Would Your Rape Be Counted? A College Student Fights for Justice

Most of us don’t need to be told that anal rape counts as rape. But the FBI does. Anal rape is one of the many forms of rape that go uncounted under its narrow definition of “forcible” rape: “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Today, a Ms. reader shares her story of a rape that wouldn’t be counted.

TRIGGER WARNING: Material about sexual assault.

I was working as a Resident Assistant and taking classes during my junior year of college. One of the residents in the building was a close friend of mine who had recently been dealing with a death in the family and a breakup with a girlfriend. He asked to come to my room to discuss his issues, and I agreed.

I had previously performed consensual oral sex on him multiple times, and did so again on this night. We talked for a while and then things became sexual again and we decided together to have vaginal intercourse. During this process, he flipped me over onto my stomach and tried to insert his penis anally. I refused and he continued vaginally.

After some time he tried to insert anally again and I said no. At this point he pushed down on my shoulders and inserted anally anyways. I repeatedly yelled for him to stop because he was hurting me and eventually started screaming and crying. After he finished he got up and told me that if I told anybody about what happened, I would get in trouble because of my position as a Resident Assistant (sleeping with residents is against the rules).

Originally I didn’t plan on telling anyone so I took a long shower, but when I saw how much I was bleeding, I exited and contacted a friend who worked with a sexual assault hotline in our town. She got me in contact with their organization and the school police came, took a story and escorted me to the hospital for a rape kit.

I decided not to press charges because he was good friends with many of my good friends, and I figured the university would deal with it. Eventually the matter came to a University Board Hearing over the summer. Two police officers testified on my behalf stating that the physical evidence was consistent with my story and that the accused had changed his version of events many times.

He claimed that his “foot slipped” while we were having sex, therefore causing the anal penetration, which only happened once. The University Board found him not guilty, and allowed him to remain on campus. When we returned to campus in the fall, I asked the Housing Office to ban him from the building where I was working. I was met with a lot of resistance and was eventually granted a ban, but was also myself banned from his building, among other restrictions.

When I tried to fight the bans placed against me, I was told by the Vice-Chancellor of the University that the results of the hearing meant that “we (myself and the accused) were equally responsible for the events that happened that night” and that “I shouldn’t have sex if I’m not ready to accept the consequences.” I then tried to press charges with the police, since I realized the school wouldn’t do anything. I was told by an Assistant DA that I shouldn’t press charges because it would be too hard to prove. He also claimed that my cases wouldn’t even be considered “rape” because it was anal, and we would be lucky to even charge him with a misdemeanor.

I gave up and dealt with my school year by avoiding him as much as possible. I graduated in May 2011.

Many rape survivors find themselves in similar situations, never seeing justice for the crime committed against them. The FBI’s archaic definition is part of the problem.

You can sign the petition below to urge the FBI to change its 82-year-old “forcible” rape definition so that all rapes are counted:

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To share your story, anonymously if you prefer, you can submit it here. Stories of rapes that don’t fit the “forcible rape” definition, as well as ones that do, are welcome.

Image from Flickr user Lisa Norwood , under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. Amanda J says:

    As a woman in college, this story gives me the chills. That poor RA- she deserves justice!

  2. i’ve heard stories like this from college students as well. i have heard female students report confusion about whether they even have the right to NOT consent to anal sex if they have already consented to vaginal sex, which blows my mind. my guess is that this happens with great frequency.

  3. His foot slipped? What a pathetically obvious lie. It makes me so angry that a rape victim can be treated in this way by people who are supposed to be there to help. Sickening.

  4. This RA is the strongest woman. To continue to try to fight even after everyone has kept telling her that she was to blame. A rape victim is never to blame. I hope to God that someone will help change this policy and many others that do not protect the victim’s rights. RA, whoever you are, I believe you with my entire heart. I am sorry that you had to go through this.

  5. This definition of rape is mind-blowingly problematic. Not only does it exclude (among other acts) nonconsensual anal sex, but it also limits its definition of who can be a victim to women only. Given the attitudes toward sex, sexual assault, gender roles, etc. in our culture, I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked by this, but somehow, I still am.

  6. Belle of Acadie says:

    GIVE US JUSTICE!

  7. This is repulsing. I’m so sorry that happened to you. People in positions of “power” abuse them regularly :(

  8. this girl is the most beautiful, couragous, loving, confident girl i have ever met and im so proud to call this girl my sister. <3

  9. I just found out this happened at my university. This link was tagged in a note about a story of another girl and how the University is sweeping this incident under the rug too. Football players committed who this new act were expelled for 8 semesters and then allowed back the following semester to play football. The school has done nothing again and this isn’t even a big university in a big city. I am ashamed of my school as a former victim and human being. Pull it together.

  10. The other story, ( a note going around on facebook) not to diminish this one, but to show this wasn’t a one time incident. I didn’t write any of the below but its happening right now and wish there was something more we could do. I believe the girl ended up leaving school.

    One of my best friends from high school is the bravest woman I know, and she needs your support. Standing up for something when you have no opposition is easy- but standing up for something when an entire university and justice system is against you? That’s courage. That’s determination. And most of all, that’s defiance creating change. There’s no excuse for rape and there’s no excuse for a university supporting rapists. Just a disclaimer, I didn’t write the following, but it’s relevant and honest and needs to be spread- so if you are my friend, my acquaintance, if you don’t know me but you hate rape and rape culture, whatever, PASS THIS ALONG. Click the share button. Send it over your listservs, to your friends, your family, your professors, anyone. Just do something.

    A letter to the chancellor of Appalachian State University is in the works, as is a Change.org petition- I will publicly post both of these as soon as they’re finished. Criminal charges are pending, and it could take up to a year or more for them to be assessed and heard; we are raising awareness to expedite this process and encourage Appalachian State University to publicly confront this urgent issue. I, my friend, her family, and everyone who knows her appreciate the overwhelming support we’ve received since I first posted this!

    -Meredith

    “Last spring, FOUR of our “finest” [Appalachian football players] (plus one friend) sexually assaulted and raped a young woman in SUCCESSION- 2 were charged with rape. The following semester, TWO of those FIVE struck again, forcibly raping yet another student. When these girls came forward, they were treated as heretics. Following an uphill battle that never should have been necessary, the accusations were brought to the attention of the student court. From there, two players were found GUILTY. The other three, found responsible for lesser charges, were allowed back on campus with essentially a slap on the wrist, and no notification was given to the victims. What happened to the two found guilty? Oh, right. . . they were suspended for 8 semesters, told that they were “victims of the system” because it was “interrupting their academic progress,” and reinstated in time for next year’s football season.

    As a criminal justice major, no- forget that- as a member of the human race, I can’t find any tactful way to put this. . . Frankly, I’m pissed off that the great institution of Appalachian State University would hide such an event from its students in order to save face and their football team. How many other “unspecified university issue(s)” have we allowed to pass with no semblance of justice to be seen? How many more will we allow?

    I’ll answer that one for you- NO EQUAL, App State? How about NO MORE.”

    Written by Kaylynn Marie.

    **The edits that have been made to this note include changes in legal terms for the charges made against the defendants in the student court cases. Also, we would like to make a clear, bottom line statement: the reason we are publicizing this matter is not to necessarily personally attack any of the defendants in these cases. Rather, we’re striving to highlight the issues in Appalachian’s process of handling sexual assault accusations. Reinstating a student found guilty of rape to the football team, failing to notify the victims of their perpetrators’ presence on campus, and failing to notify the student body of these occurrences only perpetuates rape culture and creates an environment that is unsafe for students.**

    If anyone is curious about what we mean when we say “the issues in Appalachian’s process of handling sexual assault accusations”, here’s a link to an article from a former student about her experience with a similar situation, complete with a quote from the Vice-Chancellor: http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/06/21/would-your-rape-be-counted-a-college-student-fights-for-justice/

  11. Jack frost says:

    What a stupid guy…he should have been grateful for what he had to begin with

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