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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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It has taken years / Help us

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2/21/15

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Change will be made

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Till it happens to you

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Three

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What I cost

LETTERFROMTHEEDITOR 34th Street Magazine's “End the Silence: Sexual Assault Survivors at Penn Share Their Stories” is an issue entirely comprised of survivors and their testimonies. Some are narratives, some are poems, and all are written by survivors. For those who felt like there was no way to speak or no one who cared to listen, Street wanted to offer a platform. We’re presenting Penn with the full, honest reality of survivors’ experiences. And there’s no better way to do that than to let them say it themselves. Make no mistake, these stories will upset you. These are brutal, unflinching, truly horrific testimonies—ones that were difficult to read and compile into a magazine, and perhaps more difficult as an editor to share with the Penn community. But we would be doing a disservice to all victims—and, in fact, everyone—by not publishing these stories. They’re ugly and hard but they’re true. They’re real. To pretend that assault doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t exist at Penn, is to be part of the problem. Our discomfort in reading this material is just a glimpse into the daily life and struggles of a survivor. I urge you to read what you can. I urge you to take on what feels right for you. We’re including warnings on all content, but just to be explicit: this will be graphic, disturbing content that dis-

cusses sexual assault and rape in detail. And still, it’s hard not to find even just a glimmer of hope in these pages. These are survivors who found their voices. These are people brave enough to write down their stories and deliver them to strangers, whether it be for catharsis or to offer insight. You will find a list of resources at the bottom of each article online, and printed on the back of our hard copy on Wednesday. Please note that we will also be present on Wednesday night, 7–9 p.m., in The Daily Pennsylvanian office (4015 Walnut Street). We will provide company, food, and hopefully a place to decompress after a difficult day. For those who might need someone to talk to, Penn Benjamins, Penn’s student–run peer counseling group, will be on hand. For those of you who contributed stories, Street thanks you for your bravery. And for those who wanted to, but weren’t quite ready, or for those who might never be ready, Street too, thanks you for your bravery.

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Haunted

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Firsts

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I didn't know I could be raped and still look normal

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Six

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A moment in the dark

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He took anyway / Tell me again why I shouldn't be so angry

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It is not your fault

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So I kissed a stranger on a bus

EAT, TALK, AND DECOM-

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I am alone in this / Black out sex is rape / The post I should have written

PRESS.

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Resources

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JOIN US TONIGHT 7 - 9 P.M. AT THE STREET OFFICE (4015 WALNUT) FOR A SPACE TO


IT HAS TAKEN YEARS Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

The shame hit first. Before I realized where I was, before I catalogued the bruises on my head and legs and the quicksand in my stomach, I woke up on a pile of crumpled paper towels and felt ashamed. Embarrassed. Reality came to me in pieces: the spirals of hair on the walls, the smell of shit, the aches. I’d hobbled into a men’s bathroom in the hours after my assault. I didn’t have my shoes or socks or wallet, but I didn’t know where else to go. That morning feels more like a beginning than an ending. It started a new phase of my life, a new self–understanding. I look at photos from three years ago and don’t recognize myself — the girl who could hear the word “rape”

and think of someone else, who brushed aside abstract warnings about frat parties and didn’t walk clutching her keys. But it’s taken a lot to acknowledge the impact of assault on my life. It’s taken years—three of them, almost—to be able to say that I was assaulted. It’s taken patience and frustration and trudges to CAPS, nights nestled with my roommates and days I shut out the news. It’s taken relationships with men I could trust and support. More than anything, it has taken Street: this magazine that has become my home at Penn. Street gave me a purpose and a passion, a way to remind myself of who I am. In this tiny, overheated, grease–crusted, beer–littered of-

HELP US

Illustration by Anne Marie Grudem

fice, I am more than a survivor. I have a voice. There is no template for surviving rape. I have spent hours, entire days, Googling how to live through it; there are no concrete answers. But Street has shown me, again and again, the seemingly endless pool of survivors on this campus. I routinely edit narratives of sexual violence. I line–edit trauma, add commas to descriptions of assault. I have watched friend after friend send their stories. And I’ve seen how shame corrodes us — how we internalize the sense of rot and dread and fear, until it becomes a part of who we are. I’m angry now. That, too, has taken time; it wasn’t until this semester that I felt more than sting

and shame. But the longer I spend on this campus, the more survivors I meet. I’m terrified to find out who will be hurt next. A freshman told me the other day that almost every girl she’s met here has been assaulted. She’s been on this campus for less than four months. Rape is an epidemic at this school; it is a crisis, one that’s tucked out of sight because we demand it goes unseen. I love Penn, and I love it more fiercely because I’ve had to fight to build happiness here. But this school, this institution that’s supposed to be home, could do more: more education, more assault awareness, more support for survivors. I’m a survivor. But I’ve done more than survive. I’ve architec-

tured my own healing. I’m fighting, and I’m winning. And I refuse to be shamed. I wish I could reach back to that version of myself on the bathroom floor and tell her it’s not her fault. I wish I could show her how powerful she’ll become. I wish I could tell her about the moments when the lights will blush on Locust, when the bricks and leaves look ripped from an admissions brochure, and she’ll feel something close to peace. This is the issue I wish I could hand her. Look, I’d say. You’re not alone.

“I know, deep down, you’ve always wanted me, even if you won’t admit it.” These words will forever be engrained in my 15–year–old mind. With these words, I hold traumatic memories of being forced down against my will, naked, on the bed of my high school best friend, who uttered these words in my ear while violating me. Growing up in Catholic school, I was too often reminded of how it is supposedly the woman’s responsibility to protect herself from perverts and offenders, namely by dressing more modestly and watching alcohol consumption. Yet, I have struggled to comprehend this concept, as my own experience has involved none of these “typical” triggers of assault that women are essentially blamed

for. Because of that, I didn’t know how to prevent it from happening again, and while it seemed like I was the cause of my own problems, there was nothing tangible I could improve and change to protect myself. I spent the rest of my high school career dreading the possibility it could happen again—and it did, two weeks before my graduation. Yet again, it was a situation entirely out of my control, and I searched for answers, reasons to explain why I had been cursed with such terrible luck, and potential ways that I could improve my own safety. No one had stopped to say to me that, maybe, it wasn’t just my responsibility to stop and prevent assault from happening. As a result, I came to college, not with

the hope that it wouldn’t happen to me again, but with the expectation that it most likely would. In what world should any human being have to ACCEPT the fact that the likelihood of being sexually assaulted greatly outweighs the possibility of many happy and normal college experiences? Clearly this cannot be something left in the hands of the victims to change. It so desperately needs the help of the broader community to eradicate the expectation that one in four women are going to leave Penn with some type of traumatic sexual experience. I am asking you, on behalf of all women, to please, help us.

DANI BLUM

PRISCILLA FELTEN

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2/21/15

Illustration by Gloria Yuen

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

It’s my senior year here at Penn and I could not be more ready to graduate and leave this place forever. While many of my peers are already starting to reminisce about our time here, and are happily making the most of senior year, I am dealing with my PTSD diagnosis and going to therapy twice a week. This year has been stressful, but unlike the rest of my time at Penn, I’m actually getting support and treatment. My freshman year I was raped by a guy who I had considered to be one of my closest friends at Penn. I met him during NSO, and he lived in my dorm and quickly became part of my friend group, of my Penn family. He would tease me and hug me and tousle my hair and make sure I got home safely after a night of partying. One time a group of us went out and a guy got a little too aggressive, and he got me away from him and made sure I was okay. He was a good friend and someone I trusted. I would go to his room to hang out with him and his roommates. I was happy and naive and trusting. And then one night he raped me. I remember that night so vividly. I remember jokingly reminding him about his girlfriend and laughing and saying no. I remember realizing that this was not a joke and that he was actually forcing himself on me. I remember him taking off articles of my clothing and me quickly grabbing them and attempting to use them to shield 4

myself. I remember trying to push him off of me. I remember saying his name and crying and begging him to stop. I remember sobbing and shouting no. And I remember eventually giving up. I remember laying there passively as he did whatever he wanted to me. I remember my head repeatedly hitting the headboard and I remember looking into his eyes and seeing nothing. That night changed me. Everyone says that your rape doesn’t define you, and while I know that’s true, I am a different person because of that night. I don’t

cause of that night, it’s hard for me to set boundaries, and it’s hard for me to say no. I’m always scared that people will ignore my wishes and keep going, and I would rather just go with it than be violated and ignored again. It’s degrading and dehumanizing to say no and stop and then be blatantly ignored. I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t know if I could handle it. The summer after my freshman year, I studied abroad in London. My first weekend there, my cab driver took me to an abandoned park instead of to

rough. In the spring I became extremely overwhelmed and asked for an extension on a paper. I told my professor about my case, and he was really nice and gave me the extension. That was that. A few months later, I won my case. I feel extremely fortunate to have won, but I am still disappointed with the sentence. Because I was unable to go back to London and testify, the man was deported from England and put on a sex offender list. Junior year, I was a fucking mess. Depressed, suicidal, skipping classes, not finishing papers

I WISH PEOPLE DISCUSSED THE DIFFERENT FORMS HEALING PROCESSES CAN TAKE. trust people. I have anxiety. I’m depressed. I’m scared of intimacy. It’s been years since that night and I still have PTSD. And it’s fucking frustrating. I want to be over it. I want to be enjoying my senior year and I want to be focusing on my thesis and job hunt without having this horrible trauma constantly lingering in the background. Since my rape, I have had other bad and sometimes scary sexual encounters. I wish people discussed the different forms healing processes can take. Be-

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my dorm, and sexually assaulted me. I ended up pressing charges, mostly because I found out he had done this to a few other women and the police had been looking for him. Even though the assault was caught on CCTV, and even though a few of us accused this man of assault, the case lasted my entire sophomore year. I came back to Penn and on top of dealing with schoolwork and extracurriculars and my trauma, I also came home to emails and phone calls from London about my case. Sophomore year was

on time. I eventually told a professor about some of my situation, and he was actually helpful. Unlike my pre–major advisor and other professors, he reached out to Special Services and got me in touch with Paige (who is my literal hero), and he checked in with me and talked to me in person. Thank you Dr. Nishino, for being the only Penn professor to give a shit about my well–being and for introducing me to resources that could have helped me so much throughout my case. I had no idea Special Services

could have helped me navigate my case. I had no idea I could go to Penn Violence Prevention for advice. I had no idea advisors are supposed to direct students to resources. Flash forward to senior year. I am still learning about different resources available to me. I finally am in touch with Jess Mertz, who is a badass and an angel. I’m in touch with Malik Washington who cares more about students’ well–being than anyone else I’ve met here at Penn. Sanjana from the Women’s Center has been my best advocate. And I got a CAPS referral for an incredible therapist in Center City who is proactively trying to help me get me better. I feel like I finally have the tools to possibly heal or at least get better. Despite this feeling of support, and despite making it to senior year and winning my case and accomplishing a lot during my time at Penn, some days are harder than others. Sometimes I feel like I will always be that crying girl realizing that I can’t trust anybody and realizing that people can be monsters. Sometimes I feel like death would be easier than trying to push on and keep going. Sometimes I feel like I will never be able to fully trust my friends or anyone else, and that I will never have a successful relationship because I will always be waiting for that person to betray me. Sometimes I feel like I will forever be that girl on February 21st, 2015. ANONYMOUS


CHANGE WILL BE MADE

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

IIllustration by Gloria Yuen For a week, I couldn’t walk by men on the street without a chill running down by spine, despite giving them the largest berth possible. For months, unexpected touches, like a classmate accidentally brushing their leg against mine, had me jumping out of my seat. The nightmares were worst of all. I used to wake up in the middle of night, thinking I was back in his room. I would feel naked, despite wearing pajamas and being under piles of blankets. It always took me a while to fall back asleep, if I could at all. “You had a nightmare last night,” a friend told me on spring break, big dark circles under her eyes from sharing a bed with me. I tossed and kicked and cried out in a language that wasn’t at all English. When she asked what was wrong, I just shrugged and said his name. Her face wrinkled. She is one of the few people who knows the story. Those who do still have not forgiven him. I appreciate the loyalty, but it is a grudge I neither encourage nor share. This was not always the case. Initially, I was so angry that my entire body shook with rage when I texted him to tell him that we needed to talk. I was mad at him for leaving me alone in an unlocked room in a frat house, that he slept with me when I was blacked out, not realizing he was in a similar state, that he was doubtful of the things I did remember. I don’t hold any resentment now. I forgave him for all the good I’ve seen in him, and because he was genuinely sorry.

It was the best thing I could have done for myself. I needed to forgive him in order to heal. I don’t really know what happened that night. He doesn’t, either. We probably never will. We have a decent idea: little bits that we both remember, pieces that others told him that I don’t know if I should believe. With the help of an amazing therapist, I’ve finally gotten to a point where it doesn’t matter if I believe the parts of the story from his brothers. What matters is that I believe him and that he never intended for any harm to come to me. I believe that his promise that “change will be

be supported by so many good people: him, my therapist, the family and friends I confided in, and another good guy who is also a good person. He’s a more complicated one. When I first met him, I wouldn’t have called him a good guy, let alone a good person. But he changed. While he is still undeniably a fuckboy, he is also undoubtedly a good person. He let things move at my pace and helped me to trust men again. I never doubted that he respected me—but I was also confident that I was not the only girl in his bed. We had no feelings for each other beyond friendship, but being with

friend was the one who comforted me when, months later, I broke down into drunken sobs, the first and only time I’ve been able to cry about it. The women in my life, through listening and sharing their own stories, were the ones who carried me. They provided a safe haven where I could fall apart and rebuild myself. I needed to do a lot of rebuilding, because that night broke me. I know I’ll never be able to forget the little I can remember, but I also know that I’m not broken anymore. I am more jaded and cautious. I’m also kinder, more understanding, more outspoken,

LIKE A BROKEN BONE, I'VE HEALED STRONGER THAN I USED TO BE. made and nothing like this will ever happen again” was more than just empty words. He’s in a leadership position now, and I believe he is really trying to make changes. By trusting him I’ve slowly been able to put it behind me more than I ever thought was possible. I don’t agonize over the thought of it happening to another girl— I choose to believe he won’t let it, because I know he’s not just a “good guy,” the distinction used to indicate that a guy is a less shitty human being than the average member of the male species. He’s a good person. I was fortunate enough to

him was only ever a positive experience. It’s not the most orthodox way to learn to feel safe in your own body again. But it worked for me, and that’s really what healing is all about: finding what works for you. I needed to know that people could change, and he showed me that. While I know I would not be where I am today without those two guys, they were not the ones who saved me. It was the women in my life who gave me the undying support I needed, who told me that they believed that I was strong, and never doubted that I was telling the truth. My best

and more resilient. Like a broken bone, I’ve healed stronger than I used to be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days too. At these times, my therapist reminds me that healing is never linear—there are always low points, but eventually you return to the baseline upward trajectory. On the one year anniversary, I only got out of bed to refill my sleeping pills, which I hadn’t needed in over six months. I considered taking all the pills, letting myself peacefully drift off into a more permanent sleep. I obsessed over my limited, fragmented memories of the night. I was hurt, and I was angry, not

just at his brothers, who I doubt I will ever fully forgive, but I was angry at him for not protecting me, something I thought I had long forgiven him for. The pain didn’t go away at midnight either. Two days later, I bolted out of bed, because spooning was making me feel trapped to the point of a panic attack. I caught my breath in a grimy off–campus frat house bathroom, reminding myself that this is a guy who I trust completely, whose brothers I know and would never want anything bad to happen to me. I still hardly slept. It was a bad couple of days. I don’t know if the bad days will ever go away entirely. They probably won’t, because all the support in the world and the nearly five figure sum my parents have spent on therapy doesn’t erase what happened. But the bad days become much less frequent. I can’t forget, but I can forgive. I can and do believe that people can change. I believe that there are good men who are trying to do better and help others do better, and that even subpar humans can become good ones. I believe that my generation can raise sons who are different than our brothers and fathers. I believe that one day, #MeToo will be the exception, rather than the rule. Most importantly, if you are reading this and you are broken, I believe that you will heal, too, stronger than ever before. ANONYMOUS

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File Illustration

TIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

An unsent letter written to my rapist four months after the assault: To the boy that changed my life, Sometimes I still think it was my fault. I went into the night feeling bad because I had just broken up with my boyfriend. We met at a BYO. You sat next to me but didn’t speak until you were too drunk to care who you were talking to. You kept refilling my cup. You put me in an Uber, and I was so drunk that my previous plans to go home and change before the party left my mind. When we got to the house, you took me straight to the basement. Within seconds we were against the wall. I remember thinking, “I don’t even want to be doing this,” but I kept doing it. I remember falling on the ground twice because of how drunk I was. You told me you’d bring me back to the Quad. I figured you’d help me get home safely and that there were no expectations. I remember seeing all of my sisters and not knowing how to ask for help because I didn’t know them well enough yet. I remember the two girls at the exit that asked YOU if I was okay. On the walk back, you didn’t walk next to me. When I dropped all of my belongings in the middle of the street, you didn’t help me. It’s obvious that 6

you had firm intentions to me now, but not then. Near the Compass, you asked me if I knew my Penn pin number and if I could walk in a straight line. I remember feeling successful when I punched those four numbers in, and I remember wanting to ask for help from the guards but failing to find the words. You brought me back to your room, and everything seemed like a routine. My mind and body were completely disconnected. I remember when you pulled your phone out to take

this, and I always will. It blows my mind that to you, this was probably just another one night stand. As soon as I reached my floor, I broke down crying. My RA found me and took me to the police station. I remember being questioned by the police and them telling me that these things are hard to fight. At the station, I remember being poked and prodded. I remember trying not to look at what the nurse was doing. I remember her taking pictures of the damage and her telling me that

to crush her world. I cut right to the chase, as if saying it more would make me realize it’s my reality. I’ll never forget the silence on the other end and the internal hysteria I could sense. I recently heard from our mutual friend that you had been bragging about it, that it was a one–night stand, and that I said it was rape just because I regretted it the next morning. People that I barely knew were taking your side without even hearing the whole truth. Sometimes I still think it was my fault, but that’s only be-

NEVER ONCE DID I THINK IT WOULD HAPPEN TO ME. a picture of me. I remember when you pushed me into the shower and then back to the bed. I remember you asking me if I was on birth control when the condom came off. I remember your hands all over me and telling you to stop. I knew it was bad when I felt the pain even through all of the alcohol. I remember the sound of someone knocking and how you told me to be quiet and hide. Once they left, you walked me to a place I was familiar with and left me there without saying a word. I remember all of

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there were several cuts inside and outside of me. I remember how it even hurt to sit down because of the bruises I had. I remember the pain I felt during the exam. When I finally got to go home and shower, it was probably the most painful of all. My body was raw and it physically pained me to stand under the water. I remember looking down at myself as if it wasn’t my body. After that I knew I had to call the one person in the world that I can tell anything to: my mom. As the phone rang, I knew I was about

cause society tells me it was. The fact that I chose not to follow through with charges doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. The fact that some nights I want to sit you down and ask you why you did this doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. The fact that I allowed some things and said no to others doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. The fact that I remember everything that happened doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. The fact that I said no makes it rape. The fact that I said stop makes it rape. The fact that I was drunk to the point that I

could not speak makes it rape. Because of you, I had to feel the doubt and accusations of my family, friends, and peers who didn’t understand. Because of you, I had to reconsider with whom I surround myself. Because of you, I had to question myself in more ways than one. Because of you, I had to start all over again. But because of you, I have found a support system. Because of you, I have found that there are more people like me than I thought. Because of you, my best friend was able to tell her story because I empowered her by telling mine. I won’t go as far as thanking you, but I can’t deny that you changed my life. What I am thankful for is that I am better and stronger because of it. - Your survivor *** Even in submitting this letter I questioned myself almost two years after my assault. I remember sitting during the NSO presentation about sexual assault and feeling bad for all of the survivors. They kept repeating “one in four,” but that number means nothing until you know that one. Never once did I think it would happen to me. You are not the exception, and you won’t understand until it happens to you. HALEY COLLINS


G N I S A E L now 8 1 0 2 L L FA

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IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

THREE Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

I have three different stories from three different periods in my life pertaining to three different relationships. Here they are: In high school before my

freshman year at Penn, my parents went out of town. I invited some of my friends over to have a little get together before we all went off to college. It was getting pretty late, and people

had started to go to bed. I was hanging out upstairs with some of my closest friends playing Never Have I Ever. I had to go to the bathroom, so I slipped out the room. I forgot to lock

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the door, and one of my best guy friends came into the bathroom. We were really close, so I did not think much of it and just assumed that he had to go. When I got up, he came rushing towards me and started kissing me. I didn't know what to do, but I tried to tell him to get off of me. He would not listen and since he was a good six inches taller than me and a hell of a lot stronger, I could not get away from him. My friends who were in the other room finally helped me after hearing a lot of banging and yelling from the bathroom. I have trouble trusting my guy friends now. On the last day before summer vacation after freshman year, my friends and I went out to celebrate. We went to Smokes', and we were drinking a lot and having a lot of fun. I had a flight at 10 a.m. the next day, so I set my alarm for 7 a.m. to finish packing. I met a really cute boy there that night who was an upperclassmen. We had a fun night of consensual sex, and I slept over at his house. The next morning when I woke up, he was there on top of me, having sex with me while I had

been asleep. I grabbed all of my belongings and ran out as fast as I could. That was the last time I slept at a guy’s house. I have an older, adopted brother who is six years older than me. When I was four, he would take me to the woods and try to make me kiss him. He told me that he wanted to be my boyfriend, and it was okay because he was adopted. I was four, and I didn’t know anything about anything, so I went along with it because I looked up to him. We had a basement in my old house with a guest bedroom. Once, while my parents thought we were playing videos games, he made me take off all of my clothes and took pictures of me. Then he made me get in bed with him, and he took off his clothes…I did not comprehend any of it at the time, but all I remember after that was being really scared, and running as fast as I could up the stairs. He told me that if I ever told anyone about any of this, he would show his friends the pictures. I have never talked about any of this since it happened. ANONYMOUS


WHAT I COST

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

IIllustration by Anne Marie Grudem

It’s 2 a.m. on a bitterly cold November night and I’m walking down Spruce Street from your house, alone. A sedan rolls out of the blackness and I hear the magic phrase: “Yo bitch, what do you cost?” Perhaps my feet carried me faster than the speed of the light reflecting off his knife blade, or perhaps he simply grew tired of following a little black dress through the poorly illuminated streets. I am left with the ringing of those words under the haunting street lamps: I have come to consider them a warning of what was to come. Perhaps if I had been the Sibyl at Cumae I would have seen their prophetic intent. I would have seen what you cost me. In my insecurity I ignored the warning signs, that nagging, tugging sense of discomfort I felt on top of you. You hurt and it never seemed to bother you when I showed obvious discomfort. It was always my fault. There I was, the little freshman slut. My own desire to have sex with you was all the evidence you needed that I deserved to be violated. Girls like me can’t be raped. Sluts can’t be raped. I thought I had won casual sex. I felt invincible up until that night. As long as I never developed feelings, I thought nothing could hurt me. You cost me the sense that as long as I worked to satisfy a man,

nothing could go wrong. I would never be tight enough that night. I would never satisfy you as much as the porn you forced me to pleasure you to, because even raping me was not enough to make you come. I said I didn’t want you to touch me there, that it would hurt me too much. The moment between when you flipped me and when you penetrated me anally is the moment that has continued to define my college experience. The moment when I knew what I was

my room, the tear–filled panic attacks I would have between club meetings that I told my friends were due to sleep deprivation. I have struggled to regain my academic confidence and my GPA in the absence of a socially acceptable excuse. I was out nearly every night because of you, because I would not and could not be alone. But I was alone, even when I was continuing to have sex. I was throwing myself at people, I was clawing and slurring and imbib-

kind of woman undeserving of love. You cost me the memories of myself wiping the crystalline mask of cocaine off my face in countless fraternity bathrooms, angelic curls and bloody lipstick framing my face. My metal heart tries find anyone to blame but myself, and fails. I see beyond my reflection what a victim should be: docile, sex averse, vanilla, pure of heart and mind. They do not tell you in the mandatory consent sessions that

GIRLS LIKE ME CAN'T BE RAPED. SLUTS CAN'T BE RAPED. about to become. It has haunted my nightmares, it has haunted my climaxes, it has kept me from believing in fundamental trust between human beings. It has cost me many of my friends who either believed that I made you up or believed that by having multiple partners, that by hooking up with boys, and that by dancing suggestively in tight clothes, I deserved to be raped by you. You cost me my academic performance during the easiest part of my academic career. The running out of Philosophy class to vomit in the hall bathroom, the chugging of vodka just to leave

ing just to function, because I could not let you be the story of my sexuality. I hooked up with anyone able to help me try to flip the narrative, to regain control. I would not accept sobriety for myself. I would not accept intimacy. I would continue to feel the weight of countless bodies pressed against me until I had achieved enough distance to be free from the memory of yours. I have lost potential friends, I have seen tears well in the eyes of a man that I loved. I have developed a reputation and a bitter mask because you refused to stop when I started screaming. I have been told that I am the

45% of rape survivors become more promiscuous in the months after their assault. They do not tell you that upwards of 50% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim has previously had consensual sex with. You told me I deserved it. You told me I was a slut. I am left with a specter of you in my head every time I have sex. There are places I cannot be touched, places that make me cringe away from contact. There will always be a part of me that feels I cannot adequately satisfy my partners because of you. There will always be a part of me scared of their faces turning into yours.

It has taken me nearly two years to have sober sex again. You cost me the many paralytic nights where I, like the Sibyl at Cumae, wanted to die. Where I prophesied whether anyone would care if they found me behind a dumpster, where I doubted whether I was worth anything. I would walk out of the Quad gates and stare at the entrance to the trolley line. In my mind I would walk myself down those steps and watch for the lights of the afterlife, where I would count the guests at my funeral. Where I would wonder who would hold me back from the step off that ledge. I felt like a burden. I felt like a freak. I felt soul shatteringly alone. When I see the email alerts informing us of student suicides I’m thrown back there. I've been to the place, I’ve stood with them in my own personal hell. There is a piece of myself still down there. The first Wednesday of February is my national holiday. Every year my mind walks itself back to your apartment. This time I have a response for the catcallers, heckling me in the dark. I cost more than you will ever know. I cost the price of you watching as I walk out the door. I cost the price of your acknowledgement that you raped me. I cost enough for a look back before I disappear into the glimmering lights of the abyss. ANONYMOUS

D E C E M B E R 6 , 2 017 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E

9


HAUNTED Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

IIllustration by Anne Marie Grudem

It’s dark It’s in the forgotten, and the wished to be forgotten A gray shade dominating the story— Life isn’t black or white, and i guess This is just a part of life It was lighter the first time Fifteen years old On the couch of a party Older kids, younger me I looked for the manual on how to play it cool, But found too many drinks instead Told him I was upset, he heard opportunity Things went one way, my wishes the other But it wasn’t too bad, light and harmless Right? It wasn’t that far, things could be worse Cover up, move along. The rumors will fade, Along with the hickey He’ll get the high five tomorrow, and my feelings —I'm fine. But, why do I feel so haunted? Why do I feel so dirty? He was the first for something, but not for everything. This happens everyday, it was just about time… Right? Oh...so light. The second time, learning what gray is. Seventeen now—senior year and The world is ours, Or maybe just his. The closest of friends, the most comfortable of parties Come upstairs, we will just go to sleep He said With all our friends a mere hallway away, He heard yes within no My reasons weren’t good enough, He said I can tell you want it, He said This was supposed to happen, 1 0 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E D E C E M B E R 6 , 2 017

He said Then why did I leave, up before the light Before the pancakes and the coffee The hungover stories of the best friends i’d ever had Instead kept company by my car’s loud music, Drowning too many thoughts and falling tears And the familiar feeling of dirty, Inexplicably tainted Telling myself It’s not so bad, you’ll be okay— And with the sun breaking the dawn, It was all just...gray The next time was worse. I knew the feeling, and at some point, This has to all be my fault, right? A perfect, care free night Eighteen years old with the card saying twenty–one roaming a new city, bars and clubs and the freedom to dance Again, on top of the world It’s 3 am and couch surfing is the name of the game An old friend, A best friend, A new friend With the fogginess of a night’s worth of drinks, We fell asleep—three squeezed onto a bed for two As the only girl, I laid in the middle— Not a question, not a worry Only to wake up with him inside, Probing, exploring, taking what he wanted A perfect night resolved to a memory Where in the fog of a moment, I must somehow be in the wrong I am the dirty one. I am the reason this happens. They take what they can because of something I say, Or maybe do. And with a swift move to the floor, he was forced to stop But there was silence in the morning And there were memories tainted And the girl who was on top of the world,

Felt thrown to the ground, beneath the touch of another The last time I decided it had to be my fault For not standing up when I was fifteen For not saying something to the cat calls from then to now For the comments left untouched, With my own body not getting off so lucky For the times I am called a tease, or maybe a whore And I let both stand, so as to not raise a fuss. The lack of fuss must have led to this last time One that is either a bit too recent, Or maybe a bit too timeless to tell The story of so many—of the night that goes too far Of the signs ignored and The empty feelings left behind. It is not just one night, It’s the stories between, Often so normalized we forget they happen The grabs, The calls, The whispers, The taunts. It’s in the fear to drink and the Guilt for that fear. It’s in the self–blaming, And the guilt for daring to blame oneself. It’s in the forgotten, in the dark And the true fear that the girl On top of the world The wild one, the carefree one Will one day forget entirely Of how to live, scared of the dark Life has shown her when she does ANONYMOUS


IIllustration by Anne Marie Grudem

FIRSTS

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

It was my first. It was my first time drinking, my first time at a “real” party, and my first time touching a boy, let alone doing anything else. It was also my first time being unconscious, my first time having alcohol forcibly poured down my throat, and the first time I learned that sometimes, saying no isn’t enough. One in four undergraduate women will be sexually assaulted during their time on campus. But what about when it’s already happened before Move–In Day? Freshman girls are constantly warned to avoid certain frats, to stay in groups, to not drink so much. They have a glimmer in their eyes like nothing bad could ever happen to them. Because it hasn’t yet. But why should it have to happen for them to learn? Why should they have to lose that glimmer in their eyes? I was 15 when I was assaulted. It was a boy I knew. I lived in a world where bad things didn’t happen, where boys were silly, but kind. I thought that the dark stories of assault were things to worry about in the future. I lived in a fantasy world where, when he stumbled up to me at a party, we would kiss and look into each other’s eyes and immediately fall in love. Instead, I looked into his

eyes while he seemed to take a part of me away—they were dark and they were cold, and years later I will never forget how much they scared me when they looked in mine, how I knew that something was wrong even if I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I remember how it felt to lose control. It seemed like my childhood

would free me, but all it did was make me even more raw. The years that followed consisted of tears, flashbacks, and fear. I refused to get near a boy, let alone to trust one near my body. Even the smallest instances of catcalling, or even the wrong kind of look, could throw me into a spiral. Eventually, I channeled

Instead of a casual thing to watch out for, to me the problem of assault on college campuses sounded like a death wish. How could I possibly go out when I knew what could happen? How could I watch girls like me get too drunk and go up to boys they never would sober? How could I stand by, knowing that I could

IT SEEMED LIKE MY CHILDHOOD WAS TAKEN FROM ME ALL AT ONCE. was taken from me all at once. The next day, still drunk and covered in my own vomit, I showered for two hours. I scrubbed my body so hard that my skin bled. I needed to wash him off of me. His smell, a mix of cinnamon and alcohol that seemed to be permanently stuck in my nostrils. His touch that seemed to leave a visible mark on my body, even though I knew it was only in my imagination. I thought that if I didn’t do this, everyone would know that I wasn’t pure anymore. I thought washing him off of me

my thoughts into therapy, and with the support of my friends, I reported my assault. The reporting process was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. Nothing can compare to the fear of having police knock on your front door when you’re trying to finish your calculus homework, or the fear of the reactions of other people finding out. It felt like added pain to an already unbearable situation. Ultimately, even the justice I did receive didn’t feel like enough. Nothing felt like it could ever be enough.

help someone else like no one was able to help me? I have a hard time listening to my friends’ stories of drunken hookups. On one hand, it’s because I’m innately aware that consent cannot be given while intoxicated, and certainly not while blackout drunk. But I also must admit to myself that I’m jealous of their carelessness. It feels unfair that where they see fun, tipsy dance floor hookups, I see fear. I wonder if they can sense my apprehension, or if they wonder why I’m different.

It’s difficult to bring up our stories of assault to those who are close to us. There is never a natural pause in conversation where it fits, and there is never a right time, especially with new people. When I open up to someone, it feels like I’m giving them the most intimate part of myself. I know that to a person who hasn’t experienced it, it can be difficult to know what to say. No words ever seem right, but I think there are three things all survivors want to hear: 1) I believe you 2) You didn’t want it 3) It wasn’t your fault. Life goes on, and eventually, it stops hurting so badly. I thought I would never laugh again, but I have. I thought I would never feel those innocent butterflies in my stomach again, but I have. I’m still not ready to fully open myself up again, to truly be careless, and I’m not sure if that glimmer in my eyes will ever come back. But even if it scares the crap out of me, I’m going to go to parties, flirt with boys, and sometimes drink a little bit too much. Or at least I’m going to try. And eventually, I’ll have another first. After everything, I feel like I deserve at least that. ANONYMOUS

D E C E M B E R 6 , 2 017 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 1 1


IIllustration by Anne Marie Grudem

I DIDN'T KNOW I COULD BE RAPED AND STILL LOOK NORMAL. Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

I was 16. My boyfriend had recently died in the beginning of my junior year from a freak health accident while trying out for the traveling soccer team at his East Coast college. I was devastated, obviously, and I had recently increased my anxiety medicine prescription after it took weeks just to leave my bed. I could not see anyone I knew because the social anxiety imprisoned me. I decided leaving with my friend to visit her boyfriend who played D1 football at a large state school in the mountains would be the perfect nature escape for me. I could be surrounded by people who did not know what happened and who also did not know me. It was not a good decision. One night while we were there, the football team came over to my friend's boyfriend's on–campus apartment to socialize but turn in for an early night. After the incident, I had not been able to sleep, so I had started taking my mother's prescription sleep medication. However, since it was so strong, I would always make sure I was alone in a secure place in bed

before I took it. That night, I waited for everyone to leave, and when they did, I took my medicine only to return to my bed with one of the players lying in it. I pleaded for him to leave as I knew the medication

bered that I had said it, and that it was dark, and that I had felt afraid. My body was sore, and I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that I had had sex just a month after my boyfriend died, and

deeply ashamed. I didn't tell anyone. I was so embarrassed. I saw him on TV during his SEC conference games. I knew what he had done, and no one else did. I wish I had ruined his life.

I LIVED MY LIFE IMPRISONED BY HIS ACTIONS, AND HE JUST LIVED HIS LIFE. would take hold soon, and as my pleading got more insistent, so did the blurriness in my vision. Soon, I was probably nearly unconscious as I have no memory of the night from that moment on. I woke up, and I was sore. I remembered small blurry flashbacks of me saying, "No, no. Stop! My boyfriend died a month ago," in no particular order. I just remem-

1 2 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E D E C E M B E R 6 , 2 017

I did not tell my friend on the way home that day why I wasn't speaking. I did not even know I had truly been raped, whatever that was supposed to mean. Media always portrayed rape as this violent act where I was supposed to be tracked down by a vengeful man who would leave me bleeding by the side of a road. I didn't know I could be raped and still look normal. I mostly felt

I used to look up his social media profiles and type out a long message about how his mother would hate the creature that he has become, but those never sent. And he never missed one of his games, although I missed my boyfriend and feeling like I had some innocence. One time, I even found his coach's name and email online, but that email never sent either. How was I

supposed to speak up about the sex that I did not want to have when no one in the South even talks about sex you do want to have? No one would have believed me, and if they would've, they would've blamed me for taking the sleeping pill in the first place. I eventually told friends when I could talk about it objectively. I remember I said to my best friend in the car on the way to pick up donuts one morning, "I got raped by a football player when I went on that weekend trip, Kelly." Her mouth just opened. We didn't really say anything after that, but she knew I was broken far beyond repair for a while. I lived my life imprisoned by his actions, and he just lived his life. I regret most not fucking him completely over. I regret not ruining his career, academically and in sports. I regret not getting his disgusting, overpowering ass kicked out of university and in jail for my rape. But it never really works out that way for us, does it? ANONYMOUS


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IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

SIX

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and aviolence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

all you left was a thread tugged and torn is it common to leave someone so senseless

took away my sight pinpointed irises splashed with color pupils dilated so slight

censored the bits that you couldn’t shape blurred the lines that you didn’t like

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reality once perceptive left squinting through gaslit night took away my ears melodies, voices, echoes diluted into watered-down suggestive murmurs that remain your deafening throes of misplaced rage and blame bought my silence 'i want to hold your hand’ audio left tainted ink-splattered sheets once composed for us took away my touch hunger insatiable, lustful thought claimed my body, my skin a primal leash pulled taut the one source of solace astray, naught a dog must feel comfort tied back by his usual chain

the pizza overpriced for pizza that is the grease had to blot with a napkin i watched a bitter end sprout a sour start to what would grow towering pillars of salt took away my smell the scent of betrayal hard to detect amongst dirty laundry the trash goes out on tuesday and it was saturday there’d be too much now but you held my nostrils shut and told me I was in a rose garden how could i see it your way how would i listen better how should i speak up why should i feel like this the thread you left me

flesh and pleasure words that seem like they would rhyme but were never meant to took away my taste the sweetness in the air the soft pretzels they sold by the pier

is more than enough to patch the holes in my sense of self

NIKOLAS ALVELO


IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

A MOMENT IN THE DARK

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

I had recently moved to New York City to start my ten weeks as a summer associate at a firm. I was living in Brooklyn for that time period, and sporadically frequented The Woods, a funky and fun dance club in Williamsburg. I went out with friends and my boyfriend, and yes, of course, I'd been drinking and socializing at this dance club, enjoying what it was like to be in a big city, even if for so short a time. After entering the bar, a man made a lewd, sexual comment directed at me that I did not fully catch. I did not offer up the affectation of a smile in response. It was loud and hard to decipher his word's particularities and shape when radiating thumps and thuds surrounded me. Was I to give special clarifying attention to a conversation I had no interest in partaking in? I was among friends and happy; why should I carve out a moment to appease? Later in the evening, as I momentarily left my friends to find the bathroom, he approached me yet again and asked if he should get my phone number now or when he takes me home later. I was

waiting in the bathroom line and it was hard to hear— don't all women know the woe of waiting in this long line? I was not willing to leave and be uncomfortable all night to avoid this man. Surely my only thought was, "Why choose now when I am trapped?" I declined in that manner many women have come to know—kind enough to not incite the "Who do you think you are, bitch?" response, but firm enough that perhaps he will take your no to mean just that. He persisted until I was able to enter the packed women's room. Upon exiting, I did not see him and made my way back to the corner that my friends were in—dancing, enjoying one another. I felt again comfortable seeing them near. He was standing there hidden in the crowd of moving people, the moving lights and darkness obscuring his figure. As I moved past him unknowingly he quickly ran his hand up my thigh to, as I can now properly articulate, grab my pussy. He was wearing a number of rings that I could feel the cold metal of as he swiftly pulled up and

across from back to front in a motion that I now realize must have been perfected on many women before me. He did it in so aggravated and entitled a fashion that my initial bodily reaction was not to

defend but to scour. We made eye contact—the colored– strobing lights giving me only a peek of the satisfaction he got from watching the blood drain from my face. I said and did nothing, and returned to

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D E C E M B E R 6 , 2 017 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 1 5


TELL ME AGAIN WHY I SHOULDN'T Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page. ANONYMOUS

I and every single one of my female friends have been forcibly kissed without any warning or consent at a frat party. This is fucking rattling. This is an aspect of rape culture on campus that is rarely spoken about and perceived as benign. This action and the unbelievable normalization of it send the message that my body is not my own—that my body is available for public use and enjoyment, and that I have no say in what is done to it. Nonconsensual touching, kissing, ass grabs,

waist squeezes, occurring mostly at parties but also just on the fucking street between classes make me want to jump out of my own skin. And when I push the seeking hands off of me, spin and yell and writhe away, every single time I look up and see some smug face laughing and taunting. I feel even more removed from my body and agency over my body than before. I am furious. These actions are not benign. These actions are the base layers of the pyramid that culminated in my rape. These

actions, every time I experience them or see them or hear about them from yet another female classmate, remind me of the feeling I had when he held my shoulders down with his knees and forced his repulsive dick down my throat. The feeling that my entire existence was desecrated. Condensed to an open mouth and paralyzing, paralyzing fear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relived this in my head. I hear my own voice in my nightmares pleading, begging him not to. But

BE SO ANGRY

the WORST part for me—worse than the physical pain and the terror and the degradation and the resulting panic attacks and nearly constant fear of it happening again— was that when he decided he was done, he got off of me, zipped his pants up, sat down on the end of the bed and pulled out his phone and asked for my number. He didn’t think he had done something wrong. He wanted to do it again sometime. The excusatory culture on campus and at parties allowed him to go just

one step beyond a forced kiss and think everything would be fine. He smiled at me as I got up and left the room trembling. Tell me it was my fault again. Tell me it has nothing to do with campus culture. Tell me it’s a few bad apples, sociopaths, aberrations in the system. Tell me again that I obviously wanted it because I was upstairs with him. Thank you so much for the clarification. Tell me again to stop being such an angry bitch when you grope me. I’m not fucking listening.

HE TOOK ANYWAY Why does your face look like that? He asked me, annoyed. Not understanding, or just not caring, that he was ripping me apart. I wasn’t sure which. Next thing I know I’m running home. Whipping around corners and leaping across streets. Trying to outrun what just happened.

When I finally make it home, I am out of it. Still drunk, staggering, I knock a glass off of my nightstand as I fall into bed. It shatters. I cry myself to sleep, choking on my actions. It’s such a cliché to blame yourself, but I did. Oh, I really did. Friend of a friend, we struck up a conversation for the first time

on Facebook a week before and randomly came upon the subject of virginity. I told him that I didn’t need some grand romantic night with candles and rose petals and the love of my life. I just wanted someone who mattered, someone not in the picture yet for me. He knew this. Yet he still decided to take me behind the dugout of a

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baseball field and fuck me on the gravel ground. The later blood–splattered gravel ground. I took what happened and folded it, crumpled it, crammed it deep down inside of me where I hoped it would never, ever come back up. Whenever I remembered what he stole from me, what I could never have back, it was like being stabbed swiftly with a thin sword deep into my chest. Waiting for the train to school. In chemistry class. At the lunch table. In the middle of soccer practice. I never knew when it would claw its way back up. I would be happy, laughing with friends, and then out of nowhere the stabbing, cutting, reminding me that I couldn’t be happy. I tried to convince myself that I never cared about the idea of virginity anyway, that it wasn’t real, that it didn’t matter. But it did matter. He had it. It took me five years. Five years to realize that not only was what happened not ok, but it was not my fault. Sixteen–year–olds get drunk, they do stupid things. That doesn’t excuse a completely sober person pulling my stum-

bling body into a park and taking my clothes off. I didn’t need to explicitly say no. Sloppy, slurring, stumbling. That was enough. Wincing, bleeding, cringing. That was enough. I can still barely talk about it. I still compare it to other encounters that I hear about and think, well my experience isn’t as bad. Now, with all of the news articles coming out around sexual assault allegations, it is encouraging to see women and men speaking up, and to finally see repercussions. At the same time, it is becoming harder and harder to sit around while people talk about these stories in the abstract, as if something similar hasn’t happened to me and probably many people around me. It is time to call out sexual assault, but to also leave space for those who cannot yet talk about it. My hope is that in the future, survivors will not have to constantly relive these traumatic experiences in order for people to believe us and do something about it. ANONYMOUS


IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT

IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

He was my first of many things. He was my first homecoming date, my first boyfriend, my first kiss, and my first assault. During my freshman year of high school, a tall, dark, and handsome boy who was the prized possession of our town began to pass me notes in class. I was awestruck, and soon enough, we began dating. I thought I was so lucky. What did the athletic star of our hometown see in me, a shy, geeky girl? I thought I was in a dream, but that dream quickly became clouded with confusion and guilt. One night I fell asleep on his couch and awoke as I suddenly felt him on top of me. I was confused for a couple seconds until I felt his hands slide down and unbutton my pants. My grogginess quickly turned to panic. I tried to make him stop. I froze, I

pleaded with him, I told him it hurt, I said no. The only response that I heard was what resonated to me for years to come: “This is what people in relationships do.” That night I came home quiet. I cleaned off the blood that stained my underwear, and I cried myself to sleep. I still dated him for a while after that. I felt guilty. Why didn’t I do what he wanted? Was I a horrible girlfriend? Would no one ever like me? This is what our relationship soon evolved to. He would drive us in his truck, say we were going on a date, and then pull over to a parking lot and try to force me to do things again and again. He made me feel guilty, and I blamed it all on myself. When he finally broke up with me, I was actually relieved. However, what I did not realize was that his ac-

tions forever shaped how I viewed relationships. It took years for me to begin to feel comfortable being alone in a room with a guy who was my friend, let alone in a car. I am still learning how to open myself up, to be able to be intimate, and to feel confident enough to tell people no. It is a long journey, but one I am finally confident with moving on. If you are going through a similar situation, listen to me: it is not your fault. Just because you are dating someone does not mean you have to do something you aren’t comfortable with. Surround yourself with people that love and care for you. One day, you will find yourself someone who breaks down all your walls. Hold your head up and be strong. ANONYMOUS

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SO I KISSED A STRANGER ON A BUS

IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

“Powerful Victims” sounds paradoxical. We—we Penn students, we Americans, we westerners—train victims, especially victims of sexual assault, to internalize their victimhood. It’s not that we side with the aggressor—of course not. On the contrary, we require his wickedness be acknowledged by everyone, especially the abused party. Survivors of sexual assault must not survive unscathed, we decree. We demand that they suffer lasting damage—otherwise it’s as if they are belittling their own trauma, and the trauma of all victims. This is absurd. It cannot be that, in order to prove innocence, we demand weakness. Last semester, while on semester abroad in Jerusalem, I was sexually assaulted. I did not swap tank tops for turtlenecks. Instead, I kissed a stranger on a bus. Roughly four hours before The Kiss, a man I didn’t know prevented me from getting out of his car by grabbing me by the neck, and forcing my mouth open with his tongue while trying to unbutton my skirt. He had offered me a ride from the University gym back to main campus, which is how I’d ended up in the seat next to him. My strength surprised me.

Adrenaline maybe. I pushed him off me with both hands and, in my best "Mom Voice", commanded, “Stop that. My boss is about to call me—I’ll be late for my meeting." God forbid! “I’ll make you stay.” My disgust and contempt unnerved him. “Let. Go.” I snarled. He did. It took a little less than a minute for the strength to fade. I

hands and the tongue screaming my name from the street. A foggy chill had replaced the buzz of analyses and counter proofs usually bombinating in my mind. The words that did float to the surface felt heavy and foreign: “You shouldn’t have worn this. You shouldn’t have gotten into his car. What did you think was going to happen?” These heavy, foreign words

seat, listening to him. “Press charges.” “Victim.” “Jail.” He thought I was guiltless. How could I make him see that, while generally the victim is not to blame, this was a special case? Maybe if I took my jacket off he'd understand. On the street, walking towards the bus stop, my brain began to thaw. Spineless and Strong Celeste began to argue about

WE KNOW THESE PEOPLE. THEY GO TO SCHOOL WITH US, THEY CRY IN OUR BATHROOMS. had left Penn’s campus, but I had internalized our axioms and assertions about power dynamics (and everything else). While I pulled myself out of his car, and walked towards the Hebrew University campus, I felt my spine slump. I shrunk away from the men walking on the sidewalk beside me. “Why am I dressed this way?" I pulled my jean jacket out of my bag and slipped it on. Nothing to see here. While walking shakily through campus security I could hear the strange man with the

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filled my throat and wrapped around my guts while I was on the phone with my boss. When the call was over, I went to my professor’s office, and mumbled into my hands that I had been sexually assaulted and didn’t think I could sit through class. He exhaled slowly and asked me to sit down. I waited for him to say, “Celeste, we need to talk about your wardrobe choices.” Instead he said, “I hate seeing guys get away with this. In Israel, the victim almost always wins. He will probably go to jail.” It was strange sitting in that

whether or not I was allowed to put my jean jacket back in my bag. Spineless Celeste called me a slut and told me to leave it on if I knew what was good for me. Bitch. I took it off. “Well fine, she better not come crying to me when some guy thinks he can take her shirt off.” “Oh yes, excellent logic. Either she’s a victim or she’s a slut.” I sat down on the bus, across from a boy with black ripped jeans, gages and spiky hair. He smiled at me. “She better not smile back at

hi–” “What, she’s not allowed to smile anymore?” I’m sure the facial spasm I returned was less than charming, but he kept smiling anyway. Trooper. I decided while sitting there listening to the Celestes argue, I would not leave the bus without kissing the boy with the smile and the spiky hair. The Kiss would mean I refused to exchange the poetry in life for sensible stability. It is gorgeous to chase after beauty and heat. It is brave. It is especially brave to chase beauty and heat after being knocked down. It is not a victim’s responsibility to stay on the ground. It is not a victim’s responsibility to fear the gorgeous things that make our blood race. We prefer our victims weak because we would rather pity them than be intimidated by their indestructible spirits. But we know these people. They go to school with us, they cry in our bathrooms, and brush against us on Locust Walk. We owe it to them to be braver than we are. I owed it to myself to be braver than I felt—so I kissed a stranger on a bus.

CELESTE MARCUS


BLACK OUT SEX IS RAPE. Content warning: The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed on our back page.

One night during my first month of college out with a few friends, I happened to run into a boy I knew from high school on Spruce Street. Everyone was drunkenly milling about, as per usual on a Friday night around this area of campus. He tagged along with us to frat parties. I blacked out at some point. I don't remember any part of what happened afterwards. I don't remember who initiated it. I don't remember leaving the party with him, away from my friends. I don't remember him taking me back to his high rise

apartment. I do remember waking up naked in his bed at 7 a.m. the next morning. Stunned or even shocked is the wrong word to describe how I felt in those minutes before I shakily and shamefully walked back to the Quad in rumbled, sweaty clothes. I just felt so hollow. That is the exact word that I personified. A year later I am still coming to terms with being assaulted and feeling comfortable to talk about the night with a few select friends. I've always been told your rapist is most likely to be someone

you know. I see the guy sometimes on Locust Walk or randomly in Huntsman. I don't feel afraid of him. I don't believe he is inherently evil or immoral. I don't even think I really hate him. Should I feel angrier and want to hurt him back just like he hurt me? I don't know. I am sure about the following: black out sex is rape, non–consensual, and wrong even though Penn culture trivializes it. Don't engage in it, don't promote it, don't tell your friends it's okay.

It was at a frat party about a month into my freshman year, and I was dancing with this guy who I had known since Quaker Days. Once it got late, he offered to walk me back to my room in Fisher. Once inside the Quad, however, he invited me up to

his room for some chocolate. I'm not stupid. I knew what he meant, but I liked him. Moreover, I thought I knew him. We started making out, but when he tried taking my clothes off, I said no. I must have said it at least 20 times. I tried push-

ing his body off of mine, but he was so much stronger than I was. "Come on," he said. "I really like you." Still, I pushed him off. Again and again, until I realized that he wasn't going to stop no matter how much I struggled. I went to Penn and

IIllustration by Gloria Yuen

ANONYMOUS

I AM ALONE IN THIS.

THE POST I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN Because I was your girlfriend means it was okay, right? Because we had done it before means it was okay, right? Because I cheated first means it was okay, right? Because I wore too much makeup and too little clothes means it was okay, right? Because you said you were smart and I was dumb means it was okay, right?

Because you were drunk and I was not means it was okay, right? Because I didn't fight you off means it was okay, right? Because I was crying means it was okay, right? Because you said you've done this before means it was okay, right? Right, kk. #metoo ANONYMOUS

told them what happened. They told me that if seeing him made me uncomfortable, then I should just avoid him. And so I do. Sometimes I see him in Van Pelt and have a panic attack. Sometimes I see him with women, and I feel scared for them. I

know what he is capable of doing. But I avoid him nonetheless. He may have taken away my dignity that night, but Penn took away my courage by doing nothing. I am alone in this. ANONYMOUS

T

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CAMPUS RESOURCES The HELP Line: 215-898-HELP [4357]

A 24–hour–a–day phone number for members of the Penn community who seek help in navigating Penn’s resources for health and wellness

Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021 (active 24/7)

The counseling center for the University of Pennsylvania has the Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention (STTOP) Team, which is a multidisciplinary team of CAPS clinicians dedicated to providing confidential care, support, and advocacy to students who have experienced sexual trauma during their academic career.

Student Health Service: 215-746-3535

Student Health Service can provide medical evaluations and treatment to victims/survivors of sexual and relationship violence regardless of whether they make a report or seek additional resources. Both male and female providers can perform examinations, discuss testing and treatment of sexually transmissible infections, provide emergency contraception if necessary, and arrange for referrals and follow up.

Student Intervention Services 3611 Locust Walk, 215-898-6081

Handles emergencies or critical incidents involving the welfare and safety of students

Penn Violence Prevention

3539 Locust Walk (Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm), (215) 746-2642

Division of Public Safety 4040 Chestnut Street

General Information: 215-898-7297 Emergency: 215-573-3333 Ensures safety and security of Penn; also offers self-defense courses and walking escort services

Public Safety Special Services

Trained personnel offer crisis intervention, accompaniment to legal and medical proceedings, options counseling and advocacy, and links to other community resources.

Penn Women’s Center

3643 Locust Walk Office Hours 9:30 am – 5:30 pm Monday–Thursday, 9:30 am – 5 pm Friday The Penn Women's Center provides confidential crisis and options counseling

Reach-A-Peer Helpline

215-573-2727 (every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.)

A peer hotline to provide peer support, information, and referrals to Penn students

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12.06.2017  

34th Street Magazine

12.06.2017  

34th Street Magazine

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