It was Valentine’s Day. Like any group of single first-year hall mates, our natural destination was Timothy’s Bar and Grill. What should have been a carefree night out with my girlfriends turned into one of the worst nights of my life – the night I was sexually assaulted.
I met him at Tim’s, of course. I was more than a little tipsy and having a good time. He came up to me, and we started to dance. Then he asked me to leave.
We stumbled back to Founders Hall and into his room. He kissed me, and we continued to kiss for a while. It was consensual. Until it wasn’t.
He began to push my comfort zone to its limits. He removed my shirt and my bra. I was nervous and uncomfortable, but I didn’t, or maybe couldn’t, say a word. His hand crept up my thigh. I batted it away. It happened again. Finally, I said it out loud: “No.” This happened a third time, and the same word: “No.”
To him, “no” didn’t mean no.
He grew impatient with my protests and, eventually, ignored them altogether. His hand kept forcing its way under my skirt. I swatted his hand away one last time, praying this time he’d stop.
He didn’t. Instead, he put his full weight on top of me. I couldn’t breathe, paralyzed with terror. All I could think was, “Oh, God, please don’t let him rape me.”
He didn’t; but he still assaulted me that night.
And I am still scarred.
Somehow, after he was done with me, I got him off. I threw on my clothes and sprinted, sobbing, back to Marycrest Hall. I told no one what had just happened. I fell into a dreamlike state, reliving the past few hours as a nightmare.
The next day, I decided to tell my best guy friend, whom I trusted deeply, what happened.
His response: “How could you let this happen?”
He might as well have punched me in the gut.
“Why didn’t you scream or get him off of you? You should have done something.”
He might as well have slapped me across the face.
“It’s your fault. You were drunk. Of course you had to know this would happen.”
His words ripped out my heart.
“You need to go to confession and tell God how you’ve sinned.”
Broken, defeated and utterly alone, I unconsciously, or maybe consciously, forgot everything. His room number, name, face: gone. As far as I was concerned, it never happened to me. I chose to believe it didn’t for the next year and a half.
It took me that year and a half to finally let go of the anger, shame, blame and frustration I felt toward myself from the assault. My eyes were slowly being opened by the revolution that has been swelling around us in terms of sexual assault recently, but there was a part of me still holding back. I sat in the audience listening, countless times, to Kristen Altenau tell us it was never the victim’s fault – no matter what. I still couldn’t believe her because I wasn’t ready to. I didn’t want to hear it, so I didn’t. That all changed when I made the conscious decision to attend Green Dot training.
I wasn’t going to confess anything: I was going for myself. That day, my life changed again. I accepted I had been sexually assaulted. On that day, it struck me: I was ready to let go.
I was able to let go of the “it didn’t happen to me” mentality. It did happen to me.
I was able to drop the “it doesn’t happen here” mentality. It did happen here; a fellow Flyer did this to me. It seemed impossible someone from my beloved student body could sexually assault me. But he did.
Finally, and most importantly, I was able to let go of the blame. It was not my fault I was assaulted. If you learn anything from my experience, please understand that it is never the victim’s fault.
Unfortunately, because of the victim-blaming mentality, I felt I could never come forward. I didn’t trust the system; I’ve seen it fail too many times, even at UD. I am like many women who have been assaulted: because of the stigma and brokenness of the system, my attacker goes unpunished. I will never see justice for this crime.
So this is my story. This is what I have to give to you, my fellow Flyers, the community that I so love and appreciate. Getting to where I am right now mentally and emotionally, was not an easy journey. I offer this to you in the hopes that this will open your eyes, or that it starts a conversation about sexual assault on this campus. Even if it just reaches one person and makes a difference in that one person’s mind, that’s all that matters to me. I finally found my voice, and I’m sharing it with you now.