(Trigger warnings: graphic depictions of sexual assault)
she begins to write
she pauses in fear and anxiety
she lets the memories wash over
she accepts and embraces the pain they carry
she takes a deep breath
she reminds herself of why she opens up and tells her stories in the first place
she reminds herself that no matter what they did she is beautiful still
she reminds herself that regardless, her soul remained pure and untouched, eternal,
she knows her words are powerful,
and that with great power comes great responsibility.
she thinks about the people in her life that have suffered, alone, through the same thing
she thinks about their struggle, and the deafening silence they are forced to endure
she thinks about centuries of women (and men) wearing wounds near where their wombs are
lit up from within, compelled
by something even more powerful than her own fear,
she begins to write
In April 2011, as a nineteen year old college freshman at Wesleyan University, I experienced sexual assault, and nothing was ever done about it. A year or two later, as some of you might remember, a massive social justice panel happened at Wes due to gathering reports of incidents of racist behavior and administrative fuckery in general. I stood up and told a story about how Wesleyan denied my basic human rights by completely failing me in every single way after my assaults. I never saw justice, only cold shoulders from the administration. But all the sexual assault drama that has been happening at Wesleyan ever since, (especially recently) has had me looking back on my own experiences and wanting to speak out about this important topic. This blog post will reflect on the effect not only rape but rape culture and systemic institutional failure to confront it had on my mental health. It will be a bit different than my usual fare. Instead of writing totally new content, I found some journal entries and two emails I wrote to friends, all from that time period. Raw and real and intimate as fuck. Back in time we go.
ok so i have to say this. i need to tell someone, no one knows not even matt yet and it is killing me me inside. just as bad as what happened the night after. please dont respond to this i just need this off my chest. so the weekend that the situation happened, it was only the SECOND thing that happened. the night before, I went to another party and got fucked up, as usual.. me and matt got there early and i ran into a bunch of cool seniors i know. so the party started and i was fucked up as usual and went downstairs to where the party was. I was just dancing and dont remember what happened. matt and portia were there but we were all fucked up. All of a sudden I was upstairs in a room. This is the bad part. its so hard to type but if I dont tell at least one person about this i feel like i will drown in it. so anyway i come to and this chubby white guy is having sex with me. i had no recollection of meeting him. none whatsoever.apparently we were on a couch downstairs making out? i had NO idea what i was doing…couldnt have, that drunk. so anyway its happening. i was still drunk so i just went with it. this disqualifies it as rape I assume. which is why i haven’t told. i was conscious but only barely and so mentally deluded that i just went with it. i did not plan to do anything that night…the worse part was that i had a TAMPON in the whole time….i was on the end of my fucking period. so we just keep going and it was such a strange situation.it was so disgusting and not fun at all but i DIDNT DO ANYTHING. Thats what drives me crazy is that i didnt do anything! its like “coral’ was away and some other “compliant” girl was in there. i swear on my life, dude. i cant even explain it. he also made me give him head and i did it! i didnt want to, i was FUCKED UP and i did not know who the fuck this person was AT ALL but i did it! (thus all the shame and guilt and feelings of disgust and desire to be completely celibate) i SWEAR TO GOD it felt like he was treating me like this was something he learned in porn and not real life. it was horrible, the memories are degrading. then we passed out and the next morning i woke up and he was ugly and chubby and gross but he was nice to me so i was nice back….but its like what else COULD i have been…im always so fucking nice….i was so confused not only as to what happened but how i could possiby have let it happen and continued to go along with it. i acted as if everything was fine and we even made fucking small talk and walked back towards my house (he was going to gym, the fucking fatass) like it was all fine. now i cant get this out of my head because i did not want that and he is so gross and whats worse is that he was a junior meaning he’ll be back again. meaning im going to see his face. what makes this so horrifying is the fact that i KNOW who he is and what he did and there is nothing I can do about it. at least with the other guy i dont know who he is…i mean which is probably worse because it could be ANYONE. fuck my life. i lied to matt and portia (well kind of, i was DELUSIONAL, i rationalized it all away until i looked him up on facebook and saw his pictures) anyway i lied to them and they believed it. but i know that those seniors that lived in that house know and probably others saw us downstairs, just like what happened the second night.
now, i have to live with the thought of seeing him around campus for another long year and maybe with him telling people, thinking it was OK! for the rest of my life! everytime i think about it, which is every five seconds for the past few months, i honestly feel and this sounds crazy but i honestly feel like if I see him I will die. This is weird as fuck but sometimes when I blink I see a dick in my face. It’s so scary and horrible, these weird things happening, I think its ptsd? I feel like if I see him I will die on spot, or pass out cold. which is preferable to me to having to deal with him, have him SEE me, have to SEE him, you know? on top of that i could not get the tampon out for two days! you can get Toxic shock syndrome and die from that shit. i had to literally dig a fist in myself to get it out (graphic i know) because of him.
then to get over that, i go and get even more fucked up the next night and thus the whole thing that happened with THAT. so now you know. twice in a weekend. twice in TWO DAYS. i feel a little better now that someone knows the truth about that night, about the entire weekend instead of just a part of it. its been eating me up inside, people only knowing parts and even more people only knowing what they saw and not what was really happening with me. off my chest. *breathes*
see you soon.
(this next email to another friend tells a more complete summary of both nights and the entire situation)
|Coral F Foxworth to jap218
||show details May 4
Im about to tell you alot. On friday night i went out and got wasted like we all do here every weekend and had sex with a really gross guy that I didnt mean to. I had no recollection of meeting or talking to him but remember the sex part, it was like an outer body experience because I didnt really want to do it but my mind and body were like not connected. I had had a tampon in and he did not take it out and it got stuck near my cervix which can lead to fatal infections. I was scared and nervous and worried sick all day since I could not get it out but finally saturday night I did but my vag kind of hurt and was a little sore. Then I went out again and got fucked up to erase what happened the night before. I didn’t know how to even begin to confront what happened other than to numb myself and be self destructive. Around 1, my phone ran out of minutes and texts and all that. X and X and her friends left me downstairs alone (we were all belligerent and they couldnt find me). I dont know what happened after that. Next thing I remember is waking up in my bed with my panties missing and my leggings on inside out and no coat or bag or key or card to swipe into my building with, confused and with WAY sorer vagina than it had already been. X and X and her friends said they found me in my house passed out on a chair on the first floor and brought me upstairs. I dont know how I got back or what happened to me but I thought since the beginning that I was possibly raped or sexually assualted. Later I was at lunch and mad people who I know were at Psi U that night were standing in a group in the dining hall looking at me and talking about me. (X tried to deny that this meant anything but I think it does) my friend said she saw me belligerently making out with some generic white guy in the corner but cant give me any more info.
I have a feeling that I was raped. I cant prove it but I feel it. Ever since I’ve been depressed and anxious and feeling worthless, guilty, embarrased, horrible, etc. A lot to be honest. Nothing is important to me anymore.
So me and matt went to the health center to take all the precautions (Plan B, pregnancy test, blood work for STD’s, pills for certain STD’s, the doctor reported the incident to PSafe (who are shitty and im sure will do nothing)
I went to the hospital with matt next to get a Rape Kit, so that I could have the option of pursuing this legally if I wanted to. But everyone at the hospital made me feel like shit, looking at me with confusion and pity. No one was outraged, they all just think im mad fucking stupid. This one nurse especially kept hugging me and shaking her head and telling me to stop drinking and move on and learn from it as if I fucking raped myself and it was all my fault (which I still kind of believe in the state im in) The doctor made it seem like I shouldn’t get the rape kit. At the last second I decided not to get the rape kit and to just get examined, they found no signs of struggle just maybe a mild bacterial infection. We finally left. The next day I went to talk to this pyschologist and told him what happened and FINALLY an adult/authority figure ANYONE (besides matt who cried about it the next day) was outraged and promised that i would be made exempt from classes and finals and shit (I cannot do work and look at at textbooks when Im not totally convinced that life is still worth living) He put me on Xanax to help with the depression and anxiety and now i dont have constant horrible thoughts of shame going through my head. So now I just sit in my bed all day chilling and trying to gather the strength to want to do anything. this is what happened. Im sorry i didnt tell you earlier its just that i was distracted. Now the xanax is helping so much and i am more relaxed all day. He told me to keep myself distracted all day so ive been listening to music and chilling.“
I will now add a third piece from the summer of 2011 when I was dealing with serious PTSD as a direct result of what happened in April. Backstory: By then, the administration had completely fucked me over. When I tried to talk to this white male PSafe officer about what happened, it was traumatic within itself. He just looked at me like I was a fucking idiot and said oh well, there’s nothing we can do, sorry. And that was it. Dean Marina Melendez is also a slimy bitch who did not help at all. I won’t even talk that much about it, I just want people to know the truth about what this school did to me. At Middlesex, the worst hospital in the world, the doctor convinced me to NOT get a rape kit because ‘rape kits are only for when you are going to pursue a case’. To this day I have a feeling that Wesleyan had something to do with this, why the fuck would a responsible doctor confront a terrified adolescent and convince her not to have it done?
The ONLY adult that showed me compassion and care was Doctor Larry Antosz, who would become my therapist for the rest of my time at Wesleyan, one of the best people I have ever met. He cried hysterically, in passionate anger, when I told him what happened to me and how the school handled it. I don’t really know why they recently fired him, but I hope that he gets an ever better job at a place where he doesn’t have to take on the whole fucking world in simply trying to be a human being rather than a administrator who is entirely interested in preserving the fucking reputation of the University. ANYway, (lol that felt amazing!) the excerpt. This is the kind of terrible, relentless rumination and mistrust of everyone around you that results from not only the assault itself, but the way our environment responds to it.
“So I have been having thoughts about the guy from the second night of that weekend. He is so ugly and pasty and disgusting, I can’t get the word DISGUSTING out of my head. I hate what happened. I hate it. I am filled with a horrible unsanitary thoughts every time him using my body pops into my head. I swear to fucking god I will NEVER be intoxicated around white guys again. He was so gross and kind of fat with a nasty body and I cant BEAR the thought of him crowding up my mind but it does. I also CANNOT BEAR THE IDEA OF SEEING HIM AGAIN. I went on facebook and turns out he’s a junior, so he’ll be here again. I think about him telling people and feeling all self satisfied. Ugh. Horrible. Sometimes I think, hmmm, if I have no recollection of meeting him and basically just came to while he was having sex with me it might qualify as rape. I can’t report it though since I was so delusional and drunk and messed up (emotionally I mean) that I was civil with him and thought it was OK at the time. Gray area, right? I can’t say SHIT. I am afraid of other people knowing about it. I am afraid to see him, to be anywhere near him, I have constant daydreams of passing out at the sight. I wish every day that it never happened. I have all these violent thoughts of murdering him in different ways. They give me little chills of fear and pleasure. I don’t like them, but then again I do.
It’s possible that when I’m blackout the side of me that longs for closeness, the pent up, caged up, denied sexual energy in me comes out without me being aware of it. There is no safe and open model for heterosexual female sexuality in the mainstream culture… especially for black girls. This white environment tho. Hookup culture seems so violent in certain ways. I don’t know. I’m young and horny naturally but my sexuality is made so complicated, repressed and denied and pathologized from the time I am little black girl in this world and maybe it explodes out of me when I’m too wasted for self control, maybe I threw myself at him…but no…I wouldnt do that…thats not me…..I’m just making shit up to fit the narrative of rape culture which says it is my fault. I might have ‘made out back’ with him but I could’ve done ANYTHING, and it wouldnt matter what it was because I was completely unaware of what was going on. I was not able to make choices. He made the choice for me, even though I might have kissed him back.
Even if I did tho, that still doesn’t mean I asked for any of this. But then again….is it my fault though? Litle nagging voice inside is brutal… telling me it is all my fault. Am I lying to myself?
I feel so ashamed of that night because I feel like other people saw. No, I know they did. And judged. I wish someone would’ve helped me, taken me away from him. But you cant expect that because I guess when someone is making out with you at a party its your fault if you get taken up to his room. No one is going to stop it. No one did. This is bothering me just as much as the Psi U thing. I have really learned that being a drunk female seems to mean that boys can do whatever they want with you and no one gives a fuck what happens. This is our world. I wonder how I can possibly be happy in it. I want to be happy and all but every time I think about the school year coming back, I LOOK cute in my new clothes and its sunny and nice but then I have thoughts of panic attacks, passing out just from being in Usdan, people knowing, people talking, staring. I wish I could blot that weekend out of my life but I feel like it will follow me around like a monkey on my back forever, stealing my happiness away and replacing it with a huge desire to HIDE. That’s it! They make me want to hide in my room and never come out. I don’t want to be seen. I had felt so invisible all these years. And then I bloomed and I was very sexually visible in a blink of an eye. I wont lie, sometimes the new attention, denied me so long, was intoxicating. But still…. I didn’t want any of this shit. The MINUTE those white guys could get their hands on me they did…as if the mere presence of my brown, female body in this hypersexual space was an invitation to a free meal. My blooming body and sexuality turned out to be a curse, something that makes men want to fucking use you and come after you when you are so drunk you don’t even know what’s going on. They took the flower that bloomed and crushed it and pissed on it and now it’s laying there fucked up and all people do is point and pass by.
That weekend was the biggest violation to me that I’ve ever experienced. I feel like other people, no, I know others know more about what happened then I do. And it sucks because it’s not like I can explain. I feel an overwhelming need to not trust anyone. I think I am starting to really hate people in general. I have known so many shitty people, been unfairly judged so many times in my life I can’t count. And that’s just a fact of life. How do I explain to onlookers “No, I’m not being a slut, I am only making out with this guy because he grabbed me and I don’t know what is going on and if I’m kissing him back its only because I am blackout? People don’t give a FUCK. Everything is personal responsibility. That’s why I guess I cannot trust anyone anymore. It’s just better that way.”
In closing: I have since healed and moved on from what happened and no longer have such a bleak and cynical view of the world….it took a lot of hard work and patience and self love and time though!!!! But it can be done and I’m a living testament to ‘it gets better’ and that’s why, as per usual, lol, I made this post so painfully honest. I know I’m not the only one out there (hi you. *hugs*…this struggle is so real aint it? we’re amazingly resilient and we need to be proud of ourselves and talk about what happened in order to bring it out of the shadows of shame, stigma and silence. Together, our voices can and will be heard and make a difference.)
I will now end with this blog post with a very brief entry from the fall of 2011.
Today is October 11, 2011, a Tuesday, and today there exist a few things at Wesleyan that didn’t before. They hired a sexual assault person, a black woman (lol), who is here specifically to deal with situations like me. There is now a Support Group that is supposedly happening starting this year for survivors of rape and sexual assault. (Speaking of which, I might go. I watched “For Colored Girls” with my friends and I wish they had told me there was a violent rape scene in there. They didn’t. I did not enjoy that. That’s the thing with friends, even if they know. ) I’d also like to know if this shit has happened to anyone else at Wesleyan since the culture of silence about it is basically a brick fucking wall. I would never find out any other way and it would be nice to connect to people who can understand my pain and the irrational, insecure things I do and say…which my friends maybe kind of don’t….) Basically there is a lot of shit in place so that what happened with me, the incident and the administration, from the Dean’s office to the Counseling Dept. from the CRC to Reslife, wont happen again. They sent me from ‘resource’ to ‘resource’, I was floundering around at the start of the summer, all messed up depending on support from Wesleyan, where the shit happened in the fucking first place. It is apparent that they hired this new woman and started this new program and are doing all this shit….because of me. I guess that makes me feel good since at least something helpful could come of it. I hope this new lady and these new programs help a lot of people but more importantly I hope it somehow steps out of the realm of ‘support’ group and attempts to step into the reality of rape at this school, affect change, teach boys not to fuck drunk girls in their rooms. That would be nice. Maybe something good came out of the incidents after all…..maybe not so much for me but for all the girls who this will happen to after me and all those who’ve experienced it already. I’d like that.
In love and solidarity