Winding Down

Madison Sommers
May 13, 2013

Sorry for the long lapse in posts, my computer was stolen and blogging has not been foremost in my mind of late. I had taken care to have my computer in a classroom with other computers and to conceal it, but it was stolen while I was on a short field trip. As such, all of my research and data for the semester has disappeared as well, and so I have been frantically trying to catch up over the past weeks. Now we are in the final two weeks of the semester and I am trying to write final papers as well as study for exams, and well, blogging has not been at the top of the list.

Given that my computer was stolen, I went to the police to make a report. This was not my first trip to the police station this semester, although this was certainly the easier of the two. This trip, I simply reported the theft, was told that it was not the responsibility of the police since it was stolen from a private institution, and sent on my merry way. My previous trip was not so easy. That trip was reporting an attempted sexual assault that happened to me in February, and it was far more traumatic. It took trips to two separate police stations, repeated accounts of what happened, and a lot of waiting (the police, like most things in Morocco, do not move very quickly in most instances). They did pick up the man that attempted to assault me fairly quickly, within a half hour, since he was known to them and had a record of assaulting another woman before. After reporting all of this, which I may add I did not initially want to do, identifying the man and going through the process in the police station, I then had to go through the court procedure (also not very timely). It was harrowing to stand up in front of everyone and say what happened again. The man ended up being sentenced to six months in prison.

Before this happened to me I was one of those people who though that I would be very assertive about my rights if I ever encountered this type of situation. I have worked with victims of sexual and domestic violence for a few years now and had always had in the back of my mind a certain question as to why they were so reticent to go to the police. Now I completely understand. You feel completely ashamed. Ashamed that you got into this position, ashamed that you have to go ask for help, ashamed every time you retell the story. We are taught that these things are our responsibility to prevent and that it is our fault if we get into these positions, and even if you don’t intellectually believe this, it is very hard to emotionally distance yourself from this. As someone who studies gender-based violence and law, this experience was an interesting first hand experience that has given me a new sympathy for the people I work with. It is something that I will always carry with me, and while I am overcoming the emotional injuries, I will not forget how it felt to be a victim in an unfamiliar legal system, nor will I forget how ashamed I felt, and still feel.

While this is not the kind of experience my mother had in mind when she told me that study abroad would show me what I wanted to do with my life, she was right. I have been able to decide, in light of this experiences, that I want to focus my law career on working for women who have been abused, specifically immigrant women, who are even more vulnerable in the legal system. Neuropsychology will have to be a hobby.

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Madison Sommers

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a third-year student at Saint Michael&#39;s College in Vermont majoring in Gender Studies with a double minor in Philosophy and Political Science. I hope to attend law school after graduation, and want to work with women who are victims of domestic violence. I also have a fascination with neurology and would like to find some way to combine the two. I enjoy traveling and lived abroad in France after graduating early from high school. My current home is in New Hampshire with my parents, sister, dog, and two cats. I love cooking, knitting, reading, and art, and am looking forward to experiencing Moroccan culture. I have always had a passion for gender issues and am excited to study gender from a Moroccan perspective. I hope I can share my experience of Moroccan culture with you.</span></p>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Saint Michael's College
Gender Studies
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