Hey. You. Want to know who I am? Behold, the one … the only … 2011’s first Sexual Misconduct Guinea Pig! Yeah, that’s right. It’s me!
Oct. 6, 2010: My freshman year. Went out last night. I was at a sudden-death level, don’t-remember-leaving-the-room-I-drank-in, nowhere-and-everywhere blackout stage. I woke up on a late Thursday morning in my bed, but not as I had left it last night. Sheets covered in streaks of blood, two large red puke stains, my clothes from last night strewn across my room and bruises and scratches across my lower back, thighs and knees. There was an opened condom that had fallen right next to my bed, and Him, sitting on my desk, waiting for me to wake up. Did I mention I was a virgin?
Aug. 31, 2011: Sophomore year. I had only told three people about what happened that night, though many more knew through the rumor-mill. He lived on my floor so there wasn’t much I could do to stop people from talking, so I denied and laughed it off until the questions went away. That year my big (sorority lingo for BEST OLDER FRIEND! However in my case, it was true.) reached out to me and encouraged me to talk to someone about it. So, there I was, sitting across from a social worker, telling my story for the first time in almost a year.
Sep. 28, 2011: I’ve been to counseling three times since Aug. 31. I was a wreck. A week from this day I will realize that I have post-traumatic stress disorder. To make things better, I was just told that the University’s sexual misconduct policy changed.
I had seven days to speak up or shut up. If I didn’t report Him to the University, I could turn to the police, though I had no way of affording this case or any remaining physical evidence to support it. If I did chose to report, I would expect months of questioning from the dean, counselors, a private investigator, as well as my friends and witnesses from that night. And to complete this super-duper sweet package, it would all end in a five-hour-plus Student Conduct hearing in which I got to sit next to Him for the first time in over a year and listen to Him deny Oct. 6! (And for all the guys who said, “Well, you were drunk so you didn’t really know what actually happened,” I’d like to say SUCK my iron duke. If you think anyone enjoys spending their free time doing any or all of the above just for kicks, then by all means I invite you to try it for yourself! See JUST how much fun sexual assault cases can be!)
Oct. 5, 2011: I became the first student to report a sexual misconduct case after the newly changed “one-year limit.” Little did I know exactly what my rush decision would bring over the next four months. The paperwork should have come with a warning label. The depression, panic attacks, close friends who walked out of my life, sudden weight loss, a family that no longer knew how to communicate with me, self abuse and many other things came at a time when I was neither prepared nor willing to cope with the aftermath of sexual abuse. I was nowhere near prepared to repeat my story to investigators, deans, witnesses, the Student Conduct panel, psychotherapists, you name it. If someone was in charge, they had a right to my story.
By the time I hit the ground running with the hearing, my sexual assault wasn’t even my story. The more I retold it, the less I sympathized with it. I was given seven days to hand over my story, my evidence, by Oct. 6, 2011, for which I was only given seven days to have ownership over my sexual assault before it became the test-case for the Office of Student Conduct.
The author of this piece has chosen to remain anonymous.
Editor's note and retraction: An earlier version of this guest column drew an incorrect correlation from a quote Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said in a November 2011 Duke news release. In that release, Moneta said: “I was skeptical at first; I thought it might dis-empower the victim. … But we think we’re uncovering more victims because of it. I’m now convinced we’ve exposed the problem and empowered the victim. Once it’s reported, it’s still in the victim’s control, but it has at least a shined light on it.” This column said that Moneta spoke in response to the new sexual misconduct one-year limit, when he was in fact speaking about a Duke policy that was instated several years ago, which says that if a student tells an employee about a sexual assault, the employee may not treat the conversation as confidential. This error was not caught in the fact-checking process, and for that, The Chronicle deeply regrets this oversight and error, and apologizes to Dr. Moneta and to its readers.