Over this past year, the floodgates have opened for sexual assault allegations against those who were once protected by their stature in the media, Hollywood, and Congress. As a result, various individuals face the threat of career destruction or jail time. However, many people still fail to grasp that there are still millions of victims of sexual assault across the country. They are not famous and do not have a team of reporters at their disposal to give them a voice. Too often, they face the trials and tribulations that come with sexual assault, scared and alone.
That is why I decided to interview Savannah Lindquist. After reading her article in the Washington Examiner, “Don’t victimize me, empower me with the Second Amendment: An appeal from a sexual assault survivor,” I wanted to understand her message and create awareness of the victims who we don’t highlight.
Lindquist, a supporter of the Second Amendment who serves as the North American communications chair with Ladies of Liberty Alliance, has been brave enough to raise awareness by speaking out about what happened to her.
“As a society, it’s unfortunately really hard to talk about rape and sexual assault,” Lindquist says. “We tend to think it could never happen to us or to someone that you love and that you care about. Rape is just something that you see on Law & Order SVU or something you see on the news…. So, I think it’s really important that people tell their stories when they’re comfortable doing so. That’s a lot of the reason why I chose to come out and talk about what happened to me.”
Since Lindquist’s incident happened on-campus, we first talked about what colleges currently do to allow for better defensive measures against would-be rapists. Lindquist explained that the counter-measures taken by many colleges, though well-intentioned, are wholly inadequate. “I am allowed to carry mace with me, but as a lot of other people know, that’s not always enough.”
Speaking about the police call boxes that dot around numerous campuses across the U.S., Lindquist thinks it is “a bit naive” of universities to think they would constitute an adequate solution to the problem. She says her former university was rather proud of the boxes, however, boasting that the police responded to calls from them in mere minutes. “The quickest police officer can only move so fast,” Lindquist says. “From the moment that I knew that I was no longer in control of the situation and something really bad was going to happen to me, to the point that I became a victim of rape, we weren’t talking minutes. We were talking seconds.”
Addressing the concept of “rape culture,” which is often portrayed as the belief that American institutions, like colleges, hold cultural tendencies that normalize and trivialize rape, Lindquist agrees that sexual assault is indeed a prominent issue for many universities, without adopting the above definition. “If you look at the data, women in college, ages 18 to 24 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women in general.”
She also delves into the issue of ensuring that women can adequately defend themselves. “Sexual assault is an epidemic on college campuses, but for some reason, we aren’t allowing young, law-abiding men and women to defend themselves from these attacks.”
Lindquist, a staunch supporter of campus carry, said multiple times throughout the interview that her inability to do carry a firearm on her own campus left her feeling defenseless. “When I was raped, my attacker took away my right to choose how I treated my own body. I wasn’t given that right. That’s what made me a victim in that instance. By telling me that I am somehow not responsible enough to be able to defend myself, even though I have had a concealed carry permit since I was 21…. Even though I am able to defend myself in a movie theater and in most restaurants and all of these public places, the second I step on campus, all of the sudden, I’m not responsible enough to defend myself anymore. That is, in my mind, victimizing me all over again. It’s telling me that I am not worthy of having the choice of how to defend myself.”
“Something has to be done” about the trend of sexual assaults on-campus, Lindquist says. “We have a culture right now where people are finally starting to feel comfortable [about speaking out]…We recognize that this is an issue, but we’re not doing anything to empower women to defend themselves. I don’t believe that my right to self-defense should be up for debate.”
Lindquist stressed throughout the interview that, despite the scars she carries, she will always do everything she can to empower women. She said she would seek to give them the security that so many campuses had been denying them for so long. After interviewing Savannah, I can say for certain that her eyes are on the prize. Ms. Lindquist is indeed someone to keep an eye on in the future, as a brilliant activist who is a thoughtful voice for the voiceless.