Two years ago, on November 15th, 2015 Andrea Powell was hanging out with a close friend when he did something that she never saw coming; he sexually assaulted her.
While she was at church, he asked her to join him upstairs to talk, something that they did on a regular basis. “We had been super close and we would go upstairs alone a lot and just talk about life. So I couldn’t see it coming” said Powell.
Andrea Powell shares her story with Her Campus at SFA. Photo by Alexandra Pitman.
However, she knew something was different this time when he threw her Bible and phone on the ground. As she turned to leave, he grabbed her, dragged her back and assaulted her.
At the time, Powell felt that pursuing a case against him was not something she wanted to do. “At the time I was like, ‘I don’t really want to do anything against him, [he] was my best friend and I didn’t want to mess up his life’” said Powell.
According to Powell, although he had mentioned that he thought they should date, none of his actions indicated that he was capable of assault. Since the assault, he has constantly tried to contact her, but she has ignored him. “I’ve been back to church before and he’ll just walk by and be like ‘Hey beautiful’ and is just constantly going at it and trying to, I guess, annoy me with it” said Powell.
Although she didn’t want to pursue the case at the time, she is now looking into what she can do legally as a way to stand up for herself. When asked why she wanted to share her story, Powell said, “It’s not spoken about enough. People don’t know that rape is a very real thing. It’s just like ‘oh that happens in movies and to other people.’ You never assume that it’ll happen to you.”
After the assault, her mother, sister and best friend have acted as her support team. However, she did lose many friends when she told them what happened and has suffered through victim blaming.
“A lot of my friends just dropped me as soon as I told them” said Powell, “they were like ‘we don’t want to have to deal with this baggage so I can’t talk to you anymore’”
While Powell described herself as ‘bubbly’ and carefree before the assault, she now has a different outlook on life and is much more selective with her friends. She has also changed her career path. “I’ve always wanted to do nursing but I changed to sexual assault nursing because I want to be able to help other girls through that,” said Powell.
Powell advises friends and family of sexual assault survivors to listen and let them vent. She also advises those close to survivors to avoid having an aggressive response, since survivors have already been through a type of aggression.
For men who are unsure of how to know when consent has been given, Powell says the most important thing is, “Just asking. The most helpful thing I’ve been through was when they were like ‘hey can I do this?’…It’s not that hard to look a girl in the eyes and ask ‘do you want this?’”
For survivors Powell offers this advice: “I know it feels like the end of the world, but it’s not. It’s happened, but there’s more to your life than what has happened and it can make you stronger if you allow it. Don’t let it destroy you.”
Watch the entire interview with Andrea Powell here:
National Sexual Assault Hotline (Free and Confidential. 24/7): 800-656-4673