This Viewpoint discusses sexual assault on campus. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.
I came to Georgetown University four years ago looking for a fresh start. I saw my time here as the opportunity I had been waiting for to reinvent myself into the person I’d always wanted to be. I spent hours watching day-in-the-life videos on YouTube and planning everything I would do and say once I got here. Every video I watched had one consistent theme — that anything was possible at Georgetown if you had the vision to make it happen. I took this opportunity in stride.
For a while, I was doing exactly what I came here to do; my grades were great, I stopped living in fear and came out and I “fell in love” a few times. I was becoming the person I always envisioned myself to be. Then in the spring of my first year, on what seemed to be a completely normal night out with my friends, I was sexually assaulted. I never thought it would happen. I never thought it could happen, and then it did. At first, I was in denial, but eventually my denial turned to anger.
Georgetown had grown to feel like my home, but this sense of home and security was quickly lost in the aftermath of my assault. Seemingly insignificant everyday talks would trigger me. This experience was only worsened by the fact that my assaulter lived in the building next to me and we had a class together. I would relive that night over and over and over again every time I saw him until he graduated last May.
I’m sitting here right now asking myself, “Why am I telling you any of this?” My assault taught me there will be moments in your life that test you unlike any others. Moments like this test your resolve; they will test your spirit. For a while, my assault defined me. It broke my spirit and became something I had to cope with every day. I was distant with my friends and family, and I even started to withdraw from the organizations and communities I’d come to know and love at Georgetown. When I came to Georgetown hoping to become a new and improved version of myself, I never would have imagined that I would be leaving as a survivor of sexual assault, but that is exactly who I am. I’m telling you this because it’s a part of me, it’s part of my story, but it’s not the end of my story.
I am a survivor; that’s a fact. But I am so much more than that. I am a fighter, I am gay, I can walk you through a discounted cash flow in 30 seconds or less, and now I am a college graduate. I am so much more than my assault, and there is so much more that will become of my story moving forward.
In the year ahead, things will look very different for each of us. Some of us are still writing our stories at Georgetown and will be returning to campus, while others press on to their next adventure in postgrad life. As we begin to look forward to our own unique paths, each of us will have a call to answer. This call is a reminder that your story is and will continue to be a work in progress. This call is an invitation to walk out of your comfort zone as you continue to write your own story. Your life is your story, and what lays ahead of you is a challenge to fulfill your own purpose and potential.
Luckily, this won’t be the first challenge you have overcome. Being here at Georgetown is proof you have the grit to take a leap of faith into your own unique experience. You don’t get into a school like Georgetown by living life in the comfort zone of what you already know. So whether you’re a graduating senior or a first-year student that’s never set foot on Georgetown’s campus, I want you to look back on the journey that brought you to the Hilltop. What moments challenged you most? When were you asked to rise to the occasion of your own potential? How have you pushed past your fear? I want you to remember these moments because they will embolden you and affirm you and remind you that you did this.
You made it here. You answered the call, and now you can continue to do so. When you begin the next stage of your life, whether it’s on campus or beyond the front gates, you can follow someone else’s ideas for your story, try to make choices that will make other people happy, avoid discomfort and do what is expected, or you can look at all you have accomplished in getting here today and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story.
Today I’m challenging you to remember the best chapters of your story are still in the making, so press forward and write a story that you’ll be proud of.
Bryce Badger is a senior in the McDonough School of Business.
Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Service (202-687-6985); additional off-campus resources include the D.C. Rape Crisis Center (202-333-7273) and the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiner Washington Hospital Center (844-443-5732). If you or anyone you know would like to receive a sexual assault forensic examination or other medical care — including emergency contraception — call the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. at 202-742-1727. To report sexual misconduct, you can contact Georgetown’s Title IX coordinator at 202-687-9183 or file an online report here. Emergency contraception is available at the CVS located at 1403 Wisconsin Ave NW and through H*yas for Choice. For more information, visit sexualassault.georgetown.edu.