I have been overwhelmed the past two weeks with all of the love and support that has been shown to me by the Minnesota (and worldwide) community. I am grateful for every message, e-mail and phone call I have received. It is so bittersweet for me to be commended for my strength and courage, when it all stems from a situation that I so desperately wish had never occurred (“When a rapist went free: After authorities did not charge the man who raped her, U of M student Abby Honold fought back,” Oct. 23)
I would like to begin by thanking the University of Minnesota for all it has done to support me; while I did not always receive love from many of my fellow students, it was beyond compensated for by the kindness of my professors, the quick actions of the university in expelling Daniel Drill-Mellum, and the endless help I have received from the Aurora Center. I know that not everyone has had a good experience with their university when sexually assaulted on campus, but I am grateful that I did, and I hope that the university’s swift response in my case can be looked at as the standard for how to handle sexual assault.
One of my biggest hopes for an outcome from my story would be that police officers everywhere, but especially those within the Minneapolis Police Department, would reconsider how they investigate sexual-assault cases. I’m not seeking revenge or punishment for how I was treated by these officers; I simply want to help create a change that will allow justice to be better served, in a more empathetic manner, for other victims of sexual assault.
I appreciate everyone who reached out to me, telling me that they had shared my story with their daughters. I agree that my story is full of possibilities and dangers they would need to be aware of. I would hope that you also share this story with your sons. Not only could your sons be potential victims of sexual assault as well, but they are in a unique place in the world with other boys to be able to stop victim-blaming in its tracks. Your sons and daughters are both equally able to step in when they see someone being taken advantage of. We can all do better.
My final words are for victims, and potential victims, of sexual assault. Please, if you are ever assaulted, try to remember to go to the hospital if you are able to. You won’t be forced to file a report with the police if you don’t want to, but you will receive medical care that might be very necessary in the aftermath of your assault. If you have already been a victim of sexual assault, please know that you are a survivor; and if you don’t feel like a survivor yet, you will someday. Nothing can change what has been done to you; I know that. I appreciate that everyone sees my strength, but I know how hard it is to not see your own courageousness in the wake of something so horrible. Know that there are many other survivors of assault out here in the world with you who love you and only wish the best for you.
Thank you once again to everyone who has responded so warmly to my story. I hope that we can all come together and work to find ways to improve not only Minnesota, but the world.
Abby Honold is in her last semester at the University of Minnesota.