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:

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:18

Support and solidarity from Macalester!

Bub (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:21

Angie, you are a strong woman. It is very brave of you to share this whole thing with the world, and I must thank you for that. I am sorry for all the terrible things that happened to you, but I know that you will heal. It was the best for you to leave the place where you could not find any supports from people that were supposed to help you. I wish you the best in your future endeavor.

There are just so many things wrong with how the administration and the counselors deals with this whole situation. First they should have not been insisted her to stay in the dorm. Second they should have taken her story of being raped more seriously and begun a full investigation on the matter immediately, no matter how hard it was. Sorry, Amherst, you can't just throw a victim to a ward and hope for a happy ending. Saying your place is "the safest place" where a rapist can roam freely without a consequence is just ignorant.

Oh and congratulations on having a rapist graduated from your college. You must be really proud.

NU student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:36

This story is starting to get passed around my facebook circles...It's going to reach a HUGE number of people overnight. Be careful about how you proceed with the followup that will surely occur.
You have changed my perspectives and opinions tonight. Thank you.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:36

Thank you Angie for breaking the silence and sharing your story with us. You are a brave, courageous woman. I am deeply moved by your article, and I hope that this can bring about some changes in Amherst's school administration.

Jessica (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:40

Thank you for opening my eyes. I'm a high school senior applying for college, and I promptly removed Amherst from my list after reading this. Thank you for speaking out about your experience, as it has been shocking and outrageous and despicable to hear how the administration dealt with the entire situation. They drove you into a corner and left you with no other choice - they lied about their good intentions. This is all so, so wrong, and things like this make it so much harder for women, even in such progressive modern society. Stay strong, and do well with all your future endeavors - show Amherst just how powerful you are, and how much you can do without them.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:46

Angie, thank you for sharing this story. The dialogue surrounding sexual assault on college campuses must change.

Harvard '15 (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:47

What a courageous act...much love from Harvard College.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:49

Thank you for sharing your story. What you have written here is SO vitally important and I will carry it with me as a woman and a liberal arts college student. Sending you all of my best wishes from Haverford College.

Anonymous (Clar... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:49

From the very bottom of my heart, thank you. I read every single word in your post and I hardly ever do to any online document. ever.
I'm so glad that you decided whats best for you after being stuck on Amherst for so long, I hope that you recover and find peace one day and for now hope that that day does come. God bless, don't give up!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:51

Thank you for your courage in speaking up. I would recommend creating a petition that addresses Amherst College. You will surely get a lot of press and signatures. Amherst really needs to change.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:52

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It takes a great deal of courage to share such a painful, traumatic experience with the world. You should NEVER forget how brave and strong you are for doing that. I can not even image what it must have been like for you to experience such a terrible act, but you stepping forward and putting your story out there will hopefully empower other young women at colleges throughout the country to do the same. And it will hopefully encourage college students to stand up to their administrations and fight for fair treatment of survivors. Your treatment by the Amherst administration is deplorable, and I sincerely hope that whoever is responsible for your mistreatment (your rapist as well as the administration) will be brought to justice in some way. As an alumna of Rutgers University, I stand behind you and I'm sure that thousands of my fellow Rutgers alumni and students stand behind you as well. We can not let this type of maltreatment by administrations go on at our colleges and universities!

Lauren (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:53

I am sobbing right now. I've read this story four times tonight... This is my story too. And I'm still in it. I got out of the psych ward last week. The school forced me to "voluntarily" withdraw this past Monday. I am sitting in my apartment with nothing but the memory of my rapist's face to keep me company as I flip through my facebook feed with all of my NU friends sharing this story saying "I'm so glad Northwestern doesn't do this." I want to scream. But thank you. It's people like you that make me hope that maybe, maybe, maybe one day things will be different.

Re: Lauren (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 13:26

Hang in there. I've been there, as so many of us have. As someone who didn't give in to the pressure to withdraw from my school after what happened to me, you might be surprised to hear that I wish I had -- it was a hostile environment and was not the right place for me to heal. Take this time you now have to get help (I only wish I had gone to a competent therapist sooner), and keep switching through therapists until you find one who is helping you (like I said, I wish I had gone to a *competent* therapist sooner). Plan things to do, things you wished you could do but had to do schoolwork instead, and let this time be for you. You deserve it.

And to clarify, I think NU is being a d***. Also, you can tell your friends that they're wrong without revealing your story, if you're not ready for that. A simple "Northwestern doesn't do far as we know" should do the trick.

lolz (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:59

I just think the mentality of "Oh I'm glad my school is not doing this" is just wrong. Yes I've been reading several comments that say the same thing, and it's quite sickening to read them. It's well known fact that there's a great numbers of rape incidents that never get reported, and probably most schools will use that fact, and just be like Amhurst when there's rape incidents in the school and they try to sweep it under the rug. I believe that there must be substantial changes carried out in policies regarding rape incidents throughout all school administrations.

-Your fellow student from NU ;)

Daniel (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:54

You've done the hardest part -- writing this article. Let us take care of the rest and make sure this spreads. Your message will not go unheard.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:54

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It takes a great deal of courage to share such a painful, traumatic experience with the world. You should NEVER forget how brave and strong you are for doing that. I can not even image what it must have been like for you to experience such a terrible act, but you stepping forward and putting your story out there will hopefully empower other young women at colleges throughout the country to do the same. And it will hopefully encourage college students to stand up to their administrations and fight for fair treatment of survivors. Your treatment by the Amherst administration is deplorable, and I sincerely hope that whoever is responsible for your mistreatment (your rapist as well as the administration) will be brought to justice in some way. As an alumna of Rutgers University, I stand behind you and I'm sure that thousands of my fellow Rutgers alumni and students stand behind you as well. We can not let this type of maltreatment by administrations go on at our colleges and universities!

scripps_student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 03:59

Your story and your bravery have reached the women of Scripps College. We are absolutely appalled at the horrors that were done to you, and we stand behind you and the countless other women who have suffered such abuse. Stay strong, and know that you have our unending support and admiration.

Roflcopter 2011/2012 (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:00

Thank you for sharing. Hopefully schools nationwide would make the necessary changes so tragic events like these would never happen again.
On a completely separate note: I'd like to point out that this isn't Amherst specific thing. I'm sure we've all heard similar horrifying stories at different schools. (Yes, there are terrifying stories at Smith And Duke too) Please see the bigger picture? This isn't an attempt to bring down a specific school. It's an attempt to raise awareness for rape victims nation wide. To those who would post ignorant comments like thank god I went to XXX instead or omg my sister shouldn't apply: good, you're probably too stupid to belong at Amherst anyway. To suggest an entire school is not worth going to based on one unfortunate event shows what morons you people are.

Robert (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:07

Wow. Kudos from Brown University. I look up to you much more than I do many of my peers and mentors here. Thank you for sharing your story and shedding light on an often ignored issue. Stay strong!

Zaina (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:09

Thank you for sharing this with the world. Thank you for not feeling ashamed, for not blaming yourself, for speaking up. You're an incredibly strong woman. I hope you have great happiness awaiting you, because it sounds like you deserve it.

roflcopter (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:12

I'd just like to point out that people who made comments like omg thank god I chose XXX/ omg my sister shouldn't apply are probably too stupid to do well at Amherst anyways. What happened to Angie represents a nationwide problem that runs rampant in ALL schools. To the Dumb fucks who think Amherst is filled with rapists and uncaring administration: go fuck yourselves.

Cassie (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:18

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

DukePerson (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:18

This is hugely courageous of you, Angie. Thank you. I don't know you, but it is encouraging knowing that, as a man who knows many women who have been sexually assaulted, you have the courage to tell your story on a public stage and inspire positive change wherever you can.

Know that people and students are going to read this and respond to it by fighting against college administrations that treat the huge problem sexual assault on campuses as a dirty secret to downplay in their endless quest of reputation management and conflict avoidance--or whatever other motivations they apparently have.

I know that this is a continuing issue here at Duke that we have made progress on recently, working with administrators to abolish the sexual assault reporting statute of limitations (that was apparently enacted on some weird technicality in the first place)

This is a policy issue that must be fixed on campuses like Amherst and I'm sure elsewhere. Hearing stories like yours wakes people up to the need for change. Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:21

I'm disgusted by how Amherst's administration handled this. While I understand that rape cases are complicated, the way *you* were treated was completely unacceptable (the rapist himself aside). Sexual assault is awful enough in itself; no one should ever have to be treated like a delusional psychopath on top of that, especially at a school that boasts such an outstanding reputation and supportive community. My heart breaks for you, but I admire your ability to appreciate the strengths you have developed as a result of this experience. I know what it's like to have to pull yourself out of a very dark place - you are incredibly strong and we are all proud of you. I hope you make it to South Africa after all.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Remember that you are beautiful.

a sister (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:28

My first week of college, I was at a party dancing with a boy briefly before he suddenly grabbed me (he was much bigger than me) and dragged me to his room. A combination of fear, exhaustion, and alcohol rendered me completely defenseless and I have blacked out this memory from my mind.

He undressed me to only my underwear and kept kissing me and touching me even as I whispered "no" and suddenly I felt the fight in me, and forced a conversation. He looked ashamed, in knowing that there was more to me than an object.

I left and never looked back. I never reported him. He raped a girl I knew, later. She never reported him either.

I try to not even think of him.

I try to make light of the situation. But your story has brought back everything and made me realize just how horrible it all was.

Thank you.

A (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:32

You are amazing! Thank you for finding a voice as well as finding the bravery to speak out about this.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:32

People are starting to share this here. I'm so glad I was able to read this, I feel completely inspired, and it seems like many other people do as well. Keep sharing your story! You seem like such an amazing and brave person.

Katherine (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:35

I want to thank you for your bravery and your determination to keep from being silent -- but moreover, I want to thank you for your amazingly well-written, moving article. There are not many articles that discuss this subject as well as your article, describing the harrowing details of how cruel and cold administrations can be towards rape. Writing such as yours is vital to trying to raise awareness about such a critical subject. Please, please continue your bravery and your writing.

Survivor from U... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:41

I'm conflicted; on one hand, I physically hurt thinking about the pain you went through, it's scarily believable, and it rings terribly true for me. On the other, I want to say congratulations, for your recovery, but beyond that. While this piece may have been helpful and cathartic for you, I hope you understand just how important this is to other people. You have spoken out in a blunt way that could have had serious ramifications for you; but you must have realized that this is too crucial to remain silent; that your campus and this country are in a crisis. The honesty and rawness to this will touch so many people out there, and bring them comfort and hope. In attaching your name to this you have told the country (because this is so much bigger than AC now), that there is absolutely no reason you should not tell your story. From one survivor to another, thank you for speaking for those of us who cannot yet.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:52

she can use a loophole to mention the guy's name, saying that is who she was PRESSING CHARGES against, but that isn't necessarily libel/slander but an objective statement of an action she undertook

some of us would like to know this guy's name! ...and address! for research! yeah!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:53


Thank you for putting your experience out into the world. I think that talking about these experiences is an important step in personal healing and growth as well as and sexual health education, reminding everyone that there is just one type of person that can experiences sexual assult and that this is something that we all must start taking much more seriously. I just want to hold my hand to you, squeeze it as a fellow survivor, and also tell you that when you can, you must come to South Africa. It struck me so hard and gave me goosebumps to think about the "justification" you got for not being able to come to Cape Town because of xenophobic, ignorant, Western assumptions about this part of the world. It has been a very healing experience for me being here, even when confronted with a lot of the horrors that happen in this place. Everything is so vibrant here, even the ugly stuff. There is so much beauty, so much empowerment and so much learning going on. In my experience, it's ok not to be ok in this part of the world and I think that exposing these parts of our humanness, the raw parts, is so crucial to creating change, learning how to feel empowered and love ourselves again. I am so sorry that racist bigotry kept you from experiencing this place and I hope you can find yourself here one day.
I hope Wyoming is incredible and that you are fully living this chapter of your life with love and support. Give yourself the space to be happy but remember that it's always ok to feel down, it's all a part of the process.
I hope that you continue writing!
I am very grateful that your story found me while I am in this place. Thank you again for your words.

Tracy (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:56

Love and support from Pomona College/Southern California. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:58

Thank you for this, it obviously takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like this. I am very close to someone who experienced something at Amherst college. Its absurd, and upsetting that a college of Amherst caliber is so backwards and lacking in such an important aspect. Amherst needs to seriously re-evaluate themselves.

Arielle (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 05:16

Thank you for having the courage to speak up about this: the more you share your story, the less it can happen to people in the future. Much love.

Scrippsie (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 05:18

This post was shared by the Scripps Associated Students facebook page and is being shared among students and alums.

Thanks for raising your voice and empowering the voices of other survivors!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 05:20

I am a survivor too. Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling for the past 4 years.

Roland Satterwh... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 06:15

Angie, thank you for writing about your experience.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 06:25

I do not understand what they do to your minds in the United States.

Harvard student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 06:41

Angie, you are so unbelievably brave. I am a survivor as well. I know that shame. This is being read widely at Harvard. We support you!

Alexandra (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 06:44

Thank you for speaking out, and therefore making it easier for others to do the same.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 06:46

Thank you for sharing. Good luck!

anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:01

Thank you for sharing this story, it is heart-wrenching to read about how horribly Amherst has mistreated you and other victims. Breaking your silence was not in vain- you have given me strength to speak up about my own assault, which happened over 4 years ago. I hope that Amherst gets enough backlash from this that they change their policies. I know it was one of my top choice schools, and now it's completely off of the list. I cannot imagine how frustrating and traumatic that entire experience must have been, but your bravery is inspiring so many girls and victims to speak out. Please never give up!!

Another of the ... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:10

Thank you for writing this article. I have the personal struggle with deciding to tell my story, and not. I know about feeling like he "won" somehow. How unfair it feels. How it becomes part of your identity, not just some crime that happens. You have put words to feelings for me, and I want people to hear. I am sorry that the administration was a clusterfuck. Hopefully this article will help them change. You are an angel, even if it's hard to see your halo sometimes. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:12

Thank you so much for sharing this. I've never really told anyone, but this happened to me as well when I was 18, five years ago. Seeing your story came at the perfect time for me when I needed a reminder that I too can be strong again. You're journey is an inspiration, and I hope to one day be at the same place you are. Thank you.

Salimata Kamara (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:25

Thank you so much for being brave enough to share this story with the world. I know that my eyes have been opened and that this is an ongoing issue with more than one school. College should not be a place where women feel unsafe because the administration refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. I hope that your story helps others to speak up; maybe if we all band together, we can create a change in how things are run. You are an amazing woman and I wish you all the best.

Anon (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:30

I cannot other than thanking you for sharing this, Angie. Your story has reached corners of the world that you would perhaps not expect, and that is proof that is touches something of the very human nature.

Colby10 (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:34

You have shown incredible courage and incredible strength in telling your story.

Well Done.

Andrew (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:38

Thank you for telling your story. I am sorry you had to go through the administrative hell that you did. I hope your transfer worked out and that you found a college with a less oppressive atmosphere. Don't let the rape skeptics get you down -- there's a certain kind of person who just can't believe that this could happen at their "wonderful" college. It was the same when anyone talked about homophobia or racism at Williams.

Fellow student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:40

Lots of love from Bryn Mawr College. I'm in awe of your strength and bravery in telling your story. Thank you.

S (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 08:44

Angie, thank you for sharing your story. Nothing like this ever happened to me or anyone I know while at Midd, but I know "victim blaming" for rape, domestic violence, etc is a huge problem both throughout the college system and within greater society. Seeing some of the comments on your story make me realize where this mentality originates. Thanks again for sharing this story and bringing light to this problem. Good luck to you.