Dang: Could the Idea of Rape on College Campuses Mostly Be… a Myth?


Jackie lied and Rolling Stone fucked up so tremendously, and those stats about how many women “get raped” “in their lifetime” seem crazy, anyway—so shocking that, like the UVA lede, there’s something suspicious about the whole matter. No decent parent would even send their daughter to college if “rape culture” was what the liberal media makes it out to be.

Am I right, good men of America, am I right?

Now some female voices—just for contrast. Here, without commentary, are a bunch of first-person stories of sexual assault at the University of Virginia.

I Was Sexually Assaulted at UVA. I Don’t Accept the Reporter’s Apology, Kirsten Schofield, Talking Points Memo

I don’t remember what I was wearing when I got sexually assaulted my freshman year, but I do remember what I wore when I figured out what had happened. It was the autumn of 2008, and I had just left a sorority house, where I had given a lecture on consent, safe sex, and best practices for helping friends who have been raped. Jacob,* a handsome, popular guy I had avoided for years, strode up to me. I was wearing a teal T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the University of Virginia’s sexual assault crisis center.
“Isn’t this funny that this is who you are now?” Jacob said, his grin widening as he tapped the insignia on my breast. “Robert* and I still talk about that night.” The next thing I remember, I was shaking and crying on my bed, awash with a feeling I’ve never been able to name. Everything I had explained away for the last two years came rushing back: being held down, Jacob’s whisper of “No one is going to believe you” before mercifully being interrupted, the mental calculus I did that somehow equated the whole thing with a gigantic misunderstanding.

An Interview with a UVA Rape Survivor, “Kelly,” Jezebel

I lie there for a while. No one is in the room with me. And then I hear voices in the hallway. One is the guy in question, and there are two other guys talking to him. I hear one of them say, “[This guy] is a necrophiliac, he likes to fuck dead girls.”
I realized they were talking about me. They keep joking, like, “What are we gonna do, there’s a dead girl in your bed.”

Call Me a Liar, I Don’t Give a Sh*t, Jessica Longo, Medium

After a while, I removed myself from the festivities, made my way to my room upstairs, closed my door, and passed out fully clothed, alone, on top of my bed. The next thing I knew, I woke up in pain. My friend was naked, on top of me, having sex with my unconscious body.

Sexually Assaulted at UVA, Jenny Wilkinson, New York Times

I had many supporters, but I also had many doubters, who pointed to the alcohol in my system and to the fact that I did not say no or fight back. I never doubted my decision to come forward because I knew that what happened to me was nonconsensual and violent. I naïvely believed that the system would work and that justice would be served.
[…] The judge concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the defendant knew that I was incapacitated and that he was acting against my will. The defense never had to call a single witness. The man who assaulted me walked away.

My Story Is Typical, And That’s Terrifying, Emily Renda, The Huffington Post

My story is typical. It is ordinary, normal and average. I was a first year student out at a party drinking in the fall, and a guy who insisted on walking me home invited me to hang out in his room, where he forced me down and raped me. It’s not unusual — practically commonplace. And that’s terrifying.
Three years ago this week, I sat down on the stone steps of the Amphitheater at the University of Virginia as a first year student. The sun was setting, and the darker it got, the more visible the hundreds of candles and luminaries became. It was my first time attending the Vigil for Take Back The Night, and during the course of the night, stories like mine carried in voices over the Amphitheater. Their words were horrifying and comforting, telling me I was not alone. Even though people had said it before I now believed, there were real voices, real stories like mine. Their words seemed to push and carve out a space that felt like home, that felt safe, that told me this place could be mine again, that it didn’t matter that I saw my assailant on Grounds — I was not alone, and The University was my place too.

I Was Gang Raped at a UVA Frat 30 Years Ago and No One Did Anything, Liz Seccuro, The Daily Beast

Beebe’s defense team, Rhonda Quagliana and Francis Lawrence, had hired a private investigator. The investigator uncovered the identities of the other two rapists and the details of that night. It was shocking to find out that the rape by Beebe was actually the last one of the night. I had no memory of the other two, and that information was used to discredit my recollection of what had happened to me. The other two rapists hired an attorney and appeared before a grand jury, each pleading the Fifth Amendment to each of the questions asked. When my husband and I asked to see the report, we were told we could purchase the report for $30,000 from the defense. We declined.

How UVA Turns Its Back on Rape, Annie Hylton, The Hook

At one point, Hylton became aware that she was wearing a t-shirt and that she was in Mr. Hamilton’s bed. “Mr. Hamilton was not in the bed, but Ms. Hylton was aware that he and one or more other people were in the room.”
Then she lost consciousness. When she awoke, “Mr. Hamilton was on top of her engaging in sexual intercourse.”
Hylton attempted to get Hamilton to stop, the suit alleges, but he did not. “Mr. Hamilton held Ms. Hylton down, continued to touch and fondle her and attempted to resume having sexual intercourse.”

Why Charges Are Rarely Filed, Alex Pinkleton, WTVR

“I was blacking out or in a state of black out. When I came to consciousness there was a naked stranger on top of me.”
Pinkleton said she did not immediately report the attack because she partially blamed herself and wanted to forget about it.
“I still felt like it was my fault because I shouldn’t have been drinking that much to the point where I was blackout,” Pinkleton said.
Eventually, she told the university, but she decided not to go to the police, opting for an informal trial through the university instead that led to her assailant admitting to wrongdoing and taking education classes in masculinity and sexual violence.

UVA Student Shares Story, Annie Forrest, NBC29

Forrest is packing up to go home after a difficult semester at UVA, not because of her school work as a double major, or volunteering with Madison House and Campus Ministries, but rather to come to grips with what happened to her on October 16, 2011.
“After repeatedly saying no, I don’t do this, I’m not going to, please stop, I was held down and raped and it’s one of those times where you feel so helpless and so out of control of your own body that it almost feels like an out-of-body experience,” said Forrest.
In that moment of shock, Forrest says she heard her attacker say, “Don’t try to stop this…we both know it’s going to happen.” She posted a photo of herself holding a sign with those words on Project Unbreakable, a blog where other victims of sexual assault have shared the words of their attackers.
“And honestly, it’s terrible to say but it was easier to submit to it than to fight back at one point because I just wanted it to be over,” said Forrest.

The “Mr. Y” Letter

I spent ten hours answering the most invasive and humiliating questions from a panel who questioned every one of my statements. Had I ever had “visions” before? Was I on medication? Was I romantically interested in him? Did I say “no” forcefully enough for him to understand? Did it hurt because it was my first sexual experience? On the other hand, the rapist’s testimony was barely questioned. No one was interested in the fact that he contradicted himself and lied multiple times during the hearing. He was shamelessly callous, arrogant, disrespectful and remorseless, as if he already knew the outcome. None of my witnesses’ statements seemed to bear any weight against his word. Moreover, I had no form of support in the hearing despite the fact I had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which Dean E. was very well aware.
When Dean E. read out the verdict, I ran out of the room, sobbing uncontrollably like never before, and hid under a desk, wishing I could just die there. My own school, that I loved so much, failed to protect me. I had never felt so betrayed and let down in my life. The deans said that the hearing was supposed to be “therapeutic” as I faced the rapist.

Last, just for kicks, three women writing at the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily.

Kathleen Erwin, November 21, 2014

I escaped harm. But I was aware that others had not. Everyone knew, first year, about the girl who woke up on a couch at a frat house and never found out who had raped her. Second year, one of my friends got HSV when she was raped. Neither of these students — none of the women, in fact, who were raped in my sphere of awareness at the University — ever saw their assailants prosecuted.

Melanie Snail, April 23, 2013

Last year, a close friend of mine was raped by a fellow student. She bravely decided to take action through channels offered by the University, but the University process proved fruitless and, in fact, subjected her to the same kind of humiliation and indignity that she had suffered only a short time before at the hands of her rapist. Her case is only one example of the profound injustices that many rape and sexual assault victims face here at the University because their school has failed to protect and support them.
[…] As I have discovered that more and more of my friends and peers have been sexually assaulted or raped during their time here, I find it difficult to continue believing in the strength of the system.

Sarah Puckett, October 23, 2006

Recently, Jacqueline Chevalier, an alumna from the class of 2006, conducted a survey with Christopher Einolf, a lecturer in sociology at the University, on instances of sexual assault and rape against women at the University. The survey used the Virginia state law’s definition of rape: any sexual penetration that occurs against the victim’s will by force, threat, or intimidation or where the victim is unable to consent because she is physically or mentally incapacitated.
The study found that, of the 779 women who responded, 17.6 percent reported having been raped during their four years at the University. Only 10.7 percent of the alleged rape victims say they reported an incident to the police.
“This is about as accurate as you are likely to get,” Einolf said.

Let’s end the myth of rape on campus once and for all!

Image via Shutterstock

Contact the author at [email protected].

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