Home » Opinion » Letters to Editor » Letter to the editor: How Ohio State’s Sexual Civility and Empowerment center saved my life

Letter to the editor: How Ohio State’s Sexual Civility and Empowerment center saved my life

Event flyers are posted outside the Sexual Civility and Empowerment Center office in 1120 Lincoln Tower. The center is currently under review. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

With graduation quickly approaching, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my four years at Ohio State. While I am proud to be a Buckeye, when I heard the news of the Sexual Civility and Empowerment being non-operational while under review, I became worried for the future of Ohio State. SCE provided me with a sense of security in the darkest time in my life, and now I am ready to advocate for it.

On Aug. 27, 2016, I was raped by a fellow Ohio State student. I was held against my will as a stranger penetrated me, restrained my hands behind my back, pulled my hair, and pushed my head into the pillow — all while I was crying and demanding him to stop. Numerous witnesses saw me distraught after the assault as I immediately ran out of the house, sobbing, looking for my friends. Although I was in shock, I made the courageous decision to call 911. I was taken to the hospital, interviewed by detectives and a nurse and completed a rape kit. I was given shots to prevent pregnancy and STDs, causing immediate nausea, and asked to explain the worst night of my life repeatedly to strangers. This reality left me with a range of emotions including guilt, indignity, despair and rage. The weeks following my attack brought constant flashbacks inducing recurring nightmares, an inability to concentrate and despair like I had never experienced before.

At the darkest and most confusing point in my life, I found Natalie Spiert, a support coordinator and advocate at SCE. Though I initially was skeptical about the center, Natalie offered me a sense of hope. She was down to earth and had a way of making me feel comfortable when no one else could. She listened to my thoughts and understood my feelings. She also offered me coping strategies and helped me get involved with free therapy from Mount Carmel Crime and Trauma Center with therapists trained in helping survivors of sexual assault.

Natalie was there for me throughout every important milestone of my healing process. She helped me tell my parents of my assault and even told them how to properly support me.  Natalie was in communication with the detectives and was the first person I told when I found out my rapist had another victim, which she immediately reported to Ohio State. Natalie supported me when I decided to pursue an Academic Code of Conduct Trial and sat in the room with me while I stood up for myself and told my story. And when I bravely decided to pursue a criminal trial, she was there for me. Natalie attended every meeting with my prosecutor and attended the entire trial. When I testified for two hours in front of my rapist, with the defense attorney questioning my character, Natalie was the person I looked to for strength. Throughout the past year and a half, Natalie was the one person I knew I could trust and who would drop everything to support me.

I have written my story to share my passion for Sexual Civility and Empowerment. Students deserve answers as to why SCE is under review and why coordinators were forced to temporarily cut ties with their students — actions that have left many survivors hopeless, perplexed and unsure of where to go for help. If Natalie had to stop communication with me in the middle of my healing journey it would have been detrimental to my mental and physical well-being. Ohio State must recognize that at this point, regardless of what might have happened, it is doing more harm than good by restricting SCE and the unique support it can offer.

In SCE’s place, Ohio State is pointing survivors of sexual violence to Counseling and Consultation Services and Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio, a rape crisis intervention program in Columbus. While CCS and SARNCO are credible resources, they did not help me process or heal from my assault. When I was having suicidal thoughts following the assault, I had to wait a full week before I was able to get in for an appointment with CCS. Then, after attending a session with CCS, I left lost and confused. Although these counselors help many people, they do not provide the expertise I found at SCE. Likewise, I initially called SARNCO’s 24/7 rape hotline but hung up after waiting for 45 minutes without speaking to a representative. Furthermore, while SARNCO advocates claim to be on call at hospitals to immediately speak to victims who have received a rape kit, I waited more than two hours for my SARNCO advocate to show up and did not hear from my SARNCO advocate again after the hospital visit.

As someone who has tried CCS and SARNCO, I want university administrators to know that the only resource that helped me was SCE. I have never encountered as much acceptance, support and love as I have with SCE. Natalie didn’t only give me hope and a sense of normalcy, she also saved my life. Without Natalie, I would not have continued my education at Ohio State nor would I be receiving my diploma in a few short weeks. Without her advocacy, I would not have accomplished my dream of attending graduate school. Without Natalie, I might have even taken my own life. Though I walked into the Sexual Civility and Empowerment center scared, lost, and blaming myself, I left confident, resilient and proud of the person I have become.

The author’s name has been withheld to protect her identity.

29 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story

  2. Thank you for sharing <333

  3. Hi there. Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you can achieve your dream of grad school and that the support of someone at SCE made a positive impact in your life.

    As a fellow student and survivor of sexual assault, I would like to also share my story. I went to the SCE office to talk about being suicidal due to my assault. Instead of having resources provided to me, I was told my outfit was amazing and that I just needed to stay positive and not let other people bring me down. My reason for feeling suicidal were frequent flashbacks, so the completely inappropriate advice I received did not even apply to my chief complaint about suicidal ideation.

    I know other people that did not have their needs met or had their assault experience minimized. Unfortunately, every horrible, disappointing story I heard was associated with the same person each time.

    I think it’s wonderful that you had a positive experience with the SCE office, but in sharing my experience with others, I have learned of more negative experiences from sexual assault survivors than I could justify, even for a school of our size. I am confident that were serious issues with the way the office was running before it was put on hiatus.

    As someone who received services from the office over a lengthy period, I sensed a lack in some of the staff’s knowledge on therapeutic communication and many conflicts of interest.

    This department would not be under review unless it was necessary. It is taking up our university’s time, and money. I am not trying to defend Ohio State’s lack of transparency in the investigation process, but I just want to point out that there must have been serious issues with the SCE department for OSU to take this sort of action, and I feel like it probably was not limited to just my experience and the experiences of several other people I know.

    As a survivor who had a horrible experience with this department, I am glad OSU is taking the necessary steps to make sure the program is effective, and that our resources are not misused.
    SCE should be held to a high standard and should be modified and improved if not meeting those standards. It is unfortunate that students were left in the dark, and it’s a shame the university did not think of a contingency plan. However, I think that the best way we can support future survivors is to support this investigation, and hope SCE comes out better and stronger than it was.

  4. This story reads like a feminist raype fantasy, most likely written by Natalie. Never forget, Feminists and SJWs are notorious for making up stories to support their narrative. This appears to be one.

    • I’m curious as to what the court decided

      • Educated citizen

        OJ Simpson was found not guilty. Do you believe he killed his wife and another man?

        • You’re comparing apples to oranges. Of course OJ killed his wife and Ron Goldman.

          I’m saying that this anonymous letter to the editor reads an awful lot like a feminist fantasy…

          “I was held against my will as a stranger penetrated me, restrained my hands behind my back, pulled my hair, and pushed my head into the pillow — all while I was crying and demanding him to stop. Numerous witnesses saw me distraught after the assault as I immediately ran out of the house, sobbing, looking for my friends.”

          Sorry, it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

          Young men aren’t animals. They understand that college campuses aren’t friendly places for them anymore. Most try to anonymously get through their classes, as even a hint of sexual impropriety (awkward approach, offhanded comment, etc.) could very well get them dragged in front of a campus tribunal that people like Natalie support.

    • Natalie most definitely wrote this. Disappointing that she would sling mud at other organizations that support survivors to promote her own agenda, but I’m also not surprised :-/

    • 1. Feminism = the equality of men and women, it’s not the insult you think it is. You clearly have access to the internet so claiming stupidity and ignorance is no longer an option.
      2. I’m sickened by your response to a survivor coming forward to promote a simple, necessary resource. Instead of critiquing a legitimate criminal, you sympathize with a CONVICTED r-a-p-i-s-t. Try to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with any woman, who would tell you about the very different world we live in. People like you perpetuate and sympathize with fear, homogeny and misogyny and truly need to try harder to create a world that feels safe for everyone.

      • “1. Feminism = the equality of men and women, it’s not the insult you think it is. You clearly have access to the internet so claiming stupidity and ignorance is no longer an option.”

        No, it isn’t about equality. 3rd wave feminism is about achieving superiority women, while at the same time removing the risks and expectations that men have had to take on for centuries.

        “2. I’m sickened by your response to a survivor coming forward to promote a simple, necessary resource. Instead of critiquing a legitimate criminal, you sympathize with a CONVICTED r-a-p-i-s-t.”

        What is there to critique? His technique? His choice of venue? It doesn’t really matter, as both the survivor and the event are the figments of Natalie Spiert’s imagination. There is no one to sympathize with — the event never happened.

        “Try to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with any woman, who would tell you about the very different world we live in.”

        Sure. We can have a conversation. She can tell me about the catcall she received from a passing motorist, and I can tell her about losing my children to a drug-addicted societal parasite because a feminist family court system always sides with mom. Or I can introduce her to one of several innocent men I know who actually had their futures derailed because some girl changed her mind the next morning

        “People like you perpetuate and sympathize with fear, homogeny and misogyny and truly need to try harder to create a world that feels safe for everyone.”

        Female SJW buzzwords, weak attempts at admonishment, dreams of a “safe world for everyone”… yep, mental midget. I’m out.

  5. Educated citizen

    Natalie did not write this and if you need a court decision to justify a r-a-p-e you are incredibly ignorant. If you think a person made this up you are severely unaware of legitimate issues happening right in front of your eyes. Your mother would be very disappointed at your words.

  6. Natalie Spiert found be assisting students to lie during Title IX investigations

    Did Natalie Spiert also encourage you to lie during the college investigation as she did here:

    https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/44355/

    • Thank you for linking

      This is the story The Lantern should be running… this was really disappointing to read. Thank you for linking. I was genuinely curious as to what was serious enough to have this department under review but this sheds some light on that. By continuing to have this article on the front page The Lantern definitely looks like someone at the SCE department is pulling some strings for good press, especially the person who is the subject of this article. I think it is doing more to hurt the needs of survivors than it does to help.

    • I knew nothing about Natalie Spiert when I made my original comment on 4/20:

      “Never forget, Feminists and SJWs are notorious for making up stories to support their narrative.”

      However, after reading the extensive article at the link above, it appears that my suspicions were correct. Natalie Spiert aided and abetted a female student who was flunking out of medical school, encouraging her (the student) to concoct a fake r-a-p-e story in order to gain sympathy and stay on campus. The male student (final year in medical school) has had his life destroyed in the process.

      I do hope that the judge shows no mercy on this creature, and that she is forced into indentured servitude to pay back the young man who had his future ruined. There needs to be accountability for these rogue Title IX officers — young men’s lives are being destroyed.

      • Educated citizen

        Just because there is one ACCUSATION, not verdict, against Natalie does not mean she had anything to do with it. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? You’re utilizing this one story to diminish any other woman or man’s story about sexual assault and r-a-p-e. Young men’s lives are being destroyed? What about the r-a-p-e victim’s who never come forward because they’re too afraid or too ashamed? What about the women who drop out of school because they can’t handle seeing their attacker in class. THIS IS NOT A FAKE R-A-P-E STORY! The person who submitted this article had to have the academic and criminal trial’s case numbers in order to submit it. Stop diminishing her story just because you are a narcissist.

        • Proud SCE student, Angry Alum

          Hope you boys know that charges were dropped against Natalie. Because she didn’t encourage her to lie. She didn’t know. and OH MY GOD NO THIS IS NOT NATALIE. Just someone who researches and thinks BEFORE I spew garbage.

  7. Victim blaming is NEVER okay

    Why are you utilizing this article of a brave sexual assault survivor’s story to question if she is lying? Regardless of what is going on with the University at this point, why are you victim blaming this girl? Why would a young women go to the hospital and receive a r-a-p-e kit if she was “lying?” Why would she put herself through a criminal trial if she was “lying?” Prosecutor’s only take cases they think they can win, so clearly she had evidence. Why are you choosing to believe a SERIAL r-a-p-i-s-t over a brave victim? We live in a society that is pro-perpetrator rather than pro-victim, which is absolutely outrageous. Instead of questioning the “darkest moment” in her life, why can’t you support her courageous act to come forward about how she coped with this tragedy and overcame it? Things to think about. Additionally, Natalie was not found to be assisting students to lie. She was accused of it, probably by the perpetrator himself, and is possibly being investigated. Get your facts straight.

    • I’m not questioning the “brave sexual assault survivor’s story.” I’m questioning her very existence.

      “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

      – Christopher Hitchens

  8. Stay strong!!!

  9. Cliffs Notes version of the College Fix article:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/judge-title-ix-official-can-be-held-personally-liable-for-helping-r-ape-accuser-lie/

    Have to remove the dash in r-a-p-e to get the URL to work. It’s really awesome that the newspaper for a university where entering freshman averaged a ’29’ on their ACT feels the need to treat it’s readers like 5 year olds… pathetic.

  10. http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/24/the-campus-r-ape-frenzy-americas-colleges-are-awash-with-due-process-violations-not-sex-crime/

    “The OSU administrators appeared to have a different conception of due process. Sexual Violence Support Coordinator Natalie Spiert was especially blunt. When asked by Hall’s lawyer whether her admitted duty to “support students at Ohio State” included “an obligation to make sure that the hearing panel gets it right,” her answer was “no.” When asked whether she had an obligation to correct a false statement at the hearing, she replied, “I do not know.” When investigator Majarian was asked whether the Title IX coordinator’s job was to ensure that the process was fair, he, too, said, ‘I don’t know.'”

    Yep, there you go. The Natalie and the SCE clashed with reality, and reality won.

  11. For some reason, my response to Matt is not being posted …

    Matt: I am one of those SJWs you’re complaining about, but I happen to agree with most of the points you’ve posted here.

    The person who keeps posting here is more interested in defending Natalie than helping survivors overall (again, why I think this whole article is being done as a favor to Natalie and SCE staff, and why the SCE office SHOULD be investigated). The person who responded to you is being very condescending and combative, and I am sorry you were spoken to that way. There are those of us that believe r-pe culture exists and want to fix it, but still want to communicate that with a sense of compassion, and respect for the beliefs of others.

    As someone who identifies as female, I find it problematic that the poster who keeps attacking you is incorrectly projecting the problem of sexual assault as a young woman’s problem. Assault and harassment impact every age group, and the old, young, and those with cognitive disabilities are the most vulnerable and are being completely left out of the conversation here. I applaud that this person cares about some survivors (young women, evidently) but the delivery is really hurting the credibility of all the parties that this person is defending.

    To the person who keeps attacking people in these comments: no one is attacking the experience of the survivor. But this letter is obviously a worshipping/slanted piece in favor of SCE and one of its members and seeing that the department is under review, I think it is fair game to question the utility of the department. The Lantern is not running this article to raise awareness about sexual assault. It is running this article to defend SCE.

    Thank you for sharing your views, Matt, I found them valuable to read even if I don’t agree with 100% of your delivery. ​

  12. I’m still curious as to what the court decided, this article didnt really display any evidence indicating she was actually raped.

  13. And the deciding factor for me why this article and story is Bs and frankly why universities are unjust against men. I can almost guarantee you The Lantern would not publish a story (from the male student-if found not guilty) showing how his life was ACTUALLY AFFECTED

    • I think everybody needs to take a moment to watch The Hunting Ground. It’s a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses featuring survivors themselves, college administrators, and real statistics. 92%-98% of sexual assault allegations are true, leaving only 2%-8% of false allegations. I’m not arguing that a false allegation can greatly harm a man, but the way these women are treated is truly unjust.

      • Re: Chris and Eye Opening

        The Hunting Ground is an important, informative film but is unrelated to what The Lantern sought to accomplish by running this article—to mostly defend Natalie and to a lesser extent, The SCE. The current body of evidence does suggest that false accusations are low. That being said, if you look at the article Chris is referencing, you’ll see that the judge decided Natalie could be held legally responsible for withholding information from a r-pe case that ultimately led to a man’s life being ruined without appropriate evidence. R-pe culture is real, but those who want to support survivors lose credibility by ignoring cases such as the one that has temporarily shut down SCE.

  14. What a response, that’s what I was looking for, thanks to a friend!

    Rita

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