Trigger Warning: This article includes testimony of sexual assault, violence and trauma.
In light of the Justice for Lena & Survivors of Sexual Assault Everywhere campaign, fronted by the brave Lena Sclove, Bluestockings Magazine will run an inaugural Brown Sexual Assault Series. We will be publishing various forms of testimonies about sexual violence, trauma and rape culture at Brown University. The series is an ongoing project to amplify the voices of survivors on-campus, provide them with a platform to recount their experiences, and to end the silence that stymies action and change.
If you would like to add your voice to the dialogue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We guarantee anonymity.
I examined myself in the bathroom mirror for a good fifteen minutes, afterwards. I looked fine. My breasts had bled through my shirt, so I stuffed my bra with paper towels. I had always wondered what I would look like with a fuller bra. It looked fine, I guess. My eyes were swollen, and I had mascara all over my cheeks. I tried wiping it off, but I couldn’t make the tears stop, so I kind of gave up. I knew I had to go to class in a few minutes—my assault happened during lunchtime—but I didn’t look presentable. I didn’t want to go to class if I didn’t look presentable. I sat on the toilet with my feet on the seat and waited there for six hours. I hoped I wouldn’t get a detention.
Minutes before, when he released me from his arms, he promised that he would come find me again later. I was terrified of him, of his well-manicured hands stroking my back, of his weight crushing me; of the way he pressed himself on me. I curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor and daydreamed of the various ways I could kill myself if he came back for me. I wondered if I could suffocate myself if I looped the chain of my locket the right way. And I waited, without knowing which I was waiting for: my teacher to come assault me again or for the school day to end.
I hesitate to tell this story at Brown. I am not afraid to mention that one of my high school teachers assaulted me, but I am afraid of people’s reactions. Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel like you can never make eye contact with me again. And please don’t ask me who put what where.
The reality is that this is my life. I was sexually assaulted, just like I ran for the Varsity track team and grilled burgers with my dad and made out with my boyfriend in the backseat of his truck. That was high school for me.
And I am not alone. 167 Brown students live this same trauma every year.
In order to prevent experiences like mine from happening again, we cannot accept perpetrators of sexual assault on our campus. I refuse to graduate alongside a rapist. And I surely do not want anybody else to go through what I went through when I was sixteen.
It is imperative that the Brown University administration stand up for the safety of its students and implement stricter punishments for those who commit acts of sexual violence on our campus.
On Wednesday, Daphne Xu tweeted, “I wanna know how many rapists are on campus now. Who’s coming back in the fall, next spring, the following fall, and the following spring?” For our students’ safety, let’s bring that number down to zero.
By H. R., Contributor
Featured Image Courtesy of Chanelle Adams, Co-Managing Blog Editor