Letter: Personal Accounts of Sexual Assault

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual Assault Survivors and Allies [survivors] welcome contact from survivors of all genders whose sexual assaults occurred in Grinnell or elsewhere. We want to hear your stories, include you in our activism, and give you any support we can.

My boyfriend graduated the year before, but I still hung out with our group of friends. One night I was pre-gaming on my floor with them and must have blacked out. When I woke up it was morning and I was lying naked in my bed covered in bruises and scratches. There was a pair of boxers on the floor. The next day I heard rumors that I had cheated on my boyfriend with one of my friends. I guess that’s what he told people.

I couldn’t remember anything but I could tell something was wrong. Six days later a doctor had to medically remove the tampon that had been forced deep inside my body. I couldn’t tell my boyfriend.

I went out the following weekend and tried to drink away the pain. I drank until I blacked out. In the morning a friend told me he saw a guy I didn’t know carrying me (barely conscious) and that he thought the guy had slept with me. The next night the same guy returned to my room and started banging on my door shouting, “You know you liked it you slut, you know you want some more!”

I was humiliated and ashamed. No one told me there were resources I could seek out. I didn’t know that I could file charges against these men and have them gone from my life within weeks.
The next weekend I drank until I blacked out again, but this time I came out of it naked and in an unfamiliar room. There was a guy I knew but had never even flirted with on top of me using my body to get himself off. I was terrified and felt sick. I went home afterwards, sat in the shower, and cried. I have never felt so out of control and degraded.

It’s been nineteen months and I still have nightmares and panic attacks when I see them around campus. People have written slurs on my whiteboard, called me a liar, a slut, and a whore. I have been told to forget it happened and stop making such a big deal out of it. I have only recently, with the help of some amazing friends, begun to attend campus events again. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover.

I met him earlier this year and immediately fell for him. He was charming, funny, attractive, and seemed genuinely interested in me. We had an on-again-off-again thing for the next couple months. I was a virgin before I met him. I let him have sex with me because I wanted him to like me, but it really hurt and I was scared. I didn’t want to do it again, but I still liked kissing him.

On a cold night a few months after the first time, I went to his room hoping to make out with him and fall asleep cuddling. I got there and he tried to take my clothes off as soon as I walked in the door. I told him very clearly that I did not want to have sex.

His response? He spent about forty minutes using verbal and physical pressure to coerce me into having sex with him. I tried every strategy I knew to get him to back off, but he was persistent. Finally he gave me an ultimatum: if I didn’t have sex with him right then and there, we were done.

He acted as though it was my choice, but it wasn’t. He had all the power. By this point he had taken off most of my clothes and his hands were all over me. It did not matter what I said, or what I wanted. I caved under the pressure and said, “whatever,” thinking that he would act like a decent human being and leave me alone.

He didn’t. He had sex with me for twenty minutes as I lay there shaking and whimpering from the pain, completely terrified. He sped up as he got closer to coming, and tears rolled down my cheeks. He treated me like an animal. When he was finally done with me, he pulled out and left the room to throw out the condom. I put my clothes back on as quickly as I could. He was cheerful and told me I could stay the night. I said no and left.

I have suffered severe emotional trauma for the past two months as a result of this coercive and unwanted sex. After connecting with other survivors, I gathered the courage to speak out about my experience. I look forward to reclaiming some of the agency he took from me that night.

I met him at a High Street house after a Harris party. I had noticed him around all year, but we hadn’t really talked and only danced once before. He asked me to dance, and I agreed. He asked if I wanted to leave. “Sure,” I said with a smile.

When we got to his room I told him I didn’t want to have sex, but he started to push the issue pretty immediately. “Are you sure you don’t want to have sex?” He asked at least three times, and each time I told him no firmly. I started to get irritated and pulled away. “I’ve hooked up with other guys, and they’ve tried to convince me to have sex too. You’re not any more convincing than they were. I’m not going to change my mind.”

Bitchy, sure, but this guy was really starting to piss me off. There’s nothing sexy about rolling around naked with someone and having them pester you to do things you’re not comfortable with. I’m comfortable with my body, and I don’t put much stock in the idea of virginity. But I knew that intercourse would be particularly emotionally and physically intense the first time, and I wanted to share that with someone that I loved and trusted.

He kept pushing the issue and at one point I got up to leave. I was fed up from being pestered and frustrated that we couldn’t just destress and enjoy a light-hearted, mutually satisfying hook up. I don’t remember what he said, but he indicated that he would back off so I agreed to stay.

It seemed like I had finally gotten my message across. But the moment I let my guard down he penetrated me without a condom and without my consent.

I twisted away and maybe pushed him. “Relax,” he told me. It was hard to relax after he did something like that. I was upset and confused and I didn’t know what to do. I’m embarrassed to admit I stayed for 20 more minutes. I wanted to pretend it was just a normal hook up and nothing had happened.

At first I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to report him. I paid $20 for the morning after pill, made an appointment to get tested for STDs, and cried some.

I talked to a few friends and a counselor, and I started to get angry. I talked to Russ Motta at Security and Travis Greene and decided to take him to the College Hearing Board. He was found responsible and expelled.

I noticed him the first day of class. He was everything I liked: charming, funny, and confident. We only made out once, but for the next five months we kept exchanging provocative and sexual text messages.

He desperately wanted to keep it a secret while he tried to repair his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. He used coercion, feigned sweetness, and, eventually, threats to keep me quiet. He sent me the same threat at least five times: “If you ever tell anyone…”

After months of this, we were both ready for it to end. I agreed he could come by my room so we could finally be done and gain closure. All I wanted was twenty minutes – just enough time to tell him I was finally over him.

I did not plan to bring up the texts, but he did. I realized he wanted to do some of the risqué things we had been discussing the past few months. At some point we started talking about his ex-girlfriend, and he became very angry. I cried, and he walked out.

Perhaps the thing I regret most is telling him to come back. He did, snapping at me, asking if I wanted it. I said yes. He took his shirt off and asked if we were going to do this or not. I consented. I took my shirt off, thinking that once we started he wouldn’t be so angry.

Instead, it got worse. He ordered me to take off my bra, get on my knees, turn around, etc. I had never had an encounter like this before, and it made me incredibly uncomfortable.

In the middle of a blow job, he demanded that I spit. I shook my head and mumbled “no.” He violently pulled me to my feet by my arm and breast and proceeded to be rough with me until he came.

Finally, he left. After the door slammed shut, I got a text: “If you ever tell anyone, God help you.”

This experience was deeply traumatizing. I can rarely sleep, or even be in my room. I don’t eat regularly. I cry everywhere and all the time. I have panic attacks when I see him around campus. My grades are slipping fast.

I will never be the same woman that I was. But, I hope I can find my voice again by speaking out.

I had been seeing him for a while, and I trusted him enough to tell him about my history of sexual abuse as a child. He was the first guy I’ve ever been romantically involved with.
One night I got really drunk with friends. I had nine shots in two hours. He had decided to stay in and do homework, and later that evening I went over to his room. I was too drunk to give consent and the last thing I remember clearly from that night was bragging to him about how many drinks I had earlier.

When I woke up in the morning he was freaked out and kept apologizing. He told me he raped me, had been too lazy to use a condom, and came inside of me. He regretted it immediately afterwards. He said sex without a condom was something he had always wanted to try.

He handed me a hundred dollar bill and told me that I needed to go to the pharmacy and get Plan B.

I didn’t initially label the experience rape because I didn’t want to associate my current situation with my history of sexual abuse. For the next couple of weeks I ignored the emotional abuse, the manipulation, and the threats that he would hurt himself if I left him.

I tried so hard to pretend that everything was okay, but finally I broke down. I had to withdraw from a class we were in together, move to a new room on the other side of campus, obtain a No-Contact Order, and change the way I normally went about my day to make sure I didn’t see his face.

But this wasn’t enough. I needed to feel safe on campus again. I still feel unreasonably guilty for taking him to the College Hearing Board. He was suspended until I graduate.

—Sexual Assault Survivors & Allies