Francesca Profile picture
Jun 19, 2018 17 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I was 14 when I was abducted & sexually assaulted by a classmate (a stranger) last summer. When I told my school, I thought they would keep me safe. Here’s how Winchester Public Schools turned a bad situation into an absolute nightmare THREAD
I did everything you’re supposed to do. I reported the assault to police & my school. I assumed adults would make it better and that I would be able to have their support. Instead, the school’s response has become worse than the actual assault. @tweetwps 1/
Although a judge issued a no-contact order against my assailant and placed him under court supervision for felony abduction & sexual battery, my school’s #TitleIX investigation concluded he didn’t do it. My principal, superintendent & school board are all calling me a liar. 2/
At the time of the investigation, my assailant had already been criminally charged. When the school board unanimously rubber-stamped the school’s decision, the court had already decided there were “facts sufficient for a finding of guilt” for both abduction & sexual battery. 3/
Criminal courts use a MUCH higher standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) than schools do (preponderance of the evidence- more likely than not) So if the court says I was assaulted and my school needs less proof, how can my school say it didn’t happen? It makes no sense. 4/
The school’s #TitleIX investigation was a sham from the start. We gave the investigator critical info about my physical injuries, mental health & testimony from the police’s forensic interviewer, who said I was credible. The investigator omitted all of this from her report. 5/
We signed a release for the school to talk to my therapist. I told my school repeatedly how terrifying it was to see my assailant at school. None of this made it into the report. Instead, the school slut-shamed me by asking my mom, friend & me how many boyfriends I’ve had 6/
And, my school claimed I’d never provided any info about therapy or distress. They even accused me of lying about how traumatizing it was to see my assailant for the first time at school after the attack. Basically, “it didn’t happen because none of us saw it happen.” 7/
WPS superintendent Jason Van Heukelum (@jvanheukelum) used my good grades, debate awards & 9th grade class president position against me. Would he also accuse @Aly_Raisman of lying about her abuse and distress just bc she was an Olympic medalist? 8/
WPS tried to discredit me because I didn’t tell anyone about the assault until 3-4 weeks later. Sexual assault is incredibly traumatizing. Many survivors wait years -- even decades – before they disclose what happened to them. 9/
This past semester, my school refused to tell any of my or my assailant’s teachers about the court’s no-contact order so I continued to encounter him. I was constantly afraid I’d run into him. I was afraid to use the bathroom alone. I stayed home often b/c school was so toxic 10/
I told the school about the impact this was having on me; nothing changed. I kept seeing him. No victim should have to go through this. K12 students are legally required to attend school, so it is like I am legally required to be in fear. 11/
Because my school refused to keep me safe, I missed over 30 full/partial days this semester. I filed a new #TitleIX complaint on Apr 23. The investigation should have finished by May 14 but it didn’t even start until May 15 and is still dragging on as of June 19. 12/
As a 14-year-old freshman, I should have been able to count on the help and support of the adults at my school. Instead, they made me regret coming forward about my sexual assault. The place where I was supposed to learn became a nightmare 13/
NO survivor should be invalidated
NO survivor should be attacked
NO survivor should fear going to school
NO survivor should be ignored
NO survivor should be shamed

Sexual assault is punishment enough

Survivors need compassion & support. 14/
I should not have to choose between my education and my well-being, but that is a choice WPS has forced me to make. No survivor of sexual violence should ever be in this position, but too many of us are. I hope one day this changes.

Until then, I will continue to fight. END

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