The week in-between final exams and the graduation ceremonies at my university is senior week — a seven-day break to go out every night. If you are a senior it is a last hurrah with your college friends, or if you are an underclassman, like myself at the time, a chance to use your fake ID at the local bars and send off the seniors, without the repercussions of attending class hungover.
May 13th, in the middle of senior week, was when I was sexually assaulted. My friend Val (name changed) and I pre-gamed with a couple of glasses of wine, and went to this Wednesday night special at this bar downtown. There were a lot of seniors present.
Val and I started talking to these two seniors in the preppy frat at my school. She knew one of the guys from one of her science courses. After coming back from the dance floor a second time, Val and I returned to the guys. They had drinks in their hands — waiting for us. My story gets hazy after this point.
I remember the four of us walking back to campus. We first stopped back at the blonde guy’s apartment. My friend hugged me and asked if I was fine to walk back to my room. Yes, I told her.
I don’t remember walking back; I don’t remember saying yes or no. I woke up at 3pm the next day naked, half-slouched on my bed, and alone. I was confused. I mostly remembered the night before. My phone had multiple texts and calls from Val checking up on me. Sitting upright, I felt that my inner thigh was tender; there was dried jizz on it. My dress was on the floor.
Why I Didn’t Report
I have never considered myself a feminist. I am not the type of university girl that normally feels empowered enough to post another article from Upworthy or an editorial piece on women’s rights from another liberal-leaning post. I have never felt right or worthy enough to speak up until now.
I had seen enough university anti-sexual assault campaigns and episodes of Law and Order to know that I was not supposed to go to the bathroom or wash up after my assault. Doing so would clean up any physical evidence of the assault. Clean up is exactly what I did.
I fit the perfect stereotype of a naive girl getting too drunk. I put myself in the trap of someone else to take advantage of my body. Ashamed of my behavior and actions, I did not want to reveal to anyone how dumb I was.
The reactions that other people might have to my story terrified me. How could I explain this story to my parents, friends and university? A big fear of mine was the discretion of the incident should I have come forward to my university. My assault happened in my university-owned room within my sorority house. The mixture of drinking, sexual assault and greek life does not bode well in the eyes of the university administration. Earlier that same semester, there was a rape reported in a campus fraternity house. The identities of the students involved did not stay confidential, leading me to believe that the same could happen in my case.
My other biggest fear was the reaction of my female friends — my sorority sisters. A woman’s worst enemy is another woman. If anyone calls me slutty or tears me down, it’s usually another female. I was afraid of being called a dumb drunk girl by my sorority sisters. Would they think I tarnished our chapter’s reputation if word got leaked to the school that an assault happened in our house? If my sisters heard my story, would they support me?
I am not sharing my story to gain support for my own cause. My own story is dated; however, I believe other girls are making the fateful decision to act the same way that I did — to not speak up and get help. Rape is about control. As a woman, there is little control I have over the prevalence of sexual assault and legal dealings. I can control how I am as a friend to my fellow sisters — within my sorority and otherwise. And I would never want one of my friends to hide her own sexual assault story because she doesn’t have faith that her sisters will back her up.
My story is not identical to every other assault tale, but there is a common thread. In order to truly help victims of sexual assault, our society needs to address the reasons girls refuse to report their sexual assaults in the first place. I never want to see another woman give the same reason I did.