Ask­ing for help

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - COL­UMN Melissa Jenk­ins is a reporter/ pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass news­pa­per in Car­bon­ear. She can be reached at melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Last week a story was pub­lished in both The Com­pass and The Tele­gram about a young girl get­ting sex­u­ally as­saulted. She has used her ex­pe­ri­ence to ed­u­cate oth­ers to come for­ward.

I think she is a strong per­son for be­ing able to speak out on some­thing that many con­sider ta­boo or in­ap­pro­pri­ate, but she stands strong in her mes­sage to get help.

Speak­ing with that young woman, I re­mem­bered some of my own life ex­pe­ri­ences that can be used to ed­u­cate.

When I lived in res­i­dence my first year of Me­mo­rial Univer- sity, I was fol­lowed by a male I did not know through the tun­nels on a very rainy day. He fol­lowed me from my house — Cur­tis House — on one side of cam­pus to the Ed­u­ca­tion Build­ing on the op­po­site side of cam­pus. But he wasn’t ini­tially be­hind me. He was in front of me, leav­ing me feel­ing boxed in.

I was scared, but my in­stinct told me to hu­man­ize my­self. So as I quickly walked past him, I looked at him square in the face and said, “Ter­ri­ble weather out there to­day.”

He looked back at me, but did not re­spond. It might be be­cause an­other stu­dent that lived in a neigh­bour­ing house was walk­ing to­wards us at the same time.

Friends who I met for class that morn­ing were scep­ti­cal and told me to let it go. I couldn’t. I walked back to my dorm out­side in the pour­ing rain. I was scared.

I re­ported

it to my fe­male res­i­dence as­sis­tant af­ter re­turn­ing from class and she took me to Cam­pus En­force­ment. They pulled the sur­veil­lance videos, catch­ing the guy in the act on cam­era.

Un­for­tu­nately, he fol­lowed two more fe­males — even chas­ing one — be­fore he was caught.

Ru­mours be­gan to spread through cam­pus, es­pe­cially res­i­dence. Peo­ple were keep­ing an eye out for this guy. He was fi­nally ar­rested and banned from cam­pus. My­self and an­other girl gave po­lice state­ments.

I bring this up be­cause it was al­most ex­actly 11 years ago to the day this hap­pened. And al- though he never laid a hand on any­one, who knows what could have hap­pened if the three of us never stepped for­ward to re­port the be­hav­iour.

Ob­vi­ously, this story isn’t as se­vere as the one shared by Court­ney Dunne, the sub­ject of last week’s story. She went through a lot and con­tin­ues to. But I am try­ing to pass on the mes­sage that even the small­est thing, if it makes you un­com­fort­able, should be re­ported.

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