Rape and Its Legacy.

October, 1984

When I was an 18 year old college freshman, I was raped by someone I considered a friend. He was a football player (a line backer), who I had a class with in the fall of ‘84.

Whenever there was an away game, football players would miss the Friday class to travel (at least that was my understanding).

He called me and asked if he could borrow my class notes and I agreed. I offered to leave them at the front desk but he said I could just bring them up[to his room]. I grabbed my notebooks and an umbrella, and told my roommate, Cassandra, where I was going.

I walked in the rain from my dorm to his, cutting through Ellington dorm to stay dry. When I got to his dorm, I took off my wet jacket and laid my umbrella upside down in the lobby. I walked up the stairs to his room on the 3rd floor. His roommate let me in and Richard greeted me from the other side of the room. I walked over and sat down at the “desk” area and removed the notebook from my bag. His roommate was there the entire time.

As I was going over my notes and explaining concepts to him, he complained the lighting was poor. He turned on the light over his bed asked me to move. I told him that he could just give me the notes back after class the next day. Then he asked me to clarify something I had written, I sat down on the bed to read what I had written. Before I knew it, my notes hit the floor and he was on top of me. With his left hand, he held my hands by my wrists over my head; and with his right hand he ripped off my pants. “Please don’t”, I begged! “NO, NO…STOP…HELP!!!”, I screamed while he shoved himself inside me…smiling. “NOOO! HELP ME…”, I pleaded to his roommate who was still in the room. He covered my mouth with his, kissing me so I would stop screaming, I could hardly breathe. No one helped me. When he finished, I was crying and he looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong?”

According to his football stats (which I later discovered), he was 6'4" and 270 lbs…I. Never. Stood. A Chance.

As I ran back to my dorm, I realized that I had left my umbrella in the lobby. I was soaked by the time I reached my dorm but I barely noticed because I was burning from my insides being ripped apart. I was ashamed that I had been so stupid, I should have known better I kept telling myself. When I got to my room I told Cassandra what had happened and she called our friend Melody, who immediately came over.

There we were, three 18 year olds, trying to figure out what to do…

Almost 2 months later, I found myself pregnant and I had an abortion. Before my 19th birthday, I had been raped, pregnant and had an abortion…Life Changing.

Winter quarter, I passed just one class, a writing class…I had a lot to write about. A friend approached me and suggested that I should stay off the 3rd floor of G-H, the football dorm, because I was the subject of gossip about what I did. What I did?! I was a rape victim turned football slut!

I shut down. I only opened up to Melody and Cassandra and it would be almost two years before I would ever go to another boy’s room, to study or otherwise. I went from being an outgoing, confident young woman, to a scared and insecure little girl.

The fall of 1986, I met this guy in a communications class and we became friends. We both had a passion for politics and love of justice and we both loved to debate/argue. He used to tell me that we were going to “change the world”. He was more militant than I was at the time, but he was smart so I heard him out. For the first time in nearly two years, I felt comfortable…even safe in the presence of a guy. We talked about everything, especially social justice and race relations. Anthony tried to make me more aware of my “true blackness” even though I considered myself an activist already.

To this day, I am grateful to Anthony for his pure and genuine friendship. Although I never told him about my rape, he was kind to me anyway.

Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them the first time!” That my friends, is your character, it’s WHO you are!

I’ve been asked for years by pro choice organizations and sexual assault awareness groups to share my story, but today, it seems like the right time.

Sexual abuse is not a joke or game or a ‘Rite of Passage’, it’s a crime…pure and simple. Taking control and possession of a woman’s body IS NOT WHAT MEN DO…Not REAL men! A Real man doesn’t grab ANY part of a woman’s body without her consent! Ever! A Real man doesn’t brag about cheating on his wife. A Real man doesn’t bully or threaten people to get what he wants. A Real man doesn’t sue people to keep them quiet. As a matter of fact, no male or female should EVER force another individual to do ANYTHING that they say no to…not through physical force or intimidation.

As a survivor of sexual assault, I ask each of you: if the Republican Nominee was describing your mother, or wife, or sister or daughter in that video, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? Do you want a man who brags about committing criminal acts to be your president? We are talking about TODAY, not 1992 or some other time. We are talking about THIS CANDIDATE, a man who has made NO ATTEMPT to apologize to the women he has harmed. And let me be clear, as a rape victim I want EVERY SINGLE RAPIST to be held accountable for his crime. ALL of them! Let me also be crystal clear, Rape is without consent.

By definition:

Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.

I would never hold the girlfriend or wife accountable for the criminal activity of the rapist unless she was complicit. In my case, the roommate of my rapist WAS complicit in my rape. He was aware of it while it was happening and did nothing to stop it. So yes, he is guilty!

On the other hand, if my husband cheated on me with other women, I might call them a bitch, whore, slut, tramp or anything else that came to mind, and so would most women. And most women would have choice words for their husbands as well.

Having consensual sex is COMPLETELY different from being raped and the comparison is insulting to victims and survivors of sexual assault.

For the women who may read this and need help coping, go to www.rainn.org or www.endrapeoncampus.org.

Be blessed,

Jeniffer, A Survivor