this week

BY REBECCA HEILWEIL


I don’t know how to define trauma.

This week, my university published horrifying statistics. The numbers were staggering. Here, “By senior year, 30.7 percent of female undergraduates reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching by force or incapacitation.”

This week, I started listening to Lady Gaga’s, “Til It Happens to You,” a slow-string ballad call-to-action against campus sexual assault.

This week, Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, arrived without me noticing. I almost forgot the holiest time of the year.

This week, my peers and I read through these documents. We were disillusioned and frightened. Some saw themselves, their experiences, iterated again and again, forming a calculation.

This week, Lady Gaga told me that things aren’t real until they happen. I think she meant that there is no way to conceptualize another person’s experience until you’ve seen it yourself. Her words speak a type of truth, but also reflect a certain hopelessness. I worry whether this means that our empathy can never lead to understanding, and that we’re only privy to our own realities. Where does this leave us?

This week, those of my faith ask for forgiveness. Al cheit shechatanu lefanekha betimhon levav, For the sin that we have committed before you through confusion of heart and mind.

This week, I cried a lot.

This week, I agree with Lady Gaga despite my worries.

This week, I am confused as to how I feel.

Rebecca Heilweil is the editor-in-chief of Beautiful Minds Magazine. Photography comes from the exhibit “Flux” at the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum. 

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