Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic details of sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers.
You haven’t heard this before. This isn’t something I talk about. Chances are even if we’re friends, this is new information: at the end of my freshman year, just days before finals week began, I was sexually assaulted.
He didn’t punch me or choke me or scratch me, he wasn’t particularly strong or tall or intimidating, he wasn’t a stranger, but he sexually assaulted me.
I was on Fountain in one of the houses near Freeman. I had spent the night going to parties with three of my really good friends. One of my friends knew the guy, and he introduced me and we started dancing. After a while, we headed back to my freshman dorm. “No sex,” I kept saying to myself as we walked, “no sex”.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like making out with people or flirting or even doing a little bit more, but, as my three good friends I was with that night knew very clearly, I wasn’t comfortable with going all the way with just anyone. It’s not something I take lightly. In fact, I have only ever had sex with two guys in my life. These two guys are not the person who assaulted me. That was not sex. It was assault.
As soon as we got back to my room, I knew I wanted him to leave. He kept pushing me down and saying my name and then commands, like, “don’t use your teeth” and “keep going”. He kept going, and it hurt. It wasn’t pleasant or wonderful like it had been with the person I’d lost my virginity to, or with the guy I’d had feelings for and trusted. I was in my room, but I felt like I was under water. I was trying to tell him to leave and get out of me, but the words wouldn’t come out. The smell of latex penetrated my nose, sickening me to my stomach. I felt wounds opening as he thrust harder and harder. I kept waiting for the end, but it seemed to last forever, and still no words came out.
Then it was over. He left.
I called my best friend from home and started crying. She didn’t know what to do. She told me to go find people to comfort me. Everyone I knew was still out partying, so I went to the room across the hall from mine. One of my best friends lived there, and I thought maybe he would be home since he never went out because of his long distance girlfriend. He opened the door, and I stood there, sobbing. I couldn’t do anything but cry. He comforted me for a while and tried to calm me down, but I couldn’t go back into my room, so he slept on the floor and let me have his bed. I never slept in my dorm room again.
Over the next few days, I faced incredible bias, lack of understanding, and hardships. Most of the time, I lay curled up in a ball on the floor of the friend’s room I stayed in for the rest of the semester. She didn’t know what to do to help me. Another friend had to get clothes out of my room for me to wear each day because I couldn’t go into my room myself anymore. Each day was harder than the last.
I have lost a lot since then. During finals week, I lost focus on my studies and had to ask all of my teachers for extensions on my exams. My grades have slipped consistently since then. I lost around 20 pounds the next semester, because eating became hard for me. It still is. I changed my gym schedule, because seeing my attacker at the gym made the whole night come flooding back and would leave me feeling nauseous, scared, and crying. I still avoid the gym from 4-6. Last spring, when I finally told my mother about what had happened, she didn’t believe me. She told me it was my fault for getting to a point with a guy where he couldn’t walk away, that I should have controlled the situation better. My best friend from home that I had called right after the assault happened-she and I stopped speaking after she too told me I was somewhat to blame for what had happened. That other friend, the one who let me sleep in his room that night after the assault, he and I eventually stopped being friends as well. He never really believed me either.
Dear everyone, today I cried because I read an article in the Argus about a friend of mine who was assaulted this year, called “Is This Why? An Account of Sexual Assault at Wesleyan University”. I cried because I have always wanted to press charges for what happened to me but never did. I cried because my assaulter will never be expelled, because I was more pessimistic than my friend was. Unlike her, the belief I held that from the beginning my case was a lost cause was enough to convince me to never press charges.
Sometimes I’m still nauseous at the gym. Sometimes I still think that when I look at the toilet paper, I will see blood on it like I did the day after what happened to me. Sometimes I still mistake the pain I get in my legs from weight lifting for the pain I felt in my legs that morning. Sometimes I still sit in silence for a time and cry, alone.
Dear everyone, you are not alone. No one is. We have an opportunity to change the way that sexual assault is dealt with on college campuses. We have the opportunity to make sure no one else feels the way I have felt for over two years now. We can make sure that survivors of sexual assault understand that it is not their fault and that they deserve justice. Together, we can change the Wesleyan policies on sexual assault and Title IX so that no one else ever chooses not to press charges against their assaulter because they are afraid their case will be lost before it even begins.
Dear everyone, now you know my story.
Dear survivors, what’s yours?