by SARA MARSHALL//Editor-in-Chief
[Editor’s note: This story is the eighth part of the multi-series “Violated,” examining the horrors of sexual assault that began with Issue #1 and concludes in Issue #6. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs, and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.]
[Be advised: The names and places in this story have been changed or generalized to protect the identity of the sexual assault survivor. In order to protect anonymity, the survivor’s name has been changed to Jennifer. This is the second part in a two-part story.]
Lying on a cool, smooth surface, you begin to wake up. Your mind is groggy and your whole body hurts. Someone is talking quietly to you. You realize they’re trying to comfort you, but you don’t understand why.
Slowly, cautiously, you open your eyes.
As you take in your surroundings, you’re suddenly aware that you’re half-dressed and lying in a bathtub in a stranger’s bathroom. You see your friend beside you looking upset and concerned, but you don’t understand why.
Trying to remember the previous night, you draw up a giant black haze. In the midst of that black haze, a man pinning you down on a stranger’s bed flashes through. A realization sets in. You look down at yourself and realize something is wrong, but you don’t understand why.
It happened again.
Two years ago, Jennifer attended a Halloween-themed fraternity party where many people intended to party hard. However, that was not the night she had planned.
“I had no intention of drinking that night, because I had to drive back home,” Jennifer recalls. “I had a Sprite, and I set it down to play beer pong, not drinking the beer.”
Unfortunately, someone chose to use her unattended drink to his advantage. Jennifer was entirely unaware of the danger.
“I knew exactly who did it,” she said. “He was a guy I used to be friends with and used to regularly hang out with. But he was into me in a sexual way, and I shot him down. So it made him really mad at me.”
After playing a few rounds of beer pong, Jennifer grabbed the Sprite and finished it off. She quickly realized something was very wrong.
“I didn’t feel anything for like 30 minutes, and then all of a sudden it was just like this black wall went over me,” Jennifer explained. “I still have no recollection from that point to when I realized what was going on.”
Due to the recollections of a friend, Jennifer knows she had been taken up to a room at the fraternity house by a couple of fraternity members.
“I woke up to someone on top of me, and then I was out again seconds later,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer tried to piece together what she could of the assault, but there was no memory there, just the image of a man on top of her and an intense sense of fear.
“The next morning, I woke up in the bathroom with no recollection of the previous night,” Jennifer said. “A friend was there, trying to comfort me, because he knew something had happened. I was still really out of it, but I was scared.”
As Jennifer examined herself, she realized there were obvious signs of sexual assault.
Questions began flooding her mind as the realization set in. Why did this happen? Why can’t I remember? Did he use a condom? Could I have an STD? What will happen now?
“The guy who had been on top of me in the room had told everyone at the party that I had slept with him,” Jennifer said. “It was like the first time all over again.”
Since he was still at the fraternity house, Jennifer confronted the man who assaulted her.
“I kept asking him, ‘Why did you do that?’” Jennifer said. “I had been incoherent. I didn’t say ‘Yes.’ Then he showed me photos on my phone from the night before that I don’t even remember taking. I looked entirely out of it. My eyes looked distant. I could tell something was wrong with me.”
He still claimed he had done nothing wrong.
“He told me it seemed like I wanted it,” Jennifer painfully recalled. “He kept telling me that I was making noises and not stopping him. I told him, ‘I don’t remember that at all. You were probably moving me, and I was probably making noises because I’m being moved and I’m incoherent.’ And he then apologized, ‘Well, I’m sorry.’”
That was the last time Jennifer talked to or has seen that man.
As she collected herself, Jennifer was confronted by the man who orchestrated the whole ordeal.
“I was walking to my car to go home, and the guy who spiked my drink looked at me and laughed,” Jennifer said. “He asked me if I had a fun night. I just blankly looked at him and said, ‘I don’t remember, except for knowing that I was raped.’ He just shrugged his shoulders and walked off.”
Confused and angry, Jennifer made her way back to her parents’ house.
She went straight to her room, locking herself away to deal with the trauma of what had just happened.
“My mom came in and asked me what was going on,” Jennifer recalled. “I couldn’t tell her, because I wasn’t supposed to be at a party. I wasn’t supposed to be at a frat house. So I had told her I was at a friend’s house.”
Jennifer said that she feels that if she were to tell anyone, he or she would make it seem like it was her fault.
“That’s what they were making it seem,” she said. “The guys from the fraternity basically told me that I was asking for it. I felt so violated and so used. I didn’t understand how someone could do that, even if they’re drunk, even if he was high. It’s still not OK.”
But it seems that despite knowing it is wrong, this type of situation occurs regularly. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are assaulted while attending college.
“I don’t understand why this is happening to me,” Jennifer said. “It made me go back to when I was 13 years old, and I just felt broken and felt like I wasn’t good. I felt like I was a slut, used and impure. I was disgusted with myself. I didn’t choose to have sex with these people, and they just felt like they could have sex with me because I was young and drugged.”
Due to the emotional trauma of dealing with not only one, but two sexual assaults in such a short span of time, Jennifer turned to extreme means to rid herself of the pain.
“I used alcohol to get those thoughts out of my head, and that was really the only way I could do that at that point in my life, smoking weed and drinking,” Jennifer said. “It was the easiest way to forget, I guess.”
More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Jennifer said her biggest regret of both assaults is not telling anyone.
“Something could have been done,” Jennifer said. “Like I could have gone to the hospital. I could have pressed charges against both of them. But I can’t do that now, and I wish I would have.”
In a society which regularly points the finger at the victim, Jennifer said she felt that she had nowhere to turn.
“Two of the biggest things that have happened in my life, and I can’t tell anyone,” Jennifer said. “Because I feel like I can’t.”