and podcast this week!
She is a survivor of sexual assault while she was in college. She is a strong believer of physical and mental health. Katie currently works in the beauty industry. She loves making others feel beautiful both inside and out. She found Voices of Hope while doing a college research project and has been involved ever since.
We discuss everything from her story of trauma, healing and how we can make changes in our world today especially around education.
When it comes to education we chatted about her research project and the amazing work the We Will Organization is doing in creating educational tools for our schools.
Disclaimer: Please read at your own discretion and if you are feeling triggered at any moment, please take time to care for yourself. Self-care is extremely important and we want you to feel safe.
Check out her post below and her podcast episode here.
Why do you want to share your story?
I want to share my story because there are so many other people who have been through my experience but are scared to speak up. It is unfortunately an almost common occurrence to be sexually assaulted in some way, shape or form on a college campus.
Tell us your story, as much as you are comfortable with.
I was raped by a staff member my senior year of college. I didn’t plan on telling anyone about it because I was embarrassed and didn’t want to admit it happened to me. I was heavily intoxicated at the time and he was completely sober. I originally didn’t plan on reporting him to Title IX. The person I confided in, ended up reporting it. The woman in charge of Title IX said that since I let him into my apartment, since I lived alone and there were no witnesses that it would be very hard for police to do anything about it. So empowering, right?
How did what you went through affect your life and your family/friends lives?
As I mentioned to you, I feel like I never got the sympathy I deserved. I don’t want to seem selfish but I was raped. I deserve someone to empathize with me. The saddest thing is whenever I told my friends, they acted like it happened to everyone (including themselves) and it was just a part of college. I found that very disturbing. My mom is my best friend. I was terrified to tell her. Whenever I initially told my mom, I will never forget the look on her face, she cried and hugged me. She was fortunate that it is more common now to speak up about it and seek counseling.
What were some steps that you took to heal? What does your healing journey look like?
I was already seeing a counselor at the time. I was diagnosed at the age of 15 with depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. It took me a while to actually say “I was raped” outloud to my counselor. I am very fortunate for her, I probably wouldn’t be alive without her. I believe in being both mentally and physically healthy. Working out regularly and eating healthy definitely played a role in my healing. I tried to not sit alone in my apartment and think about it or else I’d go crazy. I feel like we are never truly healed.
Do you still have trauma or triggers that affect you?
The biggest trigger for me is whenever I am drinking. I am in a very healthy relationship now. Whenever we go out to bars and if he leaves my side for a second I automatically go into panic mode. I also get uncomfortable any time I am alone with just a male. This may be in an elevator, parking lot, or any environment.
This is a learning journey for me, and I know culture has played a huge role in your trauma, and healing. Tell us how it has played a role in your healing.
For my final semester in college, I had to choose a non-profit to do a semester-long research project on. It was a no-brainer for me to do Voices of Hope. My research question was “When creating programming surrounding sexual violence issues, which rhetorical framework is most helpful to the college students; prevention (consent issues) or healing (providing hope)?”
During this research project, I studied “rape culture” on college campuses and documented how the university’s programming board played a role in it. We have all seen the “consent” posters on campus but never learned about what actually happens if someone is sexually assaulted.
The media views “college girls” as being promiscuous, unintelligent, and constantly being tipsy/drunk. For example two movies that come to mind are Animal House and Neighbors. Those party scenes are engraved in our brains and transfer into real life. Girls in college are way oversexualized. Some males will see a drunk female and automatically think that drunk equals consent. That is NOT the case.
Through my research, I found that students believe that education on victim services and trauma is equally as important as education on consent.
What knowledge and understanding did you have of sexual violence prior to your trauma?
The only “education” we received at my university is what consent is. A lot of people think that this is adequate, I think it’s bullshit. A perpetrator is not going to look at a poster about consent in the hallway of their dorm and think “wow maybe I won’t sexually assault someone”. I think the proper education we need is the consequences that come with these actions.
Why do you feel it is important to share your story?
It is important because I am putting a face to college rape culture. We hear about it, we read about it but the victims are not known. I am a survivor and this is my story.
How has the #metoo movement affect you?
Politics are very important to me. I try to be as educated as I can so I can share my opinions. I was waiting in the lobby for one of my Title IX meetings and the Brett Kavanaugh hearing was playing on the TV. Watching that gave me the strength I needed to come forward.
We know that the original Me Too movement was started back in 2006 but became more popular in 2017 due to the allegations against Harvey Weinsten. It was one thing to be a part of the movement but being an ACTUAL part of the movement is a completely different feeling. I think putting faces out there and seeing that you aren’t alone is so important.
If you could say something to someone who has experienced trauma what would it be?
Ask for help. If you don’t ask and accept health, no one can do it for you. Realize that there are other people who have experienced trauma that you can speak to. It is a different healing process for everyone but it first starts with admitting what happened to you. Heal at your own pace. Everyone is different.