By Brittany Barnes
On Feb. 25, University of South Carolina senior Olivia Hassler came to ESU to share her experience with relationship violence.
Hassler talked about her personal struggles dealing with the violence, why she did not seek help following the altercation and why it’s important for her to speak out now.
Hassler started out by showing the audience an eigh
t-minute clip of her describing the vicious attack by her ex-boyfriend with some dramatizations and interviews.
“I said ‘You should’ve just killed me,’” explains Hassler in the opening scene.
In the clip, she states that the violence began one night when she was driving her former boyfriend home and he shoved her face into the window.
She then decided to end the relationship but wanted to get her belongings from his house.
Despite her efforts to avoid him, he was waiting for her when she got there.
That is when the attack started. She said he punched and kicked her continuously. When she ran, he locked her in his cellar.
He released her from the cellar after hours had passed, but continued to abuse her.
He smashed her head into the concrete over and over.
When she woke, she was in a bathtub with the water running in her face.
He banged her head against the side of the tub and threw her out on the street.
Hassler thought that she was going to die that day but, fortunately, she awoke in a hospital two days later.
She was told that she had been mugged outside her car.
Out of fear, she did not tell the police any different.
After the video, Hassler revealed to the audience that she did not confide in anyone for over a year.
Her roommate at the time forced her to tell her what was going on.
Hassler admits that she wasn’t acting like her normal outgoing self and that people around her noticed.
When Hassler finally began to share her attack with others, she said some blamed her or called her a liar.
This is why she stresses the importance of seeking a psychologist; she believes that there is no way a person can handle this type of torture on their own.
In hindsight, Hassler recalls warning signs to the violent attack.
She said her ex-boyfriend would call and text her constantly, ask who she was with at all times and did not allow her to wear certain things.
Hassler said, “relationship or dating violence does not always go as far as my story.”
She explained that relationship violence doesn’t mean thatyour boyfriend or girlfriend hits you; it’s about controlling and abusing you, mentally or psychologically.
She said there were times he would lash out at her, calling her names like “whore,” but then the next he would send her flowers and promise to never do it again.
She reflects on how “in love” and “blind” she was when she was with him.
Hassler made it clear that what happened to her did not make her hate men or hate her abuser.
She says that she had to forgive him for her to move on with her life. Just because one bad guy did a bad thing does not make every man bad, she added.
Hassler also revealed that she has a new boyfriend now.
An audience member asked her“why it is important for her to tell her story.
In response, she made reference to a video of football player Ray Rice viciously attacking his girlfriend in an elevator. She said that she wanted the world to know that “not all athletes are violent; sometimes the athlete is the one being abused.”
At the end, she answered questions about going to law school, what she’s most proud of and her plans for the future.
Before she left, she also told students that if they need help or know of anyone who needs help, they should seek support.
She brought attention the number of resources here at ESU that can help students going through dating violence or sexual assault/harassment.
Students can seek help through the counseling services provided on campus, the university police and other services. To find an office that may help, you can go to http://www. esu.edu/titleix/index.cfm for a complete list.
Email Brittany at: firstname.lastname@example.org