Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone

September 2013, only a few weeks into school, freshman me was struggling to adjust to the new work load, friends, and to college. In the middle of that September I was sexually assaulted.

Unlike what the media often portrays, it wasn’t a stranger in the night. He wasn’t an unnamed face at a party, I wasn’t drunk or drugged, nor was I unconscious. In fact, I didn’t know I was sexually assaulted until two years later. It wasn’t until someone else bravely shared her story that I realized what had happened to me.

At the time, I was struggling with my sexuality and frustrated with judgment for being an 18 year old virgin. This contributed to my vulnerability which made it easy for him to catch my eye through his troubled story. His life was difficult and I empathized. I got into a relationship with him. He was an ADP student and much older than I so my insecurities allowed him to take control. He was gradual about it, but soon I could only hang out with specific friends, I had to help him with his homework before mine, say certain things, and then it became sexual. He began to push past my boundaries by forcing me to do sexual acts and ignored me when I protested. I learned to fake enjoyment well so he would stop sooner, it never helped that my own biological responses encouraged him despite my feelings. I was not allowed to wear clothes when I went to sleep at night and had to perform certain rituals every night. He became very sexually aggressive and I’m still not sure if something happened while I was asleep.

One might ask me why didn’t I leave. At the time I believed I owed him. He was my boyfriend, my body belonged to him. I know now that my body belongs to no one but myself. I also felt that this was the way things go in relationships. I had been told so many stories about college that I thought this was normal. It was not.

I was with him for only a week and a few days but the damage has lasted for years. I still can’t sleep without being fully dressed, I still have certain routines I have to go through, and every so often I feel worthless because of what I let him do to my body. I’m damaged because of my past, but I’ve learned to accept that as part of myself. I’m doing better now because of the strength and support of myself and those around me. For two years I was unconsciously dealing with this battle and the people around me had no idea. I was very lucky, right after him I got into a relationship with a man who has consistently put my needs first, he has been patient, caring, and understanding. My friends have changed from that relationship to now being people that truly care about me and have been helping me through. Even Wilson helped me to recover. If it weren’t for the clubs I am in, the support from professors, and the love from staff members I have been lucky to know, I fear I would have retreated into myself. All of these people on campus care, and if it weren’t for the check-ins from everyone I don’t know where I would be today.

Sexual assault happens at every campus across the world. This is not specific to Wilson. This happened before men were admitted into the undergraduate program and has been happening on this campus. Just because you haven’t been raped does not mean you deserve not to be heard. Sexual assault is damaging and painful and if you have been assaulted I hope this helps you to reach out for help.

It does not matter if it happened on this campus or before you came here. The effects are lasting and Wilson is a safe place for you to start the journey to recovery. I’m still struggling with what happened to me. It is going to be a long road to recover and, I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m not okay and that’s alright. I will be.

Celia Whitcomb


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