Sarah Seidler

This past week I had the honor of interviewing Sarah Seidler, a rising senior at Illinois State University. During our interview we discussed her performance at the Vagina Monologues in February, her experience with abusive relationships, and potential advice she would give to someone in a similar situation. She is a warrior and I truly hope that you will be touched by her story in the many ways that I was.

 

Name: Sarah Seidler

Year/Major: I am an Acting major and will be ready to start my final year at ISU in the fall!

Hometown: I am from the southwest side of Chicago.

Current Obsession: I'm currently obsessed with the book The Handmaid's Tale. I'm reading it before I watch the TV show, and I haven't had anything spoiled from the internet or anything yet!

A Quote You Live By: "Supporting another's success won't ever dampen yours." I can never find who actually said that. Honestly, I found it on Pinterest!

 

Her Campus ISU: Thank you for taking the time to interview with Her Campus ISU, Sarah! Will you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Sarah Seidler: For sure! Well I am majoring in Acting here at ISU and I'm really involved with our theatre department and the shows that we have going on. I just finished up working on a production of "Balm in Gilead" and I'm enjoying the few weeks of free time I have before I go home and start working again at ULTA for the summer. A fun fact about me is that I'm lactose intolerant but have a passion for dairy, so basically, I'm a recipe for disaster.

 

HC ISU: What are some of the many things you have enjoyed about this past year at Illinois State?

SS: I've loved working on the two shows I was cast in during this past school year. I played Jocasta in "Oedipus" in the fall and then Judy in "Balm in Gilead" this spring, which is a show about the riff-raff of New York City in the 60s. Also, this was the first year I've lived in an apartment off-campus, and having my own room while living with three of my best friends was also one of the highlights.

HC ISU: Awesome! Well if I’m going to be honest, the main reason I wanted to interview you was because of your spoken piece you presented at the Vagina Monologues back in February. Will you tell us a bit about the piece?

SS: Of course! Well, I was cast in the Vagina Monologues – which for those of you who don't know is a show that is performed annually to raise money for local domestic violence shelters. I was already performing one of the pieces that is performed every year, but I remember reading about a "spotlight" piece. This spotlight piece meant that there was an open spot during the show for one of the cast members to speak about their experiences with workplace harassment. I don't know why exactly I felt like I needed to do this, but I messaged the directors and asked if I could write a piece for the show based off that prompt. My experience wasn't exactly what the prompt was asking for, but I thought being able to write down my story and say it out loud would be really beneficial to my personal healing process. I had wanted to do something proactive about sharing my experience in an abusive relationship for a while, and this just seemed like the perfect platform and opportunity.

 

HC ISU: If you’re comfortable, will you please share your story or a part of your story with us?

SS: Yeah, definitely! For almost a year, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. After I broke up with him, there were months where he stalked and harassed me- sending gifts to my dorm room, cornering me alone outside of buildings, following me home from class, and it eventually became physically aggressive and violent. I finally confided in a professor who found me after one of these confrontations and began to work with the university to see what could be done. It's been a struggle, though. It's not easy to keep recounting the story over and over and to be met with ignorance or cynicism when sharing my experience. To this day, I'm still fighting because it unfortunately isn't over with. But once this all ends, I know it will have been worth it. No student has the right to rob another of a safe and fulfilling education.    

HC ISU: What made you want to share your story?

SS: I wanted people who are in similar situations to the one I was know that they have people on their side, whether they know it or not, and that being in a situation like that doesn't make you weak. I finally felt comfortable enough opening up about my experience to people who thought they knew me, or didn't know me at all, if only just to show that you never really know what somebody is going through. Everyone should be cultivating empathy and calling out people who lack it.

HC ISU: How did it feel to share such a personal story and experience during each performance at the Vagina Monologues?

SS: It was seriously the scariest thing I've ever done! I've done shows in front of hundreds of people before, but that didn't compare at all to the way my stomach flipped when I got on stage to perform my piece for the first time. Afterwards, though, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. And the reactions that people had and the support that I felt made it all worth it.

 

HC ISU: If you could say anything to that person now, what might you say?

SS: He's not worth any of my time, honestly. I just hope people begin to see him for who he truly is: an abuser. That's all I can ask for.

 

HC ISU: And lastly, what advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

SS: I know everyone says this, but please don't be afraid to reach out. Whether it's your best friend, professor, parent, or whoever, someone is on your side and is willing to help you. Don't be embarrassed, either. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse for a long time because I thought I would be seen only as a victim, and it took a huge toll on my mental health. When I finally confided in someone, I felt like I finally took the first step towards solving this issue.

 

Thank you for being so honest, open, and brave when talking about your experience. I can only imagine how hard it has been, but you've truly shown that it is possible to heal and grow in the face of adversity. I hope that your response to your situation can help or lead someone to confide in someone they trust for the help they deserve.

If you want to read Sarah’s testimony, click here.

And as always,

HCXO

Building my life on God's love, choosing joy, embracing family, ceaselessly writing, constantly dancing, raising my pitbull chihuahua, and teaching tiny humans all things.