Why I Did Report

By: Alexis Walstrom, walstromal@mnstate.edu

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With the rise of social media in recent years, it’s easier than ever for people to share news as well as personal thoughts, ideas and stories. Last year, #metoo started trending worldwide on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The hashtag was started in October 2017 to spread awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

 

Recently, social media platforms have been plastered with posts tagged “#whyididntreport,” along with stories of why those who posted it chose not to report to their local authorities what happened to them. According to the New York Times, the trending hashtag was started by two college students in New York after allegations of sexual assault against newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh, came out. The students wanted to provide a platform for survivors to share their stories.

 

Because of these movements, my social media timelines have been flooded with posts from friends and family members re-posting the stories of others, as well as sharing their own. Movements like this can open your eyes to what really goes on in the world. The reality is sexual harassment happens all around us, even if we don’t see it. It happens in workplaces, on the streets and even in schools and on college campuses. We all know it, but we never think it will happen to us or anyone we know.

 

I’m here to tell you that this does happen, everyday. It’s something I was taught about in school and something I’ve seen on the news and social media. I never thought it would happen to me, until my entire world changed in a matter of two days:

 

I lived in a single room in Holmquist, where I was sitting watching Netflix before bed. It was around 11 p.m. when there was a knock on my door. Not thinking anything of it, I got up and answered it to find a guy I had never seen or met before trying to walk into my room. I asked him a couple different times if I could help him and what he wanted. After a couple seconds, he finally replied with something I won’t quote, but he asked for sex. I told him he had to leave, and I got him out of my room. He kept knocking on my door for about five minutes, trying to convince me to let him back in.

 

Luckily, I had friends who called Public Safety. I filed a report with them, and eventually I got to sleep.

 

The next day was pretty normal, until I checked Facebook after dinner. I had a notification that someone had followed my personal Facebook profile. Curious, I went to the profile because the name didn’t sound familiar.

 

Instantly, I froze. Somehow, the guy from the night before had found my Facebook profile, only knowing my first name that was on the door decorations put up by my RA. I took screenshots, sent the profile link to my friends and blocked him before heading to Public Safety to notify them. After matching the name in their records to the name on the Facebook profile, they added it to the report from the night before.

 

I was told they would go talk to him again, which I’m sure they did, and I felt a bit better. That night, I tried to go to bed earlier, but I couldn’t fall asleep because I was wondering if he would come back again. I tried to calm myself down, but by the time I would’ve been calm enough to sleep, I heard a familiar voice in the hallway; I don’t know if he was with someone else or if he was on the phone, but I knew it was him. Not knowing how long he would stay outside my room, and not wanting him to hear me on the phone, I told my friends to call Public Safety.

 

That night, most of my friends came to support me while Public Safety came and called Moorhead Police. Once the report was filed with the Moorhead PD, the officer that responded to the call asked me if I wanted him to talk to this guy (who, unfortunately, lived in my building on the floor above me). The officer went upstairs, and within minutes, there were 12 cop cars surrounding the dorm, six on each side. He ran from the cops, but was arrested when they caught him.

 

Within a week, he was trespassed not only from the dorms, but also from campus itself.

 

This past summer was challenging at times, but I got through it with the support of my amazing friends and family. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. Coming back to campus in August wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, which is probably a good thing. I don’t quite know how my story ends yet, but I can tell you that I’m doing a lot better, and that things are looking up for me.

 

The purpose of sharing my story is not to scare anyone on campus, but simply to inform our community of what can happen. Public Safety has been amazing through this whole process, and I thank them for that. I don’t know what would’ve happened if they hadn’t taken this seriously. If you need them, the Public Safety team on our campus is kind, respectful and patient. They will work with you to make sure you feel safe here, so please don’t be afraid to go to them. They’re here to help!

 

Sexual harassment is real, which is why I did report it. Was I scared? Yes. But in the end, it was worth it. Now, by sharing my story, I want to use my voice to help those who feel as though they don’t have one. This is something that is a very real issue, and it happens more often than you’d think.

 

If this, or something similar has happened to you, I know how you feel. Please reach out to someone and talk about what happened, even if you choose not to report it to police or campus security.

 

My email is at the top of this article, so please feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to. I will listen. I will believe you.

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