- Posted March 16, 2014 by
Port Chester, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama
Sexually Assaulted while Abroad
My name is Gabriella Ibacache and I am a college senior and a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. I studied abroad in Amsterdam, the Netherlands during the fall of my junior year. Studying in Amsterdam was an extraordinary opportunity for me to grow, learn about different cultures, and travel to places I’d never been. I loved living in the city of Amsterdam and riding my bicycle next to its beautiful canals every day.
About a month into my semester, I was sexually assaulted. I blamed myself for it and was reluctant to call it sexual assault or rape, but that is what happened to me. I struggled with feeling alienated, depressed, and alone for the rest of my time abroad. I did not report it because I did not know the man, and I didn’t know what could be done in a city I wasn’t a citizen of. I was also extremely ashamed of the experience and was worried that any authority I’d tell would blame me for it.
I know that it was not my fault, and it is never the fault of any person who is sexually assaulted. It doesn't matter where they were, what they wore, if they were drinking...it is NEVER your fault if you are raped. I have since learned that young women who study abroad are 5 times more likely to be raped than those who don't. I want people to be aware of this issue, and I want to work to prevent and address it. I want to know how students who have been raped abroad can seek justice.