WASHINGTON — Kassie Edwards’ routine trip to the third floor of the library took an unexpected turn when she noticed a man as she stepped off the elevator.
“I noticed because when I moved, the lights came on and he was just standing there … and so I went on my way to shelve the books,” says Edwards, who at the time was a student at Florida State University.
Edwards says she walked around the corner. “Then when I went down one of the aisles, he came back around from behind me and he grabbed me in a choke hold, and then that’s when he attacked me and raped me.”
Edwards says she resisted at first.
“If you think you can get away, or you can get somebody’s attention, then you should definitely fight,” she says. “I did resist, but it seemed to make him angry, and he said he had a gun so I didn’t persist in my resistance. I would suggest definitely complying if they have a weapon.”
In the aftermath of the attack, Edwards says she found much-needed support from her mother, her roommate and her professors.
In her interview with WTOP, she offered some advice for victims of sexual assault and tips for friends and acquaintances of sexual assault victims.
If you’re a victim of sexual assault:
- Tell someone: “Immediately after it happened, I went and found a co-worker and I told her what happened,” says Edwards, who worked in the library. She and her co-worker reported the attack to the HR office, which was in the same building as the library. She was taken to the hospital for a forensic exam, or rape kit.
- Seek out resources: Edwards advises victims, especially students, to seek out the resources on available on campus. “Most of the campuses have counseling services, they have the morning-after pill and things like that,” she says. Those who aren’t on campus can look up a local rape crisis center and find counseling and other support.
- Get evidence: “I would encourage people to report [assailants] to police because a lot of rapes go unreported because you know the person, and so you don’t think that people will believe you,” Edwards says. “The longer you wait to report it … it’ll be hard to collect evidence. It’s unfortunate that you have to think about that, but it’s always a good idea to be collecting any evidence you can in case you have to go to court.” According to the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, victims can have a rape kit whether or not they file a police report.
- Know you’re not alone: “This happens every day … there’s always somebody that you can talk to. Whether you talk to God, whether you talk to your mom, whether you talk to an advocate or a friend — just talk to somebody because it’s not good to bottle it inside,” Edwards says.
If you know someone who’s been sexually assaulted:
- Listen: Edwards says friends and family should definitely think about what they say to sexual assault victims. “Some of my co-workers, they weren’t really my friends, they were like ‘Oh, I can’t believe that happened to you. If that happened to me, I would have hit him with this, and that…'” Another option she suggests: Not saying anything at all. “You can just listen and empathize,” she adds.
- Encourage the victim to talk to someone: “Definitely telling somebody is like an absolute thing that you have to do because it’ll eat away at you inside,” Edwards says.
- Encourage the victim to tell police: “Telling the police is, like, the best thing to do,” Edwards says. “You never know if the perpetrator has attacked other people.”
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