He said to come over. I stumbled into his room. He let me in. I told him, “I’m so drunk.” He replied, “Come here, I’ll take care of you.”
I was intoxicated to the point where my movements became slow, my speech jumbled. I was disoriented, and the room was spinning. Words were flying out of my mouth, but I can’t recall what I was saying. I remember him saying, “You want this.” After, I remember slowly walking back up to my room while trying not to vomit. I took a hot shower. My friends came in, surrounded and questioned me. At that point, I was shaking… maybe from the coldness in my room or maybe because of the realization that washed over me.
This personal experience shook me up and made me question my self-worth; I even started to think it was my fault.
I am someone who was brought up with the notion that your worth and esteem is not found in how others perceive you but in your individual strength and how you carry yourself. I have always been a strong-willed and independent person willing to do the right thing in situations of injustice.
However, when I was a victim of injustice, I found it hard to even speak up about what happened.
I know exactly what it’s like to stay silent in a case of sexual assault: being too scared to open up or even confront the perpetrator with fear of shame and personal guilt. Society hurls negative words and connotations at us whenever we seem to be a victim of any harm from another—especially a man—who is in a position of power.
It takes so much courage to come forward and confront the perpetrators.
As women, we have so much to fear already; walking down the street alone or trying to find the “appropriate” top as we can’t bring too much attention to our bodies are just two examples. Unfortunately, in this culture, we women are often seen as objects by the other sex. And when we just want to share the truth about what really happened, people tear us down, shame us, and bring us on a guilt trip. They say, “Why were you that drunk in the first place?” Or, “Well, it’s your own fault, he was just being a dumb guy.”
Too many times have I heard those excuses as justifications for rape and assault to happen.
Too many times.
It’s sickening to hear how these abusers walk away guilt free, as if nothing has happened. Society praises men for “getting some,” and the women in these situations walk away with torn hearts, bodies, and minds.
The statistics are all here.
According to RAINN, 26.4% of females on college campuses have experienced rape or sexual assault through force. And only 20% of females report to law enforcement. This shows how prevalent things like this happen, especially in college. The reasons for the small number of females actually reporting incidents are due to a few reasons. Victims believe it is a personal matter, they fear reprisal, or they believe it is not important enough to report and don’t want to get the perpetrator into trouble.
Being a victim, I can attribute to all of those reasons, which were all valid in my head at the time. I felt that it was my fault in the first place. The first thing which came to my mind immediately following the incident was If I weren’t so intoxicated, none of this would have happened.
However, I failed to realize I wasn’t the one in the wrong. Even if an individual is intoxicated, if they are incapacitated by alcohol, they cannot fully consent. I failed to realize this person took advantage of me when I could not give my permission. I blamed myself for it happening and how much I allowed myself to drink that night.
I blamed everything but him.
It is hard to think about that night and the exact emotions which dwelled in me the days and weeks after. It is hard to know that I will have to remember this for the rest of my life. It is harder to know that only until you are ready and brave enough to report it to someone—the perpetrator will walk free and away and continue to enjoy living their lives. They have no idea what it’s like to be one second away from a deep sleep every night, only to jolt awake in a panic in fear of your body being in a vulnerable state. They have no idea what it’s like to ruminate for months over whether you should have spoken up or reported it to law enforcement.
They don’t understand how traumatic sex can be from now on, even with the right person.
Education around sexual assault is necessary for everyone to learn—even if you don’t think it applies to you. Preventative measures can be taken to reduce the number of these situations, which occur most frequently in college campuses. If you are a victim of assault or sexually based violence, don’t blame yourself. Tell someone immediately. Be it a friend, parent, or partner—it is important to acknowledge what has happened and seek helpful resources. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673, which is a hotline directed to trained professionals in your area to aid in the situation. Most importantly, we have to learn that instead of writing off experiences like mine just as “Oh, boys will be boys,” start educating these “boys” and support the women who have endured these painful experiences.