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The Silenced Ones: My Story

Warning: The following article may contain content that is disturbing to some readers. This article was written for the sole purpose of giving voices to a community of people that are consistently silenced by society. Her Campus DePauw values these brave individuals and withholds blame from any and all parties. We hope that we are able to highlight the impact that sexual assault has on an individual, while simultaneously educating and helping to remove the negative stigmas attached to this sensitive topic. Please proceed with caution and respect.

It happened in the fall of my freshman year. Like many others, I was out at the fraternities with my friends to drink, dance, and socialize. I remember taking maybe two shots of vodka and after that my mind went completely blank. The next thing I vividly remember is waking up the following morning in my bed without clothes and covered in dried blood and bruises. There were scratches all over my body and bruises were already forming on my neck and inner thighs. Everything hurt. I recall looking over the side of my lofted bed to see my underwear shredded into pieces because someone had clearly ripped it off of me with vigor. I climbed out of bed and attempted to steady myself as I wrapped a towel around my body, but I couldn’t stop shaking. I carried my shower caddy into the bathroom and turned the shower on like it was just an average day. Honestly, I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. I couldn’t comprehend that I was raped. I remember stepping in the shower and seeing the water turn a light shade of rust as the dried blood washed off me and down the drain. I thought I could wash away the assault. Hot showers are known for fixing a lot of things, but there was no fixing this.

I am able to recall very little from that night, but I know I wasn’t planning on drinking. Two shots would not have erased my memory, which is why I am absolutely positive that I was drugged. Looking back, I vaguely remember feeling trapped because someone was holding me down in my own bed. The weeks following my rape are a complete blur. It took time for me to tell someone that I was assaulted, but I never reported it. I had no idea who had done such a thing to me, and I also couldn’t bear to tell my parents for fear of breaking their hearts. I could hardly find the courage to tell my own friends.

Tragically, my story is not unique. It is one of thousands and one of many on DePauw’s campus. The truth is that sexual assault is a constant threat and an aspect of life for women and men on college campuses. By remaining ignorant, we are doing a disservice to survivors, but by openly discussing it and sharing our stories, we are diminishing the perpetuation of rape culture and empowering survivors everywhere.

It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since my assault, but it is still a living reality for me. I tried for a while to erase all existing memories of that night but I knew it was only a matter of time. It took over a year for the demon inside of me to rear its ugly head. It started in the form of night terrors, and eventually progressed into PTSD attacks, which unfortunately still occur occasionally. For those of you that don’t understand how severe PTSD attacks can be, my last one left me throwing up for over twelve hours.  

Thankfully, time and love helps to heal all wounds. I recently found the courage to tell my parents that I am a survivor. Waiting for their response was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, yet they were nothing but encouraging and loving, and I am so fortunate to have them.  In the end, I feel blessed. Not because someone raped me, but because I found my voice, and I realized that with it I have an obligation to speak frankly about my assault. It is my hope that I can provide support for other survivors and educate those that are unaware of the extent of sexual assaults on college campuses.

My assault is a part of who I am, and it always will be, but it also has made me fierce and passionate. It has taken me awhile to tell my story, but I hope other survivors hear this and know that what happened to us is wrong and completely unfair. We are strong and resilient individuals, and our stories are unforgettable. We are survivors.

I would like to give a special thank you to my incredible parents who inspire me daily and love me endlessly, to Professor Doug Harms for using his voice to become an advocate for survivors on DePauw’s campus, and to Megan Hadley, Will Hunker, and Madeline Piscetta for their infinite support. Finally, I would like to say thank you to the many survivors of sexual assault on DePauw’s campus. Without your courage, I never would have found the strength to speak so frankly. Thank you for everything.

Lover of gluten-free pizza, Andrew Luck, animals, fuzzy blankets, and anything that sparkles
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