"It's estimated that 1 in 5 female college students will be the victim of rape or attempted rape. Of those victims, less than 5 percent will report the crime. Colleges may try to downplay events and/or keep charges hidden so their reputation won't be tarnished."
How It Happened
The assaults on me didn’t happen on a college campus, but they did happen while I was in college years. Since then I’ve done a lot of research. Apparently, what happened to me is very common, and I want to make it less so. Women are being sexually assaulted on college campus (and everywhere else) and people in positions of authority are either ignoring their plight, intimidating them into silence, or hiding evidence of the incident.
In many cases women are very familiar with their assailant, as much as 74% of the time. Nobody suspects their boyfriend, best friend, relative, or neighbor of being capable of those crimes until it’s too late. Don’t let it get you paranoid; just don’t put yourself in a compromising situation with a person even if you trust him. That is what happened to me. I trusted my boyfriend of 4 months, and was alone with him constantly unsupervised for 8 plus hours at a time. It sounds like heaven doesn’t it?
Of course we had consensual sex and it was great. Everything was perfect. Then I found out he was cheating on me with a girl I thought was my friend. At the same time, several other things came out about her. She hadn’t been in our circle long but everyone liked and accepted her; then we learned she had been having sex with several people in my social circle that were also in relationships. When it came out, many strong bonds of friendship and love were destroyed beyond repair; trust was broken. She left as suddenly as she had come, pain filling her place.
I questioned everything, especially her sexual background. I wanted to pick up the pieces with my boyfriend and get over this betrayal, but I wasn’t sure if he had contracted anything from her. So I told him we needed to avoid sex all together until I could be sure he was safe from STDs. He didn’t like being told what he couldn’t have, so he took it. He began to take advantage of me, and I began making excuses. Well I was so pretty; it must have been irresistible to him. Maybe he was so caught up in the pleasure he didn’t hear me screaming “No.” Maybe…Maybe…
I was raped several times over the course of 2 months, once anally, before I finally couldn’t bear to be in his sight ever again. He scarred me to my core; I was broken and empty and felt totally alone. When I broke up with him I confided in a close friend why I had done it. That friend blabbed.
My social circle was ripped in two. Half of my friends rushed to my side, and while their concern was comforting and their presence was wonderfully helpful, I felt suffocated by the constant attention and the nagging fear that I would never be able to trust again. The other half of my friends completely cut off contact with me, choosing to believe I had to have made up that story, that their friend would never do that to someone else. I don’t blame them; if I hadn’t experienced it I wouldn’t have believed that handsome charismatic and respectful young man had that darkness in him either.
Except when he started making up stories claiming I had cheated on him, I was covering up for my own horrible deeds, etc. Many people, who had chosen to believe me, instantly deserted me. I was left with only a couple faithful friends. And the threats of violence from my ex led me to seek out the authorities.
I understand why most women wouldn’t want to seek help from authorities. When it’s your word against someone else, and the attacker could have a stained reputation forever, people aren’t going to want to think that this person did something so violent and horrible. In my case I asked campus police about a restraining order based on his violent behavior on campus towards me. He cornered me in my car, placing his foot next to my driver’s side tire so I couldn’t drive off without injuring him, and yelled and cussed at me until my friends saved me from him. He drove dangerously close to me very quickly as I crossed a parking lot, cursing out his window about killing me. The police didn’t want to take my word for it; they didn’t help me get a restraining order. My complaints led to nothing.
Worse than that was the emotional damage. I spent months having breakdowns two to three times a week. I felt violated, used, and dirty. I had trouble being around men, even men I had trusted my whole life. It took well over a year to be able to think about it without pain or fear.
It’s now been 3 years since and I’m regaining more self-confidence every day. I’m still not where I was before all of this emotionally, but I am getting better every day. This experience has made me want to spread awareness about rape. It can happen anywhere, and can come from anyone, and it can be prevented.
The biggest help in preventing a rape is in your mindset. Always know that a date can turn into date rape, make sure you know who you are with, that your friends know who you are with, and that who you are with knows that your friends know. Don’t drink alcohol and don’t give your date an opportunity to slip something into your drink. The second of those two sounds like common sense but you maybe wonder why I say don’t drink alcohol at all. That’s because if you are compromised and report it the authorities may chalk the whole incident up to your alcohol clouded judgment and let him go.
Don’t advertise that you are a single woman living alone. Take a self-defense course, it sounds paranoid now but it won’t when you are fending off an attacker. When you go out, remember the “safety in numbers” saying and bring a couple friends with you. Have your keys ready when walking to your house or vehicle and check your backseat before getting into your car every time. Also, immediately lock your doors and worry about arranging your purse when you get home, don’t sit in the parking lot doing it, especially after dark.
Also sometimes this may not matter, but a forceful “no” can sometimes jog a man’s memory and make him realize what he’s doing. Sometimes that’s all you need to stop him.
Don’t let any man or woman take advantage of you. You are a wonderful person who deserves only the best and most respectful partner. Tell yourself every day that you are/will be with the person who makes you happy and lifts you up. Never settle and be true to yourself.