Trigger Warning: Mildly graphic descriptions of sexual assault
The first semester of college is about making friends (hopefully lifelong), learning how to live in a dorm (and with another person who you’ve probably awkwardly texted for only about two weeks), and figuring out what your passion is academically (even though this might take a little longer than one semester).
My first semester consisted of all of this. But there was something else it included that I never quite expected. You see news of college assaults, rapes at frat parties, and you learn to take precautions with drinking, be safe, be wary of men that might be out to harm you.
You never expect it to be you. And you never expect it to be outside of those painfully ‘typical’ rapes of drunk girls who are drugged and taken advantage of. I feared this coming in to college. But one thing I didn’t fear was my friends.
I didn’t fear the first friends I made, male or female. The first male friend I made flirted with me frivolously, but he was there when I needed him and I would climb the mere flight of stairs separating us if he needed me. He was protective if I went out, telling me to call him if anything went wrong.
He was what I never learned to be scared of. Now his mugshot is around my dorm and his smile is engrained in the pain of my body. This friend assaulted me, not understanding the seriousness of my endless “please stop”s and using his weight over me to ensure the finger in me was something I could not escape.
I never expected this. Or him. I never expected to be in my first semester taking finals and calling the police. It has been painful. Every part of it. The campus finding out. The police asking me how I knew him. The prison telling me he was released. It was painful to have classes, a legal process, an emotional process, and the newness of this world I only just entered.
People ask me about my college experience and it is evident that I don’t know what to respond. Trauma is a burden you must carry, and the more recent it is, the heavier it is. It does not stop being with me.
My point here is not just what I didn’t expect, and what hurt. It is that life as a victim of sexual assault during your first semester is by no means easy, but it is by all means possible. I spend days in my room stressing over every aspect of my assault, of my friendship with my assailant, of everything before and after. But in the end I get up. And I go to my classes.
I have to remember to acknowledge that he has taken enough of my body, but he cannot take all of me. He cannot take the hopes and passion I came to college with. He cannot take away my experience, even if what he did to me is on my back everywhere I go.
This article has been kept anonymous per the author’s request.