After ‘no,’ a time to heal

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April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It’s goal is to raise awareness about sexual violence, and to teach people how to prevent it. Photo illustration by Steven Green, The Campus Ledger

Carina Smith 

Managing editor

csmit367@jccc.edu

Content warning: this story contains graphic descriptions of sexual acts.

The First Attack

Samantha’s* father set rules for his daughter about what she could and couldn’t do, especially when it came to boys and dating. One of those rules was that she wasn’t allowed to ride in a car alone with a boy. Samantha didn’t understand why her father was so strict.

Until one day during her junior year of high school, when her friend Matt* came to pick her up for school. Samantha’s dad had already left for work, so Samantha knew she wouldn’t get in trouble for riding in the car alone with a boy. And this wasn’t just any boy- Matt went to her church and had met her parents on multiple occasions. He was the typical boy next door.

Matt picked Samantha up and they headed to their high school. When they were in the parking lot, they started kissing. Then, Matt unzipped his pants and grabbed Samantha’s hand, pulling it toward his crotch. She said no multiple times and tried to pull her hand back, but Matt was determined.

“He pulled me out of my seat and onto his lap, my back was against the steering wheel,” Samantha said. “He was just reaching into my shirt, and I kept saying no. I had to have said no at least four times by now. Then he kept pushing my butt on him and he ended up cumming all over my jeans.”

Samantha got out of the car and walked into school with semen on her pants. It was her first time ever having a sexual encounter with someone, and she was so embarrassed she didn’t tell anyone what had happened until months later.

Not the Boy-Next-Door

During her junior year of high school, Samantha met a guy, Jared*, who had gone to her high school and was now in college. They started dating. Soon Samantha was feeling pressured to take her relationship with Jared to the next level, and she felt like she couldn’t say no. He was constantly keeping tabs on her, making her shower with him and not allowing her to talk to other guys.

The entire relationship crumbled when Jared called Samantha’s school pretending to be her father so she could skip the day to spend with him. When her dad confronted Samantha, he learned all about not only the abusive tendencies that Jared had but also what had happened with Matt.

“We didn’t tell anyone and I think that’s the one I regret the most not saying anything,” Samantha recounts about the assault. “I had said no on like multiple accounts, I said no to him and he just did it anyways.”

A Fresh Start

Samantha moved on from the things that happened at her high school and went to K-State for college. One night Samantha’s resident assistant wanted to introduce her to Derek*, a guy from his fraternity, at a party. Samantha, who was newly single at the time, agreed. She and a friend went to the off-campus party and Derek and Samantha hit it off.

Samantha kept drinking until she and her roommate decided they were done and wanted to go home. They got into the designated driver’s car, thinking she was going back to her dorm room. Derek convinced the driver to take him and Samantha back to his parents’ house, where he would sneak the drunk girl into his room.

Then, Derek raped Samantha.

When she woke up the next morning, Samantha had no recollection of what had happened. Derek insisted that she had consented, but Samantha had been too drunk to remember. Samantha just remembers how she felt afterward.

“I felt exactly the same that I did the first time that someone sexually assaulted me,” Samantha said. “Just feeling really gross and nasty and worthless.”

Later that day, Samantha was scrolling through the new anonymous social media app, Yik Yak. There she saw a post a guy had put up saying he had taken a girl home to meet his parents but really just wanted to sleep with her. Samantha knew instantly the post was by Derek, and that she was the girl he was talking about.

Samantha showed the post to her resident assistant, who confronted Derek. Derek tried to pursue a relationship, but the damage had been done for Samantha. She never reported the rape to her parents or law enforcement, though, because she didn’t know exactly what had happened that night.

She never reported the attacks, but she regrets it. K-State was exposed for having a lot of issues with off-campus sexual assaults back in late 2016, with multiple victims denouncing the college for the way in which they handled their claims.

“I think that boy should have been kicked out of his fraternity [after the rape],” Samantha said. “But that’s the culture at fraternities, to just use girls like that. So there was never a punishment for [the rape].”

Creating Awareness

According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. However, around 90 percent of these crimes are never reported to the proper authorities.

Rape culture and sexual assault are growing problems on campuses nationwide, which has prompted people to speak out on the issue. April is the Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and the main purpose is to raise awareness about sexual violence and teach people about how to prevent it. This year’s SAAM theme is “Engaging New Voices.” The hope is to be able to get other people talking about sexual assault and how to fix it.

The college is sponsoring multiple events in honor of SAAM. On April 12 in COM 319, there will be a coloring event to allow students to create signs with supportive messages for survivors. On April 20, MOCSA and the college will be hosting an event talking about throwing safe parties, followed by an interactive board game that teaches healthy behaviors when drinking. And on April 25, MOCSA will be back to help throw a sexual assault awareness outdoor event in the COM plaza.

The college offers the KNOW program, which is the prevention and education effort the college puts forth to help stop relationship violence, bullying and assaults. The point of the program is to tell people to know what an abusive relationship is, and to be able to say NO to those behaviors.

Trying to Move On

Samantha now studies graphic design at the college and is in a stable relationship that is going on three years. She has done her best to leave the past in the past, but it still haunts her at times.

“I’ve never told my parents about K-State … because I don’t want to hurt them,” Samantha said. “I felt like I should have known better from the previous times that I had been taken advantage of, like I should have known. I know I shouldn’t feel like that, but I do.”

* names were changed to protect people’s identities.

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