My name is Jackie Ortmeier and I am a Senior at the University of South Dakota.
For the past few years, incidents of campus rape and sexual assault have increasingly littered our country. I have always felt empathy with survivors, and never understood why universities would rather risk their reputation by someone finding out they covered up rapes rather than provide honest statistics and useful resources to its students, staff, and faculty.
When I became a survivor the fall of my Sophomore year, 2013, I was lost. I have the most amazing family and friends, but at the time I felt like I had nothing. I became a shell of myself, distancing my emotions from anyone in fear that it would kill me if someone hurt me again. Finally, two years later, I feel like I can breathe again. Some days are awful, and every day I struggle with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Still, what I went through cannot even begin to relate to what others have experienced.
That’s why I need to do this. For everyone who is not yet strong enough to share their story, to everyone who fears for their life, to everyone who feels worthless and empty. I never in a million years imagined this would happen to me, but here I am, and I’m never giving up.