An Open Letter to My Little About Sexual Assault

Dear Little,

As you are about to become one of the most important people in my life, and as someone that I have vowed to protect and mentor, I want you to know about the dangers you will be facing in college; on Greek Row and beyond. I know that you might have heard some of these points before, as did I a year or two ago, but I thought that I was invincible and didn’t really hear the message. So I urge you to listen to me now and commit what I say to memory. We live in a different time now than even just a few years ago, and however politicized the topic of sexual assault may have become, it cannot be simplified to just a topic for debate. Sexual assault is about real people with real lives. Unfortunately, I speak from experience. I was sexually assaulted two times over the past year, and my life will never be the same. Sadly, I’m not alone. One out of every five women will be sexually assaulted in college. Little, I hope that you are not one of them. I am writing this letter to you because I love you, and I want to prepare you for the negative situations that will arise in college.  

1. Be wary of your inner circle.

We all misconceive that sexual predators are the ones that sneak up on you while you stumble through a dark campus back to your dorm room. In reality, the ones that you should be cognizant of are the men that you invite into your life. I assumed that just because my peers remained safe around a man that I would be safe around him as well. I was sorely mistaken because that man became my attacker. Now, I don’t want you to be afraid of every man that is interested in you romantically or otherwise, but as women in 2016, we can’t afford to be unaware.   

2. Never go anywhere alone.

This suggestion may seem obvious, but I went somewhere with someone alone. Twice, and you have no idea how much I regret those decisions. Do not go out alone (partying with your sisters or friends is more fun anyways). Although it’s stereotypical, take a sister with you to go to the bathroom. Leave your Superman Complex in high school, and do not walk from Greek Row to the dorms by yourself at night. Do not let the intoxicated guy you just met show you around his fraternity house after the party. If he’s the type of man you deserve, he will wait for a more appropriate time.

3. Watch your drinks.

This is something that I personally can’t speak to, but keep an eye on your drinks. I wouldn’t recommend drinking the Jungle Juice because you have no idea who made it or what is in it. A beer or a pull from someone’s fifth is a better choice because you have more control over the origin of the alcohol and a better gauge of how much you’ve had to drink. If someone offers you a mixed drink, watch him or her make it. If you have to use the restroom, take your drink with you or get a new one when you come back. Don’t ever leave your drink unattended or even with a trusted friend. We’ve all had those weeks that just went from bad to worse, and sometimes, in an attempt to unwind, you get too drunk. Every weekend I see women putting themselves in dangerous situations because they have too much to drink and no one to look out for them. I’m not here to pass judgment on your drinking habits, but have a plan for transportation and a few sisters or friends that have got your back anytime you go out.

4. Identify and protect your vulnerability.

Sexual predators, whether they realize they are such or not, have a way of identifying your specific and individual vulnerabilities, and they take advantage of them. For me, it was my willingness and drive to collaborate artistically that left me vulnerable to sexual assault, but for you it may be different. I’m not advocating that you be closed off and unavailable; but rather, share your wonderful self with the right type of people. And who are the right type of people? You’ll know when you meet them. Trust yourself.

5. No matter the letter, we’re all Greek together.

We are all Panhellenic sisters, and on an even more basic level, we are all women. Therefore, we should all advocate and be dependable for one another. If you don’t see a sister in the immediate vicinity and you need help, ask another Greek girl. She will help you. Countless girls from other houses have checked in on me when I was conversing one on one with a fraternity man in a corner, and I am grateful to them. Although nothing was ever wrong in my case, they’re giving you an easy escape if you need one. I expect you to return the courtesy to your Panhellenic sisters as well.  

If all my fears are realized and the worst does happen to you as it did to me, Little, please know that I will be there for you through it all. Little, I will support you not just because we are sisters and not just because I made a promise to defend you as my little, but because that is what women should do for one another. Sometimes, in all the chaos, the simple bonds from woman to woman get lost. I will have your back not just for the next four years but for life.

Love,

Your Big