Senior Ms. Five Hills talks about sexual assault awareness
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The first time Hope Ransom was sexually assaulted, she was three years old.
Ransom made the frank statement during a brief talk on Wednesday morning with the Copperas Cove Exchange Club members at their weekly meeting.
But her words were prefaced with her intent behind her talk.
“My job today is to communicate with you all without making you feel uncomfortable. This is the theme of sexual assault. Anytime we start talking about sex, sexual assault, rape, everybody gets real tense, real quiet, real uptight. I want to let you know, any questions you ask me, I’m not shy. I don’t ever want to be.
“Although I have experienced sexual assault and rape, I want you to know that I have worked through it. It is possible to work through it. Part of it, which is very important, is to have someone you can trust that can go through that with you.”
Ransom discussed statistics along with the definition of sexual assault, a crime using sexual contact for humiliation and control. In the state of Texas alone, there are 1.8 million survivors of sexual assault. 20 percent of women and 5 percent of men have been sexually assaulted, Ransom said.
“Believe it or not, if you haven’t been sexually assaulted, you know someone who has,” Ransom said. “We need to get more comfortable being able to talk about it. We have to talk about these things that happen so we can be educated about it.”
Ransom talked about the assumption that sexual assault occurs at the hands of a stranger, stating that most rapes occur in the home of the victim or the home of the assailant, in the case of date rape or by other members of the family or someone known to the victim.
She shared briefly her own past history of sexual assault, first at three years old by an uncle. She said her parents “handled the person roughly” and she saw that she could trust them, that they would take care of anyone who hurt her. But the next time she was assaulted, she was 10 years old and it was by the same person. That time, she didn’t tell her mother about the assault until she was an adult.
“What I understood as a child, it didn’t make any difference if I told my parents,” Ransom said, due to the fact they let the individual come around again because he “said he was sorry” and “we have to forgive.”
Ransom gave advice for what to do if someone comes to you and tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted.
“When someone comes to you, it’s a heavy thing, but understand, they are trusting you, and anything you say and do can make a difference if they trust you again…Make them feel comfortable. Don’t make them feel like it was their fault, asking questions like what did you do, what were you wearing?
“I want everyone to understand when someone says they’ve been assaulted, listen to them. Give them back their control. That’s what they’ve lost and are striving to obtain.” She said that in the state of Texas, an adult does not have to report a sexual assault to the police, nor does a hospital. She said if a victim doesn’t want to do so, don’t push them.
“Let them lead the way. Let them regain their control. It will make it better faster for them to get some balance back in their life. That’s what they’re looking for.”
Ransom also talked about getting rid of the notion that “this can’t happen to me, I’m very careful.”
Although she herself tried to be careful as an adult, she gave a recent example from May of last year, when she decided to go on a date for the first time in more than four years. A simple date turned into spending three nights with the man, something she didn’t understand at the time.
”For some reason, I had sex with this man for three days. I did anything he asked me to. It was with someone I did not know. I did it to the best of my ability and I was more than willing to do anything. After I left, a few days later I started to come down, and started to question myself, why did I do this? I knew something was wrong.” Ransom said she started to research and was drug tested, and learned she’d been drugged. Ransom talked about a drug called scopolamine, or “Devil’s Breath” as a street name, in powder or liquid form.
“They can blow it in your face, and they have control of you within 30 seconds to a minute,” Ransom said, adding that she learned in her research that the drug was used as a truth serum in the Cold War, but is not as well-known as other drugs in the U.S.
“You don’t know you’re under their control. You willingly participate in your own demise. You don’t understand that you are under the influence of something,” Ransom said. “We have to educate one another, pass it forward, pass it along, because someone out there someone is going, I don’t know why I did it.”