‘A part of me died that day’
Student reveals personal struggle dealing with being raped at Tarleton
Editor’s Note: The following first-person account of a sexual assault was written by a 21-year-old Tarleton senior. Texan News Service editors have gone over the account in detail with the writer and agreed to withhold her identity. The article is being published as a caution to other students on campus.
By Anonymous –
In a cold, dark and dreary place – the thoughts, the words, the memories – I seemed to be trapped in the gates of my own mind. “You shouldn’t have gone over there. It was your fault. You wouldn’t have come over if you didn’t want it.” Those words stung like the bad smell of death in an enclosed room. What had just happened to me?
Where it all began
It all started the first week of college fall 2010. Coming to a new school with new people meant a fresh start. I was ecstatic to be doing “something new.” No more high school, no more rules and no parents. I was free to do whatever I wanted – the typical attitude of a college freshman. To meet new students, I began messaging and adding other incoming freshmen to Tarleton on Facebook.
While attending my first class, there was a particular someone who caught my eye on the way to the science building. I recognized him from Facebook. He was tall, dark and handsome, with a cute smile and sparkling eyes. When he walked past me, I decided to look back. He had the same idea and looked back at me too. I continued walking to class with a huge grin on my face.
Later that night, a friend from my high school and I decided to go to the annual block party with aspirations of meeting potential new friends. When I arrived, I decided to sit back and observe. I looked to the left, to the right, and there he was. I tried looking at the other people at the party so it wouldn’t be too obvious that I was only staring at one. Well that didn’t work. I had gotten caught peeking and that triggered him to come my way. My heart started to beat fast, my palms became sweaty, and my eyes looked every which way except at him. I thought to myself, “What am I going to say? Oh gosh, he is so cute! Aw man, why is he coming over here? C’mon get it together. Here he comes.”
“Hey,” he said as he slowly invaded my personal space. “Hey,” I said back. I struggled with my words. Tragic.
And that’s how it started. I felt amazing that night. The cutest guy I’ve seen had chosen to talk to me. Once I found my words, our conversation started. I found out more about him. Small town guy, signed with a Tarleton athletic team, and he thought I was cute. That’s all I seemed to remember.
Time went on. We talked more and more, and I felt myself becoming more and more comfortable with him.
I had the desire to hang out with this guy, but I remembered my parents’ advice, “You can’t trust anybody. Be careful.”
Wise words of my mother pierced my heart. I see now, that it was intuition. Despite those lingering words, I texted him and asked if he wanted to hang out. “He can’t be so bad, he seems nice. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt,” I thought.
‘I’m not that type of girl’
Later that night, he came to my room in Centennial Hall when my roommate wasn’t there. I had the evening planned out; he’d come, give me a hug, the smell of his cologne would grace my senses, and he’d walk in. We’d sit and talk for a while, maybe watch a movie, then he would leave. This is how the night actually went. He walked in, gave me a hug. I melted at the scent of his cologne, and he sat on my bed. I sat in my desk chair, and we started talking. We talked for a while, and he asked why I was sitting so far away from him and hinted for me to sit next to him on my bed. So of course, I did. He slowly put his arm around me as the conversation continued. Then he leaned in to kiss me. As we kissed his hand was no longer on my arm. It was traveling down my waist. I pulled away and stopped him. “I’m not that type of girl,” I said. He nodded as if he understood. He kissed me again and that’s how it ended. I felt pretty good about it. “This could turn into something,” I thought.
A few days went by and we kept talking as usual. He wanted to come over again. So he did. This time things went a little different than before. He sat on my bed. We talked as we had before, and he began to kiss me. He started to rub his hand up my thighs. I stopped him again. He kissed me again hoping that I would just go with the flow. He then began to loosen his belt, and I pushed him off of me and reiterated that I was not that type of girl. I should have taken this as a sign, but I ignored the advice in my head.
The next day, there was a volleyball game. As I was getting ready, he texted me and asked if we could hang out before the game at his place. I became delighted and quickly texted him back, “Yes,” with a smiley face. I rushed the hour-long process it normally takes me to get ready. I checked my hair in the mirror right before I sprayed my sweet pea body spray.
As I walked toward Traditions Hall where he stayed, I forced myself to seem extremely calm, but I was anxious. I arrived at the door and texted him to let me in. He opened the door, gave me a hug and led me to his dorm room. It was much different than mine; it was smaller, and clothes were everywhere. Such a boy. I sat on his bed and asked how his day was. He said, “It’s about to get better.” I smiled, but the threatening tone in his voice alarmed me that something wasn’t right. He turned on his TV, then walked over to the nightstand and opened the drawer. He pulled out a condom, looked at me and smiled. I got a nervous feeling, laughed uneasily and asked him, “What is that for?”
He walked over to me, looked directly into my eyes and started to kiss me. He still didn’t answer my question. Suddenly I heard him tearing open the wrapper. I pushed him away and asked, “What are you doing?” He just chuckled and dropped his pants as he leaned in to kiss me again. I pushed him away again, this time a little harder. “We don’t need that,” I said, finding myself becoming frazzled. He gave me an odd look as if he wondered why I said that and chuckled. Before I knew it, he was on top of me. I tried to push him off of me, but he was too strong. I yelled at him to get off of me. This isn’t going to happen. He continued to wrestle with me until he overpowered me and held my arms down. The next thing I knew, my pants were off and that’s when he entered my body.
“I know this isn’t happening. I told him I didn’t want to. Why is he doing this?” I thought. I felt completely powerless. Hours seemed to pass by in my mind as a tear rolled down my cheek. I glanced at the clock and only two minutes had passed. “I can’t wait until this is over. I’m ready to leave.” Suddenly, he got off of me and went into the bathroom. There I lay frozen on the bed, the bottom half of me unclothed. This was my chance to get away. “Get up! Get up!” Unfortunately I couldn’t get my body to do what my brain was telling me. He came back in the room, looked at me and smiled. He abruptly looked different. No more were those brown eyes welcoming, his smile glistening or his scent intoxicating. His eyes had a red tint, his smile was crooked, and I felt nauseated. I quickly put on my clothes, told him I was late to a volleyball game and rushed out of his room. His dorm was right next to the gym, but I headed toward my dorm room. Tears rushed down my face, my heart was pounding, and I felt dirty. Once I arrived, I immediately got in the shower and tried to scrub away all the shame, hurt, deceit and the fact that I was just violated.
What had just happened to me?
A part of me died that day. How could someone so nice and sweet completely devour my trust and hurt me that way? I got out of the shower and began getting ready to go to the volleyball game with my friends. I didn’t say much for the rest of the day.
Later that night, a girl friend came to my room and asked what was wrong with me. I said nothing, hoping that she would leave the issue alone. She kept pushing by pointing out that my hair was out of place, and she noticed that I wasn’t my normal, happy-go-lucky self. I told her I was tired and laid down on my bed. She left to go to her dorm, and I buried my face in my pillow and began to bawl. Why did this happen to me? Sleep seemed to elude me and the attack kept replaying over and over in my head. I wanted so desperately to go to sleep and end this horrific day.
The next day, I had my class in the science building. I dreaded walking there, because I knew I would see him. The routine three-minute walk turned into a 10-minute walk as I took my time taking each step on the sidewalk. And then there he was, walking toward me with that crooked smile of that made me feel uncomfortable. Instead of smiling, I stared at the ground and continued walking to my class.
A few minutes later as I was sitting in class, my phone vibrated alerting me of a text message. I knew who it was from and decided to ignore it. After lunch, I looked at my phone and read the message. “Why didn’t you say hello to me? You walked right past me.” I debated what to text back and decided to wait until I got back to my dorm room after class.
The time had come. I sat there on my bed staring at my phone. I texted back, “You know why. I told you I didn’t want to have sex with you, but it happened anyways. You raped me.” By then, my palms were sweaty and my face was flustered. Tears escaped my eyes as I pressed send. A few minutes later I received another text.
“Liar! I didn’t do anything to you girl! If you didn’t want it, you wouldn’t have come over. You were just playing hard to get, and I gave you what you wanted. I didn’t rape you. Don’t say that sh–!”
I felt a lump in my throat and suddenly couldn’t breathe. He was denying everything. I didn’t text back.
Weeks and weeks passed by while I was living in an unconscious state in my mind. Happiness was nowhere to be found, and neither was I. I began skipping classes. What was the point in sitting in a class to not pay attention? Other things clouded my mind and prohibited my ability to focus. I couldn’t tell my parents. I knew I should have listened to their wise words. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I made the decision to keep quiet. My friends had been paying attention to me for the past few weeks. They had asked again what was wrong, and I again told them nothing. The urge to tell someone became stronger and stronger. I finally gave in and decided to tell them what was wrong with me.
I sat down with them in my room and began telling them the story. Detail by detail, tear by tear, they were the first people I told. I felt a little bit of relief, finally releasing what felt like a ticking time bomb ready to burst within my body. To my surprise, only one out of my three closest friends told me that it wasn’t my fault. The other two made excuses for the guy. One asked me what I expected going over there. She said I shouldn’t have gone over there if I didn’t want that to happen. The other was friends with the guy and shunned me for accusing him. She didn’t believe it happened or that the guy was even capable of doing such a terrible thing.
My heart was crushed. The few people I trusted with this deep, dark secret seemed to take his side. Maybe it really was my fault. Maybe that’s what I deserved for going over there. These self-doubting thoughts crowded the insides of my brain, but that was the least of my worries.
The rumors began to circulate around the school and found way to my ears. Not only did I apparently have consensual sex with this guy, I had also been passed around to his friends, which consisted of an entire athletics team. No one even attempted to find out if what was being said was true. There went my fresh start.
I was known as a whore.
One thing I regret today is not telling anyone with the ability to help me with this horrific and traumatic experience. I had graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.I was also accepted into the Tarleton honors program. My GPA by the end of my first semester in college was a 1.76, and I was given an academic warning.
My experience affected me dearly. I lost friends. I was ostracized. My grades had plummeted, and my self-esteem had been deeply damaged. I had not told my parents; they could see signs that I wasn’t myself. They encouraged me to go to counseling, which I resented. I let what everyone was saying in to my head, and for a while I believed it was my fault, and it wasn’t rape.
When I eventually sought out counseling, I realized what happened was indeed rape, and it was not my fault. I didn’t want to have sex, told my offender repeatedly “no” and pushed him away. Since it did happen against my will, my counselor assured me it was rape. I still made the regrettable decision to keep quiet and not tell anyone. I was afraid no one would believe me. I believed that if he was arrested and prosecuted, I would have to tell a full courtroom the embarrassing story, and having all those people, as well as my parents, look at me and pass judgment as to whether I was telling the truth. I wanted to do neither of these, so I did nothing. I remained silent. Nothing became of my silence. The guy transferred schools the following semester, and I have yet to see him again. I have the lingering thought that since he got away with what he did to me he would probably try to hurt someone else.
I was the one to give him that freedom. I wish I had said something.