Student hopes others learn from her troubles

By Colin Phan - Super Phan

Harassment is something that can happen to anyone.

Susan, [not her real name] a Highline student, was only 14 when her nightmare began. 

She was emotionally and sexually abused and harassed by someone her own age.

Susan's story started when she was peer pressured into going to a party, by club soccer teammates. Her teammates were several years older than her. 

Going to this party led to her getting photographed drinking.

"I wanted to fit in when I was 14," Susan said. "Someone took a picture of me doing something I wasn't supposed to, and of course at 14 years old, if my mom found out, I'd be in trouble."

Somehow, after the party, the photo Susan was spread around and eventually made its way to the hands of a male classmate. This classmate also played for the same soccer club, but for the men's division. 

The classmate then decided to blackmail her into sending photographs and performing sexual favors, telling her that he would show the photographs to her mother if she didn't comply. 

"I thought about it, I was so confused," Susan said. "Being 14, I thought my life was over. I didn't feel like there was a way out."

The harassment continued for six grueling months. 

"Eventually, you just get in a hole and there's no way out," she said. "When it was over, I realized I couldn't believe that there are other girls who go through this. 

"Sexual assault is mental. I was made to feel worthless."

The harasser eventually was caught by his mother with photos of Susan on the phone, and she then told the Susan's mother. Charges were filed, but Susan said that she didn't want to do the absolute most they could. 

"Even though he practically destroyed six months of my life, I didn't want to destroy the rest of his," she said. "I wasn't expecting it from him, we went to school together, we had two classes. He became someone so much more in this situation." 

She has since made a recovery, and considers herself a better person now. But if she had to relive that nightmare, she'd do things differently. 

"What I went through is probably the most common type of sexual harassment," Susan said. "But if I could've done it all over again, I would've bit the bullet and told my mom 100 percent." 

With having gone through what she did, she offered some advice to those going through similar situations. 

"You don't have to impress people, and you can't trust everybody you know," she said. "Don't send pictures, we're in the digital age. Once you send something, you can't take it back." 

What we ended the interview on was something that I and Susan hope resonates with others.

"Sexual assault comes in all different degrees, but they're all the same," she said. "You're worth something and people should respect that. You're not weak if you've been through sexual assault. It's not your fault." 

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