Like many teens, 16-year-old Chloe Redmer was excited to attend her first prom this weekend. She chose a glittery white and silver dress for the occasion and had her French manicure done before she and her mom did some last-minute accessory shopping Friday, May 12.
For Redmer, attending Chelsea High School’s prom on Saturday is more than a chance to dance with her date and their friends. Going to prom is a statement that despite being sexually assaulted 15 months ago, Redmer will not let fear take over her life.
“I look back at it like a fight that I survived,” she said. “And I can look back at my scars and be like, ‘I lived, I’m alive.'”
Seated beside her mother, Tiffiny Vassoff, at a coffee shop in Chelsea on Friday, Redmer explained why she wanted to speak publicly about such a painful time of her life. She wants other sexual assault victims and people struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts to know they are not alone, and there is hope.
“When you’re depressed and you’re scared, every moment you’re expecting something bad to happen. … It’s always really hard taking that first step (to get help),” Redmer said. “But once you take that first step, the second step will be easier and the third step will be 10 times easier.”
Redmer says she was sexually assaulted in 2016 when she was 15 years old. Her attacker was tried on an assault charge, Vassoff said. A court record of the case is not available to the public.
Vassoff, who has a criminal justice degree and has worked with attorneys, is familiar with the legal system. But she said she wasn’t prepared to guide her own daughter through the process of pressing charges against her aggressor.
Redmer said she felt violated, sad, confused and depressed after she was assaulted. She said she didn’t want anyone to touch her, and she lost weight.
“The deeper I started getting into that depression, I started cutting myself and then I started thinking about suicide,” Redmer said. “Because it’s like I’m violated … I just really wanted to end it.”
In September 2016, Redmer said she found herself reliving the horror when she was assaulted again.
Redmer didn’t press charges, she said. She threatened violence against the aggressor that time, and Redmer said she was suspended from Chelsea High School as a result. The other student involved faced consequences too, she said, and Redmer didn’t want to go through the legal process again in addition to working through the school discipline process.
After her 45-day out-of-school suspension, Redmer enrolled at the Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education for the rest of the fall semester rather than return to Chelsea High School. She enrolled at Manchester High School in March.
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