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Archive for Monday, May 14, 2012

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Double Take: New column co-author to take the helm in August

May 14, 2012

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Dr. Wes: As always, this year’s Double Take contest was a competitive affair. It was made even more so by the difficulty of the challenge question, which, by the breadth of rankings, seems to have created as much disagreement for the judges as for the prospective coauthors.

Nevertheless, we tied our previous record with eight completed applications, four from Free State, three from Bishop Seabury Academy and one from Lawrence High, spread evenly between juniors and seniors. In addition to the challenge question, each wrote a second essay at my office on a topic not revealed until the day of the interview. Our six judges included former Double Take coauthor Ben Markley, and Deborah Shouse and Dane Zeller (danezeller.com) of Kansas City Writers Group.

Both essays were blind-reviewed and ranked from 1 to 8. The interview was given greater weight this year as new radio and TV opportunities open up for the column, and the coauthor will be featured on some of them.

Emily VanSchmus, a Free State High School senior, was this year’s runner-up. She’ll complete the year and receive the scholarship if the winner cannot. Emily’s submission essay and that of very close third-place applicant Logan Brown, FSHS junior, can be read below.

We hope Logan and the other three juniors who applied this year will give it a second try again next year. Their work was excellent.

This year’s winner is Katie Guyot, FSHS senior. She had strong essays on difficult questions, a thoughtful, intelligent interview, and great topics to bring to next year’s column. She’ll serve as coauthor through August 2013 and receive a $1,000 scholarship from Dr-Wes.com and another $100 from Central National Bank.

Challenge question

I had a bad experience recently while I was drinking. I don’t remember everything that happened, but I do know somebody I don’t like and don’t have a relationship with had sex with me. I only told two friends. One says that it was date rape and the other says it I shouldn’t accuse him of that because I was so wasted that I might have done it voluntarily, and besides nobody will believe me that it wasn’t consensual. What should I do?

In response to the challenge question, Katie wrote:

There is a crucial difference between consensual sex and the supposedly “voluntary” inebriated sex you experienced. The first involves two individuals who make a conscious, collaborative decision to engage in sexual activity. The second indicates that at least one of the individuals involved was not aware that the most private regions of his or her body were being invaded.

I don’t want to spend a paragraph preaching about the dangers of alcohol — I’m sure this incident has done more to drive you away from drinking than 1,000 school pledges to “just say no” ever could — but alcohol is both what catalyzed this situation and what is now preventing you from actively confronting it.

Without clear memories of what happened that night, you are understandably confused about how to react. It’s difficult to assemble a jigsaw puzzle when half of the pieces are missing.

However, after reading your letter, I’m convinced that you have an intuitive idea of how the picture is supposed to look, even if you don’t have the edge pieces. The way you phrased the second sentence is particularly telling: you didn’t say, “We had sex;” you said, “[He] had sex with me.” That tells me that no matter how fuzzy your memory may be, you believe this person knowingly took advantage of you while you were in a vulnerable mental and physical state — and that, to be blunt, is rape.

Rape is an emotionally strenuous event that you should not confront alone. If you feel comfortable talking to your parents about it, I encourage you to go to them with the full story. If not, you may consider contacting GaDuGi SafeCenter, which offers free, confidential counseling to victims of sexual violence.

You cannot concern yourself with the consequences the young man will face. If he was as drunk as you were when he had sex with you, he is probably feeling lost and confused as well. If he was sober, he must learn that his actions were unacceptable. Besides, it is incredibly difficult to prove rape in court without having a hospital collect evidence immediately, so legal repercussions will probably not be forthcoming.

The most important factor to consider when confronting the aftermath of nonconsensual sex is how you feel about it. Whatever the situation, and no matter who or what can take the blame, you have the sole right to your own body. When that right is violated, you are entitled to defend it.

Runner up, Emily VanSchmus, FSHS senior

Neither of your friends is completely correct. There isn’t any way to prove rape occurred, but do not ignore the situation. Laws vary from place to place, but it is highly likely that where you live, sex is not legally consensual if either or both parties are intoxicated. This means that even if you had given consent while under the influence, it could still legally be considered rape. Check the laws in your area if this is important to you.

If your friend was suggesting that you were given drugs before being raped, you could be drug tested for different kinds of date rape drugs that might still be in your system, depending on how recently the incident occurred.

In any event, it is very important to take care of yourself first, both physically and emotionally. I would recommend telling a parent or guardian and seeing a medical professional right away. Since you don’t remember the details, there isn’t any way to know whether protection was used or if the guy you slept with has a sexually transmitted disease. Pregnancy and/or STDs are not something that can wait, and immediate medical attention is necessary.

Those are all suggestions for taking action right away, but once you take care of yourself it is up to you to decide where to go from there. Talking to the boy you were involved with could be difficult and awkward, but it might also be important. Don’t hesitate to seek further medical assistance from a professional if the emotional baggage is too much to handle.

Consider that although you could press charges for rape, there might also be consequences for underage drinking, assuming you aren’t 21 yet. I only say that so you know what to expect. Please don’t let that be a deciding factor in whether or not you take legal action.

I hope not only that you are OK, but that you can use this event as a learning experience. Know your boundaries and stick to them. Having the ability to use good judgment is not something that can ever be taken for granted.

Third place, Logan Brown, FSHS junior

That night and the events that have occurred are in the past now. There is nothing you can do to change it. The best thing for you to do know is figure out a way to accept it, learn from the past, and move on. To come to accept the events, you need to address what you are feeling. Whatever you are feeling is natural and is nothing to be ashamed of. The person that had sex with you has changed your life, not your friends. It is important to have friends to be supportive of your decisions, but ultimately what matters is how you feel about the situation.

Being intoxicated or anything else for that matter is not an excuse for unconsented sex. Drinking alcohol, doing drugs, the clothes you were wearing or the time of day is not asking for it. It is not your fault.

Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. You should talk to both the GaDuGi Safe Center and the police. GaDuGi Safe Center (785-843-8985), is trained to help individuals in situations like yours. GaDuGi has trained advocates who are educated in how to respond to sexual violence and the confusion that surrounds it. They can help you work through your feelings and assure you that you are doing the right thing. The advocates will also accompany and explain all that is going on through any judicial processes and interviews that occur. There is also a full-time counselor available for you to speak with.

You should also contact the local police department to file a report. It is the officer’s job to investigate situations exactly like these. It is important to be completely honest with the officer investigating. If you do not remember a specific detail, say that you don’t remember. Tell the officer about the amount of alcohol you consumed and any other factors that could have played into the night. It is their job to help you, not judge you.

Give yourself permission and the ability to express your feelings, work through your emotions and seek help.

Comments

auntmimi210 1 year, 11 months ago

Wow, slick way to hide a snarky comment. How rude.

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UNIKU 1 year, 11 months ago

Wow - this young lady sounds very impressive. Definitely an upgrade! Good job selection committee.

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