*TRIGGER WARNING: This section contains experiences with sexual assault and/or violence that may be triggering to survivors and others.
Anonymous: I am a 1984 graduate of Oxy. I was raped in my own dorm room in the middle of the night my freshman year. A senior on campus came through the window that my roommate had left open. Although I went to higher-ups at school, I was strongly encouraged not to file a police report as “this family provides a lot of support” to Oxy. As an out-of-state freshman, away from home for the first time, I did not know what to do. No assistance was offered. Instead, I had to endure seeing my rapist on campus for the remainder of the school year when he graduated. What I would like to tell all survivors is, don’t stop if you are discouraged from filing a police report or from getting the help you need. It has been 32 years since this happened to me and I still have nightmares.
Anonymous: I was sexually assaulted in 2000 during my sophomore year while intoxicated outside of my dorm by a former student who was taking a semester off. Because I hadn’t been raped (but I did have internal bruising and pain) I decided to go through the college’s judicial system. I trusted Oxy to take care of me but I was so wrong. Once my assailant reapplied for admission he was informed that I had made a complaint. I was horrified at the ‘trial’ when despite my being intoxicated and him being sober and him agreeing that I had asked him to stop 3 times, the panel of students and professors found that it was a ‘misunderstanding’. I love Oxy and I decided not to leave the college I chose to go to but was forced to attend college always knowing that he could turn up anywhere. I protested with the Dean and got him to agree that my assailant could not take any of my classes or live in my dorms and I got first choice but running into him in line at the cafeteria was awful and emotionally scarring. To make matters worse, my female advisor history professor (who also was one of the trained professors to support victims) told me after the trial that she hoped “I’d learned my lesson”. I dealt with horrible gossip which even resulted in a student reporter, from the campus newspaper, finding out who I was and showing up at my door to interview me. I had wonderfully supportive friends, parents, professors (especially Michael Near and Elizabeth Chin), and a campus therapist, and that got me through it. But I felt like I had to fight for my rights every day at Oxy even though I was the one who was the victim. I am so proud of this group for standing up for current and former Oxy students who were survivors. Thanks!
Anonymous: I’ve put off writing this for a while because I’m never sure where to start… Should I talk about the time LAPD came to my dorm to break up a “party” of 40 guys and one stripper all crammed into a double? Or the time some guy had his buddies crouched under my window with a video camera to film his (unsuccessful, thank goodness) attempt to seduce me? Or the time I was walking down the hall to the restroom in my pajamas in the middle of the night on a Tuesday and was thrown up against the wall by a drunk dorm-mate who smashed his mouth into mine and started groping me? Because all of those are times when I did not feel safe, and times when I never heard a word about punishment or consequence for any of the men involved. (I filed a report with Campus Safety about the guys who tried to film me and asked later whatever happened to it and was told they couldn’t tell me anything “to protect the boys’ privacy.” Ha.) But all of those things happened during my sophomore year, and I might have had more capacity to deal with them… had I not been raped by a guy in my dorm during Orientation Week my freshman year. I had a crush on him, at first. We even went to a movie. And we talked about dating and relationships and I told him my high school boyfriend and I hadn’t had sex because we decided we weren’t ready. I told him I didn’t want to have sex with anyone until we were deeply in love – and I thought that would take about two years! (Ah, how naïve that sounds now. Two years!) But I include that detail now because I was SO clear: I do not want to have sex with anyone until we’ve dated for two years and are in love. The next night, another guy in the dorm took me on a “walk” which turned out to be a visit to Mt. Fiji, where he started to kiss me. I told him I couldn’t make out with him because I liked the guy I’d been to the movie with the night before. Apparently, Mt. Fiji guy felt he needed to save face and told the entire football team and anyone else who would listen, that he’d had sex with me. By now, it’s the end of O Week, which, if anyone remembers, does not involve a lot of sleeping! I had a roommate who was never in the room, and the guy I had a crush on came down to my room to talk and listen to music. I don’t remember if he kissed me or anything… He might have. All I know, is in my over-tired state, I fell asleep on my bed. When I woke up, it was dark and he was pulling down my underwear and forcing his penis inside me. I was disoriented, confused. I asked him what he was doing and told him to stop. He said it wouldn’t take long. I remember trying to convince him to stop and eventually turning my head to the side, hoping it would be over soon. When he finished, he left. I tracked him down a week later and asked him why he had done it. He said he was pissed off when he heard I’d slept with the football player after I told him I was a virgin. I told my RA, and she told me to tell my parents. I told the therapist at Emmons, and she told me to get over it because these things happen in college. I already felt so much shame that my first experience with sex had been so different from the values my parents taught me. And I began to question myself – maybe I really was making a big deal out of nothing. So I stopped talking about it. Second semester, I came back to school and the guy was in my CSP class. I told my advisor, who somehow had him transferred out of the class. That was the only time I felt like someone in a position of power at Occidental did anything to help me. Towards the end of my sophomore year, I still hadn’t really dealt with anything (and had had some pretty messed up relationships with men where I was always trying to “fix” my first experience with sex). I was playing video games in a dorm room with a guy friend, something I had done with this very guy at least twice before. We were never romantic; he’d never made any kind of pass at me. He was drinking. I wasn’t. I stood up to go home, and he suddenly grabbed me and started kissing me. I was surprised, but he was attractive and obviously we were friends so I didn’t hate him… I started to kiss him back hesitantly, but he got super physical really quickly. And this time I knew exactly what was coming. I fought back, I started to yell at him to stop, and he put his hand over my mouth and shoved me down on his bed (he was an athlete and probably a foot taller and 100+ pounds heavier than me) and he did not let me up until he was finished. I was crying and struggling the entire time. Any doubt I’d felt the first time about whether or not it was really rape was gone this time. I was so ashamed. I felt like it must be something about ME for this to happen twice. The rapist lived across the hall from a guy from my hometown. I remember being so scared my friend from back home would find out what had happened, that I crawled out the rapist’s window so no one would see me. I went back to my dorm and did all the things I said I would never do. I took a shower. I kept it a secret. I got through finals (barely) and I went home. I was driving somewhere with my mom that summer and she pulled off the road and said “What the hell is wrong with you?! I’m not driving anywhere until you tell me!” I finally told her everything. My parents found me a therapist who thought it mattered. They called the president of the college and expressed their anger and sadness about how it had all been handled…from the RA who didn’t take any action to the filming incident that seemed to have no consequence. The president assured them he would do X,Y, and Z, and my mom felt so much better when she hung up the phone. And then, surprise, surprise, nothing ever happened. No X, no Y, no Z. It’s been 13 years since the second time I was raped at Oxy, and I can honestly say it’s taken me most of that time, several therapists, and a few books, to feel like I am even capable of having a healthy relationship with a man. Reading the posts by others on this website is quite emotional for me. But I’m glad this website exists, because it sure didn’t back then. And I hope the administration will take it seriously. I was a scholarship recipient, recruited to the college to be a shining example. Instead, I spent most of my time at Oxy as a zombie, certainly never rising to my potential, and spent years after feeling stuck, left dealing with the trauma that was college.
Anonymous: I prefer not to relive my story of 1981 at Oxy. The night ended my ‘future’. I was a as young person struggling to emerge from shyness and establishing an identity. My mind shut down. I am surprised I graduated as that year and the following year even reading the LA Times was next to impossible. I buried the memory and only did it start to melt out of me ‘side ways’ via depression as a young mother. Took years of excellent counseling to feel comfortable with myself. My financial security is nil as I lost a crucial confidence level that is required in the workforce. Instead I thrive as a volunteer. Fantastic to see Oxy is developing national leadership. I discovered this site via the New York Times article March 20.
Anonymous: I was raped my freshman year at Oxy by two junior football players. Like most other freshmen girls my year, I got dolled up for a CEOs and office hoes party at one of the fraternities. I don’t remember much from the party, but what I do remember, and will always remember, is waking up from my blackout at an off campus house with one man on top of me and another laying beside me. They took turns raping me as I laid there in shock and guilt for what was happening. Soon they both passed out from being drunk and I was able to push them off of me, gather my clothes and run as fast as I could out of the house. I called my friends to come pick me up and all I remember after that was hiding my shame in the showers for a while. When I woke up the next morning, I called my mom and cried to her to tell her how awful I felt for sleeping with two guys in one night. She was silent for a moment, then said, “That was rape.” I didn’t dream of reporting to Oxy, because I feared that everyone on the campus would just see me as a slut, and surely they would believe two star football players (whose parents gave a lot of money to the school) over me. I suffered from severe PTSD symptoms for the next 8 months, and seriously contemplated not returning to Oxy for my second year. I did, but that year was the hardest year of my life. I never knew when or where I might see my assailants on campus. I completely isolated myself. The day they graduated was one of the happiest days of my life. Two weeks later, someone told me that they had admitted to “gang raping” me to all their friends, and were proud of it. Even though this was horrible to hear, I was still glad I didn’t report my rape to Oxy. The reporting process most likely would have been just as damaging as the rape itself. It is sad to me that even when my assailants admitted to rape, I was still afraid to report to the school for fear of not being believed. I don’t know where I would be without the resources at Project SAFE, Survivors Circle and Emmons. I can’t thank them enough for their support through those tough times. I am so proud of the current movement by courageous survivors to make Oxy a safer place. The rape culture at Occidental must change. Shatter the silence, Stop the violence.
Anonymous: I’m a graduate from ’03 and I get to your site via the Ms. blog – I can tell you that many of my friends are rape survivors from Oxy – as I am. For me it happened in my dorm room my freshman year after an off campus party. I hope you will reach out to the alumni to support your efforts to reform Oxy’s policies. Best of luck!
Anonymous: In comparison to other accounts, I certainly do not claim to be a similar situation. But I do think it is a situation a lot of other students find themselves in, and really illustrates the nature of rape culture, the campus environment, and internalized blame. Last year, I attended Oxy’s splatter dance. I ran into a very drunk first year student, who I had an established mentorship type friendship with. He could hardly walk and was alone. Feeling concerned, I approached him and he asked me to dance. Thinking I could keep him out of trouble, I agreed. It started out normally, but he continually tried placing his hands on my chest or genital area. I kept stopping him, telling him no, and rearranging his hands. Finally, he ignored me and shoved his hand down my shorts and into my panties. At that point, I left him. I know what occurred was sexual battery, and it fills me with anger. But I still hazard to identify it as sexual assault, or to blame him. This speaks to the incredible ways I’ve been taught to normalize exchanges like this and blame myself for causing this to happen. If only I had said I to dancing. But this has happened to me before, with another male dancer trying to grope me at Mardi Gras, or a graduate who had me pinned up against a bar corner and dancing so aggressively I felt more violation than fun. Every time this happens, I tell myself “that’s just what happens at dances” or it was my fault for not just running away. But I want to be able to have fun at social events without anxiety and fear. It’s absurd, and I know other students struggle with the same internal struggle.
Anonymous: My rapist was already on probation for sexually assaulting another woman when I reported him. He had admitted to sexually assaulting her and was simply put on probation. When the process began for my case, I immediately started having anxiety attacks almost daily. As someone with an anxiety disorder, waiting around for 2 months to find out if my rapist was going to be able to stay on campus for another year and a half (and rarely being updated on the progress of my case) was not good for my mental health, needless to say. This was made that much worse by the administrators I interacted with. My investigators made lighthearted conversation with me whenever I entered their office to recount my story for the millionth time. How do you think my weekend was? They’d chuckle and say “oops!” when I pointed out the endless amount of typos in each file (including misspelling my name) and say that they’d “just been so busy” and had to work quickly. Quite possibly the most traumatizing encounter I had with an administrator was when I met with someone to discuss how unsafe I was feeling with my rapist living so close to me, that I was worried he would do something again. She told me that she had recently met with him and he “didn’t seem like the type of person who would do something like that.” I abruptly left the meeting after telling her how hurtful it was to be told that feeling unsafe around my rapist wasn’t necessary because he wouldn’t attack me, implying that she didn’t believe he would have even done that in the first place.
After weeks and weeks of mental and emotional torture, waiting around to find out if I was going to have to transfer schools because he wouldn’t be leaving, the hearing finally was scheduled to be the week before finals. Throughout the hearing, the hearing board had to stop everything multiple times to call the administrator in charge- she wasn’t even at the hearing- and ask questions about what they should be doing. This made me feel incredibly insecure about them serving as my board since they did not know what to do in many situations that arose during the hearing. The hearing was supposed to take a couple hours at most- mine ended up taking almost five hours. I came out exhausted. I was called in the next week and found out that he had been found responsible for two counts against me, both rape and sexual assault. They told me he was being expelled.
I took some of my finals but had to take incompletes in two of my courses. I had been too depressed and anxious to do work most of the semester and had gotten behind. I was lucky enough to have understanding professors. I worked on finishing two of my courses for the first few weeks of winter break. At the beginning of break, I received an email that my rapist was appealing the decision. Despite not having any grounds for appeal, his appeal was accepted, and they told me that the hearing board would be meeting again to re-do their decision. I was put through more time of anxiously waiting. After a couple of weeks I was emailed with their decision. The hearing board had still found him responsible for both counts, rape and sexual assault. However, at the bottom of the email, it said that his sanctions had been changed. He would no longer be expelled. Instead, he would be suspended until I graduated. After that, he would be allowed to come back and finish the semester he had left in the middle of, and could finish school and get his degree from Oxy. When I asked the administrator who made this decision why the sanctions had been changed when the verdict was the same, she said that mine was an “extraordinary case” and that she couldn’t tell me why. She admitted that some things had gone wrong with my case and said that she had had to fight for him to get suspended for more than just one semester, which she said was what other administrators had suggested.
When I got back to school after winter break, I heard everyone talking about a case that Oxy had messed up and how it was because his parents had a lot of money and were going to sue. That’s how I found out what she had meant by my case being “extraordinary.” Because of this, once I graduate, I can never come back to Oxy. I can’t visit friends who still go here, I can’t go to alumni events, I can’t even show people around where I went to school because there will always be a chance that he is here. He is allowed to be here. I was raped during the first week of my first year at Oxy. I was robbed of anything resembling a normal college experience. Yet four years later, after reporting in the hopes that I could feel safe on campus again, I’m still the one who doesn’t get to feel safe or valued at the college I go to.
Anonymous: This is a very small story in comparison to many others, but I think it is valuable to voice here because things like this often get swept under the rug. I was with my friends at a party the other weekend, and a guy came over and started talking to me. He was tall and cute, a member of a sports team, and, as I learned later, a freshman. He asked for my number, promising a call the next day and flirting a lot. After we had been talking for about 20 minutes, the crowd behind me surged and pushed me forward into him. As I struggled to keep my balance, he reached forward and brushed between my legs with his fingers. I couldn’t believe what had happened, so I walked away to talk with my friends. Later, he found me again, this time trying to convince me to leave with him. He’d say we should go outside, go upstairs, go watch a movie. He’d ask for a kiss, just 10 minutes, just 5 minutes, just 1 minute of making out. He said it would be fun. At this point there was no way I was going anywhere with this individual, but he was oblivious to the things I was saying. He kept asking until finally I was able to track down my friends and leave. As I thought back on the night, I was shocked that someone who had recently witnessed Oxy’s orientation talk on sexual assault could turn around and treat someone with such clear disrespect. That somehow, in his first months of being at Oxy, he did not learn that this behavior was inappropriate and unacceptable. And, perhaps most worryingly, that he felt comfortable enough to act this way in front of all his friends, and that none of them stepped up when I was clearly saying, over and over, “no.”
Anonymous: I was raped twice while at Oxy. The first time was during my first year, and took place while off campus at a club with a campus group. My attacker was a stranger. When I rejoined the group later, I was asked if I had a good time, and no one thought anything of it. I walked away from that attack with bruising down my rib cage, and wonderful load of psychological issues that persist years later. I was raped a second time my senior year. I had gone to a dance, and had just texted my boyfriend saying I was leaving and I’d see him in 10min (he had not be able to attend the dance because of work). A classmate of mine approached me and starting chatting with me. We were not close, but we were in the same major and had had a handful of classes together. I wasn’t the biggest fan of him, as I know he didn’t speak well of women generally speaking, but he and I had always a pleasant enough working relationship. I’m not entirely sure what happened (I was very intoxicated at the time), but somehow I found myself in his car. I tried to get out, and he wouldn’t let me. I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t. We were lucky that no one else was on the road at 2am, because he was borderline blackout drunk and should not have been driving. We ended up at his apartment (near to campus, but I was disoriented enough that I did not realize it until later), and when I tried to leave he pulled me onto his bed and raped me. He used a condom at first, but then took it off, something which made the whole ordeal worse, as that triggered memories of my first assault of begging for my attacker to at least use a condom. The assault was violent enough that I sustained significant physical damage that took months to heal. I decided to wait it out, to just get through the situation and not fight. I hate when people tell me I should have fought him physically. He had almost a foot of height on me, easily 50-75lbs, and was a strong guy who I knew had violent tendencies. I also found out after the fact that he had a gun in his apartment. I know I made the right decision to deal with the situation. After the assault, he fell asleep, saying he wanted me to come to him every night. I found my clothes, and left. I texted my boyfriend as I walked back to campus through Eagle Rock at 4am, just to tell him I was fine and sorry that I disappeared, I’d see him tomorrow. He called me immediately, heard in my voice that I was not ok, and came to get me. He took care of me that night, alerting Res Life pro staff and taking me to the Santa Monica Trauma Center. I don’t remember interacting much with the pro staff that night, beyond that they separated me from my boyfriend, with a woman trying to get me to talk to her. I refused to talk to her without my boyfriend in the room, so she gave up. I’m not sure if they thought my boyfriend was my attacker, but I trusted him. I did not trust the stranger asking me questions, the same way I didn’t trust the nurses at the trauma center telling jokes and laughing as they drew vial after vial of my blood to test if my attacker had infected me with some terrible STI. In the coming weeks after the assault, I had a meeting with Dean Avery, who respected my choice not to try to bring my attacker to justice. I’m not sure if that was the right thing now. Dean Avery was good in that she pushed me into seeing someone at Emmons (potentially more aggressively than appropriate, but it worked alright for me), but other than that, I didn’t really get information about my options. I as am much at fault here for that, I don’t think I wanted to know. I had watched multiple friends go through the Oxy system, and get totally chewed up by it, with no resolution at the end. A close friend was told she was making it up because she didn’t have enough bruises and physical damage. I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I suppose it is my own fault for not getting all of the information, but I really wasn’t in a healthy mental place to be thinking clearly. Even now I still struggle with depression and PTSD, the latter of which manifests often at very inconvenient moments. My attacker was still in my major. I had to take my comps class with him. I thought that maybe he blacked out and didn’t know what had happened, but I realized that he had defriended me on facebook, and started to have the feeling that he was always watching me. During the last push before comps were due, I kept ending up in the library late at night on the computers, and would look up to find him sitting a few computers away, despite the fact that I know he owns a laptop (I did not, hence needing to be in the library). This continued even after comps was over, and through graduation. I felt unsafe and became paranoid, but there didn’t feel like there was anything I could do. I didn’t press charges right after the assault because I didn’t believe that the system would take my word against his in a situation with no witnesses. Why would they believe me months later? My attacker graduated with me. All I hope is that he didn’t attack anyone else while at Oxy, because I didn’t have the courage to speak up and try to deal with the system that had failed so many of my friends.
Anonymous: I was raped my senior year of high school by a boy who I had been hanging out with for a few months. We were never truly dating, and hadn’t even really done anything together, but he would often ask me to hang out on weekends or go to parties. He never asked me to hang out when drinking wasn’t involved. One night, we were at a party at his house and it was winding down. I was drunk and had to stay after my friends left because I was waiting on a ride home. He took me into his room and forced himself on me, even when I said no… when I left his house I was shaking, and was able to do nothing but cry for several days afterwards. Walking out of the front door, two of his other friends were sitting there smoking a cigarette and laughed at me as I walked out of the house. Later, rumors began to spread that I was “easy” and about how I had “let him fuck me” the night of the party. My close friends found out and interrogated me, laughing at me for being so “slutty”. The mutual friends I had had with the boy all left me, calling me a “whore”. I was devastated, but did not tell anyone. I had a hard time admitting that I was assaulted at all until the slow process began over the last two years at Oxy. I have been consistently harassed by girl friends at Oxy for saying I’m “not the hook up type” (little did I know this was just a result of being raped, rather than a personal preference). I knew how much it bothered me that my friends would go out on the weekends discussing their plans to “get blacked out and hook up with someone,” or to go to school dances where I would see dozens of drunk girls being taken advantage of and grinded on by my classmates. For my first two years at Oxy, I knew how much this bothered me, but I never knew why and I was always ridiculed for being “too uptight” when I would bring it up. This year it all culminated in my experience working on Orientation, when I had to sit through the administration’s sexual assault required first year program. The program was a video by comedian Maria Falzone which details good sex (communication, mutual trust, etc.) I’ve always liked Falzone’s video, but after the video a panel of administrators began. I honestly didn’t know a lot about Oxy’s policy except that “drunk sex is rape,” something that always gave me comfort at Oxy given my experience. Even in training for Orientation, we typically aren’t told much more about the policy in detail except for a few key phrases. When the panel began this year, it was a disaster. They did not command the room, and many were getting up, laughing, texting, and overall ignoring the Dean that was speaking. Several times they spoke about “victims” of sexual assault, made no reference to LGBT issues, and spend a solid 5-10 minutes discussing that “drunk sex is not rape,” but rather it is on a case by case basis. When this last part was said, everything hit me very quickly. All I had been told to remember about Oxy’s policy is that “drunk sex is rape,” something that had always given me comfort, and now despite the training I had received as an Orientation leader, I was given wrong information. I had to leave the panel and was in tears when I had to meet with my group of first years immediately after. The administration did very little to notify the student body that this important part of the policy had been changed almost a year earlier, and it honestly felt like they did not care. In that moment during the panel, my whole experience with my assault and with my experience at Oxy came into focus. In the weeks after that, I have begun to accept the fact that I am a survivor of rape. I have begun to realize how warped the culture around sexual assault is at this school, that students write off blatant assault and misconduct as “boys just being boys” and criticize those that don’t partake in the dangerous hook up culture like myself. I have realized how little the administration cares, enough that they would change the pillar of our sexual assault policy and take over a year to blatantly address this change. I don’t feel safe at a school that doesn’t protect me if my attacker is intoxicated. When i think about our sexual assault policy, I realize that my rape might be dismissed if it had gone through the Oxy system simply because “incapacitation is on a case by case basis.” I am lucky to have found a happy and healthy long term relationship at Oxy, and luckily never had to participate in the “hook up” culture here in order to get it. My boyfriend is one of only two people who knows about my assault. While he has been endlessly supportive I cannot help but feel sad knowing how afraid I am to tell any of my other peers at Oxy about what I have gone through both at Oxy and in the past. I feel silenced by the culture here, like I will be dismissed. I am still in the process of grieving and coming to terms with what happened to me many years ago, but along the way I’ve learned that Oxy does not create a safe space for survivors nor a culture where students can feel comfortable. At school events, I feel like I can see so many assaults happening that I am helpless. At that panel, I felt helpless. I felt helpless meeting with my group of first years after the panel, wanting to scream but instead feeling unable to explain or excuse our administration.
Anonymous: He is a nice guy. A really nice guy. That is what everyone says. Still, even after they hear that he is a rapist, some people call him a nice guy. One friend even said it to me. “He’s a really nice guy. He was just really drunk.” At one point during the attack I screamed. He laughed at me. This is a nice guy? I lied to myself at first. I told myself that he didn’t do anything wrong. I knew deep down that I had been assaulted, but I tried so hard to ignore it. I couldn’t sleep without having terrible nightmares. I couldn’t turn the lights on in my room because I didn’t want to see the place where it happened. After three days of sitting in the dark numbly, I told a friend. “You were assaulted,” she said. I decided to report it, even though I was terrified of being harassed by him or other peers. I figured it was my responsibility to report a violent crime. I hoped that reporting it would keep him from attacking other students. During my first meeting with a dean, I was told that if he was found responsible for raping me, his minimum punishment would be suspension. I gave three months of my life to this process, convinced that if the truth prevailed he would be suspended and the campus would be safer. During the hearing I listened to him lie about the evening. He called me a liar and said I threw myself at him. He argued that I gave physical consent and described how I “spread my legs.” He left out the part where I shouted “no.” The panel found him responsible for raping me. He was given a one-semester suspension, 10 hours community service, and a book report. He appealed this decision with a letter full of more lies and excuses. His appeal had no standing, but his punishment was changed to 50 hours community service and a book report. No more suspension. He was still guilty of raping me, but he did not have to spend a day off this campus. I asked the administrator in charge of appeals why they made this change, and they said they could not remember the details. (Maybe it had something to do with the giant lawsuit his family was pressing against the school???) One of my closest friends slowly pulled away from me during the process. She was a witness in the case, but we rarely spoke about what happened. She stopped responding to my text messages and never contacted me. After the hearing, she became facebook friends with the guy who raped me. I saw that they started hanging out. When he posted a video on her wall, I unfriended her. I still can’t believe how many friends I lost that semester. Friends who are self-proclaimed “allies” bailed on me when I needed them most. I felt like I had an infectious disease. He raped me. Oxy lied to me and let him get away with a violent crime. My peers abandoned me or hated me. All I did was seek justice.
Anonymous: I am a woman with Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the Autism Spectrum characterized by the individual’s extreme difficulty in reading non-verbal social cues (i.e. body language). Because of this, we’re particularly at risk. I was assaulted the first semester of my freshman year by a friend picking me up from a party. I didn’t bring charges until more than a year later. Unfortunately, in that time the sexual assault policy was changed, and because of this, I lost my case. I went on to appeal introducing new evidence of text messages we exchanged that night. I was turned away because the school argued that I had “had enough time to find the old cell phone”. A cell phone I hadn’t used in over a year. From then on, I was haunted. I constantly saw this man on campus. I saw the faculty who sat on my case and denied me justice. I was forced to drop out of a class I needed for my major when my rapist decided to take it as an elective. I received no support, merely platitudes. In addressing Ms. Avery, I was told and I quote “the fact that you are still angry about [the rape] proves that you are not thinking clearly [in presenting an argument for why I shouldn’t have lost my appeal]”. Juls White later had the audacity to tell me that my telling of my story was “moving” – this same woman sat on my board and let my rapist walk. The school forbade me to discuss the case with anyone, ever, going so far as to threaten me with legal action. I was told that because this man had been found “not guilty”, if I ever said anything against him I would be charged with slander. Occidental is a school whose staff does not care about the students. We waste money on pop artists, refusing to allocate spending to more appropriate venues such as Sexual Assault services, or having medical help available on weekends. Maybe someday someone will finally be brave enough to stand up to his or her colleagues and speak the truth: “This is wrong.”
Anonymous: I was assaulted when I was in high school. I did not address what had happened for several years, and when I did it was in an Oxy Dialogue class where my story was deemed irrelevant because I am male, and male on male assault did not fit into our hetero-normative lesson plan. A close friend of mine was sexually assaulted in a manner very similar to my own experience; hearing her recount her story was enormously triggering. I was the first person that she told; I directed her to the Oxy resources available for survivors. The process was humiliating, and she (and I) was grateful when her attacker admitted full responsibility. My friend decided that she did not want to move forward with the trial; she didn’t want to ruin this kid’s life– all she wanted was an apology, really. The next semester, her attacker- someone that I had once considered a close friend- began telling his friends lies about the trial. His girlfriend decided to spread lies about my friend, but also began telling people that I had pressured my friend into reporting to satisfy my own agenda against the attacker. Her boyfriend had even more cases brought up against him, without any meaningful disciplinary action taken: he got his diploma, even after he was found responsible in more than one sexual assault case. Many of my friends, otherwise socially-conscious, forward thinking, compassionate people insist on how “complicated” the situation is, and how the couple are still good people, and tell me why they should still be able to be friends with them. I agree that the situation is complicated, but it isn’t that difficult to parsel out that if someone has sexually assaulted your friend, acquaintance, or a total stranger, that they do not deserve your compassion. Individuals that spread lies and hate may not be “bad”, but they too do not deserve defending. The girlfriend still comes to parties at my house. The sexual assault policy at Oxy is bad. The sexual assault culture among students, the people perpetuating this horrible, horrible cycle? Exponentially worse. I am grateful for this coalition and all of those who not only believe in, but actively uphold its tenets.
Anonymous: I was 15 when I was sexually assaulted. I was a junior in high school and he was my first boyfriend. We had known each other since the sixth grade and I really trusted him. He was the guy that all the girls wanted to be with. He was attractive, athletic, smart and funny. He loved playing devil’s advocate in class especially as he was the ultra-liberal at our mostly conservative school. We started hanging out and calling each other all the time. At that time, the “good boys” never liked me and it was only the “weird ones.” I fell for all his tricks. It’s not until now that I see just how manipulative and emotional abusive he really was. It all kind of exploded one night. I was having a holiday party at my house and it was our first night where our friends knew we were together. He was being very touchy and no matter how much I told him to stop he wouldn’t. He kept grabbing my ass and trying to pull me away from the party. When I went inside to get food or do something he would go to other girls in the room and try to hit on them, kiss them, and who knows what. I was feeling really uncomfortable all night and it got to the point where I couldn’t wait for him to leave. I had a couple girlfriends spending the night and I told that he would want me alone but to NOT let him alone with me. My girlfriend and I were walking him out to his car at the end of the night and then out of nowhere she says she’s going to clean up and leave us together. She ran back inside and that’s when I froze. I knew he had been hitting on my friends and I just knew something bad was going to happen. It did. He touched my hair and I told him to stop. He said that I wanted it and to just relax. I told him to stop. He didn’t. He started touching my waist and my ass and I tried to push away and tell him to stop. Then he grabbed me by my shoulders and slammed me against the side of his truck. He forced his hand into my shirt ripping it. He forced himself onto me and I being at least fifty pounds lighter and shorter, couldn’t fight back. I didn’t either I just froze. I was outside my house and my supposed boyfriend was sexually assaulting me. He finally stopped I think he realized hey something is wrong here. He left and I ran back inside. I cried and cried. My “friends” told me that it was nothing and that it was because I just looked so good that night. He was “just a guy.” I internalized those comments and I even stayed with him and his abusiveness for weeks afterwards. I finally just stopped talking to him and I guess we broke up. We still had four classes together that semester and five together our senior year. We were still in the same friend group and I even went to small parties with him. My friends never got it when I told them he made me feel uncomfortable. He dated some of those friends and they always raved about how great he was. The friends that night were the only people I told. I always thought I was making it up, that my emotions were silly and I was overreacting. I went through serious depression the end of my junior year and senior year. My family was really concerned but I never connected the two. I still suffer from anxiety and have panic attacks all the time. When I got to Oxy, I wanted to start over. I never wanted to see him again and I wanted a new experience. I didn’t think of my experience as a sexual assault but just put it in a box in my mind. That’s why during orientation I didn’t know why I felt so weird. Oxy had a rapist of his 16 year old babysitter come to campus to speak. OXY PAID A RAPIST TO TEACH THE FIRST-YEARS ABOUT DECISION-MAKING. Let’s just get that one straight in our minds. I had an anxiety attack in the audience and that night had about three more. Apparently Oxy wanted us to go to a dance after that night but as we know, they’re fucking ridiculous. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why I freaking out and again wasn’t connecting anything. Every time this issue was mentioned, I was freaked out and every facebook post or comment from him put me into shock. Again, I would have the attack but didn’t know why until I finally put the pieces together. I suffered from depression the entire semester for these reasons and that my uncle had passed the first week. I went to counseling and it only made me feel even more depressed and that all these things in my life were my fault. I remember going to a dance where everyone where sheets and I had to physically push people off of me because they were trying to grind on me. Second semester the same thing happened at a beach themed dance. I was assaulted twice on the dance floor by two different men. I made a huge scene because one of them was holding my arms down and grabbing me so he could hump me. I struggled and fought and yelled at him to back-off. He didn’t listen and I made a huge scene. When I told my “friends” what happened they told me I should’ve just let them dance with me and not make a scene. I could’ve been a lot nicer to them. My RA overheard and said that “guys sometimes suck but what can you do?” This last year I really put the piece together about my assault and my past. I finally admitted to myself that I am a sexual assault and a domestic violence survivor. It’s been one of the toughest things I have had to do. I have found a few great friends who have been so supportive through my process but they are few and far between. Through my own process I started critically looking at Oxy’s policies. For a school who supposedly dedicates itself to diversity and “equality,” the treatment that survivors receive at this institution is ridiculous. People throughout the process are insensitive and unknowledgeable. The constant changes to the policies without student notification makes me sick. It took me over three years to admit and accept my own experiences but everyday those experiences are denied by these policies and the overall culture towards sexual assault on this campus. I should never have to feel the need to justify why a rape joke makes me upset. Or why victim-blaming language makes me blame myself over and over for my experiences. One in four women in college will be sexually assaulted but I feel that Oxy just ignores that population and denies their rights. OXY lets rapists go free. OXY lets rapists graduate. OXY lets rapists come back with no sanctions. OXY puts one person in charge and make a mockery of the appeals process. OXY blames the victim for their experiences and say that “incapacitation” will be determined on a case by case basis. OXY makes me feel like I don’t matter and that my experiences don’t matter. OXY makes me scream, cry, breakdown, and yell. We can only fight these injustices and hopefully one day, others like me won’t live in fear, won’t feel like no one cares, and won’t have to struggle for the equality and treatment they deserve.
Anonymous: We met in an upper level class. I spoke up all the time, he sat there and did nothing. Eventually he took me out to the Cheesecake Factory. I chattered nervously, he sat there and looked smug. The next night we were driving back to his dorm when he invited me in. There was some fooling around, and all of a sudden – without any questions or warnings or precursors or hints – we were having sex. “Oh yeah, baby,” he said, and I laid there and did nothing. I told my roommate “______ raped me.” She replied, “ew” and later told him that I said he raped me. He sent me mean, defensive and vaguely threatening texts. I wasn’t supported by my roommate, my friends didn’t know, and he was scary. I was so alone. I became so terrified of facing him in Oxy’s process and around campus that I never reported it. Even now that he’s graduated, he gets to go on living, and I just sit here and do nothing except fear.
Anonymous: I experienced sexual assault three times my second semester at Oxy. I was raped twice in one night the first time and once in my dorm room on the last night of school. Before going to a Jersey Shore party the first time I was attacked, my assailant, a close friend, taunted and teased me until I took ten shots and blacked out on the way to the party. Once there I continued to drink, having reached a point where everything tasted like water. I started to drink this way first semester when my parents separated and it felt like my family had fallen apart. I didn’t care at all about frequent black outs and even a hospitalization due to depression which my attacker knew about and used to his advantage. The first night I was raped I was taken back to my friend’s room with his girlfriend where he attacked both of us after she had thrown up and I had said I was too drunk to drive home from the party. I also vomited before he forced himself on me a second time. At this point his girlfriend had passed out and could not hear me when I tried to wake her up to make it stop. The next day neither of them wanted to acknowledge what had happened and told me it was a ‘crazy college night’. I hated how I felt but didn’t want to be the victim of rape. I put it out of my mind and continued my previous destructive behavior with a new added source of pain. The next time I was attacked his girlfriend was present again but was not involved and again did not hear my cries for help when I could not move. My attacker brought me back to my first year hall with his girlfriend, telling people he was getting me back to my room since I was such a mess at the party we’d met up at. I do not remember most of this night but found out through the reporting process that I had gotten sick and fallen unconscious in the shower fully clothed before he took me back to my room and raped me. I have vivid flashes of him telling me to be quiet as I called out for help from his girlfriend saying, “Shhh, she’s passed out. She won’t wake up.” I woke up disoriented and realized I didn’t know where my room key was. It felt like I’d had horrible dreams and there was a gash on my arm. I texted my ‘friends’ asking if they’d seen my key and my attacker asked if I remembered anything from the night before. When I told him it was really fuzzy and I felt wickedly hung over he said Ok and didn’t mention anything that had happened. This allowed me to continue to live in denial of all of my experiences until I talked to a friend at home midway through summer. The full pain and effects of the trauma I had experienced started to flood and suddenly I couldn’t sleep, I felt triggered by scenes in movies, I would get extremely upset and become inconsolable when I did choose to drink which I was doing less and less. I was also rooming with my attacker’s girlfriend my sophomore year and started having panic attacks when I got back to school. I couldn’t imagine telling anyone let alone reporting to the school before he left for study abroad in the Spring. Living with his girlfriend it soon became apparent he was extremely manipulative and abusive which made me feel even more apprehensive about talking to her about the attacks we had both experienced and the one in the Spring she had been present but unconscious for. I did share my story with three close friends, mostly as a result of needing to explain drunken outbursts of tears and locking myself in bathrooms for hours. When I did choose to report I decided I had to confront my room mate before I started the process. I asked a mutual friend of ours who I had told about my experience to be there in case my room mate needed support but the conversation didn’t last long enough for me to explain it. I got a sentence out, my room mate asked one question, and then ran out the door never to speak to me again. She did, however, text me multiple times about how I disgusted her, how she grouped my attacker/her boyfriend and myself as equally guilty, and that she never wanted to see me again. This was the beginning of the ultimate social explosion that characterized the rest of spring of my sophomore year and my entire junior year at Oxy. Our mutual friends felt torn between us and did not educate themselves on any of these issues often framing my assault as my attacker cheating on his girlfriend and telling me how ‘disgusting’ his behavior was not seeming to realize what that would do to the already dominant feelings of uncleanliness my attacks had left me with. I never felt clean enough and I felt like the dirtiness I felt could be spread to others. The insensitive behavior continued even as I worked to train others in bystander skills and supporting survivors. Only one mutual friend ever attended a training. The social implications my attacks had were some of the most difficult aspects of my trauma to heal from. The reporting process presented new horrific challenges as well. It was clear when I started reporting that Oxy was not organized or ready to deal with my case. I received conflicting information in terms of obligations witnesses named would have in terms of submitting statements and time lines. I was not kept up to date as the investigation continued and had to constantly email administrators to check on the progress and next steps. When the hearing finally happened it was during Final exams and my rights were not respected. There were typos and mistakes made throughout the investigator’s report which communicated the very real apathy most administrators had toward my experience. During the hearing itself my attacker asked questions that were horrifically triggering and I felt revictimized again and again even though the hearing board did not ask me to actually answer them. When I came back from a 5 minute break before my final statement I opened the door to the hearing board members laughing and joking with the perpetrator about his experience studying abroad in Australia. I have never felt so alone. Thankfully I had an amazing friend there as my advocate to support me emotionally but this was also a huge flaw in the process. I never received guidance from a trained advocate to help me through the reporting process and to keep tabs on the progress of my case. But I digress. What I see as the most egregious error in my hearing was when the perpetrator delivered his final statement. As a rule, complainants and respondents are never to address each other directly and can only ask questions through the panel. About half way through the stream of lies and false statistics in his statement, my attacker said, “The next part of my statement I would like to address to you (my name).” He then started talking about how we had been friends and asked me to look inside myself to see if we could move forward and past this whole thing. This was never supposed to happen and the administrator leading the hearing told other board members that she wanted to hear what he had to say when they started to object. Only when I pushed back from the table and said this was not supposed to happen and stood up to leave the room did she ask him to stop talking and only speak to the hearing board. I will never understand what that administrator was hoping to gain by allowing me to be attacked again. I personally felt the school had done a good job of that already from the cold treatment I’d received from the office in charge of these cases and the conflicting information they’d given me. When I got the news that my attacker had been expelled I thought the process was over. I was informed within days that my attacker planned to appeal and that the deadline for his appeal had been extended for over a month instead of the 5 day limit the policy required. No explanation was given for why this extension was granted. I then did not hear anything from the school and began to work an administrative office job in the same building as the legal counsel office. I stopped by that office after receiving an email at work, over a month after the extended appeal date, and was told that my attacker had gotten a lawyer and was going to sue the school if the appeal was not accepted. I was informed that the appeal decision had been made but the next steps in the process were up to me. I had two options. I could uphold the process and continue with the appeal process or I could choose to settle and be given a lawyer paid for by Oxy to discuss what the conditions would be with the perpetrator’s lawyer. I was not allowed to know the results of the appeal unless I committed to uphold its decision. I was also told upholding the process could lead to a new hearing and ultimately my attacker back on campus. Oxy would also not pay for a lawyer unless I agreed to settle. I left the meeting completely confused and had not even been given a copy of the appeal at this point. I had to request it and then began the waiting game, refusing to give an answer before I actually knew what was going on. Once I was finally given a copy of the appeal and a recording of the hearing I contacted legal representation until I found a lawyer who would help me for free if I chose to hear the appeal and it was not in my favour/the favour of keeping Oxy safe from this rapist. During the time of my search I was visited by the school’s legal representation in my office. He discussed my case in front of my boss and would stop me in the hall. At one point he also asked if I would be interested in speaking to students and parents at Orientation. This speaks to the general lack of quality education around these topics over the last five years and perhaps why Oxy has chosen to bring convicted rapists to campus to talk about these issues. Once I got a few emails telling me my decision making time was up, I dropped off a letter informing Oxy I wanted to move forward with the appeal and would not settle. The appeal decision was in my favour and my attacker remained expelled. Again, this was a false ending for my case. My attacker’s family decided to move forward with the law suit they had been threatening which continued to cause me anxiety. Every day I felt like there was a chance I would get news that he was coming back to campus and then chances of him attacking me or worse felt very high. I had to travel to the Court House to pick up a copy of his case where I had a panic attack causing me so much anxiety I began crying and was unable to speak on the phone or ask anyone for help. Eventually the case was dismissed with contempt. This was in December. My case lasted approximately eight months during which I was harassed by my attacker’s friends and I could never feel fully safe on campus. I talked to a Title IX administrator about the legal counsel’s inappropriate behavior but to my knowledge he only received a ‘slap on the wrist’ and continues to hold his job and influence sexual assault policy which has recently become even more survivor blaming and convoluted with concepts like ‘physical consent’ and ‘incapacitation’. I cannot feel fully safe on campus until action is taken by administrators that communicates a single survivor centered policy measure or procedure. Instead they continue to add processes like automatic appeals to make it easier for cases to be dismissed thus avoiding negative statistics and lawsuits against the school. Survivors and their allies continue to be the strongest individuals I encounter on this campus. These people, not endowments and tuition, deserve protection and support. This campus will not be safe until the focus of administrators shifts away from liability for the school and toward ensuring every safety measure possible is in place to protect our community and support survivors healing from experiences before and at Oxy.