Campus Life saam says

Consequences

“SAAM Says” is a collection of narratives by sexual assault survivors and victim advocates being published during MIT Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is the third of four pieces in the series.

“Don’t worry. Rape happens, but it doesn’t happen here.”

When I heard a brother at my ex-boyfriend’s fraternity say this in earnest, I wept bitterly. Part of me wants to maintain the safe, confident ignorance surrounding his statement. The other part wants to shout the truth: rape happens here.

My ex was finishing his senior year at MIT, I was finishing mine at Wellesley, and we were attempting to kindle a post-breakup friendship at a fraternity party. Some nights to this day, I lie awake and play the tortuous what-if game: what if I hadn’t attended that party? What if we hadn’t shared Jell-O shots and danced together? What if I’d listened to the brothers who pulled me aside and warned me: “Maybe you should keep your distance,” “I don’t want you to get hurt again,” “Did he just pull you onto his lap?”

What if, when he drunkenly asked for help getting to his room, I’d sent someone else?

What if I’d fought harder and screamed louder?

He woke up with limited memory of the incident, and I only managed to call him “sexually aggressive” in a later conversation before he cut me off, worried about how this would compromise his respectable image. I didn’t use the word ‘rape’ — I couldn’t — and instead left it at that.

I managed to graduate in spite of what happened. In the time that followed, I was nearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of friends who held me, cried with me, and stayed up all night comforting me. Their wholehearted support ignited a seething, roiling anger inside of me towards my ex — my attacker. So many people were shouldering the consequences of what happened, except for the person who needed to the most.

After months of no contact, months of bitterness mounting inside of me, I impulsively texted him, “Are you free to have a conversation soon?” I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to look me in the eye and confront what he did face-to-face. I wanted, even for just the span of a 20-minute conversation, for him to be held accountable for raping me.

And I wanted to do what I could to make sure he’d never do it again.

We met up on campus, and I gave him a detailed account of exactly what he did that night. It’s almost pointless to describe his response because sometimes all I can think about is what he didn’t say: While waxing poetic about how he couldn’t change the past, saying things like “this has been hard for me too,” he didn’t once apologize. He was clearly more worried about being saddled with the “rapist” label than how I was doing. Sometimes, it’s the “sorry” left unsaid that hurts the most.

At the end of the conversation, I told him that I was going to be okay. Not because what he didn’t wasn’t terrible, but because I was stronger than anything he could possibly do to me. I had an amazing support network of people who were going to help me reclaim my peace of mind — the peace of mind that he’d taken away. I concluded by telling him to never contact me again.

As part of a slow and steady healing process, I’m trying to stop mentally reducing myself to the “rape victim” moniker. Some days it’s harder than most, especially in the rare instances when even that very moniker is called into question. There are people who doubt my story, and there will be people who will doubt it in the future. But I am holding onto this narrative as tightly as I possibly can because on tougher nights when I’ve lost faith in my ability to heal, my story is all I have.

I am also learning that it is OK to not be OK — because, quite truthfully, I am not there yet. I don’t want to apologize for my emotions, and I’m building myself back up to be something more than the scars I’ve acquired. I know it’s going to take time, patience, and a great deal of self-care.

But until that time comes, I just have to take it one day at a time.

Note: This account has been kept anonymous to protect the identity of the author.

3 Comments
1
Freedom almost 3 years ago

The Tech treats the serious crime of sexual assault like Gawker gossips about the latest drama involving celebrities.

Actually, that's probably putting it too generously. I think most people would be better served by the higher quality, more solidly substantiated information in the tabloid press.

As defense attorneys know, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, particularly on hot button issues. Consider that a nine year study found 41 percent of rape accusations reported to the police were false.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8135653

And the particular case here wasn't even in the category of cases that are reported to the police. Instead, it was reported to a bunch of amateurs at a campus newspaper who tend to get just about all the news wrong.

The fact that the person is "holding onto [the] narrative as tightly as I possibly can" implies some kind of religious belief in feminism, an ideology history tells us is rooted in Midwestern whorehouses in the early 20th century.

2
Supporter almost 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story. I can't imagine how difficult it has been for you to deal with this every day, continuing to move forward with your heavy scars. But you keep fighting. You're a survivor.

There will always be people who will attempt to call you a liar and deny that these things can happen, especially if the rapist is someone they know. But they also aren't the people who see you breaking down, struggling to keep moving forward. They can't conceive the effect this has on a person because they are lucky enough to never have had one of the best people they know broken down because of the action of another person. And as much as I want them to realize just how real this is, it's something I hope they never have to experience first hand, or through someone they truly care about. No one should ever have to experience this. But since it happens more than we care to admit, we need to support people as best we can, and be more sensitive to those around us instead of denying the ugly truth.

Thank you again. Stay strong.

3
Freedom almost 3 years ago

Below is an analysis of SAAM from a political science perspective.

As one might learn in a high school political science class, the two planks of leftist politics are:

(a) economic leftism: Instead of finding ways to be economically productive, use politics to give yourself money. (Parasitism.)

(b) social leftism: Instead of becoming a better person by behaving morally and helping yourself and the people around you, use politics to declare yourself a good person. (Legitimizing decadent behavior.)

I see two potential narratives for SAAM. Let us suspend judgement and rationally consider both options.

(1) The first narrative is that of a generally chaste, moral lady, who against her will is taken. Throughout history, this has been an outrage: men have slaughtered each other over this crime.

(2) The second narrative is that of moral decadence. Women drink, engage in promiscuous behaviors, and let themselves be taken by men (generally with consent). And men pursue physical pleasure, not understanding the full moral implications for the woman. Women occasionally regret what has happened, and call it rape.

A free person must ask himself is: which narrative is true?

My impression is that SAAM activists are trying to push the first narrative. However, my impression is the second narrative is closer to reality and better matches available data.

If I am correct, SAAM is a socially leftist movement, since it excuses morally decadent behavior. If I am correct, then, effectively instead of telling sluts that their behavior is generally not consistent with a high moral standard, SAAM agitates that we tell them, without evidence, that they are survivors who need support. This does not help women, because it excuses immoral behavior, making it more challenging for naive women to act morally and maintain their dignity.

As free individuals, we can take the time to consider whether promiscuity is a moral behavior that we should engage in. If not, we can choose to channel our energies in more productive behavior. And if we do choose to engage in promiscuous, occasionally irresponsible behavior (something that is heavily discouraged in many traditional cultures, but accepted in many liberal cultures), we should understand that it can come with risks.