Nobody can deny that campus sexual assault is a hot topic everywhere today, from Facebook, to Tumblr, to newspapers, and college campuses across the country. And we can all see that Georgetown is trying to make a difference with groups like Take Back the Night and programs like Sexual Assault Peer Education. We hear all sorts of statistics about sexual assault, but from what I have seen, very few of us, whether we admit it or not, are willing to talk about what really happens when one of our peers is sexually assaulted.
I was raped during my freshman year New Student Orientation. Let me preface this by saying that I am not here to blame anyone. I have spent enough time over the past few years blaming people, from myself to my rapist to Georgetown to my roommate, and what I seek now is peace of mind and the ability to talk openly about what happened to me. I have chosen to speak anonymously in order to keep the focus away from making accusations and focusing instead on my story.
I do not remember a lot of details of what happened to me. I am sure that I have blocked some of them out, others have faded with time, but bits and pieces of the night stand out to me: beer from a red cup that I did not pour myself, a pillow held over my face to muffle my screams, my blood on the condom in the trashcan. There are other things that I do not remember: how I got my clothes back on, why my friend was not with me. When I think of that night, I try to think of where things went wrong. It was not my first time drinking alcohol, although perhaps it was my first time getting “drunk.” But when I look back on that night I cannot remember drinking more than 2 beers, which certainly would be enough to get me tipsy, but not enough for me to have blacked out. I have often speculated whether I might have been drugged, as I heard a few weeks later of a girl who was drugged at that same house that weekend, but of course it was too late for me to know for sure. Either way, I was intoxicated that night, and not knowing how or why is something I just have to live with. I was with my friend, a new friend I had just met that weekend, but apparently we got separated at some point. What I do know is this: I was incapable of giving consent, I was a virgin, I bled, I cried, I screamed. I do not know how hard I fought back physically but I do remember how much pain I was in.
I remember waking up the next morning and not letting myself cry. I remember telling myself to suck it up, that plenty of girls lost their virginities that way and that it did not matter. I remember being ashamed that I had had a “one-night stand” as that was something I never thought I would do. I remember not wanting to look at myself in the mirror. I remember crying in classes because I was so disgusted with myself. I spent so long blaming myself, calling myself a whore.
I do not remember how long it took for me to realize that it was not my fault, that I was not a whore, that it was not one-night stand. But at a certain point, it hit me that I was attacked. I was raped. But I did not tell anyone, not my friends, not a therapist, not my family. Sexual assault increasingly became something that was talked about on campus, and I was starting to see that I was not alone in my experience, but I still did nothing. It took me two full years of dysfunctional relationships, depression, and denial before I finally told my mother and started seeing a therapist.
Three years later, I still cannot say that I am completely “over it.” I am resentful towards my male classmates and girls whose biggest problem is that men whistle at them on the streets. I am bitter that my rapist can walk freely on campus without a care in the world, while I am affected by what he did to me everyday. I am angry that even if I had come forward, nothing would have happened because the only evidence would have been “he-said, she-said.”
But what angers me most is that this was not an isolated experience. People are sexually assaulted on our campus every weekend, undoubtedly. People you see in classes, at parties, in the library, even your closest friends, any one of them could be a victim. I was silent about my rape for years, and my friends still do not know what happened to me. I am writing this because we need to have this conversation. I am actually extremely lucky for a number of reasons: my rapist wore a condom, I never had to face him in classes, I was able to keep my grades up despite everything afterwards, and my mother has been empathetic and supportive about my whole experience. Not all victims are so lucky. I do see things improving on our campus, but we need even more. We need to support students who are strong enough to share their experiences and punish those who perpetuate the problem. I wish I had been strong enough to come forward, but now I only hope that I can reach people through my story.
Editor’s Note: Honest Hoyas is a new feature where we publish pieces written by your fellow Hoyas anonymously and unedited. If you would like to submit a story, email us at [email protected].
Graphic designed by Andrew Yan.