Dru Sjodin and Jason Shephard’s deaths hit too close to home

Roxy Hammond

Roxy Hammond

I didn’t personally know Jason Shephard. I’m not going to pretend that I lost a great friend or even an acquaintance. Regardless, however, I do feel an endless amount of pity for this 23-year-old that lost his life in such a bizarre tragedy.

It’s the same with Dru Sjodin, a young woman tortured and killed by a sexual predator. I had no direct ties to her, but her death pulled on an ever-constant fear I’m forced to have-that it could have been me.

These were two people in my age group victimized by some sort of older predator, in an inhumane and disgusting way. It hits close to home for me, since I am a female in the prime age to be the victim of an attack like that.

Yet, Jason’s death reminds us that women are not the only ones that can be hurt. When you think of rape or murder, generally a healthy 23-year-old guy doesn’t come to mind. But that’s exactly what caused him to be the victim.

It really sucks to be forced to live in fear of those around you. You’re taught when you’re growing up not to take candy from strangers, not to get into a car with someone you don’t know and never to wander too far out of sight. Now we’re in college, and you would think that you get to outgrow people preying on you. Oh no. Now you just become a whole different type of victim. You think you know what you’re doing, and can handle the eminent dangers of the world. Think again.

My mom was telling me about a TV show the other day with a guy who was writing a book about how easily people can become victims. He went around to different colleges and tried luring college kids into his van by using different excuses. Three out of four students would get into his van with him. Seventy-five percent of us would fall right into the trap of becoming a victim.

Hello! That’s a higher percent than I get on most of my math tests!

So we’re completely unsuspecting. And then we’re completely unheard from. It’s a disgusting reality that affects all of us a little too much.

You hear about stories around the country of college kids becoming victims of awful crimes, simply because we are easy targets. We’re out to have fun, and a little too trusting at times. We go to parties or bars, drink to intoxication and stumble home. Of course this is Brookings, but we’ve gotten too comfortable with being able to put ourselves in the line of danger and having nothing go wrong.

I’m not your mother. I’m not going to lecture about your dangerous actions, because I, too, have my own. But do we seriously ever stop to consider the positions we’re putting ourselves in? We may be young, but we’re certainly not immortal. Just ask the people who find themselves locked in trunks and shoved into vans, spending the last moments of their lives wondering ‘How did I get here?’

Because, hey, nobody wants to be next.

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