On June 11, 2015, Binghamton University senior Lindsey Redgate was attacked in her off-campus house. Now, nearly a year later, she is speaking openly about the assault as an advocate for change and empowerment within the local community.

Redgate was living on Conklin Avenue with six other housemates. She said she felt safe living in her South Side house for two years, but between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. that June morning, a stranger climbed through her first-floor window, which had been open a few inches.

“I didn’t hear him come in,” Redgate said. “I woke up to being punched in the face.”

Redgate said the man is now being charged with rape in the first degree and burglary in the first degree as a sexually motivated crime. The police were able to find him about a month after the incident occurred.

Soon after the traumatic incident, she and her housemates decided to move out. Following the incident, Redgate says that the University allowed her to move into Hillside until she could get back on her feet.

“They were very caring, they were genuine about it,” she said. “I think they were disturbed for sure.”

According to Redgate, a safety reminder was emailed to summer students from the university police department, specifically concerning windows.

She says that the University was very present immediately following the attack, with representatives being in her house before she even got back from the hospital. However, for those who have just undergone such an experience, she says this approach can have negative effects.

“They were very nice initially, but I just had a stranger in my house,” Redgate said. “So, it might not have been the most comforting way to handle this type of situation.”

Redgate remained in Binghamton for the rest of the summer, and is set to graduate this semester. Following that night, she stayed with her summer class despite having visible facial bruises.

“I worked very hard to get where I am and I wasn’t going to let this situation, or this man in particular take away anything that was important to me,” she said.

At the time of the attack, she was taking a summer course on social justice at BU, which she said helped her cope after the incident.

“I felt so liberated, I felt compassion,” Redgate said. “I think that’s where a lot of my empowerment came from.”

Currently, Redgate is turning her experience into empowerment, and encouraging others to take important safety precautions while living on their own.

“I want to just advocate for safe housing for students who choose to live off-campus or students who are already living off-campus right now,” Redgate explained.

According to her, increasing safety measures includes implementing dead-bolted windows and motion-sensor lighting, among other things.

“[I] encourage them to ask their landlords as many questions regarding safety, things that you might not think about,” she said.

Redgate says even the smallest concerns should be reported.

“Something that in your gut doesn’t feel right,” she said. “If it’s winter you see footprints outside … if something happens to your car on that property, that’s something that you can report to your landlord.”

For Redgate, this is not only an issue of safety, but an issue of who can and cannot afford safe housing.

“[My house] seemed safe to me,” Redgate said. “But then there are housing [options] like [20] Hawley and Twin River [Commons], and things that come with all the amenities.”

These amenities can include electric keys and surrounding gates. But for these safety measures, students must pay extra, and for many that is not an option.

Redgate said that although not everyone has access to this kind of housing, everyone deserves to feel secure.

“Landlords who own these properties need to feel pressure, maybe from the students, maybe from the University,” Redgate said. “Some sort of pressure to up their security for the well-being of their tenants.”

Besides just advocating for safer housing, Redgate says that more needs to be done for summer students.

“[The University should] advocate more awareness for students who are living in Binghamton for the summer, whether it’s for work, school, etc.” Redgate said. “There should still be safety notices on what happens in the area. The University itself needs to support student housing in the summer.”

Redgate also said she wants to change the language used surrounding assault. She highlighted the word “victim,” and stressed the importance of limiting its use.

“I think that what I’ve endured and what others who have been through similar experiences have endured, need to be recognized as survivors and not victims of this,” she said.

Almost 12 months after her assault, Redgate is speaking about these issues to inspire others. She feels that sharing her story is a key to this, based on her belief that “silence fuels oppression.”

Redgate said that for those who might have gone through something similar, a key to moving forward is not being afraid to reach out to others for support. Originally, she said she struggled with this as well.

“I said ‘no, I don’t want to tell anybody,’” Redgate said. “There was a point of weakness for me where I felt as if I was a victim and I needed to hide.”

She said she is thankful for the crime victims’ advocate who helped her change her mind.

“I was so afraid, but someone will be there to grab your hand even if you don’t want them to be, and it takes a lot of just, courage to let them,” she said.

Redgate plans to speak at her attacker’s sentencing. When her case is eventually taken to trial, she says that as an advocate, she invites people to come witness it.

“If I can move people by my experience,” Redgate said, “that is what is most important to me at this point.”