GUEST COLUMNIST | The Statesman This is a first hand account of sexual assault written by a U of M student. It is published anonymously to protect her identity.
If you are a female in college your chances of being sexually assaulted are one in five and it will most likely be committed by someone you already know. This is according to federal statistics from The Campus Sexual Assault Study.
Statistics like these were always something my mind would candidly dismiss. Not that I was being imperceptive or shallow. It simply just was not a concern for me.
What I am trying to get at is that I have lived a privileged life. I am your typical college girl who stays up until three in the morning either cramming for an exam or ordering pizza with my roommates. I am the girl you see in the hallways. I am the girl who is standing in line at the register. I am the girl you see when you look up from this story.
On Sept. 1, 2015, I stood outside of a popular bar downtown preparing for another night of strong drinks, loud music and unforgettable memories.
Unbeknownst to me, “unforgettable” that night was going to mean life changing.
I made plans to meet up with my friend. Let’s call her Maddie. She was with her boyfriend and his friend, we’ll call him Hunter, who I have met on a few occasions. Everyone was having fun until Maddie and her boyfriend decided to covertly leave.
I am the girl you see when you look up from this story.
At the time I didn’t mind. Hunter was a funny, easy-going guy. Someone I considered a friend.
When we got back to Maddie’s apartment, she and her boyfriend went to sleep right away and I planned on doing the same. When I heard Hunter follow me into the bedroom I pretended to fall asleep but that was when the nightmare began.
It was not long before I started feeling concerned. “If he thinks I am sleeping, why is he touching me like that?”
As things escalated, I got more confused. “Oh my God,” I thought to myself, “how far is he going to take this?” And the more traumatic it became the more trapped I felt.
He didn’t listen when I muttered “no” and turned away. He didn’t notice when I put my arm across my face as tears drew from my eyes. It was not until he forced himself on top of me that the outcome of the situation dawned on me and I knew I had to get myself out.
I ran into the bathroom and began to panic. It was three in the morning. Who was going to answer my calls?
When I opened the bathroom door he was standing right in front of me. Frantically, I went back into the room, grabbed my purse and ran out of the apartment. Once I reached the bottom of the stairs footsteps began to follow. I slipped into the nearest door I could find and found myself locked into a closet-sized laundry room.
Reality struck when I finally got ahold of a familiar voice and it was not until I was left standing in the pouring rain, waiting to get picked up from the empty streets when I realized that this was not going to be the end of this deplorable nightmare.
How did this happen to me? 7.3 billion people in this world and I have never felt so alone.
Coincidence or not the campus awareness posters I casually dismissed my whole life were pinned in every direction, catching my attention like bright LED lights. At that point I knew I had to report what had happened, not only for myself, but also for any possible victims in the future.
While the nurses and counselors helped ease my mind, the sexual assault case investigators brought back the pang of shame and loneliness. I was told that my case would never stand in front of a jury but the worst part about this was learning that cases like these are being piled on desks and simply dismissed.
How am I supposed to feel like I did the right thing when nothing will be done? What about all the campaigns advocating that no means no and that silence is never consent?
“It’s all bullshit,” an investigator said.
The university campaigns are leaving a false impression that may make students feel secure, but in legal terms these cases get far too convoluted under jurisdiction. Those who stay silent will never receive justice, and sadly many who do speak up won’t either.
The reality of it is, no outcome will end the pain. There is merely no way to receive justice after being sexually assaulted.
In the end, the police, the hospital, even my friends and family did not matter. Once everyone stopped reaching out the misery from what had occurred that night still rendered.
Maybe one day I will meet a boy and not have to question if he is one of the good ones. Maybe one day I can hear the word “rape,” and resist the images of that night from inundating my mind. But maybe today is the day I can reach out and prevent these same thoughts from seizing your mind as well.
We do not need to acquire the strength and ability to surmount the suffering from incidents like these if we use it to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Sexual assault campaigns are not there to reach out and console victims once the damage has been made. They are there to get across to guys like Hunter to inhibit any further damage. But we pay no mind to these campaigns because it is not something that should happen to you.
It wasn’t supposed to happen to me either.