TRIGGER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS AN ACCOUNT OF RAPE.
I’ve been hiding something. That thing is a scary truth that I’m afraid to even tell my friends. It’s a thing that, to the extent of my knowledge, most of us don’t think happens at Olin.
That thing is that I was raped. At Olin. By a fellow Oliner.
You don’t think it happens, right? You think Olin is a safe place. Sexual assault doesn’t happen here, because we’re all friends, all one big community. You know that one of us would never rape another one of us.
I know you’re wrong. I had that belief shattered completely in a single night. Rape for me was not in a dark alleyway or on the side of a road, by a person I’d never met and would never see again. I was raped by someone I would see again every week for the next two years, in a place that I thought was safe.
It was a fairly innocuous situation. There was a party. I’d had a bit too much to drink, as I often did that semester. My memories are a bit vague. I don’t remember the beginning of the party at all.
What I do remember is dancing with someone while leaning against a wall. I was leaning against the wall because I was too drunk to stand. That someone’s hand was down my pants.
I remember stumbling down to his room, leaning on him because I was too drunk to walk. I remember what else that happened that night, things that I wish I could forget.
After it happened, I blamed myself. I told myself, and a professional at Colony Care [Olin’s mental health counseling service], that the ‘reactions’ I was having to seeing him were because I wanted attention. I didn’t tell the psychologist that I had been raped; I only mentioned the things I did afterwards. I was too embarrassed. No one gets raped at Olin, I thought. I only used the word ‘rape’ in my own thoughts.
When I silently cried myself to sleep multiple times a week, I made up other excuses. I wanted attention; I wanted someone to show that they cared about me. I thought that I hid in a bathroom when I saw him because I wanted other people to notice that something was wrong.
No. I realize now: I cried myself to sleep because I was raped. I hid in bathrooms because I was blaming myself for something that was not my fault.
It’s taken me a long time to see what actually happened that night. I never reported him because he was just as drunk as I was.
But I had no sexual experience. I had never been naked in front of another person before. I had never had sex. I had never even seen a penis in real life. And I was raped.
How was he to know that I was sexually innocent? He couldn’t have known. But the whole thing shouldn’t have happened.
What I hope, with writing this article, is that this won’t happen to anyone else in our community, especially freshmen. But I’m not going to use victim-blaming scare tactics; I’m not going to tell people not to drink too much because they might get raped.
I want to tell everyone to not rape people, even by accident. If the person you’re hitting on is drunk, make sure they’re actually okay with what’s happening. If you notice that someone is too drunk to stand, don’t ‘help’ them back to your own room.
And if you see your friends in a drunken and suggestive conversation with someone, ask them if they’re okay. If they’re really drunk, help them get home safely. Please don’t leave them alone. One of my friends thought I was okay that night because I talked as if I were experienced; I wish they had just dragged me away.
There aren’t many things I regret, but that night is one of them. I don’t know who I would be if it hadn’t happened, and I sometimes wonder how it changed me. Maybe it made me stronger as a person, because I had to work through it with no help. Maybe I’m weaker because I’m scared to be close to people. Regardless, if I could go back and change that night, I would in a heartbeat. Rape is not something that should happen anywhere, but in a tight, safe community such as Olin, there is no excuse.
If you or someone you know needs help, call this 24-hour Boston area rape crisis hotline (800) 841 – 8371 or visit www.barcc.org/help/