In this together: The blue folder


in this together


Editor’s note: This piece is a part of ‘In This Together,’ which seeks to raise awareness about the complex issues of sexual violence. We asked the Iowa State community to share perspectives in various mediums as survivors, bystanders and allies. The initiative is a partnership between the Iowa State Daily, Green Dot and the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. 

The folder gave me back control.

The blue folder nestled between my engineering textbook and marketing notes allowed me to escape.

The nondescript blue folder in my backpack given to me by the police and ACCESS – which was standard procedure for any sexual assault victim, after I’d spent three raw hours sitting with them struggling through sobs to convey repeated sexual assault from someone I’d thought was a friend, who I had class with, who I’d cut off contact from six months before but he just kept coming up around campus, in class, in group projects, around my apartment and oh my god I just can’t get rid of him – gave me back my freedom.

The nondescript blue folder told me “it is very normal to feel fear, shock, guilt, self-blame, and anger after an assault” after I’d been bottling everything up for months and months and couldn’t take the stomach-knotting panic and fear that I was going to see him and I wasn’t going to be able to save myself and it would happen again every time I was walking home alone at night or in broad daylight and finally talked to a Sexual Assault Response Team.

In the blue folder, next to the Title XI information packet, Law Enforcement Reporting Options, and Sexual Assault Exam Services, was power. I didn’t even have to proceed any farther if I didn’t want to – there’s a case number and contact information if I ever choose to start an investigation into the most fucked up year and a half of my life. This scum of the earth human had no control over my life anymore because now I have cards to play.

The words “this is not your fault” from the police officer: the first person I’d told ever that this had happened to me. The Wheel of Power and Control: I realized how absolutely fucked up my friendship with this asshole was. The blue folder: validation that I was not okay, and that it was okay to be not okay.

The shaky, scared me that was hiding in the background trying to calm her screaming mind was okay. The day-to-day me just trying to keep busy and not stop to think or process was okay. The angry, fearless me who wanted to hit this fu**er with a baseball bat was okay.

I am scared. I am proud. I am overcoming. I am pissed as hell.

And all it took was a single blue folder.