I spent most of a recent Saturday sitting inside my bedroom closet unable to move. For most of that week I had been trying to run away from my life and had ended up in my closet looking for my back-up plan—pills I had saved when I was sick over summer—to finally end my life. My current break down, like others before, caught me by surprise. All it took was seeing a post I had written my freshman year about sexual assault, urging people to sign a petition to increase the statute of limitations at Duke to protect victims of sexual assault in college. I hadn’t realized then that, by my senior year, I would be one of these women after being assaulted, drugged and raped on more than one occasion. Seeing this younger version of myself triggered something deep in me, and for the second time in less than a year, I was drawing up ways to die.

I spend my weekends studying for law school exams and trying to ignore the sounds of trains and cars passing by my apartment, both of which I’d like to throw myself in front of. On nights when I am not too afraid to fall asleep, I have nightmares so violent my shaking body wakes up my boyfriend.

Sexual assault is so common on campus that the stats have become normalized or are focused on, with people often forgetting that there are real women, lives and stories behind the numbers. Rape, used as a weapon in the most atrocious wars, is so prevalent that it is part of the American college experience. It would make no difference to me if I were one in five or one in eight, what matters to me is the women on campus, too many of whom I know personally, that this university has failed to protect.

The environment on campus is toxic. After my first assault, it took an apology from the boy who assaulted me before my story was believed. Knowing this, I could never speak about how I got raped after that, because who would believe me?

I had allowed someone I knew and trusted to buy me a drink, and the next thing I remembered was waking up in his bed naked with my vomit caked into my hair. I only realized where I was when I saw his frat’s flag hanging over the bed.

This is my business, but it is Duke’s business too. Aside from my mental health issues—my GPA after the rape is 1.0 lower than it was before—I still remember sitting in classes trying to ignore the pain from sitting down after my rapist tore me.

I remember being afraid I would bleed through my underwear even after the bleeding had stopped because the pain was unbearable. I remember thinking these things while trying to still get participation points or listen to my professors talk or focus on staying awake after another sleepless night.

There are a lot of resources on campus to help mitigate the effects of sexual assault, but these are set up to help you after you have been victimized. Duke simply does not do enough to prevent it. Soon, we will be bombarded with emails about hazing at the start of next semester, with an urgency that has never been given to sexual assault.

I truly love this university, and the reasons I attended are still as clear to me as they were when I got here, but the personal cost has been too high. The amazing professors I had who supported me when others assumed I was unintelligent or uninterested helped me grow as a scholar in spite of the system in place, not because of it. Something has to change; we have to pressure the Duke administration to be proactive about sexual assault on campus rather than just reactive to scandal. We often pride ourselves on “the Duke difference” and being a “world leader in education and innovation.” It is about time that we do the same when it comes to student safety. There are already some avenues on campus (such as bystander intervention/PACT training and Women's Center events) that can be better funded and expanded.

My mom cried over Fall Break telling me she missed my laughter, and my dad asked what happened to the girl he dropped off in Jarvis four years ago? Why have I become a shell of the woman I was? The answer is simple—it is because they dropped me off at Duke, an institution more concerned with protecting its reputation than my life.

The author has chosen to remain anonymous due to the personal nature of this column. The author's story has been independently verified by both The Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Page Editor.