Friday, October 24, 2014

Some thoughts

Something has been really bothering me lately….And today, I could have cried about it.

I am talking about the disappearance of UVA freshman, Hannah Graham. Upon hearing the news today that the remains found earlier in the week did in fact belong to her, I am disgusted. To think that someone could actually commit such a crime puts me in a state of disbelief, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts.

When I first heard about the story, there was hope. Maybe, just maybe, this innocent girl who like many of us, just wanted to have a bit of fun, was actually safe. Maybe she was okay. But like many disappearance cases, as time went on, my hope dwindled. It was to the point where I was talking about it with my mom, and I actually said the words "There is no way she is still alive. It's devastating." Unfortunately, I was right. And I could go on and on about how angry it makes me, but why do that when we can learn something, and reiterate a point that has been made so many times before.

1) DO NOT walk home alone.

Girls. Guys. Everyone is at risk. College is a time to enjoy yourself, and in many cases, this enjoyment happens off campus. Please, do not walk home alone. If you get separated, are alone etc., call a taxi. If you feel at all uncomfortable, call public safety and/or the police. Especially at night, no matter where you are, people are not who they say. Trust yourself.

My best friend and I were talking about it the other day, and we made a pact. NEVER let the other one leave without someone. In fact, never leave anywhere unless you know where your entire party is.

There was a sad story at my school a few years back. A girl was with a group of people, who had split up into two during the night, each half thinking the poor girl was with the other half. She was alone, drunk, and passed out in the snow. Although she was not abducted or attacked, the temperatures in Ithaca are frigid, and unfortunately she did not survive the night because of it. Just goes to show--Know who is around you at all times.

2) DO NOT 'slut shame.'

I get it. You want to look "hot" for that guy or girl in your 10 am class, and you know they will be at that rager party tonight. Rightfully so. I try my best to appear attractive when I go out. It's human nature, and I won't deny that I haven't worn tight dresses and heels in my day. However, when you see that girl in a short skirt and crop top or when you see that guy looking sharp, that by no means is an invitation to his/her body. It is not yours or anybody else's except that person. He/she is not 'asking for it,' and while I agree that some outfits are a bit too risqué, that is not up for your discretion. Don't let it affect you having a good time, and do not label anyone a 'slut' or 'man whore' when you most likely do not know them to begin with. The victim is NEVER at fault.

Hannah was wearing something close to what most girls would wear--a crop top. And to hear some of the commentary coming from people saying she was at fault is beyond me. I'm sorry, but do you think a college freshman asked for that to happen to her? Do you really think she chose her outfit with the intention to be attacked? Really think about that, because I guarantee the answer is clear.

3) Oldest tip in the book--DO NOT trust strangers or anyone you don't feel "right" about.

Self explanatory. You don't know them, so you don't know what they will do.

I hope the Graham family has found some closure, and that they get the justice they deserved. Unfortunately, we live in a world where these things happen, and unfortunately, these are the things we have to think about in order to protect ourselves. Stay safe.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Speak Up.

So I have been back at school for about three weeks now. I guess you could say I am back into the swing of things if you consider my apartment being constantly dirtied (and re-cleaned, of course!), starting my off campus acting class and leading a social life that is the most vibrant as "back into the swing of things!" I like to see it more as "fulfilling my greatest potentials," if you will. But in my three weeks back, I have noticed a lot of things that I want to share. I'll start off today with one that I think is important. First thing to note is that it is never my intention to cause discomfort in any of my readers, but rather to raise awareness and allow individuals to be realize the realities of the world we live in.

I have this friend--Jen*. I previously knew of her, but this year we have gotten to know each other on a much more complex level for reasons I won't disclose. We definitely do not share similar personalities, and we live different lifestyles. I have my reservations, as I am sure she does with me, but all in all, under our particular circumstances, we balance each other out fairly well. We hangout.

Just a few days ago, she was recounting one of her "weekend tales" to me, expecting to hear nothing more than what I have heard in the past from her. "I was trying to figure out if he was cute enough to go home with, but my beer goggles were too strong so I really don't know. But it's whatever. It was a good time." I listen, of course, as a good friend should do, but for the past three weeks, I have heard her preach statements such as this one more so than not. What am I supposed to do? I don't know her well enough to criticize her choices, as what she has been doing, for lack is better words, is NOT my style.

But then it all halted. And it halted for a reason I wish it hadn't. At first, it was casual when she was describing to me how she woke up to a guy who was "having fun" with her while she had a faint recollection of the night prior. Out of respect for her, I won't further any details, but after a few days, it started to eat her alive. She even said and I quote, "I feel really crummy about it. Almost taken advantage of." As I stated before, she is not one of my best friends. I am still getting to know her, so I would never want to intrude on her private life. However, she was clearly trying to let her denial heal her.

But here is my input--That, to me, is rape. She should feel crummy about it. But not because of her choices from that night. Despite my difference in opinion on promiscuity, her choices are up to her, and it is not my place to lecture on what is right/wrong in the world. However, she should feel crummy about it because what was done to her is simply not okay. And I take two lessons from this that I think are way too important not to share. One, set yourself up for success. Have a plan going out at night so that alcohol and drugs will not take control of your psych. Be aware of what is being fed to your body, and only allow yourself to have that control. Tell yourself that YOU are in control. And believe it. Second, if for whatever reason, you find yourself in this type of situation, know that you are not at fault. Do not feel ashamed. Like I encouraged Jen to do, take action, and do not be afraid to tell someone. Whether it happened yesterday, a week ago a year ago and so on, have the courage to express yourself and become a stronger version of yourself.

Whether she will take my advice, I do not currently have an answer. But I offered my support, encouraged her to seek help, and am always there to listen.

*All names have been changed for privacy reasons

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tips For Taking On The World!

So you're back at school for another year…or maybe, this is your first. Either way, college has the capability to be some of the best years of your life. Trust me--I know. I just started my junior year today, and I have never been happier. Filled with friends (who turn into family), fun and adventure, being a part of the current "college demographic" is something that should be enjoyed and is something that should be cherished. Whether or not people give us a hard time for our generation norms, the bottom line is, we have some pretty awesome times ahead of us, and happiness is a great quality that affiliates itself with being a "social media savvy twenty-something."

With that being said, college is also a dangerous place. Not to scare anyone, but it is unfortunately true. However, do not fret! The goal is to be aware--not paranoid--about these situations. Prevention is key. So, go out and have your fun! Meet new people, socialize, learn as much as you can! But do so in style. Do so with class. Do so being on the defensive, and convey an attitude of friendly confidence.

Four starter tips to help all of you college students embrace everything the world has to offer:


First and foremost (and probably the most obvious)- be aware of what is going on around you. Take an extra moment to look around you and feel out the environment. Who is near you? What are they doing? Locate all emergency exits no matter where you are--the classroom, the bar, the gym. You never know when it will come in handy.


Is something wrong? A little off? Don't ignore it. I am an avid believer in this rule. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have gotten up and walked out of a venue, or a restaurant or even my school library, because someone was making me feel uneasy. Do not be afraid to go with your instinct, because majority of the time, your feel it for a reason. Your sixth sense is trying to tell you something!


Do not use up all the bathroom time in the morning so your roommate doesn't have time to shower. No, that is not the selfish I am talking about here. What I do mean however, is to put yourself first in regards to safety. Who cares if someone bought you a drink? Referring back to rule number 2, go with your gut, don't be afraid to turn things down if you feel it will in the end, best benefit you. Someone giving you a bad vibe? Do whatever you need to do to avoid communication. Bottom line--whatever is best for your continual safety, is what should be done. Despite who's feelings you may hurt, or what friendships you may be testing, the number one importance is you. No questions asked.


Personally, I always carry a little extra cash around with me in case of emergencies. However, evaluate what will come in handy for you to use! A debit card, an ID, a set of keys? Always be prepared for the unexpected, and always walk around knowing you are set for any situation.

Just some food for thought, while still making the most out of your experience in school!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Let Me Introduce Myself!

Confidence. A word I have come to know quite well over the past few years. Confidence in life, confidence in others, but most importantly, confidence in YOU, are all things we strive for, and as I sit here on my computer trying to surf the web for an appropriate quote that will give some relevance for all of you out there reading, I realized that by just simply introducing myself, opening up my world, and sharing my story, I can originate my own form of inspiration.

So with that, I am going to start off with a HUGE hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Marissa Accordino, and I am ready to take on the world and share it with you as I see it! A little bit of background information—Currently, I am a rising junior at Ithaca College, working to obtain my Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications with a double minor in Theater and Legal Studies. I absolutely adore public speaking, singing, acting, dancing, going to the gym, eating chocolate (I know, what a contradiction)…. Heck, the list really never ends. But out of all of these things, one thing I pride myself in is advocating for what I believe in, and trying to be the best leader I can be.

Before I ventured into the collegiate world, I was a high school student like most of us. It seems like ages ago, but I woke up at seven every morning, attended my classes, did my homework, participated in my fair share of extracurricular activities and earned myself decent grades. Lather, rinse, and repeat. And while I wouldn’t change some of my high school experience for the world, I also felt that some of it was at most, typical. I was very simple and shy, I had my close group of a few friends, I was overweight, and around those that I did not know, I was reserved and for lack of better words, self-conscious. Sure, I knew that I had great qualities to offer, but the fact of the matter is, until I realized my own potential, I didn’t really believe that they could be recognized.

That is where the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness comes into play. As a dedicated Girl Scout of Nassau County, it was only protocol that I obtained the highest-level award known—The Girl Scout Gold Award. I have always been a paranoid person, so when trying to decide what I wanted to be the primary focus of my project, the answer was a no-brainer. Although I had never actually been the recipient of forceful harm or assault, I always had some type of sixth sense where I could perceive danger when it was in close proximity to me. And believe me—I hated the feeling. So there I was, once again surfing the web like I had done countless times before, and I came across the page for the NOWSA. Nervous and introverted, I contacted Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldmsith Esq., founder, and Fran Petito, President, not really anticipating what type of impact it would have on me. I was fully aware that this type of collaboration would have an extremely positive outcome, but it wasn’t until I actually met them and officially gained the title of First Annual Teen Ambassador, that I understood how important being a part of this organization was.

By attending safety seminars and board meetings, by being featured on radio shows and in fashion shows, by learning various safety techniques and most importantly, by becoming acquainted with people who were brave enough to educate me with their message of hope, I was not only able to find my own voice against violence and assault, but I was also able to find myself. And with that newfound confidence that has carried with me to this day, I was able to, and still hope to, spread my knowledge and empower others. Because whether you realize it or not—being able to stand tall and know that you have the opportunity to influence and inspire an infinite number of people, is one of the greatest rewards.

So in short (because I know this is quite the ramble), I want to be the first person to welcome you to my new blog as the new college ambassador for the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness.  It is my hope to adhere to a brand new audience, expand the circle of those involved, be an honest source of information and invite you into my world as an Ithaca College student. What I see, what I hear and what I experience will all be disclosed as it relates to safety for our generation and beyond, and I can only hope that my stories will inspire others to take a stand and Be A Voice.

Lastly, I want to thank Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldsmith, Esq. and Fran Petito for granting me the opportunity to work with such an esteemed organization. It has meant more to me than you will ever know!
Stay Tuned!!!