An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College
Issue   |   Wed, 10/17/2012 - 00:07

TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.

When you’re being raped time does not stop. Time does not speed up and jump ahead like it does when you are with friends. Instead, time becomes your nemesis; it slows to such an excruciating pace that every second becomes an hour, every minute a year, and the rape becomes a lifetime.

On May 25, 2011, I was raped by an acquaintance in Crossett Dormitory on Amherst College campus.

Some nights I can still hear the sounds of his roommates on the other side of the door, unknowingly talking and joking as I was held down; it is far from a pleasant wakeup call.

I had always fancied myself a strong, no-nonsense woman, whose intense independence was cultivated by seventeen harrowing years of emotional abuse in my backwoods home. May 25th temporarily shattered that self-image and left me feeling like the broken victim that I had never wanted to be.

Everything I had believed myself to be was gone in 30 minutes.

I did not report the rape after it occurred. Almost immediately after the rape I flew off to California, got lost in the beauty of the redwoods, the phenomenal art, and meeting the most unique people I’d ever beheld.

I blocked the rape from my mind and tried to convince myself that it hadn’t happened; that it couldn’t have happened. But there was no denying the facts.

One week before I was supposed to fly back East, everything rushed over and consumed me. My memory had been restored and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to hold myself together for that year, let alone for the upcoming three years.

When I returned to Amherst for my sophomore year, I designed a simple plan of attack for surviving: Business as usual combined with a new mantra I will NOT cry.

First semester passed relatively well, there were rocky times, but I kept it together. I masked fear with smiles. I mastered the art of avoiding prying questions. I drowned myself in work and extracurricular activities in order to hide my personal pain. I was unnervingly good at playing the role of well-adjusted sophomore.

It was inevitable though that this masquerade would become too overwhelming and that my façade would shatter.

In February twisted fate decided that I had to work with him on a fundraiser. E-mails. Stopping me in the gym and at the dining hall. Smirks. Winks. Pats on my back. It was all too much.

My masquerade was over.

I broke down and for the next several months, he won.

I spent most of my spring semester an emotional wreck. I saw his face everywhere I went. I heard his voice mocking me in my own head. I imagined new rapists hiding behind every shower curtain and potted plant. I bandaged the situation by throwing myself into more work and by resolutely refusing to acknowledge that I was anything but well adjusted.

Eventually I reached a dangerously low point, and, in my despondency, began going to the campus’ sexual assault counselor. In short I was told: No you can’t change dorms, there are too many students right now. Pressing charges would be useless, he’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do. Are you SURE it was rape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should forgive and forget.

How are you supposed to forget the worst night of your life?

I didn’t know what to do any more. For four months I continued wandering around campus, distancing from my friends, and going to counseling center. I was continuously told that I had to forgive him, that I was crazy for being scared on campus, and that there was nothing that could be done. They told me: We can report your rape as a statistic, you know for records, but I don’t recommend that you go through a disciplinary hearing. It would be you, a faculty advisor of your choice, him, and a faculty advisor of his choice in a room where you would be trying to prove that he raped you. You have no physical evidence, it wouldn’t get you very far to do this.

Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No thank you, I could barely handle seeing him from the opposite end of campus; I knew I couldn’t handle that level of negativity.

When May rolled around, everything finally came to a head. My “Anniversary” was coming up and all of the terror that I had intermittently felt that year became one giant ball of horror that filled my life. He was still out there. He could get to me again. If I told anyone he would find out and do it again. No, no, no, no, no.

For my independent studies photography course I produced a series of 20 self-portraits representing myself before, during, and after the rape.

I showed them to my classmates. Their words stung like hornets: You look funny…I don’t get it, why are you so upset?

I went to the counseling center, as they always tell you to do, and spoke about how genuinely sad I was at Amherst, how much I wanted to leave, and how scared I was on a daily basis. “I should just drink darkroom developer or something…”

Twenty minutes later campus police was escorting me into an ambulance. They were even less understanding: There’s something seriously wrong with you; you’re not healthy and normal right now. No, you can’t say no. You HAVE to go, but don’t worry, you won’t have to be there too long. This is for your own good. Amherst cares about you and wants you to get better.

On May 5th I entered Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Emergency Room. Three hours after sitting curled up and terrified on a hospital bed I was admitted into the Psychiatric Ward for depression and suicidal thoughts. The doctor was skeptical to say the least: I really don’t think that a school like Amherst would allow you to be raped. And why didn’t you tell anybody? That just doesn’t make any sense...Your anger and sadness right now seem unfounded and irrational, someone your age should not be this sad—it’s not normal. We’ll be admitting you in a few minutes, they’ll take good care of you. They’ll get you some drugs and they’ll make you feel happy again…If you don’t willingly enter we’ll have a judge issue a court order legally forcing you to stay there. Trust us, this is for your own good.

So much for not having to stay.

The Psychiatric Ward was a lovely place: the top floor of the hospital, bare white walls, Spartan furnishings, and two stainless steel locked doors at either end of the corridor making sure that anyone who goes in, stays in. Doctors and Nurse Practitioners wondered around the bare hallways checking in on myself and my fellow patients—every fifteen minutes they recorded where we were, what we were doing, and whether we looked happy. In the morning we were given our drugs; if you didn’t take them you would have to be there longer. It was in our best interest to take them, so they told us.

During the day we discussed our thoughts and feelings, our inhibitions, our strengths, but more often than not we did nothing.

When you’re forced to sit and think about yourself for hours on end, you go through four stages of existence.

Stage 1: Hysteria—Characterized by denying that anything is wrong, “I’m perfectly fine” and “I don’t belong here,” are common phrases during this stage.
Stage 2: Numb and Ornery—You have finally realized that something is wrong with you, but you are overwhelmed and confused about how to go about fixing your problem. You therefore decide not to do anything.
Stage 3: Determination—You realize that the only way you’re allowed to leave the Ward is if you “get better” and “solve your problems.” Every fiber of your being thus goes into these two tasks.
Stage 4: Enlightenment—Everything falls into place. Your mind is no longer an oppressive hell and it begins to function again. The outside world no longer seems so daunting.

You are then permitted to leave.

My Enlightenment occurred when I least expected it. Four days into the Ward, I was sitting in on an introductory Substance Abuse and Mental Health Rehabilitation meeting since there was absolutely nothing better to do. To start us off, the meeting leader decided to have everyone go around and talk about why we were on the Ward. We went around the circle: hours in rehab, drug relapses, alcoholism, abusive boyfriends, being an abusive boyfriend, and escapism from the stresses of daily life. The stories weren’t the superficial accounts that you read in a person’s medical file; they were real life. Every problem, every ounce of frustration, every personal tick was laid bare that evening. And everyone was open, not proud, just blunt and sincere; the desire to improve their lives was palpable.

Over the past four days, I had yet to touch upon “what I was in for,” my story was a mystery to everyone around me.

As my fellow patients went around the circle it all suddenly clicked. I realized why I never spoke about the rape, why I had refused to tell my school friends, why I had totally broken down, why I had steadily degenerated over the past few months. I was ashamed, and because of this shame I could not begin healing.

“Silence has the rusty taste of shame,” a fellow survivor once wrote.

I had been far too silent, far too ashamed.

That night I told them everything.

For the first time I told my story and I was not ashamed.

Later that night, as I lay in bed—still in an adrenaline induced state of wakefulness—I heard my roommate whisper my name, and then, a question.

“Are you still awake?”


“Thought so…”

A long pause. She’d been in the meeting.

What was she thinking? What would she say?

“I just wanted to tell you, I…I know how it feels. My uncle raped me when I was 15. The police never arrested him. Rape “wasn’t their top priority.” It still hurts…You’re incredibly brave to talk about it…I rarely do.”

She was 42 years old.

I did not sleep. That night I realized that from then on I could not stay silent—if not for myself, then for my roommate.

I had reached the apex of Stage 4.

I decided that once I was released I would continue with my plans to study abroad that upcoming semester; I would be rejuvenated when I returned to campus in the winter, ready to take on the world and fight for survivor rights.

I would be strong again.

From the moment I woke, this plan hit one pitfall after another; a domino effect of roadblocks that continued for the next three months.

I sat at breakfast in bright spirits, attempting to carry on a conversation with a manic depressive woman who rarely talked. I was so genuinely happy that her lack of responses didn’t even bother me—I just talked at her.

In the middle of my stimulating conversation my harried looking social worker suddenly strode into the dining room and headed purposefully over to me.

She looked grim and angry. “They’re trying to prevent you from going back.”

I was shocked.

She began rattling off the Administration’s policy regarding students released from psychiatric care. In order for students to be allowed back they had to have parental supervision while on campus in order to make sure that the student did not relapse into substance abuse again (the most common reason for student admittance into the Ward). This meant that a parent would stay in a hotel near campus and would then follow their child around for two weeks until the “all clear” period was reached. “And since you don’t have parents…”

She trailed off awkwardly and began to resolutely examine the upper left-hand corner of the dining room.

I must have been speechless for a good minute as a bizarre series of emotions plowed me over.

Shock to incredulity, back to shock, to sadness to anger, back to shock again, then back to sadness, and then an overwhelming amount of shame and embarrassment settled over me. I’m not worthy of even going back; that’s how disgusting I am. I can’t even step foot on campus…

Panic welled up inside of me.

Did this mean I was trapped on the Ward forever? God, no, I couldn’t handle that. I wasn’t crazy!

Claustrophobia and paranoia dropped on top of me and I wildly scanned the room. I met my roommate’s eyes. She was looking at me with worry: What’s wrong?

The room stopped spinning, the walls went back to their normal locations, I could breathe again, and now I was angry. I told her flat out: Let me get this straight. I was raped on their campus. I had an emotional breakdown because I didn’t feel safe and felt harassed on their campus. I went to their counseling center, like they told me to, and I told them how I was feeling. They decided that I should be sent to the hospital. And now they won’t allow me back on their campus? They allow rapists back on campus, but they won’t allow the girl who was raped back? The girl who did nothing wrong.

She told me: Well, when you put it that way…

The maniacal grin on my social worker’s face as she walked off was wonderful.

Needless to say, Amherst let me back on campus later that evening. Five days after being admitted, I was finally released from the Ward.

The car ride back to campus with my dean was, also needless to say, the most awkward car ride of my life. I looked at her: You know, I’m really glad that y’all let me back on campus, for a while there I was pretty worried and I was actually preparing an argument for why I should be allowed back…

Her response: No, no, no! That’s not what happened, you must have just misunderstood the situation! We’re so happy to have you back! Amherst is just such a wonderful place, we know you’ll be happy to be back!

A big misunderstanding, I was skeptical.

In the following days I decided that my best policy when dealing with Amherst at the moment would be “let’s let bygones be bygones.” I quickly forgave the Administration and focused on just being happy to be out. On the inside though I was still dripping with anger, shame, and embarrassment.

Several days after my release I had to defend my chance to study abroad. My chance to leave campus for the first time in 8 months, my chance to relax and heal in a new environment, my biggest chance to revive my love of Amherst, and my chance to move on in life by studying what I truly love. The prospect had gotten me through the most frigid hours on the Ward and I was convinced that it would be the perfect way to continue my healing process.

I half-heartedly murmured, Your actions were understandable. I understand your policy when dealing with depression and students coming out of the Psychiatric Ward…during the meeting that included my dean and several of the campus counselors. Relief instantly flashed across all of their faces and the atmosphere rose in friendliness.

Then: The Ward was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have re-found my love of life and my desire to heal. I will never be 100% better, but I no longer feel like a victim. I’m a survivor, I’m strong, and I think that studying abroad will help me continue healing. When I return in the winter I’ll have a greater understanding of myself and a greater appreciation of Amherst.

They responded with enthusiasm: Of course! Very coherent explanation. You seem much happier, which is wonderful! We agree that going abroad and getting off campus will do you good.

Study abroad here I come!

I felt genuinely happy for the first time in a year, and I could not wait to head out.

At Amherst though, things are never that easy.

A few weeks after my release from the Ward I had a routine check-in with my dean to make sure that I was still doing well. I was excited to be leaving soon, and I must have looked quite content, sitting in her office with a million watt smile and bright eyes. I began to rattle on about how nice the warm weather was, how beautiful commencement had been, how great life was, on and on. She seemed distracted: Nod, nod…Mhmmm…Well, excellent! I’m so glad to hear that you’re excited about the upcoming summer here. I know how much you wanted to study abroad and how much work you must’ve put into it, but really, it’s for the best. Africa is quite traumatizing, what with those horrible third-world conditions: disease…huts…lions! You’ll be much better off here at Amherst where we can watch over you. It will give you some time to think about…you know…that…unfortunate incident…

My face was blank. “I’m supposed to go to Cape Town, South Africa…” Her response broke me down: Yes dear, I know. You were supposed to study in Africa. It’s all for the best that you aren’t though.

No one ever told me flat out that I would no longer be studying abroad. Not even the study abroad dean told me. I scheduled a meeting with her for two days after the meeting with my dean.

A few minutes after exchanging pleasantries she asked: What are your plans for the summer now that you’re on campus?

For the month of June I was decrepit, nothing could perk me up. I returned to feeling the embarrassment and shame that had consumed me before going onto the Ward. If I hadn’t told anyone about what happened I’d be abroad…If I had been stronger…If I wasn’t such a failure…This is all my fault, I really am just a broken, polluted piece of shit…

Living was difficult. Each day I woke up and wandered around in a daze. At night I stared blank faced at a wall and curled up in my chair in a fetal position. I couldn’t talk with people. If I talk with them they might become infected with my dirtiness.

I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I secretly hoped that one day on a run my heart would just stop and no one would have to see me again. I wasn’t worth anything anyway.
I continued having to meet with my dean; she blamed my sadness on not being allowed to study abroad, but I knew that it wasn’t that simple. I could live with not being allowed to go to South Africa at the moment, the country would be there for a while, but being forced to stay on campus in a dorm populated with men I did not know, that was the real psychological issue. Every time I told my dean that I didn’t feel safe on campus, that I wanted to be allowed to leave , or at least be put in a different dorm, I received the same unhelpful responses that I had received in February. They told me: You were lucky to be given a room here this summer in the first place, housing is tight right now and you really shouldn’t complain. All of your fear is ungrounded, Amherst is one of the safest places imaginable…If we let you leave campus we won’t know what mental and emotional place you’ll exist in when you return in September; you could become completely unstable! At Amherst we can monitor you, and, if need be, strongly suggest time off when the school year rolls around…

I felt like a prisoner, or, more accurately, like a harem girl. My jail was luxurious and openair, I was free to move about, the ruling power judged my worth on a weekly basis, and I was constantly reminded how lucky I was to be there.

One night, after a particularly rough meeting with my dean (I just don’t understand why you’ve been so angry throughout all of this. You have no reason to be angry about anything.), I was curled up on my floor—I wasn’t thinking, I didn’t feel anything.

I went over to the mirror on the back of my door and stared. What had happened to the girl who had come off of the Ward so empowered and strong; the girl who decided to no longer be silent and feel shamed? Where had she gone?

I went over to my desk and picked up a brochure I had been given about a survivor center at UMass Amherst. I gave an exaggerated sigh. Might as well…I called the number and made an appointment for the next day.

I went back to the mirror and stared at myself again.

For the next 15 minutes I repeated: “Silence has the rusty taste of shame.”

I walked over to my computer, typed up an email, hesitated for a second, and then pressed send.

I had just sent my entire sports team an email-rant about my rape and subsequent breakdown at the end of spring.

It was about time people began to realize that Amherst wasn’t just majestic dorms and world-class professors.

It was about time I resumed the silent pact that I had made to my roommate on the Ward.

I will not be quiet.

The next few weeks were a blur of unending days spent resolutely working to feel better (A friend told me: You can’t help other people if you feel like shit).

I was able to sleep again. I ate more. I went to free therapy sessions. I wrote and mindlessly colored in order to ground myself. I obsessively made lists of all the things imaginable. I joined a survivor group. I cried less and smiled a bit more.

I started healing.

It took a month of hard work until I was noticeably doing better. My friends, my therapist, my coworkers, and my fellow survivor group members all started commenting on how much healthier and happier I looked. I still felt uncomfortable and oppressed while surrounded by men on campus, but I was no longer afraid to leave my room after 7 p.m. I was determined to love Amherst again.

Life was tolerable.

Early July and I had another meeting with my dean: You look like you’re doing better today. Well done, I’m so glad to see this kind of improvement! I think it’s safe to assume that you can come back next semester, and in that regard I think that it’s time that we talk about your time at Amherst over the next two years…I know you want to do African Studies through the Five Colleges, but I don’t think I can support that decision. Africa is very traumatizing and I think that studying Africa is just a way for you to relive your real-life traumas; it’s just not a good place to be studying.

Over the next thirty minutes several more restrictions were laid out: no Five College classes this upcoming year, no study abroad in the spring, definitely no senior year thesis, I would have to meet with a counselor twice a week, and friends off campus would have to be pushed to the wayside. She told me: Amherst is the only place that matters, and, really, you don’t have a family, so where else would you go? Amherst is the only place that you can be.

At the end of our conversation I grunted out a vapid response and headed straight to my room. I sat on my bed, million-mile-gazed at the wall, and thought.

What was the point of staying at Amherst? I had been stuck on campus for eleven months straight; each day had been more challenging and emotionally draining than the previous one. I had been feeling better recently, but each time I met with my dean I felt more emotionally distraught than I had beforehand. Her comments reminded me that in the Administration’s eyes I was the most base individual: a poor and parentless humanities major who was the school’s token-Deep-Southerner. I was sullied, blameworthy, and possibly insane.

I made a Pros and Cons of Amherst List.

The Pro List had seven items.

The Con List had twenty-three items.

On July 14th I made one of the hardest decisions of my life.

I was going to withdraw from Amherst.

That next week I threw myself into finding a way out. Plans were made, plans were broken, Plan B was made, and finally Plan B was successful!

I did not tell the Administration for fear that they would somehow sabotage me. It was probably paranoid, but after being prevented from leaving campus multiple times I was not going to take any chances. The conversation went similarly to this:

“I’m withdrawing from Amherst.”

That was my greeting to my dean when I met with her in late July.

The look of complete shock on her face was priceless. When she recovered: So you’re taking a semester off? That’s perfectly ok, many survivors do, I think it’s best that you do what you…

No, I’m withdrawing, permanently. I ain’t planning on ever coming back. I’m going to transfer to another school after taking a semester off to travel around.

You can’t…You…Nobody withdraws. Where are you going to go? You don’t have parents. What are you going to do?

I’m working on a Dude Ranch in Wyoming.

…I didn’t think you’d be able to figure out a plan…Well, we technically won’t withdraw you from the school until three years have passed. After three years we’ll double-check to make sure that you really want to withdraw and then we’ll remove you from our current-students system.

No, I just want you to withdraw me. I don’t want to come back, I don’t want to be affiliated with your school anymore. I’m sick of this place.

I think you need to meet with our sexual assault counselor again, you’re way too angry right now and not thinking clearly. I have a feeling you’ll change your mind and come back. Amherst is one of the best schools out there, it will be a transfer down unless you go to an Ivy…

You know, I have I feeling that I won’t want to come back, but that’s just a hunch.

As my dean suggested, I met with our sexual assault counselor a few days later. The meeting was uncharacterizeable by one word, but bizarre might be the closest description: This is a bad idea, you’re not thinking straight.

I didn’t understand this. I’d been thinking about this for quite a while; I was unhappy at Amherst and I didn’t understand why I should stay at a place where I was absolutely miserable. There are other places in the world.

The next two hours was a hodgepodge of topics: Your lack of parental support makes you emotionally volatile and prevents you from following through with decisions that you make.

Apparently I had decided not to study abroad. Then there was bizarre ‘concern:’You don’t look very healthy. Have you been eating? I think you might have an eating disorder. You know there’s a great clinic in Northhampton where we can send you for in-patient eating disorder treatment.

I don’t have an eating disorder; I used to have one, I know what they’re like. I don’t eat a lot because I can’t afford to buy food.

Then the ranch came up: Do you realize how difficult working on a Dude Ranch will be? The people in Wyoming are different from the people at Amherst, they won’t be well-educated, and they won’t understand you. You’re going to a backwards place. Do you realize how bad it will be?

Yes, because the rest of the US is filled with ignorant savages who haven’t been saved by the light of Amherst. How would I ever survive?

To the counselor’s great surprise, these stellar arguments did not convince me to stay at Amherst. I became even more resolute about my decision to leave, and decided to talk with the Victim Rights Law Center, a pro-bono law firm based in Boston that my survivor group had recommended to me several weeks earlier. My preliminary intake with the VRLC was quite eye-opening: Oh Amherst? Yeah, unfortunately I know Amherst all too well. I’ve been down there many times to deal with the administration and their constant mistreatment of survivors. Our law firm keeps trying to force them to change but they just don’t seem to understand, they keep doing the same old thing.

Amherst has almost 1800 students; last year alone there were a minimum of 10 sexual assaults on campus. In the past 15 years there have been multiple serial rapists, men who raped more than five girls, according to the sexual assault counselor. Rapists are given less punishment than students caught stealing. Survivors are often forced to take time off, while rapists are allowed to stay on campus. If a rapist is about to graduate, their punishment is often that they receive their diploma two years late.

I eventually reported my rapist.

He graduated with honors.

I will not graduate from Amherst.

The stories and statistics are miles long in regards to sexual assault on campus. My story is far from unique, and, compared to some of the stories I have heard, is tame.
The more that I learn about Amherst’s policy toward sexual assault and survivors in general, the more relief I feel in deciding to transfer. How could I stay at a school who had made my healing process not just difficult, but impossible? How could I stand knowing that the Administration promotes silence? How could I spend the next two years made to feel dirty and at fault?

I could not.

At one point I hated Amherst with an indescribable amount of fury, but I do not hate the school anymore. Amherst took a lot from me, but they gave me some of the greatest gifts imaginable: self-confidence, my closest friends, intellectual curiosity, and endless personal strength. For these things I am forever grateful. For everything else, I stand back and behold the college with a feeling of melancholia.

The fact that such a prestigious institution could have such a noxious interior fills me with intense remorse mixed with sour distaste. I am sickened by the Administration’s attempts to cover up survivors’ stories, cook their books to discount rapes, pretend that withdrawals never occur, quell attempts at change, and sweep sexual assaults under a rug. When politicians cover up affairs or scandals the masses often rise up in angry protestations and call for a more transparent government. What is the difference between a government and the Amherst College campus? Why can’t we know what is really happening on campus? Why should we be quiet about sexual assault?

“Silence has the rusty taste of shame.”

There is no reason shame should be a school’s policy.

UPDATE: President Carolyn "Biddy" Martin has released a statement concerning this article and the follow-up steps being taken by the administration regarding sexual assault:

@ Female (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 19:44

No. You know why? Because they were victim-blaming, and so are you, while cutely protesting how you're both "just trying to prevent this from happening in the future." You good little samaritans, you. "It would be smart to yell for help in a bad situation." Yes, yes it would -- if you weren't in too much pain and agony to speak; if you weren't in shock; if you didn't have a hand over your mouth; if you didn't have someone grunting in your ear "Go ahead, scream and I'll kill you" while he thrusts into you; if you hadn't had your world turned upside down into a place in which anyone could be a new attacker. I find your complete lack of understanding of the reality of rape disturbing. Hope you never have to deal with it, and I hope that if G-d forbid you ever do, that you don't have to then seek support from someone as ignorant and hurtful as yourself.

Educated18YearOld (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 03:19

What if he was holding her mouth? What if her face was pushed into a pillow? What if she DID try and call for help, tell him no, or both? What if he was twice her size or threatened her life? Saying that her actions could have made it so this would have been avoided is absurd and ignorant. Whether he thought it was consentual or not doesn't mean a thing. You must get a verbal YES, not a shrug of the shoulders, not an 'I dunno", and not just going on without asking at all. The only one to prevent a rape is the RAPIST.
I hope all of the people who also read your comment have opened your eyes to the fact that she was had no control over the violence that was perpetrated on her.

vs (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 03:42

I hope you know how disgusting your comment comes across. I can only hope for those who come to your "Sexual Assault Prevention Organization" looking for assistance, only to hear that they didn't make their lack of consent clear enough...

Nixon (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 04:41

This man should have asked for consent. It was his responsibility. Victim-blaming and assuming that she was in a position to get help is really fucked-up. "Being clear about ones intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations." No it absolutely is not. NOT BEING A RAPIST is the easiest way to avoid these situations. Your condescending tone sickens me.

J. Navarro (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 15:39

I am just in shock at the fact that although you eventually reported this miserable excuse for a human being, I see nothing in your article suggesting you went to the police! This was a criminal act and a violation of law in any state. Why allow a school to handle what should be a criminal complaint investigated by police?

Appalled (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 09:46

I would give anything to know what college you attend so that I could contact the sexual assault prevention organization you're involved with and inform them that at least one of their members is horribly misguided, and should under no circumstances be considered a peer leader on the subject or, god forbid, allowed to interact with victims. I'm not the first to jump on your comment for the offensive filth that it is, but I want to reiterate what a disgusting statement you made when you claimed that "...this can only be an assumption, it is sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions." So not only was it the author's fault that she was raped (also known as victim blaming, also known as the FIRST thing any legitimate sexual assault prevention organization will teach you to eschew), but it's "sad" for the rapist? You feel sorry for the rapist? Your comment reeks of guilt, and if I were prone to accusations I might suggest that you're personally familiar with the plight of the poor, confused rapist suffering from miscommunication. You are no different from the people comprising the Amherst administration which the author so effectively obliterates in this article.

Ness (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:52

I am appalled that you are a member for a sexual assault prevention organization and you think that it was appropriate to leave this comment.

Did you actually just come onto this article to talk about how it was her fault she was raped? How it "could have been avoided" if she had just "said no" or "called for help"? And that "it is sad for both parties"? Not only are you making massive assumptions here, but you are also speaking to a survivor in a way that is completely inappropriate.

This is NOT her fault, and I have approximately zero sympathy for the asshole who did this to her.

Concerned man (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:57

As a member of a sexual assault prevention organization, have you ever heard of "the freeze"? The program I'm involved in teaches men about this. Thought experiment: You walk down an alley or somewhere else dark and secluded and a stranger puts a gun to the back of your head. I can guarantee that your first words won't be "Stop this murderer". Fear freezes people up, probably like the survivor in this story. You won't call out the man with a gun pointed to the back of your head for fear s/he might pull the trigger. The same thing happens to sexual assault and rape survivors as well. They don't call out "rape!" for fear that the already violent act will become more violent.

colllege professor (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 13:18

As a college professor at a small liberal arts campus, I find it horrifying that this is the attitude of the sexual assault prevention organization. I beg that you educate yourself on rape or step down. This is OFFENSIVE. You blame the victim here? Do you not understand the threat of violence? Do you not get the part where she was held down; why would he hold her down? I think her struggle to get away is a clear no. SHE WAS PHYSICALLY RESTRAINED! Oh, but if she had just calmly said no, I am sure he would of stopped. "SAD FOR BOTH PARTIES"? Please, anyone reading this who has been raped: DO NOT GO TO THIS ORGANIZATION FOR HELP. Go to someone who knows the difference between VICTIM and ASSAILANT.

Seeing clearly (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 13:46

The naive and condescending "advice" from the campus sexual assault organization member seems indicative of a well established and pervasive culture of exceptionalism. Whether it was the Dean, the counselor or the poster, the consistent message is rooted in the idea that "if you knew what I know", then you'd understand the flaw in your logic or avoid an unfortunate event like "unintentional sexual assault". Missing is the possibility that individuals who possess the rarified qualifications necessary to find themselves at a place like Amherst also house the potential to knowingly commit rape, forget their talking points when their hookup has taken an unexpected and violent turn or make important life decisions based on reasoning that extends beyond the purview of the latest US News and World Report rankings. What an individual does with the tremendous potential found at a place like Amherst says much more about the individual than proof of membership. Perhaps this student's experience and ability to chronicle her journey will help to better ensure that Amherst's fund raising slogan of "Lives of Consequence" can be expanded to include "lives with consequences", too.

Beth (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 16:21

RE: "A truly sad incident..." you borrow your friends car, money, or clothes without asking permission? Probably not. Don't you think that maybe one should ask for permission to have sex with someone else? Its illegal to do all of the above without permission. If someone is gets mugged or beat up and they don't say "no," or "stop," are they responsible for the assault? Would you ask them if they told the perpetrator to stop? Would it even cross your mind to do so? I would hope not. Furthermore, you have no idea if she said no or not and that isn't what defines rape. As a survivor of rape, I am utterly appalled that a "student member in a sexual assault prevention organization" would post such a distasteful comment. Perhaps instead of "teaching" women, girls, men, and boys how not to get raped, we should be teaching people that rape is we teach that stealing, injuring, murdering, and a plethora of other actions are wrong AND criminal....just like rape.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 16:24

you have no idea what youre talking about. The whole point of rape is that the man doesnt care if the woman is not consenting. You're an idiot. People like you are why we live in an society of patriarchy and oppression. I am not a religious person, but may God have mercy on your soul bcause you sure need it.

Another student (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 17:03

I can't believe someone like you is in a sexual assualt prevention organization. Rape is rape, even if verbal non-consent was absent. Any absence of consent is rape. There are many situations where verbal disagreement simply is not possible. Those are still rape. Your comment is victim blaming and damaging to rape victims everywhere, and your attitude contributes to the problems described in this article.

SHERWINO (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 15:05

A cynic thinks, after reading some of the comments, that a solution to rape avoidance is anywhere from castration at birth to the parties signing a properly notarized mutual consent form before insertion.

2013 (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 18:00

I am very surprised by your statement that you are a student member in a sexual assault prevention organization because your comment here is both victim blaming and suggesting mistruths. Many perpetrators are repeat offenders and no amount of clarity "about ones intentions" can help women "avoid these situations" when faced with perpetrators sense of entitlement.

Your words "although not many details were given on the rape itself and as such this can only be an assumption, it is sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions" are infurirating for me to read as a fellow survivor. To imply that it is our fault for being silent (it's called shock, or a combination of fear and disbelief) and that perpetrators are not aware of their actions is ludicrous!

I only hope Amherst includes improvements to its sexual assault awareness education as part of the college's new initiatives...

miasopapia (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 18:22

As a student member of a sexual assault prevention organization, the first thing you should have done is not make assumptions about what happened to a victim! Just as you should not assume what went through or did not go through a rapist's mind! I do not go to Amherst, but I found this comment (especially considering you are concerned with sexual assault prevention) as unsettling as the actions the university took with this brave author. It's upsetting that people still place the responsibility to not get raped on a victim. What this tells me is that if someone hits me with a bat, it's my responsibility to tell them to not hit me with the bat, even if I can't speak or am otherwise unable to express my wish not to get hit with a friggin' bat. Of course, if that doesn't work, I should always call for help, since it is, after all, my responsibility to not get hit with a bat and not at all the responsibility of the batter to not hit me with the damn bat. Good to know.
Readers, please do not warrant the words of "A fellow colleg..." with great applause, the actual most important measure for rape prevention shouldn't be something taught to women, it should be something taught to everyone: ask for consent and don't rape.

Student (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 19:27

You are trying to sympathize and care for the cause you are supporting but your comment is just hurtful. You don't know these people yet you assume they didn't know the implications of their actions and paint the rapist as a poor misguided boy who didn't know he was harming someone. While I understand interpreting human action and communicating is one of the many difficult challenges of life, any boy would know he's doing something the other person doesn't want if he needs to push her down and see her struggle to get out instead of enjoying his advances. Other details are not disclosed and we don't know if she failed to scream or did and no one came but it's inappropriate to make the kind of assumption you make. It's a slap in the face to tell her now what she should have done.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 20:01

Thanking her for sharing and leaving out the insensitive lecture at the end that suggests none of them knew the implications of their action would have been nice. It's true there are many times in life when we don't know the implication of our action but when you want to sleep with someone and that person is struggling, shaking her head and you need to pin her down, you don't need tons of books to say that's a sign that the woman doesn't like what you are doing. The man knew she didn't want this but didn't care about what she thinks and feels which is how rapists work.

Thisafaux (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 20:32

This is ridiculous. Welcome to the rape culture in America - we teach don't get raped instead of don't rape. That you're trying to say this could have been avoided had she just said she didn't consent is absolutely disgusting. You don't think that the man holding her down while he had sex with her didn't know she didn't want it? That you work with anyone regarding sexual assault is sickening. Stop defending rapists!

judith (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 07:01

change is thething the college should do now!!!

volcanista (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:02

This comment is an unconscionable example of victim-blaming. He held her down while she was resisting. He was perfectly aware of what he was doing and faced exactly zero repercussions--the implications for him were exactly nothing, whatsoever. It's not up to a victim to save themselves. It's up to rapists not to rape. I'm horrified that you work with sexual assault prevention organizations and have this attitude.

Lisa (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 17:25

If you truly work for an organization to help prevent sexual assault, please quit this minute and go find another extracurricular activity. Only one part of your statement is so true: you ASSumed quite a lot. How could you read this young woman's account and, basically, conclude that there was just some sort of misunderstanding. Disgusting! You should be ashamed of yourself. You represent exactly what this young woman points out as being part of the problem for sexual assault victims. Go educate yourself.

smm (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:56

Are you serious? Rape is a truly sad incident? That's it? RAPE is a crime? Typically making your intentions or lack there of to your rapist likely doesnt have a positive result! I hope you are never in tbe situation where you have to explain to your rapist that you just arent interested in having sex with them. I am sure you will be fine and he will just go on his merry way because you wouldn't want to have just a sad incident on your hands now would you?

Saseen (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 22:26

this comment is rusty with attempts to blame the victim for not doing enough. where i come from the victim is also blamed across the board, or married to her rapist, and all is well. to insinuate both sides are equally responsible for actions or lack of them is adding insult to injury
"this can only be an assumption, it is sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions".
another horrible insinuation is "Being clear about ones intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations". now how many times we heard this? she wanted it, and changed her mind later..

Sam (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 04:35

Ask someone if they want to before you do anything. Unless you get a very clear "yes" do not do anything.
"Yes" is the only thing that actually means "yes."

Angry (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 15:53

I can't believe how ignorant this comment is and how you can dare victim blame, especially after reading this article.

Your organization sounds terrible if you are a good representative of it- Preventing Sexual Assault?
How about NOT DOING IT?! In the situation, especially when you are terrified, sometimes words leave you.
People freeze. Not saying 'YES' is a form of saying 'No'.

Maybe you should start educating your student body about how it could have been avoided-- "Don't rape!" , instead of continuing to play the victim blaming card.

Who do you thin... (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 19:29

1. If her rapist had to hold her down, as she clearly states at the beginning of her article, then clearly he knew he was raping her.
2. If you actually have the position you claim to have, then you should know that consent must be explicit. “Not saying no” is not giving consent. There are many reasons why people who are being assaulted do not “say no” or otherwise protest. The main one is fear: fear that the attacker will make good on threats he has made (“Keep quiet or I’ll kill you”); fear that if they protest they will anger the attacker and provoke him to hurt them more; fear of the shame they will suffer if they do cry for help and the roommates from the next room enter to see them being forcibly penetrated. Think long and hard about that last one, as you sit there on your high horse scolding Angie for not crying out when there were people in the next room.
2 (a). Imagine this scenario: you have been stripped naked and are being held to the floor while a guy you thought was your friend puts his dick into your vagina, grinning down at you as he does. There are three other guys in the next room. If they come in, they will see this happening: you, naked and exposed and held down while someone forces you to have sex. How good do you feel about that scenario? The shame of people seeing her being taken advantage of is enough by itself to deter many women from crying for help.
2 (b). But we’re not done yet. Really put yourself in this scenario. The guy who is holding you down and penetrating you has completely shattered your ability to trust that people are who and what you think they are. In that moment, you can’t trust anyone anymore. You don’t know if the people next door will help you. Maybe they will think they accidentally walked in on the two of you having consensual sex and quickly back out of the room. Maybe they will watch. Maybe they will laugh. Maybe they will join in. These are the thoughts that go through your head when you are being held down and raped. It’s truly bizarre that they didn’t teach you that on your clearly pathetic survivor response training.
3. Rape hurts. Apparently your training didn’t teach you that either. When I was raped, it hurt so much that I couldn’t move, let alone cry out. I was in shock and I was in horrible, excruciating pain. I tried to beg him to stop and hurt so much I couldn’t move my mouth to speak. When it was over, I was in shock for weeks and thought I could never speak again. Don’t give me that shit about “Make it clear that you do not consent to sex! Call for help! There were people outside the door that could help, and maybe your rapist is unaware that he is raping you!” What a privileged life you must lead to live in a world where you still believe that “Being clear about one’s intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations.” You know what the easiest way to avoid these situations is? Don’t rape other people. Don’t put your dick in someone else if you have to hold them down to do it. And when people come out and break the silence about their experiences, don't shame them back into silence with your ignorant and hostile criticism of how *they* should have realized the "implications of their actions, or lack of actions."
4. “It is sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions”? He held her down. If he had to hold her down, then he knew full well the implications of his actions. But you’re right, when someone rapes someone else, *both* people are responsible! How irresponsible of her to be forced to the ground and held there while he put his dick in her. The nerve.
4 (a). You know who else is seriously irresponsible? Murder victims. Why didn’t the murder victim clearly tell the murderer that he was murdering her? Maybe he wasn’t aware of his actions and would have stopped. Poor boy, if only he had known that shooting a gun at someone’s head would kill her! He’s just as much a victim here! And why oh why didn’t the murder victim just call for help? I mean, sure, there was a gun to her head, and maybe she thought that if she did what he asked, he would let her go. Or maybe the gun put her in so much fear and shock that she couldn’t speak. But come on, who’s really going to buy *that* excuse? It’s so sad that both the murderer and the murder victim were not aware of the ramifications of their actions, or lack thereof.

I return, however, to the most disturbing part of your comment: your claim that you are part of a sexual assault prevention organization. Here’s an exercise: show that comment to your supervisor. No, really. Then post back in here letting us know how long it took her to fire you.

Victim Advocate (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/23/2012 - 16:21

Are you seriously implying that Angie is somehow partially responsible for being raped because she didn't say "No" loud enough? He didn't know that he was raping her? "Being clear about ones intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations," you write. Yes, yes it is. If rapists were only clear about their intentions from the beginning, then maybe we wouldn't be their friends, go on dates with them, choose to be alone with them, drink with them, or (God forbid!) continue to allow them to be our family members.

It scares me to know that you consider yourself one of the change agents on your campus. You don't need to know details of a rape to understand that rape is never the victim's fault. How about teaching men not to rape? How about that for prevention?!?!

Bess (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/23/2012 - 17:15

Unbelievable comment. Have you been trained by a rape awareness organization in preparation for this group you're a member of?

Your statement is loaded with rape myths that any training in rape awareness would have dispelled.

Here's how it works--if he didn't have her verbal consent, which he clearly didn't, it's rape. It's not the other way around, where if you don't or can't protest, it's somehow not rape. Many people are unable to protest, call for help, or fight someone off due to threats, traumatic reaction, or a myriad of other possibilities.

Since he later harassed her around campus, it's pretty clear he knew exactly what he did.

Unbelievable. Rape is never the victim's fault. I'm sorry to hear you're a member of a sexual assault prevention organization.

The only true anti-rape measure is for rapists to stop raping. There's no gray area.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 10:21

There are so many things wrong with this comment that I'm not sure where to start.
I will firstly say, that I think you had the right intentions in place, which makes me more than a little concerned. As a member of the sexual assault prevention organization I would have hoped that you would have a better handle on sexual assault and all the facts that surround not only the act, but the barriers and the emotions that follow the attack.
Self defense and anti- rape measures are something that people put into place to make themselves feel better. There is no such thing as an anti- rape measure, I do not know what you are referring to, and also you can take as many self defense classes as you want, that does not mean that you are immune from rape.
The most important measure that you state, verbally making it clear that you do not consent to sex, is simply not possible in the vast majorities of sexual assault. I am not sure your intent behind this statement and I can only hope that you intent was in no way to blame the survivor, but that very statement points very directly to blaming the survivor for simply "not speaking up."
You are forgetting or choosing to overlook the many scenarios where yelling, or speaking up, is not only not possible but also not the safest option. We may disagree on many things, but one truth is absolute; it is never the survivor's fault and the decisions that they made for themselves in that moment was the best decision.
There is no easy way to avoid sexual assault, and I will tell you as a sexual assault counselor with many years of experience under their belt, there is no easy way to avoid sexual assault. The ONLY way to avoid sexual assault it to not have people that sexually assault people, and that’s just not the reality. I encourage you and any out there that wants more information on sexual assault to call your local rape crisis centers.
And just so we are all clear, a rapist always knows they are raping someone.

Megan (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 19:07

I am appalled by your comments. As a student in a sexual assault prevention organization who has actually experienced rape, abuse, and sexual violence, simply "Saying No" is NEVER enough. Asking for consent or even wanting an answer is the last thing on a man's mind if he is lusting sexually after you or tries or threatens to sexually assault you. Even if a yes is given and either party is drunk, this DOES NOT COUNT as consent in many states. There are signs for that on every dorm floor and cafeteria on my campus. Calling for help doesn't work when the only ones in earshot are friends of the rapist, or if you are in a deserted area.
You are right: no one should have to go through this. But it is NOT the actions of the VICTIM that should change, but instead a change of mind and a conscious moral though that "this is wrong" on the part of the attacker.
Colleges have no right to cover up incidences of rape. In many states, and especially at state colleges, all college personel (Professors, staff, student workers, etc) are mandatory reporters of abuse, neglect, or sexual misconduct.

And by the way?
No rapist is unaware that he is raping you. More than likely he knows and is reveling in that fact.

Before you open your self righteous mouth, you should consider that her "actions" or "lack of actions" are of no consequence in this case of rape.

Smith Student (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 23:37

Dear "A fellow college student,"

I hope you get kicked right out of your sexual assault organization as a result of this article, because it's obviously not being run correctly whatsoever. Put yourself in her shoes and stop making up excuses for the rapist. You honestly feel sorry for him? There is no such thing as a lack of consent making sexual contact ambiguous. A LACK OF CONSENT IS THE SAME THING AS NO CONSENT. If this dude couldn't keep his dick in his pants long enough to ask a goddamned question and get it answered, he has everything he deserves coming to him. Shame on you for even implying that this girl could have done more. Jesus Christ. I sincerely hope you're not in one of the five colleges because this article is unsettling enough without knowing that people like you are out there representing fucking sexual assault prevention groups.

AngryBird (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 14:04

"Although not many details were given on the rape itself and as such this can only be an assumption, it is sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions."

"As a student member in a sexual assault prevention organization I feel I should say this to anyone that might read it: Among all the self defense and anti-rape measures taught to women these days, its sad that the most important one is often overlooked, verbally making it clear that you do not consent to sex."

This response by A fellow colleg... is appalling. The condescending, blaming the victim mentality (oh, honey, if you had just said no, you wouldn't be in this fix) just underscores why so many women keep silent about rape. I susupect A Fellow College is also believe there is such a thing as "legitmate rape" and this one doesn't count because the woman wasn't bloodied and beaten.

Stacie Lancaster (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 17:29

I know you mean well, but to say "And especially if your rapist is unaware he is raping you. Being clear about one's intentions is the easiet way to avoid these situations." is to blame the victim for the rape. Please, please, please get more education. I understand what you are trying to say...that in some cases because those involved do not speak up about their intentions, actions can be miscontrued. However, at the heart of this article is the fact that this person was raped by a man who intended to rape her AND that a school culture (I would argue our national culture) refused to acknowledge this issue and in fact blamed the victim for the circumstance of her rape and the actions of the rapists. I agree with you that in our culture we need to change the norms about open dialogues about sex, especially in the heat of moment. We need to normalize for men the concept that they need to verbally ask if its okay to move forward and for women to verbalize saying yes or no, and then normalize for men that fact that no means no. That said, we also need to acknowledge the reality of (and prosecute) those men who take advantage of the cultural beliefs about women who have had a sexual encounter while in school or are drinking and in the company of men. I encourge you to talk to a sexual assault researcher who has talked with high school and college boys about their strategies for getting laid each weekend. You will (hopefully) be shocked. As a mother of 3 boys I would like to think most sexual assaults are just a case of bad communication...however, the reality of the research shows that the majority of cases are intentional. Guys intending to get "some" tonight don't care who gets hurt in the process and because 97% of rapists get away with their crime, they really don't have much to worry about in the way of consequences. Strategies about how to "get yours" are discussed among young men and tips are shared among friends. Alcohol is the most widely used drug among young people, and if they trust you, young men will tell you it is their drug of choice in getting what they want. Please, get to know more about the culture of rape (yes, I said culture). Rape is a culturally accepted form of violence against women in this country... please, help us to change our culture. The first step is understanding the rape culture and mindset of rapists - not the mindset of victums. Education is the key.

Abbey (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 22:58

Not sure he is raping you? Self defense and both parties failure to realize implications...? Not getting raped is no person's responsibility and you should be absolutely humiliated with your post in response to this piece. It seems that if you're confused or unsure about whether you might be assaulting someone this would be relatively simple to clear up. If you're still confused, stop, seriously stop and seek help. Being clear about one's intentions imply the antiquated 'well you must have lead him on' excuse is still relevant, and more repugnant, viable. I would also point out that often rape victims, for one reason or another, don't necessarily have the time to go through your despicable checklist of 'rape prevention,' possibly because they are being subjected to a humiliating and inhuman crime. Tragically, they may subsequently have to deal with someone like you as well. If you're the kind of person apparently just waiting around on the other side of whatever universal door you speak of... you're also the reason why she may not speak out, if, that is, her cries for help are, for some inexplicable reason not enough. Because if only they had done a, b, or c- they wouldn't have been raped. Your post on this piece is further proof of this absurd mentality that women need to be more responsible in NOT getting raped. And if it's women (and if you're female, your) responsibility to prevent their rape, then are men (and if you're male, you) simply dominated by hormones that they can't always control? Perhaps YOU should think much harder about the implications of your words, and lack of wisdom or compassion.

Suzanne (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/28/2012 - 12:38

You are in a dire need to educate yourself about the variety of experiences and reactions of rape victims if you are to work with this subject. Not the "ideal" or "desired" or "smart" ones you want to promote, but the actual ones. It's incredibly hard to understand if you haven't been raped, but you need to make an effort! What you are doing now isn't helping people but hurting them.
You're also promoting a ridiculous but very common notion that rapists are often raping unintentionally, unaware of what their victim is feeling. In not one case I've heard of has that been true, regardless of if the victim yelled and struggled or froze and stared at them in horror. In every single case the rapist had bypassed the victim's attempt to stop them - whether with violence or simply pretending not to hear or understand, laughing at them, through pinning them under the weight of their body or waiting until they feel asleep or were too drunk to be coherent. Rapists know what they are doing. They have many different reasons for it, but being a nice enough guy who's just a little slow to take a hint is not one.

Deanna (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/28/2012 - 17:42

Firstly, don't ever assume that a guy doesn't know what he's doing. He knew exactly what he was doing. Second, as someone who works in a sexual assault prevention organization, you should know that telling a survivor that she should have more firmly said no, or she should have called out is harmful and unhelpful. See, men who force women to have sex with them rarely pay attention to words like"no" or "stop" or "help," and the absence of those words don't mean that it wasn't rape.
After reading about the self- blame and shame that this woman went through, how dare you suggest what she could or should have done.

A college student (not verified) says:
Mon, 10/29/2012 - 01:40

It is appalling that you (referring to the comment below titled 'A truly sad incident that should have been avoided') would imply the rapist might not have known that he was raping the victim. Please read this sentence again and realize how despicable and inhumane it sounds. If someone is forcing another person to do something, THEY ARE ALWAYS AWARE: no matter how drunk or under any other influence. Surely, you must have read on the reader's account the part about being "held down" that should have clarified that to you.

Cassandra Jones (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/02/2012 - 05:22

As a member of a sexual assault prevention organization you are blaming the victim for not fighting her attacker hard enough? Really? That's really the stance you want to take here? She should have tried saying 'No?' This entire story is about the way that rape is an event that tramautizes well-beyond the initial event. As a result of the rape, the university repeatedly attempted, and in some cases succeeded, in diminshing this student's autonomy and agency. Now your comments are excusing that behavior by suggesting that had she simply said no or called out for help, none of this would have happened. Maybe your sexual assault prevention organization could expand beyond teaching women to fight men off and to live with the shame if they fail and start approaching men and teaching them not to rape.

Christine (not verified) says:
Tue, 11/06/2012 - 18:16

You are completely blaming the victim here and your remarks give the administration and the RAPIST more strength. It is absolutely despicable that women should be "taught" on how to "avoid rape." Women and men are both trained during freshman orientation on how to be safe at parties in general.
It is inexcusable to blame a survivor for not saying "no," and please delete your disgusting comment. The student that wrote this brave piece does not deserve even one more SECOND of having to defend herself. Your group should be ashamed to have such an inconsiderate member, and I question the validity and productivity of the group.

A college student (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 12:41

is the fact that you are still focused on the idea of victim based prevention. If you weren't, you would know that there are three responses to an event: fight, flight, or freeze. There are some people who completely freeze up and cannot respond in the manner that you've described. And before insinuating that it is a woman's responsibility to state that she does not consent, shouldn't it be the initiator's responsibility to ask for consent?

jen (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 12:41

I don't understand why she never mentioned the actual "rape". As a woman I do believe many women conesent unwillingly to sex-- which unfortunately -- is not rape. The
regret that follows is totally debilitating-- and as such without proper counseling a person may tailspin. I agree that the most iportatnt thing to be taught is syaing "no" verbal;ly and loudly... not sure if that happened here.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 13:38

seriously? both parties lack of action? If I don't scream loud enough, it's my fault. How could he know it was rape, just because he was holding me down and physically not allowing me to move?

diane (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 15:28

You do not belong in the sexual assault prevention organization. you are blaming the victims. Your underlying beliefs are not healthy and are a reason that so many assaults go unreported, are covered up, and victims suffer ---suffer in silence or suffer because the people attempting to help are misguided or totally inept. I totally believe the university was, is and will continue to mishandle sexual abuse on campus.... unless all personnel involved are fired; people with true knowledge and concern are hired; and the criminals expelled and prosecuted.

Jules (not verified) says:
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 09:59

Are you special needs or something ?

Alex (not verified) says:
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 20:12

There is no excuse for that young man. Unless she actively consented, there was no way he was "unaware" that he was raping her. What a disgusting thing to say! And you're a member in a sexual assault prevention organization? No wonder most survivors can't get help. People like you are the problem. If you're in doubt over whether someone's consenting or not, you assume they aren't until they say they are. If you don't, and they call it rape, sorry, you belong in jail. Forget "No means no". There are plenty of situations where "no" can't be said, where the victim freezes up, is unconscious, etc.. If there's no "yes", it's rape. You want to prevent sexual assault? Put the responsibility where it belongs: the rapist and those who cover it up.

Gayle Wells (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 11:21

Sexual Assault and rape rarely get convictions because it is mostly men dealing with these crimes in criminal processing and they don't like talking about it or dealing with it. They have lots of discretion as to whether to prosecute and usually don't because it is a he said/she said. Watch Dr. Lisak on YouTube on "Backlog of Rapkits." He speaks about how little investigating is done for these cases and what great extremes police with investigate drug crimes or theft. In this country it's all about the money. Major Bloomberg changed the rules in NY and now all rape kits are tested and cases investigated. They went from a very low conviction rate to an almost 80% conviction rate. Speak up and often about this gross injustice. The shame belongs to the rapist.....not the victim.

Anonimo (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 13:53

You should write a book! English is my second language and I rather read in Spanish, but my husband sent my this link and as I read the first paragraph I could not stop. You are talented, and should write a book. It will be empowering for our gender, as we need to talk more about how do we help victims to become survivors. Thanks for sharing your story, make me feel proud of being a woman.

Civil Rights (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/30/2012 - 13:23

In the past 10 years UVA has failed to expel anyone accused of sexual assault. July 2011 President Sullivan, the first woman president in UVA history signed in new rules and yet here is a story by a victim that reaffirms that this is the policy of most colleges and this blatant violation of not only civil rights but human rights.

If you have the time and inclination show your support by clicking on "like" and "share". Outing and shaming these institutions will make them re-think their policies!!!

Michelle (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:34

Thank you for being so incredibly brave and sharing this story with everyone. Others who are going through the same thing need to know that they are not alone and that the responses that counselor and the doctor gave you are completely insensitive and inappropriate, and that responses such as these only show an outrageous lack of empathy and understanding for a rape victim. I personally experienced rape when I was younger, and I feared telling anyone for years because I thought I was going to be judged, and I deteriorated as a consequence. Speaking out and making sure that schools are equipped to handle these cases is absolutely crucial!!! Thank you for speaking out.