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:

Em (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:04

Dear Angie,
Although we've never met, I couldn't be more proud of you. As a fellow survivor, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and finding the courage to share your story. You truly are a true inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you...

V (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:09

I'm an alum from UNC. I'm also a survivor, and when I first told, I wasn't believed. It's like you somehow captured everything I felt and could never say in this letter. Thank you so much for speaking out - both against Amherst, and to provide a voice for all of us who are still silent and ashamed. Thank you.

Anon Male (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:22

Angie - I am extremely moved by this article. Your experience of being raped and then made to feel dirty and broken is horrible but you are a better person for blowing the lid off these unconscionable treatment practices for rape victims.

Six years ago I worked as a busboy in a restaurant just after High School to pay the bills. I was in a dark place, having been kicked out of home and lacking in the support of my parents, like you.

It didn't take long for my coworker to recognize my emotional weakness. My feeling of being utterly alone, without anyone in world who genuinely cared about me. I think that sexual abusers are experts at recognizing this type of person - the type of person they can abuse without consequence.

It started out as quick touches and grabs on my private parts, over my clothes. When he felt more comfortable he would linger longer. I would respond by nervously laughing it off, but I was in such a mindset that I was afraid to do anything about it. Was I being abused? It's just touching and grabbing, right?

I couldn't afford to lose my job. Do I report this? Would anyone believe me? I hated feeling like nothing - like an object my coworker would play with. It was like to him, I didn't have a soul. At least, not one worth considering.

Eventually I told a coworker about it, and he responded with disbelief. He thought I was making it up. If it had been going on for a while, why didn't I tell anyone about it sooner?

I was told that I was to minimize contact with the coworker (who was usually chef when I was working). However, as busboy I had to continually enter the small kitchen and get into contact with him. This is when he would poke and grab and squeeze me.

Eventually, because I started coming to work late, dreading coming in, and getting sick, I was fired. The chef was kept on.

It took me a few years to reconcile what happened and how it ended up happening. Now, I am in a strong emotional place and feel supported, so I would never tolerate molestation again. I would punch someone in the face. In fact, I went back to the restaurant years later...

I arrived at the back employee entrance. I wanted to barge in, and punch my former coworker in the face. Finally I was ready to confront him and face him in person for what he did.

However, when I got in, I saw the staff was all different. I asked them about the old coworker. They said he flew back to Mexico to be with his family (he was an illegal immigrant).

Strangely enough, I left the old kitchen that day feeling satisfied. I may not have gotten the chance to face him - but I walked through the doors and went through the most difficult steps of confronting him. I was no longer afraid, and I believed in myself.

To this day, I don't really tell people about it. Am I less of a man for having allowed this to happen? Should males never be allowed any moments of weakness?

I'm sure my story nothing compared to rape, but nevertheless, I still seem to be able to relate to feelings of violation and objectification. One thing I'm glad for is the empathy it has given me. I was able to help an ex-girlfriend heal a bit from her rape. I'm not sure she is 100% better today, but I know I showed her how a real man should treat a lady, and that she needn't be afraid of all men.

Sorry to ramble, my story just kind of poured out. That was a wonderful and cathartic process. Thank you. Best of luck to you in the future. I applaud you for taking the hard road and reaching for your dreams - not allowing college administrators to dictate your life.

Tamora Pierce (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:23

To read about this kind of conduct from those in a position of trust at a modern academic institution is just plain vile. These deans and advisors are supposed to be acting for absent parents, and they are also supposed to be acting as modern, socially aware people. There is no excuse in this day and age for them to employ these tactics of shaming, deceit, and manipulation against a young woman who is obviously vulnerable. I wonder what the suicide rate at Amherst is?

Their first duty should have been the protection and healing of anyone who had been assaulted on their campus; their second should have been the immediate apprehension, questioning, and handling of the person accused of the assault. Rape is a repeat crime. Their current method of handling it just about guarantees that they will have repeat offenses on campus and that their offenders will graduate to commit more offenses in the outside world.

Were I an Amherst parent, I would be raising hell there right now. Why aren't students and their families demonstrating and writing to the officials involved to let them know this is unacceptable? Why has no one sent this information to the local newspapers and TV stations? Only exposure will make school officials clean up their act before someone dies. In fact, I'm surprised that no one has committed suicide already if this is the way the school handles things.

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

You are in my prayers Angie as well as all of you who have been affected by such a mind-numbingly inhumane as rape. I honestly loathe my gender (males) at times just because of the sheer evil that resides inside of us and the inability for us to overcome these temptations. Although I consider myself a strong Christian, I do not want to make this into a religious discussion into the least bit, but I do have one question to pose to all of you who happen to read my comment (it can be taken as rhetorical, I don't want to incite debate and draw away from the issue):

What could the pursuit of sexual purity in our social lives do to eradicate the rape culture in our colleges?

Angie, I can't say how thankful I and all of us are for your courage to share such a traumatic experience with the world and bring light to such a dark place. I know as a man this is most likely something I will not experience and admit my humble ignorance over the pain it brings, but all ladies, know that you will ALWAYS have an army of people waiting to back you up, so never have fear to say the truth because it will ALWAYS prevail.

God Bless all of you who are reading this and let's do everything we can to let the world know.

CMC student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:14

People at Claremont Mckenna are reading your message and we send lots of love and support!

Former WPI Girl (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:32

I went to WPI for 6 years. I played sports. I was also being treated for PTSD. Unlike you, I wasn't raped, and can't imagine dealing with that trauma. I was bullied by a teacher when I was in 5th grade, to the point where I tried to kill myself. Ever since, school has been torture. When I was a Sophomore at WPI, I started having debilitating panic attacks. I was debating taking time off school to seek treatment when my brother was killed in a car crash. Coming back to school seemed like it would be a blessed relief. It was something I looked forward to because it would be nice to be "normal" again. Turns out my panic attacks were worse than ever. The administration at WPI treated me the same way Amherst treated you. I had mandatory counceling visits, they refused to make the accomedations my doctor ordered, and even told me that I no longer fit at WPI and maybe I should find another school. Instead I stayed, and continued to fight right up until my 2nd petition for graduation was denied. I went to every class I could, despite feeling like I couldn't breathe. I spent almost as much time in my car hyperventilating as I did in class. After being at the school for 6 years and completing every course I could, and proving I understood the material of the courses that wouldn't make accomedations, I left. I completely broke down, and entered a treatment facility, which was the worst experience of my life. Let's stick a person with debilitating anxiety in a house with 30 detoxing addicts see how she does, and call it "treatment." I'm working now, debating trying to finish my degree (NONE of my credits transfer because of how WPI's program is structured). I try to talk about my experience, but the feeling of failure is absolutely overwhelming. I hardly talk to any of my college friends, and when people ask what I'm doing with my life, I freeze. You are an inspiration. Thank you.

Rice Owl (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:33

You have an ally in Texas. Wish you all the best with your healing trip and beyond.

PES (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:42

You have allies at UW. We thank you for sharing your story and your bravery. This treatment is unacceptable and you made a huge step towards changing how rape, depression and suicide are treated in this country and around the world. Thank you.

Susan '95 (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:43

As an alum, I was horrified by this story, but I was not particularly surprised that this incident happened in Crossett. My senior year, there was a gay bashing incident that took place in Crossett, and Crossett had the reputation of being the most uncontrollable, least safe, nastiest dorm. One thing the administration needs to look at in investigating this is the Room Draw process. Now, I graduated almost 20 years ago, so I don't know if it works the same way, but if it does, the College needs to consider who chooses what dorms and why beyond just the number one receives in Room Draw. Next, I'm glad President Martin is planning to look at the underground fraternity issue - why, on a campus that supposedly banned frats in the 1980s, they continue to operate with the implicit support of the administration is beyond me. The male alumni who can't stand to see their precious frats dismantled need to sit down. I don't love all the changes there have been on campus, but I recognize that the College needs to change from the place I remember fondly to accommodate today's student and academic needs. (I also don't have the money to make a big fuss.) I hope President Martin will do what she says she is going to. I love Amherst, and I don't want it sullied by violence and administrative incompetence and abuse.

anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:43

First of all Angie, my heart goes out to you. Rape (and sexual assault of any kind, for that matter) is a heinous crime. By nature, it is detrimental to the self and identity. It forces the victim into a completely UNDESERVED existence of shame and fear, two sentiments that should never be inflicted onto anyone. Regardless of how she got to where she is now, the important thing to focus on is that a fellow human being IS feeling this way. That being said, I want to make it clear that I ask the following question purely from the perspective of someone who doesn't want vengeance on the administration for its mishandling of the situation (after all, vengeance is a destructive action), but rather someone who wants to create a productive discourse that strays away from hypotheticals.

My question is this: what could the administration have done to bring justice to a witness-less situation a year after it occurred?

I am not challenging anyone's assertions, I am merely seeking a legitimate answer so that I myself can actively protest what needs to be protested; I refuse to continue with the unproductive hypotheticals such as "we need to change our system." What can be changed?

Jet Levine (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:55

I find myself wondering if Amherst College has a policy regarding revocation of diplomas if there is later proof of a violent interpersonal crime (rape) of another student while the 'graduate was a student at the college. Seems as though fraud/academic dishonesty would raise that question -- why not criminal interpersonal violence?

Once the college makes radical changes in its support of women who've been raped, not to mention prevention as well, it would be good to invite the writer back, honor her, give her a chance to speak publicly at the college, a ritual in which she could restore her dignity and respect publicly and it would be good if the college would offer her the opportunity to re-enroll if she wanted to -- with guarantees about protection, support and affirmation. This is unconscionable in 2012. I am a founding member of the rape prevention group at Mount Holyoke (from the '70's) and am beyond disheartened to hear this kind of thing is still happening at Amherst. It was one of the worries when the college went co-ed - that women would be more vulnerable and not sufficiently supported in all ways. Jet Levine

Twenty Years On (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:01

to read that this event took place in Crossett.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:03

I send my love from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Travel places you've never seen before, and have the time of your life!

Stanford male (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:04

Sending love and support from the West coast

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:06

The school's response is incomprehensible. It does not make any sense to try to cover for the perpetrator. Even if it is not clear whether it is rape, it does not make any sense for the school to cover one side for another. What is the point of it?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:53

Yes, it makes sense. No school wants to be associated with rape. They don't want to see their students persecuted for it. Do you know what kind of bad press that gives? They're trying to draw students to the school, and they're certainly not going to do it with that kind of bad press. Please don't be naive.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:09

You are my hero, Angie. Thank you for standing up and speaking out.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:12

Biddy Martin wrote: At another meeting, Gina Smith, a nationally recognized legal and policy expert, will present her observations and recommendations for Amherst.

This move does not necessarily inspire confidence.

D (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:16

No. Means NO! One of the first things I teach my sons, once they are old enough to understand. And if you don't understand this, you go to jail. Period.

YEAH RIGHT (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 22:34

over simplification that has confused the issue- men think that a verbal no is required and there are many ways to get around that.
it's a start. but that is about it.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 21:26

I agree to what you say "no means no" being a good start but over simplified. Not all women are taught to clearly say "No." or some women have the theoretical knowldege but have diffficulty expressing it especially when bluntness is regarded as undesirable in some social circles. sexual conduct or how to treat a human being cannot be instructed like how to operate a machine or other clear cut things. Treating people with respect, sensitivity needs to be taught through the everyday interaction and role modeling and so on. But any boy should know that when they need to use alcohol or physical power to force themselves on someone, that's a bad sign.

Katie McGinnis (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:16

Everything about this. Sick, sick, sick. I hope the Amherst administration gets a shake down. I hope the dean is fired and shunned. And I hope there is an Office of Civil Rights complaint on this issue. God bless you, Angie.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:17

Biddy Martin wrote: At another meeting, Gina Smith, a nationally recognized legal and policy expert, will present her observations and recommendations for Amherst.

This move does not necessarily inspire confidence.

NESCAC student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:22

Thank you so much for this essay that captured and expressed so much of what I felt about college administrations dismissing sexual assault so quickly. The student, is most often, always allowed to return to the school after the student who he/she assaulted has graduated... which is most definitely not acceptable. Why would a school allow a rapist back on campus? The system needs to be changed.

Dr. John Gottman (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:25

I admire you and your resolve to bring this valuable perspective to the world. I am the father of a wonderful daughter and I am an ardent feminist. I am so very sorry for your assault and the prejudice you have had to endure. I am a clinical psychologist, and I believe that this emphasis on "forgiveness" without justice is simply blaming the victim. Many universities and colleges these days are more worried about avoiding a law suit than they are about protecting people who are victimized. I admire your courage. I wish you the best of good fortune from here on out in your life and career.

Yeah Right (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 22:35
Jordan Monge (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:45

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You have truly demonstrated your courage, strength, and beauty. I pray that you will find peace after going through so much hell.

metoo (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:48

and Amherst should be kicking itself for its absolute incompetence. Love and admiration for you and thank you, so much, for sharing this. Rape culture on campus is epidemic and we're all too terrified, shamed, and bludgeoned to pipe up so college administrations get to pretend it doesnt happen far too easily, even though we've all seen the statistics. Amherst should rescind your assaulter's degree (and he should be legally prosecuted)

Carleton Student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:49

It disgusts me that so many college administrations treat victims so vilely. Amherst's policies regarding mental health also seem extremely discriminatory- I voluntarily took a term off for mental health reasons, and the only thing that made it bearable was Carleton's understanding and support. A year later, I am studying abroad, and have only received support from the college. The fact that the Dean refused to let you study abroad or pursue the major of your choice is shocking and appalling.

Thank you for sharing your story- it's only through brave people like you that anything will change. I'm sending all my love and support.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:50

I believe the story about the rape and the mental and psychological aftermath. But I find it hard to believe that every person in the school and in the mental health systems she came in contact with conspired against her to make her"bad and wrong". I find it hard to believe that there were no compassionate, caring adults among all the people she came in contact with. All these people are in helping roles and professions and all they care about is "protecting the rapist?" and hurting her and abusing her in the process? This isn't even logical.

Princetonian (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:53

You have so much courage, Angie. My friends and I read your article and were blown away by your strength, and also horrified by the reaction of the administration. We stand behind you and hope that all universities take this as an encouragement to re-examine their policies and ensure that the victims of assault are given the proper support and aid they need, and that the utmost is done to investigate these crimes and punish the guilty. Best of luck with the coming years and never stay silent.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:54

It's amazing how much of an impact you've had on changing the administration's policies. I wish everyone could be this well spoken and share their stories.

TPK (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:55

Angie, find a rights lawyer and sue the hell out of Amherst. Sue the rapist in civil court and go after him in criminal court. Get your girls together from ALL colleges - form a proactive coeds against rape (CAR) organization - and establish protocols for reporting and prosecuting rapes. Track and publicize results. Do not let the system shut you down. Do not let politics give you the shove. In no imaginable way did you deserve what you got. Bite back hard and often. It's a damn jungle out here.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:03

In response to the Comment above, I agree that those in higher education are often more worried about avoiding a law suit than they are about protecting the victim. Unfortunately, this trend extends to secondary schools--both private and public--as well as boarding schools. Risk management at educational institutions is a growing legal practice and it behooves all of us to monitor how the methods are applied at Amherst.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:03

The culture of shame and silence that allowed these crimes to go unpunished and forced survivors to fight for their very self-possession is abhorrent. My heart goes out to the woman who wrote this. She shouldn't have had to be this resilient. But I hope that because she has been, Amherst will commit itself to changing its culture to one that does not offend women, students, and humans everywhere. As a current student at another Five College institution, I want to express my solidarity with the students and alumnae of Amherst College who have been adversely affected by this culture. You are heard and throughout the valley we stand with you.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:04

The culture of shame and silence that allowed these crimes to go unpunished and forced survivors to fight for their very self-possession is abhorrent. My heart goes out to the woman who wrote this. She shouldn't have had to be this resilient. But I hope that because she has been, Amherst will commit itself to changing its culture to one that does not offend women, students, and humans everywhere. As a current student at Smith, I want to express my solidarity with the students and alumnae of Amherst College who have been adversely affected by this culture. You are heard and throughout the valley we stand with you.

Wyoming Alumna (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:08

Angie, I am so sorry for what happened to you, not just that night, but over the following year and hope that you don't give up on your education and hopes because of what they did to you. I also hope you keep Wyoming in mind, despite what your advisor said, we're quite educated and have a strong campus community that continually campaigns for campus safety, victims advocacy and women's rights. I hopethat the rest of your life is blessed, wherever you decide to go l, though we'd love to have you in the Equality State!

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:09

Your story was very moving to me. I am an Amherst alum and it is horrible to think about how the school deals with sexual assault issues. Besides the rape that does occur on campus I witnessed a male student threaten other women verbally about how he would assault her. When this was taken to the school nothing was done. He was someone who was rumored, (and to my understanding it was not simply a rumor) to have drugged and sexually assaulted a five college girl. He graduated without issue while my female friends felt unsafe on campus.

On a more personal level I admire your courage and strength to write this. My sister was molested by my mother's boyfriend and my mother herself had survived years of sexual abuse growing up. As a male I grew up, (and today still deal with) the guilt of not having done something about it. Its taken me years to start forgiving myself for something that wasn't my fault, so the shame you felt over what happened resonates with me. Its so cruel how society enables the victims to feel like they did something wrong.

I hope the best for you and I'm inspired by your willingness to be vulnerable. It is that willingness that displays how strong you truly are.

Anon Woman (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:09

All of the things I would say have already been said and repeated. However, while reading your article, all I could think of was how similar my experience has been with yours, even across the country. Trying to get rid of the shame and ability to speak about my rape is more difficult than most things I've dealt with life. I still struggle with it, and I still blame myself. But I also know how much good can be done when we stand up, together, and speak up and out. I am still trying to fight for my edge over the shame. Thank you for being strong and speaking out. Your article is truly inspiring for women who has faced sexual violence and I hope to be as confident and powerful as you are.

Amherst Alum (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:10

Your story was very moving to me. I am an Amherst alum and it is horrible to think about how the school deals with sexual assault issues. Besides the rape that does occur on campus I witnessed a male student threaten other women verbally about how he would assault her. When this was taken to the school nothing was done. He was someone who was rumored, (and to my understanding it was not simply a rumor) to have drugged and sexually assaulted a five college girl. He graduated without issue while my female friends felt unsafe on campus.

On a more personal level I admire your courage and strength to write this. My sister was molested by my mother's boyfriend and my mother herself had survived years of sexual abuse growing up. As a male I grew up, (and today still deal with) the guilt of not having done something about it. Its taken me years to start forgiving myself for something that wasn't my fault, so the shame you felt over what happened resonates with me. Its so cruel how society enables the victims to feel like they did something wrong.

I hope the best for you and I'm inspired by your willingness to be vulnerable. It is that willingness that displays how strong you truly are.

Northwestern student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:13

Thank you so much for telling us about your experience. I think that many people downplay rape and sexual harassment/assault by disconnecting the actions from their psychological effects. I hope more and more people read this to understand a very real problem that should be taken more seriously.

mm (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:13

Thank you for sharing your story. Stay strong.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:17

I went to Middlebury for two years before realizing I had to leave; I turned down two Ivies and transferred to a UC (I'm originally from California). I never experienced any sexual assault, but part of the reason I felt Middlebury was so toxic to me had to do with the insidious culture of often subtle misogyny. I basically got pretty depressed and felt like I didn't fit in and I was so blatantly not the "right kind" of woman or person for the school, like I didn't belong and would never belong.

I took some time off and travelled and volunteered extensively abroad before transferring and it was the best thing I've ever done for myself. Don't listen to anyone who says a dude ranch in wyoming is somehow a less important experience than college, or to anyone who says you'll be "transferring down." I transferred down and, while I do sometimes wonder if I should have gone to an Ivy, I know it was the right choice for me to remove myself from the place where I'd been so negatively affected.

There is something deeply off about the new england liberal arts colleges, where students are told how great the community is and smothered in a facade of acceptance all while simultaneously being asked to conform to a noxious ideal. Be yourself, don't be afraid, and please know how deeply brave it is for you to write this and post it and report it. You will never get back these years and the person you were before, but maybe by speaking out you can help someone else feel less alone and help cause real change.

You are a stunning person. Thank you.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:21

Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. At points it was tough to read and was incredibly frustrating. Really messed up stuff with the administration.

Stander (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:49

My high school age daughter sent me these articles. She was curious to know what I think. My first response comes as a mother and is addressed to a motherless child... I am so sorry no one as fierce as me was there to protect you and make sure the rapist was held accountable for his crime against you. I am so sorry no one as fierce as me was there to hold the administration and counseling services accountable for their crime of disdain against you. A woman who has been violated uses all her fierceness to take her next breath and her next step, someone else needs to come and stand with her in order to change the status quo. Amherst College accepted female students in the 1970's but all these years later the institution still fails miserably at equal access to safety, resources, and basic human rights. This makes me tremendously angry and sad.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:51

Angie, thank you for coming out and being so brutally honest about what happened to you. Unfortunately, you are not alone. My alma mater did something similar to me after I was raped. I hope that one day students will rise up and make the administration treat survivors with respect. I know the movement has started at my alma mater. Hopefully it starts at Amherst too.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:52

Put this on CNN or MSN or something and maybe this awful administration will change. Or at least it will bring the issue more into the public eye. Rape is bad enough, but having to deal with all these indifferent people after the fact?

And a step down unless she goes to an Ivy? Well maybe if she just fell down the whole metaphorical staircase she'd be qualified to work at Amherst.

These people are unbelievable.

Rachel (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 21:01

I am so, so sorry this happened to you. As a freshman at Columbia I can only hope that if something like that ever happens to me the administration will be on my side, but based on the recent sexual assault case surrounding a grad student here I'm a bit cynical.
Thank you for standing up for all of us. I sincerely hope Amherst responds to this article through a drastic change in policy and administration, and I hope this is a wake up call to all institutions of higher learning.
I know everyone here that's read your story is supporting you and commending your courage.

Rose (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 21:01

Thank you.