I decided to make this topic into a bunch of little posts, because frankly it’s so complex, and the components sometimes so unrelated to each other, that it’d be hard to condense it into one Big And Very Bitter Post.
This one is about the people still around.
Campus rape is not a “rid of the perpetrator, rid of the problem” case.
In part because, like lots of other kinds of rape, there are usually more people than the rapist at fault.
This is a controversial idea. I know lots of people will be unhappy with me for this. I’m sorry, but I’m sticking to my guns here. I don’t care if you’re a Nice Guy™ or Nice Girl™ who would Never Sexually Assault Anybody. If you in some capacity allowed a rape to happen – actively or passively – I am going to hold you fucking responsible.
That is why I have refused to give a “get out of jail free” card to a lot of people: the friend who knew I was in some sort of trouble yet still left me alone with My Rapist, the boyfriend who ignored my frantic texts telling him that I’d accidentally eaten something that was laced, the Rapists’ Parents who gave him a bottle of wine and left him alone in a hotel room with a scared eighteen-year-old-girl (despite the institutionally-mandated twenty-four-hour supervision they had been charged to provide him after he tried to hang himself in the middle of campus).
I blame them all.
This is not Nice of me. I am not being Good about this. And I do not fucking care. They certainly didn’t.
There is another problem with people, though. Even the ones who may not have known who you were before you became The Girl Who Got [Rapist Name] Expelled*.
Even rapists have friends.
In some cases, those friends include the math tutor you would’ve needed to contact in order to get enough help to ace that last Calculus II exam. So you slouch down in your desk with your B-minus test and on some level hate yourself on some level for having reported anything. Because now, to anyone who believes your rapist over you, you are The Girl Who Cried Rape. You are The Girl Who Ruined His Life. And by that token, you are also The Girl Who Can’t Go To The Student Store At Certain Times When His Roommate Is Working There and The Girl Who Has To Take The Long Way Back To Her Dorm To Avoid The Club He Was A Part Of and The Girl Who Has To Get To Spanish Ten Minutes Early To Avoid Being Caught Sitting Between Two Of His Friends. And god forbid you had mutual friends, because there you either get the choice of being The Girl Who Cried Rape And Ditched All Her Friends or The Girl Who Purposely Has To Avoid Mentioning Her Rapist Or Anything About Him And Has To Listen To Her Friends Still Talk Fondly About Him While She Sits In Uncomfortable Silence.
To me, it is an incredible breath of fresh air to so much as find someone who believes that My Rapist was capable of doing what he did.
A part of me wishes I could just up and leave everything here. Every thing that reminds me of what happened and keeps me confined inside the Girl Who Cried Rape box, out the window. Two years, sixty-odd credits, halfway to a degree. All of it gone, slate wiped clean. Never having to explain again what happened to “that foreign kid that used to hang around you so much”, or spend a meal with friends who know but don’t care why I flinch whenever they reach toward my face, or see the kid from upstairs who wears a jacket like He used to and makes the bottom drop out of my stomach and my throat tighten up every time I see him from a distance. Away from it all. It would be complicated and rash and stupid and impulsive and maybe exactly what I need.
No, of course I wouldn’t do that. But it’s enough to make me want to, on the bad days.
*Or Guy. I cannot emphasize this enough. Just because I talk mostly about on male-on-female rape (because it’s the kind I have personal experience with), I don’t mean to say that other types aren’t out there, and horrendous, and life-changing, and wrong on so many levels. I know victims of male-on-male and female-on-male rape (no female-on-female in my immediate friend group, but I do know they are out there) and maybe some day with their permission I will put a post up here about their recovery experience.