College Parties And Sexual Assault
Wednesday - May 28, 2008
When I was a junior in college, a very close friend of mine was assaulted at a campus party by someone she knew.
The person who attacked her had been someone she had known for three years and someone whom she considered a friend she could trust.
It was a typical Saturday night and we were at a house party. We were all having drinks and dancing to the music playing loudly over the sound system. As the night went on, my friend became increasingly intoxicated and eventually passed out in an upstairs room (the bedroom of another friend of ours).
When it came time for us to go home, my friend said she’d just stay there and “sleep it off” at the house. Thinking everything would be fine, we left her there.
I didn’t hear from my friend until four days later, but when she called, she was nearly hysterical. She recounted what she could remember - the bad memory due in part to the alcohol-induced haze she was in that night.
“I just remember passing out,” she said. “I don’t even remember you guys coming in to get me to go home.”
My friend said she was sleeping and was awakened by someone trying to push her over onto her side. She then felt the person trying to undo the button on her pants. At this point she realized something was wrong so she sat up in the bed and spun around to look at who was behind her.
When she realized it was this particular guy, she was both confused and freaked out. She thought they were friends, and he had a girlfriend! The guy didn’t say anything to her so she got up and started to leave the room. The guy still didn’t say anything to her.
My friend walked by herself all the way home at 4 a.m. The next morning, things were just as fuzzy as they had been the night before in her mind. She could-n’t recall anything that had happened preceding the moment when she awoke in bed, in the dark, not alone.
She did try to confront the guy a day later, finding him in a corner of the cafeteria, but he acted like nothing had happened. In fact, that’s just what he said: “Nothing happened.”
My friend kept persisting. “I know something happened because my bra was unfastened when I woke up.”
“You probably did it yourself,” the guy insisted.
After a long time questioning him, the guy finally said, “Geez, it’s not like I raped you.” With that, he got up and left.
OK, so maybe he hadn’t gone through with the rape itself, but it was sexual assault for sure. And who knows how far it could have gone if my friend hadn’t awakened when she did?
According to statistics in I Never Called it Rape by Robin Warshaw, one in four college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape. Eighty-five percent of rapes on campus are acquaintance rapes, and one in six female college students reported having been a victim of rape or attempted rape during the preceding year.
Forty-two percent of women who are raped don’t tell a soul about their assault. Only 5 percent of college women who are raped report it to the police, and only 5 percent of women seek help at a rape crisis center. My friend was among the greater percentage who did neither.
Interestingly enough, 84 percent of college men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape. Nearly one-third of college men said they were likely to have sex with an unwilling partner if they thought they could get away with it.
Warshaw also stated that 90 percent of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol.
In the end, my friend did very little to cope with the situation. She basically swept it under the rug, convincing herself that she was better off if she just let it go, believing, as the guy told her, that he really hadn’t “raped” her.
The reason I’m sharing this story is I think it’s easy to get comfortable when you’ve spent a number of years hanging out and partying with the same people in college. But don’t get too comfortable.
I know for a fact my friend still struggles with what happened to her that night more than 10 years later.
It’s never safe to drink to the point of passing out in a strange place when a party is going on. For that matter, it’s never safe to get so drunk that you don’t know what’s going on around you at any given moment. When you drink too much, you can easily put your life in someone else’s hands. And you don’t want to wake up the next day wondering what on earth happened to you last night.
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