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:

Kristin Ouellette (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:19

As a 2012 grad who struggled with the right way, right time, and right tone to combat sexual violence and the degradation of women at Amherst, I want to say thank you for your courage and strength in telling this part of your story. No person should ever have to face the horror that you have, or to try to heal in such a negligent and mistrustful environment. I have heard the tale of a friend of a friend being told not to press charges because her rapist was graduating in a few months once before, but I hadn't guessed that it would be the schools' administrative policy. It seems that the college believes that graduation results in a blank slate for perpetrators and victims, but just because troublesome students get out of their hair, doesn't mean memories of rape, assault and shame magically fly from victims' minds with the toss of a square black hat.

You are strong! The world realigns. Fight the good fight.

A fellow colleg... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 14:47

Speaking up about rape is not easy. Thank you for doing so. Battling rape is one of the most important fights on college campuses.

As a student member in a sexual assault prevention organization I feel I should say this to anyone that might read it: Among all the self defense and anti-rape measures taught to women these days, its sad that the most important one is often overlooked, verbally making it clear that you do not consent to sex. If that doesn't work, call for help! No one should have to go through something like this, especially when there are people outside the door that could help. And especially if your rapist is unaware he is raping you. Being clear about ones intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations.

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

UNC-Tar Heel (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 15:53

As a member of an "on campus sexual assault prevention organization" you should be ashamed. Your comment is complete and total victim blaming, and takes the blame off of the young man himself. Besides, you were not there, you do not know what actually happened. It is not just a person's responsibility to make sure they do not get raped- it is also the other person's to make sure they do not rape.

The way you blame her is despicable, and the exact opposite of many points of this article.

Another college... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:16

I agree! Yes it is sad that this rape ever occurred and for all the miserable, irresponsible and reprehensible events that happened afterwards. That is all we can say. Yes the rapist didn't share all her details but so what? This is not a court case. You should be ashamed of yourself for propagating such vile victim blaming.

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

Rape is not sad. Rape is enraging.

Pamela (not verified) says:
Sat, 11/10/2012 - 00:02

I tried to make my husband understand what it's like to be raped. I said, "It's kind of like getting the holy crap kicked out of you for a very long time, but much, much more up and personal." I think he got the general idea.

Comment Advocate (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 17:12

Your comment is also inappropriate. Primarily, the reader you responded to neither blamed the victim for getting raped, nor exonerated the rapist. That comment merely addressed the side of the issue that deals with what women can do to avoid getting raped. The reader also only stated their opinion on the current methods that are taught to women as means of defense. The reader could have, for example, added something about how men should work to avoid raping someone, but they didn't write that for their own reasons. Frankly, it is unfair of you to attack an opinion that was not focused on the victim's story itself, but rather on the topic of rape, on the basis of the victim's experience.

The only sentence the reader wrote that could possible be seen as removing the blame from the rapist is when they stated, "especially if your rapist is unaware he is raping you". But this is a fact, not a vindication. Countless rapists are either drunk, high, etc., when they commit the crime and therefore may not know what they are doing or did. I am certainly not justifying the act of rape; unfortunately, such an inhumane assault has no justification. And of course I completely agree with you that men should be educated in order to prevent rape, even more than women on the matter, but that was not the point of the article or the comment that you criticized.

The reader also did not blame the victim for what happened to her. They only gave advice and sympathy to the victim and potential future victims by affirming facts through their personal opinions. They wrote, "no one should have to go through something like this", and "speaking up about rape is not easy/thank you for doing so". At least to me, that tone does not sound accusatory in the slightest. Besides, the commenter added at the end, "this", meaning their entire say on the subject, "can only be an ASSUMPTION". In your comment, you stated that the reader "[was] not there, [they did] not know what actually happened. The reader, at no point in their comment, claims that they were there or that they have the slightest clue what that sort of ordeal is like. So it does not make sense for you to write that caustic response when the reader only gave useful, and maybe even life-saving advice to future rape victims.

Responding with outrage to comments like the one in question, that at first sound doubtful, and even accusing, is understandable. However, I recommend that you look more closely at the reader's intentions and the true meaning in what they wrote. Also, it might have been helpful to, in your comment, explain how the way the reader supposedly "blames" the victim is the opposite of many points in the article. Your opinion would have therefore been more clear to those of us who disagree with you. I personally think that the way the reader supposedly "blamed" the victim was not the opposite of points in the article. Among those points:

-the school's failure to help her when she needed support
-how they failed to do this
-the school's attempt to cover up the incident and how this hurts her
-her shifting existences in the healing process
-why she was unstable during that process

These are only a few of the main points of the article, and the criticized comment did not refute any of these, nor any others. It is fair to say that the comment was beside the specific content and meaning of the article, but it was certainly not a random attack on the victim nor a defense of the rapist, which would have been on the other side of the spectrum from where the article would place. A clue: this is where the phrase, 'you jumped the gun' comes into play.

Furthermore, as comments on articles should, this is a statement of opinion by an individual who is discussing another side of the issue. The side the comment addressed was also quite appropriate and even expected once the reader revealed that they are/were a member of the "sexual assault prevention organization". And, being a current or past member of this organization, it is safe to assume that the reader would know at least a bit about this topic.

It is clear, from my quoting the comment several times, as well as from the entire comment, that it says everything it was meant to say. I am simply making the evidence of the comment's statements distinct, as it surely were already to anyone who looked at the comment close enough.

To the author: I can only echo your uncounted supporters when I say that you are an amazingly strong and admirable woman. I know for a fact that tragically many rape victims commit suicide because of their suffering. May they rest in peace, respected for their lives and memories.

But you, being a survivor, are especially powerful, intelligent, and extraordinary. Keep spreading knowledge and hope. Thank you and God bless you.

GoodGravey (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/23/2012 - 14:43

No! The moment someone says "this is what you can do to avoid being raped", they ARE blaming the victim. That is not only the opinion of the person you are criticising, but it is logical. IF there was something one could do to avoid or reduce the risk of "being raped", then the fact they were raped must mean they didn't do enough. If nothing else, that is how a victim interprets the comments.

The truth is simple. You cannot "do anything" to avoid being raped. Even the term "being raped" is offensive because the language suggests the only person involved was the victim, and somehow it happened to them. More constructive language is to say the offender committed the rape.

I strongly suggest you read up on the way language affects behaviour and in particular about rape culture.

Your "it was just their opinion" is a facile argument. The person you are criticising expressed their opinion too. And merely having an opinion does not mean that it has to be expressed, or that the expression of the opinion is not harmful.

When someone allegedly involved in that field expresses an opinion about how "women can avoid being raped", it reinforces the victim's experience of being badly treated. Any organisation involved with "rape prevention" should be focused on how to stop rapists from raping. That is the ONLY prevention method that works.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/25/2012 - 21:04

"The truth is simple. You cannot "do anything" to avoid being raped. Even the term "being raped" is offensive because the language suggests the only person involved was the victim, and somehow it happened to them."

I totally agree with you! I also vehemently object to the term "being murdered" or "being mugged." That's why it's completely illegitimate for anyone to advise tourists to avoid flashing large quantities of money in high-crime areas. That would be victim-blaming, right?

Seriously, do you ever stop to think about whether or not the sweeping claims you make are even minimally coherent?

anand srivastava (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/30/2012 - 02:06

"I totally agree with you! I also vehemently object to the term "being murdered" or "being mugged." That's why it's completely illegitimate for anyone to advise tourists to avoid flashing large quantities of money in high-crime areas. That would be victim-blaming, right?"

So you agree that Amherst is not a safe place, and so the women folk must be careful. That is what the author is saying. Amherst is not safe for women. Glad to see you agree. Also I guess the reason is that people who are supposed to reduce these crimes are themselves the perpetrators. People who think that women are partly responsible for rape, are themselves responsible for abetting rapes. They are looking for a reason to avoid punishing rapists. And there by making it safer for the rapists to commit such crimes.

Katie (not verified) says:
Wed, 10/24/2012 - 02:47

That comment merely addressed the side of the issue that deals with what women can do to avoid getting raped. The reader also only stated their opinion on the current methods that are taught to women as means of defense.

And what good is that advice, exactly? "Sorry u were raped lolz, here's what you shoulda done differently to not be raped" is easily the least sensitive, thoughtful or appropriate comment that could be made in this instance. That ship has already sailed, and that presumes that shouting and crying out for help would do any good. Given the sociology and psychology of rape, and the fact that the next rooms were filled with the rapists' friends and roommates, that's very unlikely. That commenter needs retraining.

OP: I'm sorry that you experienced this. And I'm sorry that the Amherst rape-denial field is still emanating in your direction. As a dropout from another of the five colleges (due to their total nonrecognition of the fact that a very early admit with money and depression problems might need a tiny bit more support than usual), I can assure you, there is more out there for you than Amherst.

Rape survivor (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 04:57

Women would not have to "avoid getting raped" if men simply did not rape and learned appropriate boundaries, you scumbag.

dlp (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 15:03

To rape survivor,

you are absolutely correct about men not knowing appropriate sexual boundaries or thinking their own drive justifies such horrible action. These men shd be held accountable! Their mothers shd know what pigs they produced at least to shame the men along w more legal ramifications.

Disappointed (not verified) says:
Mon, 10/29/2012 - 03:50

I understand your sentiment but that is unfortunately the sad nature of victim blaming, it often comes from good intentions. The moment someone advises women to "avoid rape" by taking up some means of self defense is saying that rape is inevitable and the victim should take more responsibility in his/her own defense. Untrue. There is nothing they "should/could" do. There is nothing they should have to do. What we should do is work to educate and prevent sexual assault of any kind. You should not have to carry a gun, or mace or be a tenth degree black belt in ninjutsu, you should only ever expect to NOT be raped.

sauerkraut (not verified) says:
Sun, 11/11/2012 - 22:00

Advocating for the prevention of rape by saying "no" is poor advocacy. If merely saying "no" is an effective way of preventing rape then very few instances of rape would occur. But that's not how it is.

If your advocacy is limited to saying "no," then you might try something different to do.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:34

Sounds like you would fit in at Amherst. Shame on you. So based on you comments if someone is unable to speak for whatever reason they deserve what they get or are asking for it? Did you evr think that maybe the author was writing about what the schools response was more than the rape itself? Trying to get across the horribleresponse by the school more than the details of the rape? I am thankful that she wrote this. This happens on many campuses across the US and it takes a brave person to do what she did.

Pi (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 07:50

"It is not just a person's responsibility to make sure they do not get raped- it is also the other person's to make sure they do not rape."

It is no more a person's "responsibility" to prevent their rape than it is their "responsibility" to prevent their own murder. The murderer is guilty, not the victim. The rapist is guilty, not the victim. Crime should stain the criminal, not the victim.

It is OUR responsibility as a society to create a culture in which this is true without a second thought.

To date, we have failed.

Another Tar Heel (not verified) says:
Mon, 10/29/2012 - 03:41

I am in complete agreement with my fellow Tar Heel (although I go to grad school elsewhere now). Victim blaming is one of the most damaging problems that survivors bear. There is NOTHING they "should have done" except expect to not be raped by their fellow humans. As a former student leader (at UNC) and a current sexual assault advocate in grad school I should hope that my peers who work in the field never believe the myths that do nothing but perpetuate the rape culture and blame victims.

Dartmouth (not verified) says:
Mon, 11/05/2012 - 21:54

I can't tell you how horrific it is to hear the stories of young victims almost every day who are raped and abused on their college campuses. Unfortunately this is not the first and i know it wont be the last story I hear of a courageous survivor who has spoken out about an assault and her/his re-victimization by their college institution. As an advocate who fights every day for survivors, it is even more horrific to me when I hear stories and comments from someone who claims to be a 'trained' advocate, especially professional counselors and sexual assault advocates, who re-traumatize and write comments like the person above blaming the victim for her behavior; for not screaming loud enough, or kicking hard enough, or making her intentions to not be raped more clear, or leaving the room faster, or going to a party, or just making the ridiculousness decision of actually talking to, liking, or being alone with another human being.

Thank you for calling out this 'advocate's' revolting response to side with and support the 'unaware' or 'misunderstood' perpetrator and once again blames the victim for not doing a better job to make her intentions clear and blow a whistle or run away so she doesn't 'accidentally' get raped. When are we as a community going to start holding perpetrators responsible for their actions and for making their intentions clear and blowing a whistle so potential victims have a little notice that they're about to be raped?!? Somehow that seems so much more reasonable than the reality of this horrific epidemic.

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

your comment reeks of victim blaming... implying that a rape is so easily prevented by "making it clear" that sex is unwanted and by just "calling for help" otherwise the rapist may be "unaware he is raping you"?! implying he didn't really know he was raping?! are you kidding me?
here's something you should teach as a supposed member in a sexual assault prevention organization (wouldn't be a part of Amherst's by any chance?)...

Teach men NOT TO RAPE! and stop telling women they should have done more to prevent it.

Yes, you did make a huge grossly inappropriate assumption, just like Amherst's administration did. You disgust me.

Educated (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 21:55

Did you even read the article? None of the things you mentioned were even implied. She spoke of a school and their horrible policies in regards to sexual assault sensitivity, and the struggle of a girl in her attempt to heal. Please pay more attention before making such outrageous accusations.

Ed (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 06:51

"Teach men NOT TO RAPE! and stop telling women they should have done more to prevent it."

When you say "Teach men NOT TO RAPE" it's sounds to be like your attacking the entire male gender instead of just rapist. I don't think men as a group need to be lectured on not being violent rapist. That's not something the average man does. Men are not to be judged as a group based on the behavior of anyone who happens to be male. That would be sexism.

Actual rapist are criminals with malevolent intent. You are proposing that we teach these diagnosis mentally ill or evil people to not do something that is already among or society's most reviled offenses. It might be easier to get through life as a convicted murderer than a convicted rapist because murders don't have to register as sex offenders. IF they don't get that rape is bad then I don't think our repeating the fact is going to change their mind.

What we need to do is get the crime REPORTED! That's the only way we can protect future victims and if the accused is not convicted we at least have created a record that will make any future accusations more credible.

Elle (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 16:59

Women as a group are taught not to get raped. To be vigilant. To not be too 'slutty'. I do not think all men should be treated as criminals before the fact. I do think they should be taught to respect their fellow human beings: both the women AND the men. No rape is not something the average man does, but how do you propose to identify those who don't fall in to that average? Our culture needs to recognize this problem in an even toned manner, not attempt to pinpoint something that is not so simple.

"What we need to do is get the crime REPORTED! That's the only way we can protect future victims and if the accused is not convicted we at least have created a record that will make any future accusations more credible."

Rape is, as you say, among society's most reviled offenses. This has not stopped it from happening. We need to prevent rape. Not just react to it after the fact. Yes reporting it is vital but again this places the responsibility solely in the hands of the victim for a crime committed against them, unless you are suggesting a rapist can be taught to self-report? Rape victims, both women and men should not be the first line of defense against this crime. That is grossly negligent and unfair to their wellbeing, and that of any that will be in the position to have to "make any future accusations more credible."

maia (not verified) says:
Mon, 10/29/2012 - 08:05

yes Elle thank you! I agree...women as a gender are trained and demeaned into being victims or possible victims, while men are assigned or take either a neutral role or the role of perpetraor. Education should include combatting these roles- preventing men (and women) from perpetrating, and preventing women (and men) from being victimized, under the notion that genders are not to be blamed, but individuals -and society as a whole-- must take responsibility.

Education and empowerment without judgment and without blame, recognizing these are things that we are invariably TAUGHT and molded into by our society against our will...To teach men not to rape, to teach people not to commit crimes no matter what situation you find yourself HELP those that are drawn to these means (check out Gilligan's book "Violence")... to teach women the best means of protecting themselves--- these are means of empowerment and resistance against the larger social body acting on us.

That, I think, is what should be stressed if women are to be told or taught effective means of protecting themselves, otherwise it becomes victim blaming even if that was not the intention. Victim blaming is incredibly complicated...I do not know what the fine line is between victim blaming and helping women help themselves against patriarchal violence of all kinds. All I know is that we all must resist, combat victimhood, HELP victims, educate others, and help people help themselves ----without condoning behavior but without judgment and blame.

michael achey md '79 (not verified) says:
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 20:57

I appreciate Ed's comment about not indicting the whole male gender.
The fact is that education about respecting sexual boundaries is a critical educational need.
It is NOT true that most rapists are criminals with malevolent intent.
Often intoxicated or substanced influenced persons engage in "non consensual " sexual acts.
Many forms of rape are "statutory" if even willing participants are under the legal age of consent.
I believe that our societies conflicting attitudes about sexual relations prevent intersexual communication that would prevent unwanted sexual encounters, many but not all, of which are considered to be "rape" by one of the parties involved.

violette (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:23

Your definition of rapists as criminals with malevolent intent is wishful thinking. Not all rapists are mentally ill or cartoonishly evil people. They can be beloved sons and husbands, good friends, church goers, artists, professors, intellectuals, law enforcement--the list goes on and on. They can be anyone. That's part of why the vast majority of rapists get away with it--this mistaken belief that an upstanding reputation in one area of life has any bearing on how a person responds to the sexual agency and rights of women.

Bess (not verified) says:
Tue, 10/23/2012 - 17:36

What exactly do you mean by "actual rapists"?

All men MUST be educated about rape and consent. No one is saying all men are rapists. But did you know that about 80% of rapes are some type of acquaintance rape? Committed by some "normal" "respectable" person, known to and trusted by the victim, who feels he's entitled to her. All men must be taught to respect consent absolutely, without exception.

And you're blissfully unaware of the vast issues victims of rape encounter when seeking to report and prosecute the crimes committed against them. You think the people with the courage to come forward aren't just dismissed out of hand half the time? It's a travesty that this woman's story is hardly unique.

A drunk woman was gang-raped, on film, at a college party. All the perpetrators walked free after the trial, no charges. All it takes is for one juror to believe she deserved it, and nothing happens.

Just recently two NY policemen who escorted two drunk women home and raped them were acquitted. The woman had a tape of one of them admitting to the crime. They still got off.

And if you think cops don't dismiss rape victims as a general rule, so the already low number of reported rapes is even lower, you're fooling yourself.

Do some research in the area and comment when you've actually been educated.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 13:33

The only thing disgusting is your lack of sympathy. I think it was pretty obvious by the treatment the author received from the rapist later on in the story that he knew perfectly well what he did. Perhaps you identify with such sadistic acts as rape and that's why you can relate to them.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:06

i am disgusted that you would make a comment like this. hey girls, don't worry! your rapist probably didn't know that he was raping you because you didn't call for help! you must follow xyz steps to make sure he knows he's raping you because it's probably your fault, especially if you don't call out the magic word!

do you want to know what the real magical trick is here? not raping people. and not telling survivors that they should have done something differently, because it is never in any way the fault of the person being raped. a lack of consent is strict--if someone doesn't want to have sex and is being forced into it, then it is rape. a rapist knows what he or she is doing, and quite obviously cannot be stopped by some magic word. a victim blamer like you has no place in a sexual assault prevention organization.

An outsider (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:10

you do realize your comments are victim blaming right?

To the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention Org - please figure out who this student is and teach them.

This is truly unacceptable.

a student (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:02

To the "student member in a sexual assault prevention organization:"
How dare you. Telling this survivor her experience would have been avoided if only she would have thought to call for help? And insinuating that the rapist did not know what he is doing? I cannot believe you identify yourself as an advocate for sexual assault. Your words are nothing but victim-blaming and I feel sorry for the students that you claim to be advocating for. Prevention of sexual assault does not come from an individual "just saying no," and if you don't understand that, I hope that someday someone finds the words to explain it to you because you absolutely cannot go through life with this attitude. I am disappointed in your comment, and I hope that you learn something from this woman's story.

East-coast coll... (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:23

"it's sad for both parties that neither of them realized the implications of their actions, or lack of actions." WOW. I know you admitted that was an assumption, but just because you preface your sentence with "look, I know this is kind of ridiculous" does not get you off the hook for saying such ridiculous things. that is a MIGHTY BIG ASSUMPTION to assume that the rapist was unaware he was raping her (also a big assumption to assume that he was sad about it - because it sure doesn't sound like it from her description). This is just the classic line of "oh, lots of cases of rape are just miscommunications." I'm willing to grant that like 0.5% (or something, maaaaaybe higher) of cases are miscommunications, but definitely not enough to just assume that this one is (where we get like 2 sentences of detail (which is fine, the survivor has a right to disclose however much detail they're comfortable with, especially since this wasn't really about the rape itself but the disgusting way amherst dealt with the whole thing)). besides the fact that IF (which is an big jump to make in the first place) he was unsure about her level of consent HE SHOULD HAVE ASKED HER. period. I think this whole "miscommunication" thing is something that people spread so they won't have to face the hard reality that people who you know, who are normal students just like us, rape people. intentionally. frequently. dealing with that is frightening, but it doesn't give you an excuse to jump to HUGE conclusions about a survivor who is bravely sharing her story. I'm frankly a little scared that you work in a sexual assault prevention organization. (also, as for the dean, saying "you can't study Africa because it's traumatizing" is actually just RIDICULOUS)

miasopapia (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 18:31

"I think this whole "miscommunication" thing is something that people spread so they won't have to face the hard reality that people who you know, who are normal students just like us, rape people. intentionally. frequently."

Thank you!

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

With the advice you gave to the writer of the article to "verbally make it clear that you do not consent to sex. If that doesn't work, call for help! No one should have to go through something like this, especially when there are people outside the door that could help. And especially if your rapist is unaware he is raping you. Being clear about ones intentions is the easiest way to avoid these situations" is horribly misguided and only adds to the loud and ill-informed chorus of victim-blamers. Please take the time to better educate yourself before you continue to spread misinformation that the person who was raped could have done more to help herself.

A peer (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 18:48

Dear student member in a sexual assault prevention group,
How dare you tell her she didn't do enough? How dare you place the blame on the author. Person, you need to check yourself. That man knew he was raping her. Men don't just unknowingly decided to force a woman down onto a bed and then shove themselves into her body.

itchbay (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:29
Disgusted (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:04

Your comments make it abundantly clear that you have absolutely no business being part of a sexual assault prevention organisation. I want to pick your post apart line by line and highlight the shocking assumptions that underly the tone of the entire post but and too gobsmacked that attitudes such as this exist, especially in someone who claims to be involved in victim support.
You appear to be more interested in sweeping it under the carpet as an 'unfortunate incident' or placing the onus of responsibility on the victim. If you were the victim of a rape one wonders how much sympathy you would have for the rapists failure to realize the 'implications of their actions.
One thing that is clear is that there is a deeply ingrained culture of damage control at Amhurst rather than victim support or bringing rapists to account. All involved at Amhurst should be deeply ashamed.

Disgusted II (not verified) says:
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 19:43

I agree with your addition to the people at Amherst feeling ashamed, they should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a criminal!!! The whole disgusting lot of them...

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 23:28

Shouldn't there be a lot more nuance here, even within a limited word count? This teeters very, very close to victim blaming. The comment holds very little compassion for the way women are raised and treated in this society, as well as the shame, excruciating pain, and fear that can accompany sexual assault. It's impossible to fully predict how someone might get into this situation and how they'll react.

I only hope this sexual assault prevention organization of yours focuses much on its effort on the XY set; yes, men: number one sexual predators.

Peer Health Educator (not verified) says:
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 23:58

I want to clarify some of the points that this person made about the article and specifically about rape. Many of you have stated that the male involved with the victim knew that he was raping her and that how dare (A fellow collegian) suggest that things could have been averted had there been better communication. However in the classes which I teach we discuss communication as one of the biggest factors involved in preventing or halting a situation such as this from occurring. That being said I AM NOT excusing at all what the male did to the victim, no one has the right to rape anyone for any reason. However looking forward on this subject matter I hope that everyone in general is more vocal with a partner if it is first a mutual sexual encounter from then turning into rape.

There are myriad of different ways someone can be raped and for everyone to assume that all rapes are heinous egregious acts need a reality check. Every state has a law stating that any consent given while under the influence of alcohol is null void and can be considered rape. I am just illustrating the wide range of forms of rape that can occur.

A survivor. (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 16:03

"There are myriad of different ways someone can be raped and for everyone to assume that all rapes are heinous egregious acts need a reality check."

Ahem. Not all rape is violent, this is true. All rape is, however, a heinous egregious act. I was raped in my sleep. I did not wake up during the act. I was not capable of giving consent. I was not drunk or under the influence of any drugs. I was still horribly violated in ways that should never happen. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent what happened to me. The fact remains that a heinous thing was done to me and suggesting that it is the responsibility of a victim to communicate that a crime is happening is absurd. Nobody claims that when a theft is in progress the victim should inform the thief that taking their belongings without permission is stealing. It should not be any different for non-consensual sexual encounters. I suggest that you receive that reality check, as you are clearly not aware of the fact that "communication" is no magical panacea for acquaintance rape.

Doctorate program (not verified) says:
Sun, 11/04/2012 - 16:42

"...I was held down..."

It is evident that you both need refresher courses in reading comprehension and communication studies. Also, that you believe that rape can be prevented through "better communication" between a would be rapist and their intended victim, shows that you would also better serve your field to attend Abnormal, Social, and Personality Psychology classes before resuming your day job.

Or find another field entirely, as you clearly do not currently possess the appropriate skills to handle such subject matter.

baileyd893 (not verified) says:
Wed, 11/21/2012 - 01:56

"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'm thinking that as he was holding her down, he pretty much knew that he was raping her. It probably wasn't just a "communication issue", but hey what do I know, I'm just a rape victim myself! Probably should have made it more clear to the guy who was raping me in my dorm room that I just wasn't into it, and just didn't want to do it. My bad!!!
P.S You and Todd Akin might get a long, just a thought.

Smith (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 00:27

Perhaps you've never been raped. Whether you are male or female, it certainly seems so from your comment.

Why do you assume, with no basis, that the woman who wrote the piece you are commenting on failed to "verbally [make] it clear that [she did] not consent to sex"?

Have you ever been in her position and tried to obtain help from a group of college guys who are friends of your attacker?

I pity the poor college students who have to depend on you, as "a student member in a sexual assault prevention organization", and I can't begin to understand how you have been allowed to serve in such an organization, if in fact you truly do, given your blatant failure to have any understanding of the dynamics of rape and its aftermath.

You seem to have a fundamental inability to understand anything about a rape victim's emotional response to the attack, let alone the self protective coping mechanisms a rape victim very often brings to her attempt to survive the annihilation of self which is inherent in the experience of being raped.

I hope you are never allowed to have any interaction with rape victims, as all you seem to be inclined to do is make it the victim's fault. Wait, that does sound like the staff of Amherst, so maybe you actually are a "a student member in a sexual assault prevention organization" at Amherst, of course.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 00:35

I cannot believe that a "student member in a sexual assault prevention organization" would say the ignorant, glossed over things that you have just said about assault. Really? Is it sad for both parties? Really? You think this "should have been avoided" and that it was partially her fault by not verbally making it clear that she didn't consent to sex? REALLY? When did she say that? Am I missing something? What a lovely, thoughtful assumption of you to make! Job well done advocating for victims of sexual assault. Bravo. It is exactly this kind of "politically correct" thinking about "both sides of the story" that results in disgusting silencing policies like those described here. Rape is rape. And no, I haven't been the victim of any kind of sexual assault, and no, I am not speaking out of irrational anger from trauma, before you go ahead and assume that is the case. I am an American woman, who did not even attend Amherst, and my anger comes from your comments and people like you, who think that any part of this is OK, and place any blame or complicity on victims. It is not fair to place the mantel of responsibility for rape or sexual assault prevention solely on women. Women do not "ask for it" by drinking or dressing provocatively or flirting or not explicitly saying "no". Where is the call for men to explicitly hear "yes" before engaging in sexual activity that has any hint of ambiguity about complicity? Where is men's rage about this culture about rape? After all, by placing all responsibility on women, it assumes that man's natural state is "rapist."

ann (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 00:46

I suggest you leave that sexual assault prevention group, since you clearly have no idea about the reality of rape and what survivors go through. Of course he knew he was raping her. It is never, ever, EVER the victm's responsibility to make the rapist "aware" they they're a rapist. Are you kidding me?

Wish List (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 01:02

One must obtain verbal consent first before having sex. He did not ask. It is not her duty to "avoid these situations" This is absolutely disgusting.

A.C. (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 01:07

Dear god, were you trained in sexual assault etiquette by that Amherst sexual assault counselor?

Do you not think that women don't have the brainpower to figure it out that when they don't want some guy sticking their unwanted dick into their bodies, they will say no, fight back, or call for help? Are you a real person?

Jesus Christ. Get a grip.

Female (not verified) says:
Fri, 10/19/2012 - 02:12

Can everyone just lay off "A truly sad incident that should have been avoided". This individual was not "victim blaming". He/She was simply thinking of ways to prevent this kind of situation in the future. If people were outside the room, it would be smart to yell for help in a bad situation. I find it disturbing how much shaming is going on here.

violette (not verified) says:
Sun, 10/21/2012 - 10:33

You don't seem to be getting it, so let me make it clearer for you: if someone is vile and sociopathic enough to force his penis into a woman's unwilling body, what makes you think that he wouldn't be willing to reach down and snap her neck if she screams? Or cause other serious physical damage that would make it difficult for her to testify or be believed at trial? Or cause serious physical damage as punishment for trying to escape? It's easy for people who aren't in that situation to say that would never happen or it's unlikely, because it isn't their lives that are at stake.