Peace Corps Volunteer Speaks Out About Lacking Sexual Assault ResponseI breathed in the fresh ocean air rolling up from the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean while standing on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. I was thousands of feet off the ground, gazing at one of the most marvelous sites in the world. Yet I felt devoid of emotion and feeling, sucked out of me when I was sexually assaulted while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa.
I remember thinking to myself that I was at a candidate for one of the wonders of the world and I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t even crack a smile. What once came naturally to me now took so much force to muster that it wasn’t worth it most times.
Being sexually assaulted changed who I was forever. That one act of betrayal. That one act of such an intimate violation. I now view the world through the lens of a survivor.
My attacker was part of my host family and he had harassed me for months. After being assaulted in June 2009, I discovered in the most difficult and personal way possible that Peace Corps had no global policy on how to manage incidents of sexual assault and rape. While most Peace Corps victims of assault or rape are kept in the country’s capital while next steps are taken, my Country Director thought it would be more “productive” to send me out to visit Volunteers and help at their sites. Being a generally helpful and agreeable person, and having never been assaulted before, I thought this seemed reasonable. However, it led me down a path of increased PTSD symptoms, isolation, and breakdowns. I was left on my own to devolve in various locations throughout South Africa.
Full article here: