It happens to more people than you think. It happens to people that you know, but you would have no idea. Sexual assault happens to even more people than I could ever fathom.
Since writing this blog, many people that I know have come to me and confessed that they have also been a victim of this horrible crime. I wouldn’t expect this crime to happen to anyone, simply because nobody is asking for it to happen to them. However, the people that have come to me are some of the last people you would think that would have something so awful happen to them. For this reason alone, it is so important to be careful what you say or what you post on social media. You never know what people are going through and you also do not understand how much rape and roofie jokes affect someone who has gone through it unless you yourself have gone through it. I believe that we should never take these topics too lightly.
One woman that I am friends with agreed to let me share her story. I know that I have previously shared my story, but this story is really eye-opening to college students, in my opinion. This story could be so similar to what is happening on your own college campus, on any campus nationwide. Every story is unique, but I thought mine was a little difficult to relate to since I was 16 when it happened and the details were so random. This story, I believe, will help women (and perhaps men as well) that have gone through a sexual assault experience during their college years realize that it happens to so many of us; especially college-aged people. I hope that by sharing this story, people will be able to identify with my friend and know that they are not alone.
*I would like to go ahead and point out now that all names in this story have been changed to respect the privacy of the people involved.
First, I asked Carla* to describe the night that the incident happened.
“The night that it happened was just another ordinary night for me. I was hanging out with 2 people that I am super close to. They had been drinking all day and they decided that they finally wanted to stop drinking and go get something to eat. Sober phone [a campus organization that provides students with rides, similar to Stripes at Mizzou] was busy taking calls and since the dorms aren’t far away, we decided to walk back; I had plenty of food in my room and I told them that they could come eat and hang out with me until they sobered up enough to go to their rooms and go to sleep.
Of course it’s 2 boys and when boys get drunk they can do some pretty stupid things. I tried my best to handle it on my own and make sure they weren’t acting like idiots because I really didn’t want to get in trouble and I know they didn’t want to either, whether they were worried about it or not. I’m only one person so I decided to call over someone that they’re super close with because I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Once Sean* got there, we got them to the room and made them eat some food. I turned on the TV hoping that it would calm them down. I eventually got them to go to their rooms and sleep. I was beyond ready to go to sleep because it was around 5 in the morning at this point. I told Sean that he could go ahead and go and that’s all I needed him for and that I needed to get some sleep because my parents were coming to visit me the following day. He didn’t listen, he just sat in my bed and looked at me. I just kept saying that he could leave in hopes that it would actually work. It didn’t work at all. Finally, I just gave up and decided that I was really ready to go to sleep. I climbed in my bed and was slowly falling asleep when I felt his hand moving up my leg. I turned around and just looked and said, ‘No, I’m really not interested in doing this.’ I then tried to go to sleep again and it kept happening, and all I could say was, ‘NO.’ I thought that if I kept saying it things would change but they didn’t. Eventually, it led to sex and I kept saying ‘no.’ It didn’t work, nothing I said was changing what was happening. The whole time this was occurring, I didn’t make a single sound, all I did was bite my knuckles and cry because I didn’t want to do anything. This isn’t what I had planned to happen at all, I just needed help with my friends.”
Once again men, women don’t owe you shit!!!!!!! In case you forgot, please read my previous blog post about how women, under no circumstance, owe you anything. Ever. Here’s the link: https://rapesurvivorsstandtogether.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/dear-men-women-dont-owe-you-shit/
So Sean if you are reading this, just because you did a wonderful thing by helping Carla out with her friends, that was not an invite to sex. Nor were you entitled to have sex with her just because you helped her out. Hearing stories like this makes me wonder what goes on inside the rapist’s mind while these things are happening. Something is not right in their brains, obviously.
Next, I asked Carla to describe her feelings on the whole situation.
“Right after it first happened, I felt so disgusted with myself. I thought that what happened was my fault because I invited him over to help me with my friends and maybe he thought more was going to happen but that wasn’t my plan at all. I thought that the word ‘NO’ would actually stop what was going on because when a situation like that arises, you’re always told to say ‘no’ to any unwanted sexual advances. I just figured that it would help and end things but it didn’t. I felt so powerless and all I wanted to do was cry and scream because of it.
I was emotionally detached for a while. I really didn’t feel like going out anymore, I just wanted to lay in bed and watch TV. Every time I saw him I would hide behind one of my friends, hoping that he didn’t see me. It was really tough at first. Now I feel angry about it, I feel as if I could’ve done something more instead of just saying ‘no.’ I get anxiety now when the topic of rape is brought up because of what happened. It’s getting easier to handle but it’s still a very sensitive topic of discussion for me.”
Once again, women don’t owe you shit for anything. And we are taught to “just say no” but what happens when saying no isn’t enough? What do you do then? I think there are many answers to that question but until you are in that situation, you never really know how you would handle it. It is so easy for us to say what should have been done but unless you are put into that unfortunate situation, you have no idea how difficult it is to get out of it or make it stop. Therefore, anyone who has never dealt with something this hard has no say in what should have or could have been done, besides the experts.
I then asked Carla how her friends and family have helped her through the healing process.
“At first I really didn’t want to tell anyone because I thought that they wouldn’t believe me. I thought that they would think I was seeking attention. When I finally decided to tell one of my friends about it, it was extremely hard for me to get it out. I choked on my own words and tried to hold back my tears at the same time. It was really hard for me to talk about because of the way it made me feel. Once I told her, I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest.
My friends were very supportive of the fact that I didn’t like to talk about it because of how much that it hurt me. They feel nothing by anger towards Sean now. Every time they see him in public, all they can do is glare and continue walking. Some of my friends have the urge to just walk up to him and punch him in the face but they know that isn’t going to help anything. My roommate is probably one of the most important people in my life and when I told her, she was outraged. She’s always there for me when I come back to the room and say that I saw him and it just makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Unfortunately for Carla, and many other victims, she has to share a campus with this monster. I could never imagine seeing the person who assaulted me around a place where I am supposed to feel safe and at home. The damage that these horrendous people do can never be undone or forgotten. And seeing their ugly faces is just a reminder of the bad that has happened. I could never imagine going through that. Luckily for me, the last time I saw the man that assaulted me was when the incident happened. Other victims are not so lucky.
If someone confides to you that they have been a victim of an assault, please believe them. It takes a lot of courage for people to speak about it to anyone and many victims are hesitant to tell their friends for fear that they won’t be believed. If someone comes to you with something like that, the worst thing you can do for them is not believe them and be anything less than supportive.
Finally, I asked her if there was any advice or words of encouragement she would give to other people that have gone through something similar.
“For anyone that has gone through this, I know that it is a tough situation to deal with. The emotional damage is the worst. I know you’re going to want to keep it to yourself and not tell anyone because you feel as if it won’t make a difference at all. It will make a difference though because once you tell someone your story, you’re going to feel so much better. Whether it be someone that has gone through it, a medical professional, or even a really close friend. Just getting it off your chest will help.
It’s not going to be easy to handle at first, you’re going to have trust issues with everyone that comes around you because of what has happened. You may even feel depressed and constantly question what more you could have done to stop it. It isn’t your fault that this happened, I felt as if it was my fault at first. It isn’t and will never be your fault so don’t feel like it is. All I can say is talk to someone about it, [even though] it’s not easy. I talked to someone that experienced the same thing and it took me a while to go to this person at first because I didn’t know how to word it and it was still something that I couldn’t talk about openly. The person I went to made me realize everything that I have said in the above paragraph. The reassurance that it isn’t your fault is something that really helps in this particular situation.”
I cannot stress it enough: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT. It doesn’t matter that you had on a low cut top or a short skirt. It doesn’t matter that you drank too much. It doesn’t matter that this dude did something nice for you or paid for a meal. It doesn’t matter if he has been your boyfriend for a year and a half or even a week. It doesn’t even matter if you said you would have sex with him at a previous point in time and then decided you weren’t feeling it. (I will talk about consent in another post because that is a very important topic to discuss when discussing sexual assault). IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT AND NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE THAT. Don’t let him or anyone else, especially yourself, tell you that it is your fault. It is not. How could it be your fault that this guy has something mentally wrong with him? That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? So does people blaming the victim for what happened to them.
As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or if you just wanna talk. If you know me personally, you know where to reach me. If you don’t though, my email is RSSTresist@gmail.com. Please feel free to share this on Facebook, Twitter, or however other way you’d like.
If you or anyone you know is going through extreme emotional suffering from being a victim of sexual assault, seek help right away. The suicide prevention lifeline is 1 (800) 273-8255. Please do not feel ashamed to get the help you may need.