Augustana student shares story of sexual assault to bring awareness and help others

MOLINE - It's not an easy thing for Margaret to talk about.

"After all of this, like after talking, my story and telling people I totally understand why people don't talk about it and they just shut up and they sit down," said Margaret.

On New Years Ever she says she went to a house party off campus, she remembers grabbing red solo cups and starting to drink a glass of wine but after that nothing else.

"The next thing I know it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm still in my winter jacket, my dress, my tights, my shoes, everything and I'm covered in vomit, my desk and floor is covered in vomit and I'm freezing cold," said Margaret.

She says she fell back asleep and woke up again the next morning, she felt hungover but only remembers having two glasses of wine, she called her dad who suggested she see a doctor.

"I drove home that night and the next morning I went to my gynecologist and she looked down there and there was like bruising, trauma, she was like you need to go get a rape kit done," said Margaret.

The news that she was sexually assaulted was not an easy one to bear, "I was so positive that my friends were with me all night and then when she said that, I was just like oh, okay that was the thing, I was just like well, now what do I do," she said.

On January 3, 2018 she reported the incident to the college and to police.

It took 14 days for the college to send the incident report to students but the college says there are a lot of things they have to take into account before sending out a report.

"One thing we take into account is if there's a side by side police investigation, that we do not want to jeopardize the police investigation and sometimes police ask us to withhold sharing some information until they've gotten farther into their case," said Wendy Hilton-Morrow, Title IX Coordinator.

Margaret says the assault took place at a home where several fraternity brothers live, the home is not sponsored by the college.

Still, Margaret says policies need to be put in place to make house parties that are tied to a fraternity or sorority safer. "I wanted it to be first and foremost about safety and then after that, I never wanted anyone to feel the way I did and they should never get told no when they ask for something," she said.

Augustana College President, Steve Bahls, sent out a statement to students on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

It states, "Students are helping to raise awareness of the important topic of sexual assault. They are being heard and their experiences must inform how we respond."

According to the statement he is ordering a review of how notifications regarding student safety go out, hiring a student and safety wellness coordinator and putting together a task force to address culture and safety on campus.

"When that happened and he was thinking about bringing this new position and all this stuff, that's great you know," said Margaret.

For Margaret, she realizes she will probably never figure out who assaulted her and she has no ill will towards anyone who was there that night.

"My mom was the type of person, that she was so determined to make it better for everyone else and it was not about her, it was about helping others, so that's how I went into this, was to be like her and to do that," said Margaret.

She hopes being a voice and sharing her story can help someone too afraid to stand up for themselves.