An Assault, An Anniversary, A Cry: The Story Of My Sexual Assault

An Assault, An Anniversary, A Cry: The Story Of My Sexual Assault

It's time for my story to be heard
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October 29, 2012 will feel like yesterday for the rest of my life.  There are people who are going to hate me for writing this story, and there are people who hate me for the fact that this story had to be written.

But this story needs to be written. It's been begging to be let out, crawling slowly and not so quietly, waiting for the right time to reveal itself. Just like a beast. And that's kind of what this story is. 

Many of us have an “It’ll never happen to me,” attitude towards life.

“I’ll never be the one to get a ticket while jaywalking." 

“I’m not going to be busted for drinking in my dorm room.” 

“There’s no way I would get mugged walking through the city at 2a.m.” 

Or “I’m not going to get raped." 

I had this attitude and most of my friends still do. I had this attitude until the last thing on that list happened to me.  

A lot of people are probably picturing me wandering through campus in the early hours of the morning, alone and vulnerable. Getting pulled off the street by a stranger and abused. That would be wrong, and it’s an unfortunately common misconception. What I actually think is scarier is that over 80 percent of college sexual assault survivors know their perpetrator. They are “friends," classmates, and neighbors. I’m a part of that 80 percent.  

I am going to clarify right now that any decision I made that night leading up to the incident did not justify what happened. That is something that has taken me a while to understand. I put myself in that location with that person but it did not give him a right to do what he did to me. No one ever has the right to violate you.   

Something else you may be thinking is, “was there alcohol involved?” On my end, yes. On his end, admittedly no. That put him in a position of advantage, and ultimately a position of power. Being sober and perfectly capable of recognizing the situation before him. What happened was a conscious choice on his part. And it was not an option for me. Universities and governments struggle with the definition and application of consent. There is muddled terminology and there are so many conflicting views. I can tell you, however, that you cannot give consent when you are slipping in and out of consciousness. This I know.   

The details of the incident do not matter. What matters is the acknowledgment of this as a story that too many college students- both male and female- could share from a firsthand account.   

Six months later, I began the process of recognizing what had happened. That’s another thing that a lot of people don’t understand; it takes a hell of a long time to admit it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever accept it. It may sound simple for an outsider to tell me I should have just reported it or dealt with it sooner. Do you know what it’s like to have to call your mom and tell her what happened to you? To place your pain on the people who brought you into this world and would do anything to go back and save you from what happened? Now tell me I should have just reported it earlier.   

Was I scared? Yes. Was I embarrassed? In the strangest way, I was. I was afraid that I would be looked down on and that I would be shamed and blamed. Has that happened? Unfortunately, yes. But the only way out is through, and I see that light at the end.  

Do you know what happens when you report things like this? Best-case scenario, you get the support you need and everything is fair and just. I lost faith in my university when I went through the process with them. On both sides, they lacked support. They neglected to provide both parties with information in a timely manner. The summer of 2013 was the longest by far, and for all the wrong reasons. Sitting in front of a panel for four hours during a hearing at the end of July was nothing short of terrifying. I felt alone, raw, and full of unknowns.   

When the things that aren’t supposed to happen to you do in fact happen to you, you realize who is really there for you. Some amazing people came through for me. Some others backed out of my life. A lot of lessons on trust and loyalty came from this experience. I’ve learned to be thankful for the lessons in life that I have gained through something so negative.   

When in the past few months have you gone on social media or turned on the news, and not seen a report about sexual assault and the law, the military, colleges, the White House or Greek life? I share this story with too many people. It scares me to understand how all of those people feel. It scares me that they know what it’s like for me. One person experiencing this is too many. It’s everywhere. It’s a hot topic. It’s being talked about.   

I’m talking about it.   

This is a cry for universities to amend their policies. This is a cry for people not to push someone to report too quickly. This is a cry for police and legal officers to recognize the great steps one takes when they do report.   

This is a cry for everyone who has experienced this to stand up and be strong, to be a survivor, and to never be labeled as a victim.   

Two years ago on October 29th, and now I have the control. I have made the conscious choice to use my experience to educate, to advocate, and to make change. I admit and accept that what happened is a huge part of me. But through all the adversity, the fights, the bureaucracy, the panic, and the late nights, I know in my heart I have come out on top and stronger than ever. 

Because I will never let it define me. 

Cover Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_(pedestrian_underpass_in_Tbilisi).jpg

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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Donald Trump's Sanctions Toward The Iranian Government Are Giving Us Painful Flashbacks To North Korea

Whether the sanction is effective is uncertain. But just like the North Korean nuclear problem, there will also be an answer soon.

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The recent news is that Iran president Hassan Rouhani is willing to talk with Donald Trump and the American government about newly established sanction towards Iran. Three months ago, Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would exit the Iran Nuclear Agreement and threatened to impose sanctions on Iran nuclear in 180 days. Recently, Trump tweeted what could be seen as a threat to the Iranian government.

Donald Trump wanted to force the Iranian government to change their economic policy. There are a lot of domestic problems in Iran. The Iranian government is busy expanding their power in the Middle East. The government used to support the Syrian government. The Saudi Arabian government and the West, which supported the Syrian Rebels, attempted to stop Iran from interfering with Syria. The Iranian government worried that the Syrian governmental crisis would affect their political stability. The overuse of the financial budget has influenced economics, causing Iranian people to appeal the government to revolutionize.

Compare the North Korean Nuclear Crisis and the Iranian Nuclear Crisis and we can see Donald Trump's similar strategies. Firstly, Donald Trump has put in a lot of pressure of either country to force them to give up the nuclear plan and improve economics instead. In the North Korean Crisis, last year, Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un "rocket man" and Kim Jong Un condemned him "crazy."

After temporary language confrontation, Kim Jong Un gave and was willing to negotiate with Trump beginning in early 2018. As for Iran, Rouhani also laughed at Trump's policy and criticized Donald Trump's sanction to Iran which was not supported by the European Union. But the latest is that Iran officials are still willing to talk to the U.S. In the trade war with China, Donald Trump also exerted the pressure on China in order to negotiate.

Many people dislike Donald Trump. It is undoubted that Donald Trump's sanction has effectively forced the country to open their economy to a larger degree of freedom. In the Kim-Trump Summit, the U.S. government reportedly played a video that assumed the future of North Korea.

In Iran currently, the inflation is so high that the public wants the economics to be promoted and anti-America sentiment is expected to end. As Donald Trump mentioned, the aim of the sanction is not to overturn the Iranian government, but to let them rethink how to focus on economics rather than on political stability.

Whether the sanction is effective is uncertain. But just like the North Korean nuclear problem, there will also be an answer soon.

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