A survivor speaks out

May 10, 2021

Sexual assault, however, exists in more than a hypothetical or administrative sense. One student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, shared their experience with the matter. This student offers insight into the reality of sexual assault and reaffirming the importance of listening, caring and believing. 

“She was disrespectful of some of my choices. She was disrespectful of my identity. And she just continued to disrespect me, and I think that was just a continued disrespect. She was in an open relationship, and that was cool, but I just wanted to know where we started.

So I asked her, I said, ‘what are your rules? Because I want to make sure I’m not overstepping any bounds within your relationship’ and she was like, ‘well, sex is weird’, and I was like, ‘that’s not a rule.’ You should know whether you’re allowed to sleep with other people or not. I mean in an open relationship, you wouldn’t think that would be a thing you would know and she was like ‘Sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s not.’ 

I asked her, ‘Do you know when it’s okay and when it’s not? Can you help me understand these rules, just because I want to make sure that we’re on the same page. I don’t want to do anything that encourages you to cheat on your girlfriend, and if us making out is cool, then I’m cool, whatever,’ and she just refused to tell me. She kind of kept me in the dark about what our interpersonal relationship was. 

It was just a lot. She kept calling me a lesbian, and I was like ‘I don’t identify as a woman, so I don’t identify as lesbian,’ and it was just every category that I identified as in front of her, she was like, ‘that’s so cool that you identify as (thing I don’t actually identify as),’ so it was just this constant dismissal of my self perspective and my ideas and my opinions. 

I had gone over to her house that night. She said that she had a mutual friend, and a third person was going back to her house to play video games. And so I agreed to go, because I knew that this mutual friend was going to be there. And I got to the car and I found out that the mutual friend was not in the car. Turns out I knew the third person, so I was okay with it, I got in the car we went to play video games.

She kept trying to kiss me. Even though she had said before, when I had gotten in her car and when we were like texting, she said, just to hang out, just as friends. And she kept trying to kiss me. She kept putting her hand on my leg. And I just, I kept trying to tell her that I wasn’t interested in having a relationship with her if she wasn’t going to be forthcoming with me about the status of our relationship.

And she kept trying to convince me ‘oh, it’s okay. Oh, just kiss me like, oh, it’s not a big deal.’ And she eventually grabbed at my crotch. And when I told her to grab my jacket from across the room she was like, ‘what, what’s the big deal?’ and I was like, ‘I just want my jacket.’ I just wanted another layer of clothing. I wanted, I guess, another layer of protection. Just another layer of armor, so I didn’t feel so vulnerable in that moment, because, you know, even though I was fully clothed I felt very exposed and I just wanted something else. And so eventually I told her to take me home.

She drove me home and she asked to walk me to my door, and I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that. And she leaned over to kiss me and I leaned away from her. And I took her hand off of my waist, and she said something about, ‘I hate that you’re so self conscious, you’re such a beautiful girl you have such a great body.’ Just continually misgendering me, just objectifying me, just all this stuff. And she kept saying let me take you up to your room. Let me. And so I couldn’t figure out how to get away from the conversation. So, I kissed her. And then I opened the door and ran back to my apartment.

Fortunately, some friends were there, a big group of friends, and I said if anyone knocks on the door, one of the men in the room to go to the door and pretend it’s your apartment, and say I don’t live here so I’m not here. Don’t let her know where to find me.

So she called me a bunch of times that night, and I answered her texts to tell her to stop calling me, she left multiple voice messages, multiple texts. I ended up blocking her and she graduated about a month later, and that was really fortunate for me to not have to see her again or have to deal with that.

And if that wasn’t the case I probably would have gone to someone in the Baker administration, but, as it was, it was easier to just live that last month and stay away from her. Because, until a couple months earlier, I’d never met her, never seen her on campus. It was easy enough for me to avoid her because she didn’t know where to find me on campus anyway. She knew I lived in the apartments but that was all she knew. 

I’m not gonna say it’s okay, but you know it’s a thing that happened and now it’s over and I feel like I’ve learned stuff from it. You know, there were definitely red flags that I could have paid more attention to, and I wish I would have asserted my boundaries.

It’s hard to categorize things, to, you know, put things on a scale of, like, oh, this was less sexual assault than something else. People try to do that, that’s just not fair. So yeah, it was sexual assault, but I think the biggest issue was that to her the relationship with sexual, and to me it was not.

And so there was just this constant denial of my opinions, and my identity, and that was the biggest thing. I got back to my apartment, and I was crying. I knew one of the people who was there when I got back, and so I really wanted to talk to that person specifically and be like, ‘hey, I need you to empathize with me because I’m feeling really dysphoric right now.’ And that was honestly the biggest thing about it, how dysphoric I was. And it was really unfortunate.

I told the story to someone later, and I mentioned how dysphoric the whole interaction had made me feel, and this person responded with, ‘well, you weren’t dysphoric, you were sexually assaulted.’ And that was also really frustrating, that dismissal of my experience, and them trying to recategorize it. 

If someone decides to disclose their experience to you, don’t tell them they did something wrong. And don’t tell them what they should do. I’ve heard so many people say, not about me, but about other people, ‘oh, they should have gone to the police.’ And there isn’t really a universal right way to handle it. And don’t just diminish other people’s experiences.

I guess really it just boils down to let other people qualify their own experiences. Don’t try to tell them that they should be making more or less of a big deal out of it. And don’t tell them how they should respond, because unless you were there in that room, in that body, you don’t know. You don’t know a person’s whole background, and you don’t know how they’re gonna respond to trauma.

And so, even if you’ve had a similar experience, you haven’t had the same experience. I find that it’s not people with similar experiences who try to compare and try to quantify, it’s people who want to make someone else’s experience fit their understanding. And it’s usually an understanding that they have from media.”

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, there are a variety of resources available on Baker University’s campus for support.

Reporting resources for survivors include:

o Title IX Reports at Baker University: Dean Bailey (Title IX Coordinator) [email protected] 

o Baldwin City Police Department

Confidential resources for survivors include:

o The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center

o Counseling Center

o Reverend Kevin Hopkins

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