You guys, I have big news! Okay, I guess the title kind of gave it away, but I have the amazing opportunity to run the 2016 Boston Marathon this year on behalf of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)!
As you all know I’ve run marathons before in 2013 and 2014, but this is the big one. I have been a spectator at the Boston Marathon every year since 2009 and can’t believe that I’m going to be running this year.
After a DNS for the San Francisco Marathon this year because of an injury and the high cost of travel, I am ready to conquer my third marathon on what is arguably the most famous marathon course in the United States. This marathon is also particularly personal for me because of my connection to BIDMC and what I hope to accomplish by fundraising for them.
I’ve chosen to fundraise for BIDMC because of a very personal experience there in 2005. I have never talked about this on the blog before (and many people closest to me have only recently found out), but my freshman year at Harvard I was sexually assaulted. After going to University Health Services I was transferred to BIDMC. The staff was amazing. Not only were they extremely competent, the compassion I was shown was second to none I have experienced anywhere else in any situation. On top of that, the sensitivity to the situation helped ease the trauma of what had happened to me.
I’m choosing to talk about this now because I feel like too many survivors of sexual assault feel like they have to stay silent. There is still a huge amount of victim blaming and stigma around sexual assault and we live in a society that instead of teaching people how not to rape, teaches people how not to get raped.
Just a few days ago, another Harvard student shared her experience via the school newspaper The Crimson. Part of the introduction to her story really struck me.
I want to share my story for several reasons: to paint an accurate picture of how rape happens at this prestigious institution, to encourage my peers to take an active role in prevention, to dispel the notion that sexual assault is a spectrum, and to tell other assault survivors that they are not alone and they are not to blame.
I am fundraising specifically for the BIDMC Annual Fund which, in part, funds the social worker positions at the hospital like the social worker who helped me feel more at ease during my exam after I was assaulted and assured me that I was not at fault for what had happened to me. I want to ensure that everyone who goes to BIDMC, for whatever reason, receives the same level of care I received. I want to help BIDMC fund social workers, continuing education opportunities, expanded space, and research. I hope you’ll help by donating to my fundraising efforts.
I am no longer staying silent about what happened to me and I hope that I can help provide a voice to other survivors of sexual assault. If you have experienced sexual assault or are confused or unsettled about a sexual experience, reach out for help. If you are in Boston you can call the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center or go to any hospital like BIDMC. If you are on a college campus, seek out the resources there (at Harvard the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is amazing and many colleges have similar offices).
There is nothing to be ashamed of, you are not to blame.