How Many More?

Trigger Warning: This article reproduces a detailed account of a sexual assault that was originally published in The Wesleyan Argus. It quotes other published stories of rape and sexual assault. It may be triggering for some readers. Community and official support resources can be accessed herehere, and here.

I wish I could say that stories of sexual assault are a thing of the past. But this past isn’t dead. It’s not even past.

It is present. I was reminded of this fact when I read The Argus on Friday afternoon.

It is future unless we do something.

How many more stories have to be told before real change happens?

Thursday, November 13. A letter to The Wesleyan Argus. “Is This Why? An Account of Sexual Assault at Wesleyan University.” 

“On September 10, 2014, I was violently sexually assaulted in my on-campus residence by an acquaintance.”

“I reported my assault the next morning to the Office of Public Safety.”

“I spent the next month answering questions about that night. I was frequently asked if I had ‘actually said no’ or if I had led him on. The witnesses were asked similar questions: if the marks on my body were bite marks or ‘just hickeys,’ if I was trying to make my ex-boyfriend ‘jealous,’ and more infuriatingly, if I had been ‘flirting with him’ before the attack.”

“I had lost my case even though he admitted that he had not gotten consent … It dawned on me that I was going to have to see him on-campus for the next two years and he would never be punished for what he had done to me.

More terrifying than these realizations, was a painful truth about Wesleyan: they were going to protect my assailant instead of me.”

I am enraged.

I have read a story like this before.

April 12, 2013. A letter to The Wesleyan Argus: “Silence is Not the Remedy for Rape.”

“During my freshman year, I was raped in Clark Hall. Last semester, I was assaulted again in Psi U. Both times involved extremely intoxicated “friends,” and both times resulted in months of psychological distress.”

“The next day, I decided to explain the assault to the friends who had seen me crying the night before. I told them exactly who had done it (let’s call him Philip). Philip was their friend too, and in the next few months, I saw bro-code function in an incredibly toxic way. My friends’ silence essentially told Philip that his actions were excusable; their subsequent rejection of me assured him that I was just a “crazy” girl, overreacting to a normal weekend encounter.”

“This has to stop, Wesleyan. It has to stop before even more people get hurt.”

Before her, even more. After her, more still. I am haunted by a past that is bigger than Wesleyan.

October 17, 2012. The Amherst Student. “An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College.”

January 23, 2014. Bwog. “Accessible, Prompt, and Equitable? An Examination of Sexual Assault at Columbia.”

March 14, 2014. The Harvard Crimson. “Dear Harvard, You Win.”

April 5, 2014. Silence is Violence. An entire tumblr of rape stories.

Statistics suggest that these narratives make up the past of 1 in 5 college women. Some report the number to be 1 in 4.  In contrast, the rate of reported sexual violence in men is 1 in 71.

If that is right, then between 300 to 400 people at Wesleyan can tell this same story.

This story has the potential to become my past. It can become the present of any person on this campus. I want this narrative to be in the past. For my safety. For my friends’ safety. For my classmates’ safety. For the wellbeing of survivors. For the wellbeing of all of us who have the potential to become survivors.

Everyone who tells this story knows that it is not their only story. From my friends who are survivors, I have also learned about the true meaning of strength and a boundless capacity for joy and healing.

But how many more stories do we have to hear? How many more times do we need to read about our friends and our peers’ rapes, here and at other schools?

This is not to say that these stories should not be told. They should. They should be read, heard, and believed. Survivors, do not censor yourselves. There are so many people on this campus who are willing and ready to support you.

These stories need to be told until they are finally heard.

I’ve heard them loudly and clearly. Have you?