To the Wesleyan Community:
Last week I celebrated my birthday. It marked one year since I was sexually assaulted by my roommate. Until now, I have only shared my experience with a few of my closest friends; I haven’t told my parents nor any members of my family. For the past year, I have remained silent. While I am certainly entitled to my privacy, I now feel that I have a responsibility as a survivor to speak up and contribute to the ongoing conversation around sexual assault on our campus. This is my story.
It was about 1:30 in the morning. I was studying for a calculus exam with a few friends in the lounge of my dorm when I received a text message from my roommate asking where I was. Once I told him, he replied, “Why when I could be giving you a bj for your bday? I think I’m drunk :(.”
Though we didn’t have a very close relationship, I innocently took his texts to be a joke and tried to laugh it off, replying “thanks for the offer man.” At this point I expected—and hoped—that his text messages would stop. They didn’t. He would send several more: “let’s do it :p, shh secret,” “I’ve been told that I’m good,” “sorry I’m kinda wasted.”
I didn’t respond this time and said a silent prayer that when I finished studying and went to our room, he’d be asleep.
He wasn’t. Despite the fact that we normally didn’t talk to one another, he immediately asked me how my birthday was when I entered the room. I told him it was mostly spent in the library, studying for finals. He said that he felt sorry for me and jumped off his bed, offering me a hug. I asked him to stop after he started kissing my neck and he obliged.
Once I finished brushing my teeth, it was well after three in the morning. As I set my alarm for the next morning, he walked over to my bed and said that the offer still stood, insisting that he was really good at giving blow jobs and that it would be over quickly. Again, trying to be nice, I told him that I was flattered; that I had a girlfriend; that I wasn’t into guys. He wouldn’t stop. He said that he could change my mind about how I felt towards men. Even after I told him that she was in the hospital, he encouraged me to cheat on my girlfriend—she’ll never find out, he said. I continued to say no.
He finally relented, asking if he could just “touch it.” I naively agreed, believing that he would simply graze the crotch of my pants and that I would be able to go to sleep. Instead, he forced his hand inside of my underwear and said that he might as well give me a blow job now. On the verge of tears, I vehemently refused and pushed him away. He seemed to understand and went back to his bed. I believed that he had finally stopped.
Soon after I crawled into bed, he asked me if I minded if he “jacked off”. Again, holding back tears, I told him that I was trying to sleep and that I didn’t care. He then asked me if I wanted to join. This time, I pretended to be asleep and buried my face in pillows.
As I reported my assault in the following weeks, I was forced to relive that night four times as I recounted my experience to different members of the administration. Three days after my assault, I went to my residential adviser, hoping for a room change and possibly, disciplinary action. After some initial disbelief and repeated questions about whether I had given consent, she seemed to understand the severity of the case and promised me that action would be taken.
A week later, I met with the area coordinator who represented my dorm. Just as I had with my RA, I described my assault with ‘as much detail as possible’, pausing several times to cry. The room change occurred almost immediately, though I would have to wait until next semester to move in. Meanwhile, my ordeal was far from over.
I returned to campus early in January to speak with the Dean of Students, who offered me complete support. It had been over a month since the attack and I thought that my healing process was nearing its end. Then, I was asked to again describe my assault. More tears followed as the wounds seared open. Only after our meeting did I finally receive the chance to make a written statement about that night and no longer had to verbally recollect it.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, roughly 10% of all sexual assault victims are male. Most are prevented from sharing their stories by the belief that they were not ‘strong enough’ to fight off their attacker and that their assault made them less of a ‘man’. For months, I blamed myself for what occurred that night, thinking that I could’ve done something to stop it. Even worse, I felt that my roommate had simply made a grave error in judgment and, in the end, I did not pursue disciplinary action against him.
After several conversations with close friends in the past month and hearing several other accounts of sexual assault, I refuse to stay silent as our university insists upon ignoring survivors. Although my experience with the administration was perhaps not as frustrating, distressing, or negligent as that of others, which is possibly due to my status as a white male, I am standing up and speaking out. We will no longer live in silence.
Thank you for your time.