Content 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. Please note that these testimonies may be triggering.
If you would like to add your voice to the dialogue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We guarantee anonymity.
I Consider Myself Lucky
I too am a survivor, but, despite my loud activism and verbose statements, I am rather quiet about my survivor status or the fact that I too struggled through a sexual assault.
It was my first time. I was drunk. He was not. I said no, many times, and I cried. Still happened anyway. I found out later that he was a RUE student. He was 28, and I was 18.
However, that seems like a far away past – at least for me.
I consider myself lucky.
I was lucky to have been able to get the support I needed instantly. Although I was at Dartmouth when this happened (at a leadership conference with other Brown University students), the Dartmouth police were actually quite supportive of me and advised me to get a rape kit as soon as I felt ready, which I did. He did not use protection and had traveled all over the world, so thirteen pills and six shots later, I finally felt that, even if not mentally, I was at least physically okay.
I was lucky to have a wonderful, loving mother and the support and care of my friends. Without them, I don’t know how I would have come home to Brown and gone to class the next day, seeming, at least externally, to be in one piece.
I was lucky that I was able to carry on with my life. Read that again – lucky. Not smarter, not stronger, and not more able than any other survivor. Simply lucky. Lena’s story, and other stories on this blog, echo an all too true reality for many individuals who are survivors of sexual assault – there is trauma, there is pain, there is the nightmare that seems like it will never end.
Despite my “luck,” I did not report my perpetrator to Brown or to the criminal justice system. I saw him on campus and internally grimaced, simultaneously thanking every lucky star I had that the reaction was not more triggered than that.
So, if I seem so cavalier about my assault – why did I not report it? The answer is fairly simple: I was afraid my luck would run out. Day after day, night after night of recounting that story to the school, to friends to get them to write statements for me, to the police, would my luck have been able to withstand this? Or, rather, would it wear out, and I too would sink into some quagmire of all the emotions that deep down I know are probably there? And, what if, after all my luck ran out, I was faced with a situation that all too many survivors must face – a tough, grueling fight, with a punishment for the perpetrator that nowhere near matches the crime committed?
I couldn’t do it. I would rather remain lucky, remain restless, remain angry. I would rather turn to activism, speaking out for those who aren’t so lucky and cannot.
My rapist is now halfway across the ocean, attending school abroad, with a girlfriend. Lately he has been wracking up the rewards, and I can only sit here and watch – angry, but lucky, that I too can continue on with my studies successfully myself.
But my question for you all is this – why should this be a reality? Why should I be afraid to report my perpetrator out of fear that I too will end up in an even worse position than the one in which I started?
I understand why we should take the humanity of the assailant into account in this process. To this day, I still do not hate my rapist – I feel sorry for him. I truly do.
However – why should the survivors be the ones to suffer even more, while perpetrators are allowed to get out either unscathed or with a slap on the wrist – a suspension, but the ability to still receive a Brown diploma just like the rest of us?
I ask you all – have survivors not suffered enough?
I am lucky that I am able to speak out about my experience and feel safe and supported, but I am angry that this is not a reality for all too many survivors on the Brown campus and worldwide.
You should be too.
By E, Contributor