One In Five Women
There you are at three in the morning, sprawled out on someone else’s bed in a foreign room that smells like sex. Your body doesn’t even feel like yours -- it feels like you're standing over yourself, watching something happen to you. You're not quite able to explain what’s going on. Confused. Dissembled. Disgusted. Shocked. So many feelings you can’t quite put together to equate to that word. And yet there it is: Rape. It finally pops up into your head three weeks later after you come back from Thanksgiving break -- your first break during your first term in college.
No this wasn’t me. This was an 18-year-old freshmen living a couple doors down from me. Let’s say her name is Barbara.
The worst part is Barbara and I went to the same party that night. But she decided to stay the night there, trusting her friends from her sports team to watch after her. She wanted to help clean after the party, she told my friend and l. We left after questioning her a couple times, just making sure she really wanted to stay. It wasn’t her first time staying the night there and as far as we knew nothing had happened to her before.
That night a boy carried her upstairs and took advantage of her. She was raped when every other drunk person had passed out, at around 5 am when even if she had yelled they would have thought it was out of pleasure. He lifted her and carried her upstairs playfully and she thought of it only as a joke. She expected him to let her down. But then he raped her and left her dumbfounded. She didn’t realize it was rape: he never asked for consent but she never said yes. She blamed herself. Just like most girls do.
She only realized what had really happened when she noticed how absently she had acted in front of her family during Thanksgiving. She told the police, informed the coach of her sports team (since that’s what the party was for and everyone on the team was there), and now goes to counseling. She had to pay at least $300 to get checked for STDs. She has to get checked again in a couple of months as well. Just a concrete price to pay in addition to the emotional one.
Fast forward two months: it's Winter term and some friends and I see him in the dining hall. He smiles at the three of us -- the three of us that were there at that party and all live on the same hall as Barbara -- as he and another girl (a future victim?) wait for their food. My eyes meet his and I suddenly feel disgusted, like I might vomit.
One in five women are expected to get raped sometime during their college years. So what are we supposed to do? Not even go to college? Just kill ourselves on the spot to avoid excruciating mental and physical pain that will last the rest of our lives? Enroll in the most expensive advanced self-defense course and go broke? Make best friends with the tallest, buffest football player and drag him along wherever we go? I think not.
We have to speak out against rapists. We can't remain silent. It was hard for Barbara, but she did speak out. She realized that it wasn't her fault. I only wish all survivors could realize the same thing.
Please check out Take Back The Night's resources for survivors of rape.
More articles by Category: Education, Feminism, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Rape, Sexuality, Sexualized violence, College