Sharing My Fraternity Rape Story

Content warning: Sexual assault

I feel like it is time for me to share my story. Writing an article is the only way I know how at this point. I can tell you 100% that I have tried everything else. I want to preface this by saying it is very painful for me to rehash this story. But it is nothing in comparison to yesterday when I had to sit in a tiny conference room next to my rapist and listen to the verdict “not responsible.”

I was raped by a fraternity man early in 2017. Notice that I am writing this in late 2018, which shows how long it takes to accuse someone of rape. Yes, I have had to deal with this for a year and a half now, only to have absolutely nothing come from it. First of all, I will say that it is very, very unlikely for a college woman to go through a Title IX rape investigation if she is lying. Why would she? There is no good end result. There is no money involved. The only outcome is pure pain and embarrassment and the only punishment if he is found guilty are writing a paper or being put on probation. She’ll lose the majority of her friends, she’ll lose her reputation, but most of all she’ll lose her mind. It is an awful process that takes months after months and the only person it is difficult for is the woman who now goes by “complainant.”

Do not go telling me it is difficult for the accused, because I’ll just tell you that he shouldn’t have raped her in the first place. This process dredges up every bad thing she has done in her college career. Every drink she had at a bar, every man she has had sex with in the past. She will be asked where she found the bruises on her body and how badly they hurt, as well as how sore her vagina was after the referenced night. This process is the purest of evils and I will answer the age old question you have been asking yourself for years...she’s not lying.

Unfortunately, my case was extended longer than most. After I was raped by my best friend (let me reiterate...my best friend) I didn’t know how to react or what to do. First of all, it takes a while to sink in and comprehend. Most women are raped by someone who is known to them so it is difficult to immediately understand what has happened. Rape trauma causes fogginess in the brain. It is almost like a blank space of time where your brain can’t really connect with what has happened to your body. Luckily, I was able to know for sure I had been raped because he had already been asking me to hook up with him for months and I spent every day telling him no. Whether or not I consented was not a question in my mind, which was good for me, because a lot of girls worry about whether they said yes or not and then they end up blaming themselves. Not for me. I knew I had never been romantically interested in this man and (even though he lied about this in the investigation) I had absolutely never had sex with him before I was raped (or after).

I distanced myself from him not only because of what had happened but because my body became physically fearful of him. If I saw him at the fraternity I would freeze up. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, my whole body would start shaking and my teeth would start chattering as if I was cold. My body could feel the full blow of betrayal and it was terrified of this big bodied man that could easily overpower me again at any moment. He claimed in his side of the story that we stopped hanging out because “he didn’t like the way I treated his dog.” This excuse was honestly just comical to me until he won the hearing. I’m not going to sit here and defend the fact that I never “treated his dog badly” and rave about how much I love dogs. I think we all know how much girls love dogs. When I was preparing for the hearing, I laughed that this was his reasoning as to why we stopped having contact. Unfortunately, the people deciding our case somehow found that viable. Let me tell you that that is not the reason we stopped talking. The reason we stopped talking is that he bought all of my drinks at the bar, made sure I was blacked out, then raped me leaving physical bruises and bite marks all over my body.

After a couple weeks of not knowing how to function, I decided to tell some of my other guy friends in the fraternity. I was very close with them as well and I thought I could put my trust in them. They told me they were appalled and that they wanted me to talk to the fraternity executive board and only report it to them because they would take care of it. This made me feel a lot more comfortable because I knew all the pain that went into a full investigation, so I was perfectly content with letting them handle it internally.

What I’m about to tell you is absolutely true, word for word. Something I will never forget. They will all deny this because when it came down to the actual investigation they all of the sudden said the exact opposite of what they told me, but I want you to know that I have no reason to lie and I’m not sure how I could just randomly make this up. One night, I did as they told me and sat down and told my story to some of the members of the executive board. After hearing my story, they told me that the man I was talking about already had an entire list of women who had reported him for rape to the fraternity. They then told me that they would do everything they could to get him off the executive board. They also told me he would have to take classes and meet with an advisor.  They told me that he would be kicked out of the fraternity altogether. I mean all of that aside…. there was an entire list of women who had already reported him. That is insane.

I should’ve known at that moment that if they didn’t do anything about the other women, it wouldn’t be any different for me. Instead, I chose to trust them and believed that they were actually doing something about this. My bad I guess. After about a month, I started to hear the rumors about me that people were saying behind my back. Very untrue rumors. People were talking about me doing things I would never do, at parties I never even attended. People were saying I was showing up at his house without being invited. They were even saying that I was blacklisted from the fraternity. I was shocked. I had no idea where these rumors were coming from and I was stunned that they were about me, because if anyone really knows me, he or she knows I’m harmless.

I went to the executive board again, because I needed it to find out why people were saying I was blacklisted. It turns out that the very men who had encouraged me to come forward and had told me they were helping me were the ones making up rumors about me and ruining my reputation on campus. They deny this now, but I was told that I was banned from the fraternity. In fact, there was even a tailgate that I went to with some girlfriends, that I was kicked out of because I was blacklisted. All I was doing was standing there talking to a friend while holding a beer and I was shuffled out of the tailgate in front of everyone only because I had reported that one of their brothers raped me.

I was humiliated. Even some of my sorority sisters believed these rumors because they were dating men in the fraternity. I lost every single one of my friends at the time. I became recluse and never left my house. I stopped going to class because I was terrified I would see someone I knew. I stopped hanging out with my girlfriends because they believed what the boys in the fraternity were saying. The only people I had on my side were my family and they lived 10 hours away. I was completely alone.

After months of being too scared to leave my apartment, I finally gathered the courage to join a rape support group. I have actually joined two and decided to dedicate my time recovering from the trauma. At this point, I was having extreme PTSD. I had nightmares every night that caused me to get no sleep at all. I would be numb during the day because any kind of trigger would cause me to have flashbacks. Thankfully, I learned how to start coping with these symptoms. I also learned that this wasn’t my fault and that I deserved better. With that in mind, I decided to contact the national fraternity. I contacted Phi Sigma Kappa headquarters and emailed my story to every single person on their staff list (I mention the name of the fraternity because I feel you deserve to know). I waited for a little while till I finally got a response from someone. They told me that they were assigning someone to my case and that they would get in touch with more information. They never got in touch. I never heard from them again.

That was when I finally decided to come forward to the school and begin the Title IX investigation. I do not want to get into all of that, because you all pretty much know how that goes. It is a long, tedious process with witnesses and (in my case) lawyers. I finally had my hearing yesterday and I thought it was going well. I came in completely prepared with hundreds of pages of notes I had written, an opening and closing statement, and perfectly thought out questions for him and the witnesses. He came in completely unprepared. He winged his statements and sounded like a complete idiot. He had inconsistencies in his story that clearly showed he was lying, which he was asked about and then stumbled over the answers. Half the time he didn’t know what to say and he was flustered throughout the entire hearing. On the other hand, I was perfectly calm, never wavered in my story, and had all of my facts consistent.

He still won.

He won even though he caused me intense trauma that I will live with forever. This trauma has caused me to feel unsafe not only my own college campus but in the entire city in which I live. It has caused me to lose my ability to trust and believe that someone can care about me. I will never be the same because of this trauma. I will run every time I’m alone in the dark, I will constantly check over my shoulder to make sure no one is behind me, and I will always feel violated while having sex. It has caused extreme damage to my life from which I will never recover. I have shared intimate information about my life with you today. I have shared information that embarrasses me and information that I hoped I would never have to think about again. This hearing process forced me to talk to complete strangers about the darkest part of my life. I would never put myself through this unless I knew it was the right thing to do. I would never write this article unless I knew it was the right thing to do. I do not want another woman to have to go through what I have gone through and if that means making my little contribution by sharing my story, I will do so.

For those of you who do not already know this, One in three women has experienced some kind of sexual violence. This needs to end. Maybe you think this doesn’t apply to you, but I can guarantee that there is not just one, but many women in your life that have been sexually assaulted in some way. I am here to share my true story. I do not care if there are people that do not believe me or want to stand in my way. I will not tire. I will not be embarrassed. And most of all I will not apologize. I am doing this for myself and I am doing this for the millions of women whose lives will never be the same.