Disclaimer: names in this article have been changed for the safety of those involved
According to an article by Al Jazeera America, 42 percent of students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) reported having been sexually assaulted.
Taylor, a UMD student, is one of those students. Except Taylor has never reported their sexual assault story.
Taylor is a pansexual person and identifies using the gender pronouns they and them. This means that Taylor does not identify as either gender, rather a neutral gender.
Taylor has been attending UMD since they were 16 years old and a junior in highschool. They were a Post-Secondary Education Opportunity (PSEO) student senior year as well.
Taylor met a 19 year old heterosexual male student on campus. At that time Taylor identified as a bisexual woman.
“I was like, wow he’s older, wow he’s cool and I’m still this little high school student,” Taylor said.
The first time Taylor and him hung out they got high together.
“He started touching me and honestly, I was just really excited that this older person was into me,” Taylor said. “I was like, yeah we can do this.”
At this time Taylor was also working on their sexual identity. After a few times of hanging out together Taylor had decided to identify as a lesbian.
“There were a couple of instances where he was kind of scary,” Taylor said.
Taylor explained a time when he came over to their house when their mom was gone. He started being really touchy and was trying to have sex with them.
“I was like, no I don’t want to have sex right now, that’s not something I want to do,” Taylor said.
Though he kept trying. After a while he gave up and moved to a different seat in the room where he said the most terrifying thing he could: “You’re lucky I am such a nice guy,” the man said to Taylor.
"You're lucky I'm such a nice guy," the man said to Taylor.
At that time Taylor knew that he wasn’t a nice guy. Taylor still hung out with him after that which they attribute to their low self-esteem at the time.
“There were a few other times where we would be hanging out and I would say no and he would keep pushing and I’d say no and then he’d wait an hour and start pushing again,” Taylor said. “I’d be like whatever, we’re going to have sex now because I’m tired of saying no to you.”
Taylor said the man knew that they had been identifying as a lesbian at that point and he kept pushing anyway.
“I think it tends to come from some sort of hypermasculinity,” Taylor said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 44 percent of lesbian women have experienced rape and/or physical violence.
Taylor didn’t realize it was rape at the time.
“We aren’t taught that if you don’t want to do it and you’re doing it just because you want to get someone off your back that that isn’t rape but it absolutely is,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said that they weren’t out at the time so that also attributed to their not reporting it because they didn’t know exactly what it was.
Taylor thinks that a lot of reporting doesn’t happen because people aren’t out yet, therefore they feel they can’t report it. Also there have been sexual assault agencies that have been known to not be queer friendly.
“I want people to know that you do have an ally,” Taylor said naming the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) as well as the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) as resources.
It took Taylor three years to talk about it, which is when they realized that it was in fact rape.
“I experienced first hand a non-violent assault I suppose,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that there is an idea that sexuall assault involves yelling no and always some sort of violent force, when really that’s not always how it happens.
“I didn’t say yes, and I didn’t want to do it--and that’s what rape is,” Taylor said.
“Now I can help other people better who might be confused if they were assaulted,” Taylor said.
They graduate in the fall and plan to apply to be a PAVSA advocate.
"I experienced firsthand non-violent assault, I suppose," Taylor said.
As for reporting, Taylor said that it depends on who you are and what you want to deal with. They said that it can be a process and add a lot of other emotional burdens after dealing with an already stressful situation.
“But I think that people need to know that they can’t get away with it. They need to know something is going to happen to them because they hurt someone else,” Taylor said.
Taylor encourages people to report, but you don’t have to shame yourself in doing so.
“I just want people to be okay and know they’re not alone,” Taylor said.