By: Amanda Martin-Tully
I was raped.
At Portland State, in my dorm, last term.
Now I have to write an essay that is “thoughtful, [and] well-written” to appeal my potential removal from The Rearguard because last term I didn’t pass my pass/no pass course. I didn’t attend classes regularly. That’s my fault.
Getting raped – wasn’t.
I imagine people are going to question why I waited to write about this, or why I’m writing about it now.
I should be quiet and I should be embarrassed. It was my fault, wasn’t it? Isn’t that what rape shaming is, in our culture? I did something wrong. I shouldn’t have been drinking. I shouldn’t have worn that… I should have done something differently. The thing is, it isn’t about me. It’s about him – the rapist.
Aren’t I sensationalizing “it”, the rape, by writing about what happened to me? Am I trying to take advantage of a situation?
I’m taking advantage of a situation that unfortunately I am not alone in. I’m taking control. Finally. Rape is not gender neutral. Do not forget that. It doesn’t matter that I identify myself as bisexual female – I am person.
I figure that since I’m coming out with who I truly am, that I should stop hiding from everything – especially myself.
This isn’t about revealing the gory details of what happened, this isn’t Law & Order: SVU. This is about explaining the process of what it’s like to be raped on the Portland State campus.
I didn’t tell anyone. Not my family, not my friends, no one. I was, I am, embarrassed. That’s what they don’t tell you — that being raped embarrasses you. It’s also devastatingly hard to think, let alone say the words: “I was raped”. There’s something about saying it aloud that makes it more real.
I told no one. I even kept in contact with him – that’s sick isn’t it? What’s wrong with me? That’s all I kept thinking.
I was afraid.
I couldn’t sleep.
I felt like I deserved it. I asked for it. I wanted it.
The simple truth is – I did not. None of that is true… but it sure didn’t stop me from feeling it.
When I finally got to the point that I couldn’t handle it anymore… where no matter the number of scalding baths, or drinking myself into a stupor… didn’t help, I found help. Kinda.
I don’t even remember exactly what I did. As a senior about to graduate with a degree in criminal justice, I was very unprofessional in my record keeping. I think I went to the Women’s Resource Center first. I think?
I couldn’t think — that’s the problem. The strong, independent person I have always identified myself as, was gone…. he had taken it away. Taken away something that defined me. I didn’t know who I was anymore, or how to get out of bed. Let alone go to class and study and pretend that I was just like everyone else. To pretend it didn’t happen.
I’m finished pretending that it didn’t happen
I do know that I had an amazing advocate. One of the few things Portland State does right is the Women’s Resource Center. My advocate was, is, every adjective that should exist for someone in her position. Mainly though – she listened. That’s what I needed.
I contacted Portland State Campus Security (CPSO) next. I actually had a great officer. I wasn’t expecting that, but I need to give credit where credit is due. She and another officer arrived at my house and I explained why I had called. I was shaking. It was almost a month after the fact. They didn’t ask why I waited – funny thing, only I did. Only I asked why I had waited so long… I don’t know if I’ll ever stop asking myself that.
If you’re familiar with my writing, you know I’m not a huge advocate or even a fan of the CPSO. I don’t believe that guns will prevent rape. I know for a fact that not having guns doesn’t prevent rape. But do I think that guns would have prevented this?
Rape can’t be prevented. There isn’t anything I could have done and despite what the school tells you, there isn’t anything they can do. Rape isn’t about sex. You don’t need a degree to know that.
Ironically, I’m releasing this a day after Portland State launched their Desire 2 Learn (D2L) module on “combating the issue of sexual violence on college campuses. In order to raise awareness about this issue,” wrote the mass e-mail sent to me this morning.
Portland State has created a mandatory module that students must complete this term. It takes about thirty minutes to complete, says the training video. Then they’re going to quiz me to ensure my comprehension of the material.
Portland State wants you to feel safe, but I don’t.
I worry I’m going to see him. I don’t sleep at night because I have nightmares that he will find me, even though I have moved. I don’t know when I’m going to feel safe again. Portland State can’t change that, but they can certainly stop lying to students and saying that they can.
Why didn’t I file legal action? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? What if he does it again? I’m helping him get away with it – that’s what Portland State Legal Services told me. Now he can do it to someone else… maybe he already has. I need to step up and take action against him.
Guilt. It’s a powerful thing.
Legal Services tried to guilt me into filing charges and pursuing legal action that would drag on and continue to re-victimize me for months, if not years. They even suggested that I apply for an internship or position there, with them, after I was done with this “ordeal”. Nothing says sympathy like the proposition of a position. Do I think Legal Services handled this situation well? No – I don’t at all. I would change everything they did.
Again, why didn’t I file legal action?
Honestly? I’m afraid. No. I’m terrified. I haven’t lived my life in a very private way, and I don’t plan to start now. That doesn’t mean though, that I deserve to have those things I like to keep private dragged into public. That every indiscretion I’ve committed should be used against me in a court of law. That’s what rape trials do. They rape the victim. Our criminal justice system is flawed beyond measure and despite whatever you think you know — things aren’t changing.
I interned at the Department of Community Justice for approximately six months last year, first with the family services (FSU) unit and then the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) unit. I worked directly with youth who had survived things I can’t fathom. I also saw first hand how the criminal justice system punishes survivors.
So if I haven’t answered your question, why didn’t I file. This is why.
If I upset you with this – I’m glad. I want you feel something. I want you to step outside of your comfort zone for once, and to feel something. Pretend for a moment that you care about another human being. Not because you are obligated to but instead because you must.
It isn’t my right to tell you what to do if you have survived rape. It is my right to tell you that you aren’t a victim – you are a survivor. Just like I am. You are not alone. Know that.
Finally, legal action wasn’t right for me, but it might be right for you. I don’t advocate for or against it. I am an advocate for you and for myself.