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.
When I read about Lena’s case, I wish I could say I was outraged by the callous response of the university. I wish I was surprised by the leniency shown by administrators to Lena’s rapist, and the lack of comprehension of how much terror Lena had to deal with on a daily basis with her rapist facing little interruption to his life.
I wish I could.
Instead, I was struck by how little has changed since my time at Brown. I know far too well some of what Lena is feeling. The unending sense of fear and anxiety. Never feeling safe. Unable to enjoy college life. Feeling trapped and without an outlet. Feeling that no one believed me. While I was initially jealous that Lena’s rapist faced some sort of punitive outcome, the fact that she is made to graduate with her rapist makes it crystal clear how much Brown’s sexual assault policy needs to change.
When I was raped, my rapist was an athlete. I said no multiple times (which he admitted he heard) and was not intoxicated. Various administrators told that he would get no special treatment, that they could provide a solution to “make it better” in a quick manner. Instead, I had to wait 2 months for a hearing to occur, all the while I shared a dorm and classes with this person who terrified me. PTSD clouded my brain to the point that I forgot details of what happened, and could not bring myself to talk about it.
When the hearing finally occurred, my rapist was only found responsible for being drunk, not for raping me. His punishment was to write an apology for negatively affecting me with his actions. I was shattered. His “apology” did nothing to ease the sheer terror I felt whenever I saw him. I told the administrators that he would do it again, to someone else. The same officials said that if there was a next time, they would act swiftly.
I found out via others that the university had to intervene that summer when he violated student protocol regarding high school students a few months after the hearing. Later, I found out he and assaulted another student. More and more students came to me about friends of theirs who had been victimized by him, but were afraid to come forward. Why would they, when I had clearly been wronged and nothing had happened? My rapist graduated from Brown, probably with his victims. His name is attached to records in the OMAC.
Thinking of the shame, fear, anxiety and hopelessness that I felt during my undergraduate career at Brown due to my rape, I am overcome with sadness that Lena has to endure something similarly tragic. Brown’s administrators defend their actions as being in line with peer administrations. Since when has a university that defines itself as being superior to others, by being one of the best in the country, been satisfied with merely “meeting standards?”
The administrators of Brown University need to stop deluding themselves that their current process gives justice to the victims of sexual violence on its campus. The process I went through at Brown victimized me as much as my rapist did. I worried when I was raped about how others going through Brown’s process would feel as terrible as I did. I’m upset beyond words that Lena seems to have faced the same problems that I did. I hope that Lena’s story, and mine, will make it so that it doesn’t happen again.
By Anonymous Contributor, Class of 2012