When I first started Purdue, I was excited for my career in academia, but something tragic happened to me. TW: rape.
I was raped by someone I knew and it took a toll on my mental and physical health. I began to have nightmares, lost 10 pounds in healthy weight due to stress, suffered from PTSD, depression, turned to alcohol and had thoughts of suicide.
I tried to find solace in counseling and outside sources, since Purdue lacked resources for assault survivors.
Due to the lack of a rape crisis center, which the campus once had, I decided to turn my horrible experience into a source of help and inspiration for other survivors on campus and start the group Students Against Rape And Violence (SARA V). I also created the platform of sexual assault awareness during my reign as Miss Indiana United States 2015.
Because of these efforts, I was recognized and became a motivational speaker in the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to combating sexual assault - Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN), speaker’s bureau and began to share my story. Although this string of events has led me to become an activist on campus in regards to sexual assault, these kinds of resources should be readily available on every campus. Especially for grad students, which can be an isolating time for many.
For those tasked with the burden of seeking help for assault survivors, here’s a small list to start.
University requirements: https://www.knowyourix.org/
Remember, you’re not alone and what happened to you is not your fault.
Thank you so much to the author Ti’Air Riggins ( Instagram @pslove_ti, Twitter @ti_enjoli) for this brave and powerful piece.
Author bio: Ti’Air Riggins is a current Biomedical Engineering PhD candidate at Michigan State University. She received her bachelors in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2011 as the first black undergraduate BME student, and proceeded to earn a master’s from the University of Cincinnati in 2013. Her research focus is integrating tissue engineering with implantable electrodes to tune immune response in the brain, in the REIL lab under the direction of Dr. Erin Purcell. She is heavily involved in the BMES, NSBE and is in the speaker’s bureau for the Rape And Incest National Network. She has also served in the community under her platforms of sexual assault awareness and exposing underrepresented students to STEM as Miss Indiana United States 2015 and has received awards for her Social Justice in 2016 and Humanitarianism in 2018. She was named a fellow in the Society for Neuroscience from 2016 – 2018. Her future goals include managing her own lab and being a successful entrepreneur and mentor for students who are underrepresented students in neuroscience and engineering. You can follow her on Twitter and connect on Linkedin.