It has been over a year since my life (and perception of everything and everyone around me) had changed forever. I made the mistake of quickly jumping into a relationship, out of excitement, without knowing the other well enough, after which a string of events turned my little world upside down.
I fell into an abusive relationship and was violated for the first time.
Because I was afraid and still blaming myself, a dear friend reported this to administration out of concern. An investigation ensued once I had taken a leave of absence and thought I would be safe from retaliation. The external investigator (not employed by the college) concluded that he had violated 6 clauses under the college definition of Dating Violence. But the college does not allow the investigator to make a final verdict, like in other schools. (Probably because the college does not want to risk more bad publicity). Instead, the report is put together and distributed to three random staff members who chose to volunteer their time to Community Standards. In my case, it was two men in Recreational Sports and a woman from Engagement and Stewardship. After months of emotional torture, interrogation, and humiliation of everyone knowing my limited sex life, gossip and false rumors, and betrayals, a verdict was finally reached way past the promised deadline. He had a lawyer, I did not. As you can guess, the rich male won. Administration decided that such events never happened. He did not have to take any sex ed workshops, he did not even get a slap on the wrist.
Because of a lack of sexual education and abusive relationship dynamics, people seem to only recognize a relationship as abusive if one is beaten by the other.
In reality, dating violence does not have to be physically violent. It ranges from verbal, emotional, sexual abuse, intimidation, and rape. I was told to “shut up”, and then yelled at when I was silent. November 15th, I was sober, and he was tipsy and wanted intercourse without protection, to which I said, “No, stop…What are you doing? You don’t have a condom…I don’t want to…”. Despite this, he violated me. Not only did I make it clear that I did not consent, but he also put me at risk for pregnancy and STI(s). I tried to discuss this with him immediately afterward, when I could not look at him, but he brushed it off and rolled his eyes when I asked him to get me the morning after pill. He made condescending comments about my body and skin, and he laughed at my naked body. His verbal abuse made me feel worthless and hideous, and like no one else would ever want me. I lost all confidence in myself, and by the end of the relationship, I was already hanging by a string of identity. I lost myself, and [various levels of] anxiety attacks became frequent. He made up lies of being in a gang, having stabbed someone. Though I was scared, I accepted him as I do with everyone. He cheated, lied, turned my friends against me, and used me repeatedly. I could not stand on my own two feet when things ended because I was reduced to nothing when my free will was taken from me. And I thought I was too ugly to ever be loved. I suffered greatly throughout the relationship, and still do everyday.
I lost my home that I loved so dearly that was that college. The institution failed me when I begged and cried for justice and sanctuary. I have since transferred because I cannot be on a campus where my rapist walks free, no matter how much I love my BMSA family, my major, and the life I had built for myself for 2 ½ years. As we come closer to leaving college and entering the adult world, we need to recognize that rape and abusive relationships happen across all socioeconomic levels, and not just among strangers, but also among people who already trust each other enough to be in an empty, closed room together. My story is but a grain of a sand in the bigger picture where 1 in 4 women and 1 in 71 men experience assault (or attempted assault) on a college campus. Most of these victims do not come forward because they blame themselves, are ashamed, or are aware of the reputation of colleges mishandling such cases.
I—and others like me—ask that you treat others with kindness and respect and do not judge, for you never know what they may have experienced.
Read: The Truth