I know I’m not the only one who was afraid to define what happened to her as sexual assault. I know I’m not the only girl who didn’t go to the police because she didn’t want to be the tattletale girl on campus. The problem with dealing with a sexual assault that happens at a fraternity house is that the sexual assault turns into the fault of the fraternity, and less the fault of the individual. I was afraid that it would minimize his actions and he would blame the culture he was engrossed in. I knew that there was no excuse. I knew he needed help.
I want people to understand rape is not the only form of sexual assault. I’m tired of hiding it like I have something to be ashamed of. So to the man to assualted me, this is what I have to say.
I had heard about you. You were a “ladies man.” You liked your alcohol, and you were popular in your fraternity. My friends urged me to take a chance. It didn’t have to be serious, they assured me. Just a fun date night with a cute guy.
19-years-old, and hadn’t had much luck in the dating department. I was in a boy slump. I figured, “why not?” People get set up all the time.
I had no idea that my life, my body, my heart, would never be the same.
The night started awkwardly, two teenage kids trying to get to know each other in an environment filled with sexual tension, high heels, and a lot of vodka. I felt hints of danger with every sip of that mixed drink you took, and felt my excitement for the night dwindling as I pretended to finish every drink you continuously handed me.
“I gotta have at least two more of these before we get to the bar.”
We got to the bar and you were wild. You were fun, you were silly, you kept me dancing and laughing. Soon, I forgot my worries and drank from the straws you thrust at me. You made sure you knew how attracted to me you were, and I let you grab me around the waist. I let you kiss me.
With alcohol running through our veins, we were careless and young, nothing like the awkward kids that we were prior. You told your friends I was the kind of girl you had been waiting for. They told me what a good guy you were, how cute we looked together. Some more walls fell down.
Heading back to your fraternity house after the bar didn’t seem like a big deal. Not to me, the innocent girl who really believed we were just going to hang out and then call it a night. When the other couples that surrounded us began dispersing to their respective rooms for obvious reasons, I let you lead me upstairs because you wanted to “show me around.”
“We can just hang in here.”
Looking back, this is the part of the night I spent months putting myself at fault for.
But I let you lead me into your room, and I sat on your bed.
The warning bells began to ring.
As we sat next to each other, you began to kiss me. I was drunk, but I knew who I was. I told you I was not interested in sleeping with you that night.
You began to protest.
“I’m not that drunk, I’m not as drunk as you think I am.”
Sure, maybe you weren’t. But I was. I was drunk and I didn’t know you and I was tired and I wanted to go home. But you persisted. You persisted.
You got up off the bed. You turned the lights off and locked the door. When I asked you what you were doing you said,
“I’m going to turn these lights off and you’re going to like it.”
You shoved me forcefully backwards onto your bed. With your shirt off, you got on top of me, my mere 130 pounds no match for your determination. I told you that you were hurting me. Please get off of me.
It seemed like a game. The more I struggled, the more you touched.
The night is a blur. I have no idea how I got you off of me, but I did, clothing intact, but a violated feeling in the pit of my stomach.
As I hurriedly began my escape through the house, you chased me, shirtless, calling me baby, telling me to come back.
Please let me go.
I managed to get to the front door before you caught up to me. Shirtless, barefoot, panting, you grabbed my arm and told me I wasn’t going anywhere until we “cleared this up.”
I couldn’t breathe.
I went into a survival mode I didn’t know I had then. I flirted with you. The boy who had just reduced me to nothing more than a stubborn sex toy that wouldn’t work the right way. I flirted and I told you,
“Oh no baby, you didn’t hurt me. No, I won’t tell anyone anything. There’s nothing to be sorry for. I’m just really tired, otherwise I’d stay.”
Screaming inside, but knowing this was my only way out. The more I struggled, the more you touched.
A text message the next morning. You wanted coffee. To make sure I was okay. You never meant to hurt me.
It’s okay, I’ll pass. I’m fine.
I didn’t consider it sexual assault then. I refused because you had not raped me. You had only held me down and touched me.
It was sexual assault.
Eventually, I managed the strength to admit this to the president of your fraternity. With little knowledge of the resources I had to help me, this was where I turned because this was where it had happened.
I found overwhelming support from your fraternity brothers. I was shocked at how genuinely they cared and wanted to prevent this from happening again.
I agree with my decision back then to not bring this to the police. I was violated, I was hurt, and I was afraid of 200 angry frat guys that would hate me for getting their house kicked off of campus. I was tired of talking about it while simultaneously keeping it a secret.
Your brothers sent me a list of punishments you received. No parties. No drinking. You are unable to live in the fraternity house. Counseling once a week. A formal apology in front of the chapter. They forced you to attend every sexual assault workshop and speech that happened on campus. They focused on helping you. They asked what I thought your punishments should be, did I want to file a restraining order?
I didn’t want to talk about it ever again.
To this day, we have not spoken. I know you wrote me a letter, but I chose not to read it. I know you didn’t intend to hurt me. I know you feel shame and sorrow for what you did to me. I know things are not the same for you, and that you are trying to change.
And while I spent months figuring out how to take my life back, I realized I wasn’t as angry as I thought I should be. I found myself feeling sorry for you.
Then I realized,
I realized that it was not because I wore that tight dress, or because I let you kiss me. And as hard as this was for me to accept, it was not my fault that I stumbled into your room. There is something wrong with you. Something that made you believe you could posses another human being. Something that made you quiet my cries and continue to act like I liked what you were doing.
I don’t hate you because that’s not who I am. It took me months to get to the point I am at, to accept love into my life, to let another boy kiss me. To accept what happened. You will not change any other parts of me. You will not take anymore of who I am away from me.
I hope you are doing better. I really do.