I used to think people could be divided into two types: those who avoid confrontation at all costs, and those who face it head on (I, for the record, fall into the latter camp). There’s obviously pluses and minuses to each side, but there’s also a very real middle ground: people who are put in situations they would never have expected, and as a result, have disputes they never would have chosen.
That was the case for Jillian Corsie, who, after being raped during her first month of college, found that authority figures didn’t care. Police even told her they deemed the act “consensual.”
Ten years later, she decided to face those same people — on camera. “Second Assault” takes Jillian through the confrontation with LieutenantDavid Caballero, who is open and honest about the mistakes he made at the time, HuffPost women’s reporter Alanna Vagianos explained in a piece this week that also premiered the film.
For Alanna, who spoke with the directors in 2017 when they were crowdfunding for the project, the experience was eye-opening, if not necessarily a lesson in how to recover from assault.
“Forgiveness is great, but it’s not for everyone. I think for some survivors, confrontation and forgiveness can be a huge part of their healing process, but healing looks different for everyone. Asking a survivor to confront and forgive their abuser often doesn’t go the way it did in ‘Second Assault,’” she said.
Jillian’s vulnerability and hesitation in the film, even 10 years after the assault, was a reminder how pervasive and damaging sexual violence can be, Alanna said. “Whether it’s been a month or a decade — an assault often causes irreparable damage that is really hard to cope with.”
And although she has spent years covering stories like this, Alanna finds optimism here in the way in which Caballero responded, including changing how he trains colleagues to deal with sexual assault cases and victims.
“I do believe that as the culture shifts, so does our approach to law enforcement with cases like these,” she said. I hope she’s right.
This marks my last week compiling the Her Stories newsletter (for now, at least!). Thank you so much for writing in and sharing stories of hope, hardship, and straight-up yarns that come from the complexities of your lives. I hope this email continues to bring you something to enjoy and think about throughout your weekend.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Follow Alanna Vagianos (@lannadelgrey) for more stories about gender issues, sexual violence and social justice, and follow HuffPost Life (@HuffPostLife) for endlessly interesting takes on modern life in every sense of the word.
For a long time — forever, some might say — women have accepted that they can’t pee in public. Sure, their male companions might be able to sneak down an alley or between a couple of cars, but women are forced to stand in line for a stall or bathroom because there really isn’t another option. Enter the Lapee, a female urinal of Danish design that’s making a mark at places like music festivals, and offering a comfortable, safe space to squat and get on with it.
Jenna Karvunidis, the woman whose social media post about her daughter’s gender reveal party went viral in 2008, wishes she could take it back. She now realizes that assigning gender at birth (or before birth!) is limiting, and she took to Facebook to write all about it. My favourite comment on that post? “We didn’t have a gender reveal because popping a balloon full or orange glitter with the words ‘gender is a construct’ inside would have just confused the grandmothers.” Oh, but to have seen the looks on their faces if it had happened. The word “influencer” gets thrown a lot, but it’s always great to see when someone with immense reach uses it to educate others.