Humans of Lee
This week we sat with senior Lindsey Young at a picnic table overlooking Cleveland's fall foliage and hills. Although many a Lee student drives up to the same spot at Mountain View Inn, it's particularly special for Young.
Over her past 4 years at Lee, Young has visited the same view often, accompanied by a 44-ounce diet coke, yoga mat and sometimes, friends. Here, she journals, she prays, she listens to worship music. She breathes.
'Why did you choose this place to meet?'
'This has been an oddly therapeutic place for me,' Young said. 'I've brought a friend up here before to throw razors when she was cutting. Or we'd come up here when I was having a panic attack and didn't need to be near people. I could just sit up here and be peaceful. ' It's always been the place for the last 4 years, for me, to come up and think and get away. [It's] not on campus, and it's not a place where I feel like I have to be the 'Lee student,' or I have to have my crap together. I can just come here and be like, 'I'm mad at the world,' or 'I'm sad,' or 'Hey it's a good day, and I just want to lay out for a little bit.' '
Young has been spending her final semester at Lee raising awareness about sexual assault on campus through events like Light Up The Night, held on Oct. 27, to 'support awareness about personal safety, bystander intervention, consent and sexual misconduct reporting,' according to the event page.
'Are you affiliated with a club?'
'Not really ' I work at the domestic violence shelter in Cleveland. ' My best friend is the sexual assault program manager at the agency, and so I got pretty involved once I started working at the shelter and once I started seeing what these women are going through. Then I got to go speak at Cleveland State to all their athletes about sexual assault, about what consent is and about bi-standard intervention and things like that. So I got super fired up.'
'What is it about sexual assault'why are you so passionate about that cause?'
'I've experienced it myself, so that's brought awareness [to me] that [it's] an issue. I hate that it took me having to experience it to understand what an issue it is, but I just think that there's ' not enough understanding about consent. Especially with the whole coercion aspect; that was definitely my situation. And because I eventually agreed, I [thought,] 'This is my fault. But why am I having panic attacks every night? Why am I on anxiety medication?' All of these things that [I was] already dealing with were escalated. So I was just [thinking], 'What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me?' Finally I understood, 'No, this is an issue. I wouldn't be reacting [like] this if it wasn't a problem.' Just seeing the way that some guys on campus can kind of get away with things, especially at a Christian university; I think it's our responsibility to be an example.'
'Do you mind sharing a bit of your experience?'
'It was just in February ' I'm super lucky because I was already [going to] the counseling center. I'd been with Josh for a couple years working through eating disorder stuff, and so I [had] just gotten out of treatment, and it was really good [until] this happened. I was really lucky [though] because I already had a really solid support system as far as friends, and a therapist and stuff like that. But honestly, it was freaking Tinder ' as someone who's always struggled with self-worth, that was a huge thing for me.
He wasn't a Lee student. It was just somebody, he said he was a Christian, we had gotten along, and he [said], 'I'll be really respectful.' And, it started as coercion and then ended as force. I didn't report. I didn't do anything like that, because at the time I was convinced I agreed to it.
Experiencing that first hand, the trauma of that, and then having people close to me go through similar situations, has just been very [eye] opening. So if I can share and it helps someone understand, that's why I really wanted to do Light Up The Night. ' I really wanted people to understand, this is what consent is and this is what it's not. There's a lot that is taken as consent that is not.'
'As you're preparing to graduate, how do you see your experience and passions converging to what you want to continue doing?'
'Starting in January, I'm doing a 2-year-residency with a church in Centerville [Ohio]. There, I'm going to be working 25-30 hours a week, paid, room and board. It will be a really awesome place because I'm a discipleship ministries major. It will be an awesome place for me to continue as ministry, but also Cedarville is up there ' I'm really looking to partner with some places up there ' which is a huge reason why I wanted to talk to Mike [Hayes], to have a basis of, this has been my home for the past few years; I needed somewhere to start.'