Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Editor’s note: The author of this op-ed has since asked her name be removed from this piece. The Campus has a strict policy that it does not retroactively remove names from stories, but given extenuating circumstances has agreed to do so for this piece.

CW: Sexual Assault

We have all heard the statistic: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men are sexually assaulted on college campuses.* However, there are still issues with this supposed fact. First, we do not even know how many people who do not identify within the gender binary are affected. Second, we do not know how many people refrain from coming forward. Third, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows that the aforementioned statistics are nothing compared to the truth.

What is the truth then?

The truth is that every single person on this campus is somehow connected to sexual assault, even if you may not know it yet. It could be your best friend, someone on your hall, the person you sit next to in class, or one of those people that you happen to run into all the time in the dining hall. Each and every person who is reading this is now also connected to sexual assault. Why?

Because I am that statistic. I am the 1 in 5 women between ages 18-24 who have been sexually assaulted on a college campus.

It all started after spring break of the last academic year. I was a virgin, but I wanted to have sex. All I ever heard people talk about were their hookups from their weekend and their accumulated “body count.”  It made me feel left out.

I was always uncomfortable when the topic came up because the people who were the same as me, those who had not experienced sex before, were not vocal about it. However, I can assure anyone who is reading this and is in a similar situation that you are not alone. So many people on this campus do not participate in the hookup culture.

The ones who do, however, are generally loud about it. That is why sometimes it can be very isolating, but that does not mean you are the only one. I was you before spring break of last year, and sometimes I wish I were still you.

It all started with a guy I thought I could trust because we had mutual friends. I now know that I was wrong. I never had Sex Ed; I had never heard of healthy sexual relationships; I did not know about consent.

He took advantage of that. He never once asked me for an enthusiastic “yes” before touching me. He would not wait until I was ready on multiple occasions, and I would bleed. He would not acknowledge my existence in the dining hall. All of these things, and many more, were problematic, but I did not realize it at the time.

It happened three times. Sexual assault, that is. Two times he woke me up for sex because he wanted it. One time I said stop, and he did not.

Yet it still took me months to figure out what had happened to me. I started coming to terms with everything once “The List” came out. I decided to put his name, the guy who hurt me for months and continues to cause me emotional pain from the trauma, on that list of around thirty men’s names to avoid because of their problematic sexual behavior.

All I wanted to do was protect other girls. I did not want him to hurt anyone else like he had done to me.

After I came forward with my story a couple of days before Feb Break, I had packed up all of my things and had withdrawn from Middlebury for the upcoming spring semester. The administration could do nothing to protect me, and I had never felt more unsafe in my life. I knew of his violent tendencies, and every second of the day I was worried he was going to come after me. He knew where I lived; he was mad about “The List”; he was threatening any girl who could have been involved.

I had to sit across from him every day in class throughout J-Term, wondering if he was going to figure everything out. Wondering if he was going to attack me when he wore that same jean jacket and those same clear glasses like that night of October 6th. I could not take it anymore. He was everywhere, and there was nothing the administration could do to guarantee my safety.

I decided to come back to Middlebury for various reasons, but the biggest one was that I thought I would be safe. I got a No Contact Order against him, and I thought that I would hardly have to see him.

I was wrong.

The first day of class, just after I had spent an hour and a half in the judicial office detailing what he had done to me, there he was, walking into the classroom wearing that same jean jacket and those same clear glasses. I do not remember a thing the professor said that day. I was numb.

When class was let out, I immediately went to the professor. I asked him to please not let the boy in the jean jacket off of the waitlist. He said there was nothing he could do. I called the judicial office. They said he had the same right to be in that class as me, even though I was registered and he was not.

They said that people with No Contact Orders are in the same class all the time. They said they would make sure we did not work on any group projects together. Once again, Middlebury was not keeping me safe. I had come back to campus because I thought the administration would support me. I was wrong.

I am the one who has to accommodate him. I am the one who has to provide all the evidence that he did something to me. I am the one who always has to look over their shoulder to see if the other is going to attack. I am stuck here at Middlebury and at this phase of my life without any escape.

Today I am writing this to give everyone a glimpse of what is wrong with this campus, and the world, surrounding the issue of sexual assault. I am also writing this to all of the survivors out there who feel alone. You are not. I am one of you now, and I am here to support you in any way throughout your journey of healing. I, too, am traveling along the dark and winding road of trauma.

There are too many people on this campus who have been violated. I say no more. The administration is not doing enough. Because of their inability to do the right thing, we are now the ones who have to make a change. I say we come together and tell everyone that we have never consented to being treated this way, neither by our attackers nor by the administration.

The administration is taking advantage of our inexperience, just as that person who knew you were a virgin. The administration is making us go through the judicial process without our permission, just as someone waking us up in the middle of the night to violate us without our consent. The administration is telling us that we are safe, just as us sending that “don’t come over” text and yet being in our room a couple of minutes later pretending to have never read it.

I am done feeling violated, and you should too. We have already gone through enough trauma. The administration needs to change its actions, just like all of the sexual predators who continue to prowl on this campus.

Let’s get justice.

Are you with me?

*Due to the variance in statistical data from year to year, the hyperlink we provided is data regarding campus sexual violence from a trusted source  – RAINN.org