Kassie's Story

“I hope that someone will read this and want to tell somebody about what happened to them. I hope it will get the conversation started.”

 

Kassie Edwards was sexually assaulted by a stranger at the Florida State University (FSU) library while at her work-study job. She was shelving books on the fourth floor on a Friday morning, when a young man—who was not an FSU student—attacked her from behind. He was armed. He choked her, dragged her to the floor, and raped her. 

Kassie reported the crime to a coworker and to human resources. The FSU Police came to the library immediately, but did not provide with Kassie with the support she needed. “Something quite like that had never happened on campus. Not like my situation. They weren’t sure how to handle it.” The case was soon handed over to the Tallahassee Police Department.

Headshot of KassieKassie did not want to be treated like a victim. “So for the next three days I hid in my room and cried. I was alone...devastated.”

The perpetrator went on to sexually assault three other women in Tallahassee. He was then arrested after murdering his girlfriend, Mileah Lindsey. The case went to trial one year after Kassie was assaulted, and the perpetrator was sentenced to life in prison. In the Victim Impact Statement she read at the trial, Kassie forgave her attacker. “Some would feel hopelessness. But not me. I feel so sorry for you. Because instead of choosing to be a productive member of society you chose to rape and murder innocent people...I’m sorry the life path you chose has lead you down this dark alley.” 

At first Kassie found it scary to share her story, but later noticed that it helped her heal from the trauma. “After you share and get good feedback, you start wanting to share more.” Counseling has also been a helpful resource. “When it first happened to me, I was in counseling. That really helped me.” Many survivors find it helpful to speak with a therapist, especially one trained to work with survivors of sexual violence.  

 

Kassie believes it is important to share her story to bring awareness to sexual violence on college campuses, and that there is a lot college administration can do to help support students. “Everybody who interacts with students and the representatives of the university definitely should be trained in victimology.” Kassie also points out that it is also important to talk with students about sexual violence. “All students should go through a course about what consent is. There is a lot of misunderstanding about consent—there always should be a positive yes. Men and women should both be asking ‘is this okay.’” 

Writing and faith have been important parts of Kassie’s healing process. So has activism. For the last two years she has volunteered with the DC Rape Crisis Center, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Fundraising Chair. Today, Kassie chooses to focus on her activism and career. She is currently fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers by working at a Smithsonian Museum. 

“You should tell somebody. It doesn’t matter who; go to a friend, mom, dad. If you can’t report it to the police, tell someone you trust.”

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