Content Warning: This piece contains graphic content of sexual assault.
One year ago, you invited me to a party in your suite. When I arrived, you were the only person there. I asked where the others were. You said your suitemates were out of town.
We made our way to a bar. After a while, you asked to kiss me. “What? No,” I said. You insisted. “No!” I shifted back in my seat, away from you. I was uncomfortable and taken aback. You begged, closing in on my face. I was too shocked to react fast enough. Just a peck on the lips. I jumped out of my chair and in the bathroom splashed water on my face. What had just happened?
My head was spinning. I returned to my seat and announced I was going home. You apologized profusely — you couldn’t help yourself. You told me to forget it, said it was nothing and it wouldn’t happen again. I felt awkward and guilty. I didn’t want you to hold my harsh rejection against me. I felt socially awkward and inferior. I wanted your acceptance and craved your approval. I tried to smooth things over, to fool myself that things would go back to normal. You encouraged me to finish off the pitcher of margaritas, repeating that everything was fine. You led me back to your place where I had left my things.
Even after that first unwanted kiss, I never questioned my safety that night. You were short and slender. You weren’t physically intimidating. You were in a relationship. You knew I was also dating a boy, and that the two of us were deeply committed to each other. I wish he’d been with me that night, but nobody was there to save me from the alcohol, or from you.
Once in your room, I could no longer balance well enough to sit up. My muscles wobbled, limp and out of control. I collapsed, hitting my head in drunken dizziness. My memories are fragmented and hazy from here on, but I remember that you began to kiss and caress me while I was on my back. I remember kissing back instinctively, but thinking that kisses don’t usually feel so out of sync. I mumbled my boyfriend’s name in confusion.
In a later flash of cogency, I realized that the presence above me was not my boyfriend at all: “I’m telling…” I said again and again. “You can’t tell him,” you shot back. I don’t remember what followed, but the night wasn’t over.
I gradually became more aware of the situation. Seared forever in my memory is the sickening discovery that your legs were straddling mine, that you were kneeling over me, penetrating me. I lay motionless in bed as your nails tore at my insides, causing wounds that later became infected. I wanted to pretend this wasn’t happening, to think of anything but this. I was frozen.
You started kissing down my stomach. I wriggled in discomfort, and you noticed. You decided, finally, to ask permission, to “lick” me. Your question pulled me back to reality. I found my voice: “No.”
You begged me to let you. “No.” You backed off and got up, but I will never be able to leave the memory of that night.
For months, I didn’t understand what had happened. I knew I hadn’t consented, but there was no way I had let myself be raped, I thought to myself. And there was no way that you, to all eyes a well-adjusted and well-meaning Yale student, could have raped me. It must have been my fault.
Panic attacks began to hit, leaving me shaking and immobile, curled up on the floor for hours. Terrorizing nightmares would cause more panics in the middle of the night, interrupting sleep that would only come after hours of tears. Things I used to love no longer excited me. I fantasized about killing myself. Only after half a year of professional help did I recover from the trauma enough to accept what happened: You raped me.
I don’t think that you intended to rape me. But I do think that from the moment you invited me to your “suite party,” you intended to finish the night with sex. What’s more, you certainly knew that if you had opened with that, I would’ve stayed far away from you.
You must’ve also thought that there was a part of me that would want to have sex with you — if only alcohol could get past all of my inhibitions. But my desires did not fit into your fantasy. You projected and imposed your imagination onto me. In doing so, you prioritized yourself and disregarded my agency. That is the mindset of a rapist.
You should feel terrible for raping me. You should feel sorry for causing me physical wounds from your nails, emotional wounds from your trauma, and psychological wounds from your failure to own up to your actions. You destroyed me, and for that, your guilt should torment and consume you.
But you deny your culpability. You think of yourself as a feminist, an activist, nothing like the DKE boys who people expect to be sexual predators. You think you can’t be a rapist because you’re a woman. You refuse to believe that you hurt me at all.
In the year after that night, I couldn’t understand how you could fail to recognize what you did. I waited for sincere understanding and an apology from you, but I understand now that you will never apologize — an apology would require you to confront what you did. The truth would be too much for anyone with a conscience to bear.
You’re not a sadist. What you are is a selfish and pathetic person who got lost in her own fantasy. And if you ever understood the hell you put me through, you would hate yourself even more than I hate you.