Thu, October 18, 2012 | Currently ?° F, Data Unavailable | Welcome, reader! OPINIONSHARE ARTICLE An Account of Sexual Assault atPrint Page | Write the Editor Amherst College 165 By Angie Epifano, Epifano is a former student of the class of 2014 Issue 142-6 | Wed, 10/17/2012 - 00:07MORE OF ISSUE 142-6 TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people. 1. Keri Lambert Leading Lady Jeffs XC When you’re being raped time does not stop. Time does not speed up and jump ahead like it does when you are to Successful Fall 2. Women’s Soccer Loses Heartbreaker with f riends. Instead, time becomes your nemesis;; it slows to such an excruciating pace that every second to Ephs;; Bounces Back With Three becomes an hour, every minute a year, and the rape becomes a lifetime. More Victories 3. Field Hockey Collects Two Big Conference Wins Before Falling in On May 25, 2011, I was raped by an acquaintance in Crossett Dormitory o n Amherst College campus. OT to Bowdoin 4. Men’s XC Prioritizes In-Season Some nights I can still hear the sounds o f his roommates o n the o ther side o f the door, unknowingly talking and Community Engagement joking as I was held down;; it is f ar f rom a pleasant wakeup call. 5. Frat Culture On Trial 6. Finding Significance in "Liberal Arts" I had always f ancied myself a strong, no-nonsense woman, whose intense independence was cultivated by 7. The Place of Fraternities 8. Lady Jeffs Golf Ends Fall with Two seventeen harrowing years o f emotional abuse in my backwoods home. May 25th temporarily shattered that Top Five Finishes self-image and left me f eeling like the broken victim that I had never wanted to be. Everything I had believed myself to be was gone in 30 minutes.POPULAR CONTENT I did not report the rape after it o ccurred. Almost immediately after the rape I f lew o ff to California, got lost inAn Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst the beauty o f the redwoods, the phenomenal art, and meeting the most unique people I’d ever beheld.College I blocked the rape f rom my mind and tried to convince myself that it hadn’t happened;; that it couldn’t haveCarleen Basler Resigns After Admittingto Plagiarism happened. But there was no denying the f acts.Affirmative Action Detrimental to All One week before I was supposed to f ly back East, everything rushed o ver and consumed me. My memory hadThoughts on Basler been restored and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to hold myself together f or that year, let alone f or the upcoming three years.Self-Doubt and the Admissions ProcessLetter to the Editor When I returned to Amherst f or my sophomore year, I designed a simple plan o f attack f or surviving: Business as usual combined with a new mantra I will NOT cry.Students Voice Concerns About SexualMisconduct Policy First semester passed relatively well, there were rocky times, but I kept it together. I masked f ear with smiles. I mastered the art o f avoiding prying questions. I drowned myself in work and extracurricular activities in o rderLINKS to hide my personal pain. I was unnervingly good at playing the role o f well-adjusted sophomore.The Amherst Student Archive It was inevitable though that this masquerade would become too o verwhelming and that my f açade wouldAmherst College shatter. In February twisted f ate decided that I had to work with him o n a f undraiser. E-mails. Stopping me in the gym and at the dining hall. Smirks. Winks. P ats o n my back. It was all too much. My masquerade was o ver. I broke down and f or the next several months, he won. I spent most o f my spring semester an emotional wreck. I saw his f ace everywhere I went. I heard his voice mocking me in my o wn head. I imagined new rapists hiding behind every shower curtain and potted plant. I bandaged the situation by throwing myself into more work and by resolutely refusing to acknowledge that I was anything but well adjusted. Eventually I reached a dangerously low point, and, in my despondency, began going to the campus’ sexual assault counselor. In short I was told: No you can’t change dorms, there are too many students right now.
Pressing charges would be useless, he’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do. Are you SURE it wasrape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should f orgive and f orget.How are you supposed to f orget the worst night o f your life?I didn’t know what to do any more. For f our months I continued wondering around campus, distancing f rommy f riends, and going to counseling center. I was continuously told that I had to f orgive him, that I was crazyfor being scared o n campus, and that there was nothing that could be done. They told me: We can report yourrape as a statistic, you know f or records, but I don’t recommend that you go through a disciplinary hearing. Itwould be you, a f aculty advisor o f your choice, him, and a f aculty advisor o f his choice in a room where youwould be trying to prove that he raped you. You have no physical evidence, it wouldn’t get you very f ar to dothis.Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? No thank you, I could barely handleseeing him f rom the o pposite end o f campus;; I knew I couldn’t handle that level o f negativity.When May rolled around, everything f inally came to a head. My “Anniversary” was coming up and all o f theterror that I had intermittently f elt that year became o ne giant ball o f horror that f illed my life. He was still o utthere. He could get to me again. If I told anyone he would f ind o ut and do it again. No, no, no, no, no.For my independent studies photography course I produced a series o f 20 self-portraits representing myselfbefore, during, and after the rape.I showed them to my classmates. Their words stung like hornets: You look f unny…I don’t get it, why are you soupset?I went to the counseling center, as they always tell you to do, and spoke about how genuinely sad I was atAmherst, how much I wanted to leave, and how scared I was o n a daily basis. “I should just drink darkroomdeveloper o r something…”Twenty minutes later campus police was escorting me into an ambulance. They were even less understanding:There’s something seriously wrong with you;; you’re not healthy and normal right now. No, you can’t say no.You HAVE to go, but don’t worry, you won’t have to be there too long. This is f or your o wn good. Amherstcares about you and wants you to get better.On May 5th I entered Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Emergency Room. Three hours after sitting curled up andterrified o n a hospital bed I was admitted into the P sychiatric Ward f or depression and suicidal thoughts. Thedoctor was skeptical to say the least: I really don’t think that a school like Amherst would allow you to be raped.And why didn’t you tell anybody? That just doesn’t make any sense...Your anger and sadness right now seemunfounded and irrational, someone your age should not be this sad—it’s not normal. We’ll be admitting you ina f ew minutes, they’ll take good care o f you. They’ll get you some drugs and they’ll make you f eel happy again…If you don’t willingly enter we’ll have a judge issue a court o rder legally f orcing you to stay there. Trust us, thisis f or your o wn good.So much f or not having to stay.The P sychiatric Ward was a lovely place: the top f loor o f the hospital, bare white walls, Spartan f urnishings,and two stainless steel locked doors at either end o f the corridor making sure that anyone who goes in, stays in.Doctors and Nurse P ractitioners wondered around the bare hallways checking in o n myself and my f ellowpatients—every f ifteen minutes they recorded where we were, what we were doing, and whether we lookedhappy. In the morning we were given o ur drugs;; if you didn’t take them you would have to be there longer. Itwas in o ur best interest to take them, so they told us.During the day we discussed o ur thoughts and f eelings, o ur inhibitions, o ur strengths, but more o ften than notwe did nothing.When you’re f orced to sit and think about yourself f or hours o n end, you go through f our stages o f existence.Stage 1: Hysteria—Characterized by denying that anything is wrong, “I’m perfectly f ine” and “I don’t belonghere,” are common phrases during this stage.Stage 2: Numb and Ornery—You have f inally realized that something is wrong with you, but you areoverwhelmed and confused about how to go about f ixing your problem. You therefore decide not to doanything.Stage 3: Determination—You realize that the o nly way you’re allowed to leave the Ward is if you “get better”
and “solve your problems.” Every f iber o f your being thus goes into these two tasks.Stage 4: Enlightenment—Everything f alls into place. Your mind is no longer an o ppressive hell and it begins tofunction again. The o utside world no longer seems so daunting.You are then permitted to leave.My Enlightenment o ccurred when I least expected it. Four days into the Ward, I was sitting in o n anintroductory Substance Abuse and Mental Health Rehabilitation meeting since there was absolutely nothingbetter to do. To start us o ff, the meeting leader decided to have everyone go around and talk about why wewere o n the Ward. We went around the circle: hours in rehab, drug relapses, alcoholism, abusive boyfriends,being an abusive boyfriend, and escapism f rom the stresses o f daily life. The stories weren’t the superficialaccounts that you read in a person’s medical f ile;; they were real life. Every problem, every o unce o f f rustration,every personal tick was laid bare that evening. And everyone was o pen, not proud, just blunt and sincere;; thedesire to improve their lives was palpable.Over the past f our days, I had yet to touch upon “what I was in f or,” my story was a mystery to everyone aroundme.As my f ellow patients went around the circle it all suddenly clicked. I realized why I never spoke about the rape,why I had refused to tell my school f riends, why I had totally broken down, why I had steadily degenerated o verthe past f ew months. I was ashamed, and because o f this shame I could not begin healing.“Silence has the rusty taste o f shame,” a f ellow survivor o nce wrote.I had been f ar too silent, f ar too ashamed.That night I told them everything.For the f irst time I told my story and I was not ashamed.Later that night, as I lay in bed—still in an adrenaline induced state o f wakefulness—I heard my roommatewhisper my name, and then, a question.“Are you still awake?”“Yes.”“Thought so…”A long pause. She’d been in the meeting.What was she thinking? What would she say?“I just wanted to tell you, I…I know how it f eels. My uncle raped me when I was 15. The police never arrestedhim. Rape “wasn’t their top priority.” It still hurts…You’re incredibly brave to talk about it…I rarely do.”She was 42 years o ld.I did not sleep. That night I realized that f rom then o n I could not stay silent—if not f or myself, then f or myroommate.I had reached the apex o f Stage 4.I decided that o nce I was released I would continue with my plans to study abroad that upcoming semester;; Iwould be rejuvenated when I returned to campus in the winter, ready to take o n the world and f ight f orsurvivor rights.I would be strong again.From the moment I woke, this plan hit o ne pitfall after another;; a domino effect o f roadblocks that continuedfor the next three months.I sat at breakfast in bright spirits, attempting to carry o n a conversation with a manic depressive woman whorarely talked. I was so genuinely happy that her lack o f responses didn’t even bother me—I just talked at her.In the middle o f my stimulating conversation my harried looking social worker suddenly strode into the diningroom and headed purposefully o ver to me.
She looked grim and angry. “They’re trying to prevent you f rom going back.”I was shocked.She began rattling o ff the Administration’s policy regarding students released f rom psychiatric care. In o rderfor students to be allowed back they had to have parental supervision while o n campus in o rder to make surethat the student did not relapse into substance abuse again (the most common reason f or student admittanceinto the Ward). This meant that a parent would stay in a hotel near campus and would then f ollow their childaround f or two weeks until the “all clear” period was reached. “And since you don’t have parents…”She trailed o ff awkwardly and began to resolutely examine the upper left-hand corner o f the dining room.I must have been speechless f or a good minute as a bizarre series o f emotions plowed me o ver.Shock to incredulity, back to shock, to sadness to anger, back to shock again, then back to sadness, and then anoverwhelming amount o f shame and embarrassment settled o ver me. I’m not worthy o f even going back;; that’show disgusting I am. I can’t even step f oot o n campus…Panic welled up inside o f me.Did this mean I was trapped o n the Ward f orever? God, no, I couldn’t handle that. I wasn’t crazy!Claustrophobia and paranoia dropped o n top o f me and I wildly scanned the room. I met my roommate’s eyes.She was looking at me with worry: What’s wrong?The room stopped spinning, the walls went back to their normal locations, I could breathe again, and now I wasangry. I told her f lat o ut: Let me get this straight. I was raped o n their campus. I had an emotional breakdownbecause I didn’t f eel safe and f elt harassed o n their campus. I went to their counseling center, like they told meto, and I told them how I was f eeling. They decided that I should be sent to the hospital. And now they won’tallow me back o n their campus? They allow rapists back o n campus, but they won’t allow the girl who was rapedback? The girl who did nothing wrong.She told me: Well, when you put it that way…The maniacal grin o n my social worker’s f ace as she walked o ff was wonderful.Needless to say, Amherst let me back o n campus later that evening. Five days after being admitted, I was f inallyreleased f rom the Ward.The car ride back to campus with my dean was, also needless to say, the most awkward car ride o f my life. Ilooked at her: You know, I’m really glad that y’all let me back o n campus, f or a while there I was pretty worriedand I was actually preparing an argument f or why I should be allowed back…Her response: No, no, no! That’s not what happened, you must have just misunderstood the situation! We’reso happy to have you back! Amherst is just such a wonderful place, we know you’ll be happy to be back!A big misunderstanding, I was skeptical.In the f ollowing days I decided that my best policy when dealing with Amherst at the moment would be “let’s letbygones be bygones.” I quickly f orgave the Administration and f ocused o n just being happy to be o ut. On theinside though I was still dripping with anger, shame, and embarrassment.Several days after my release I had to defend my chance to study abroad. My chance to leave campus f or thefirst time in 8 months, my chance to relax and heal in a new environment, my biggest chance to revive my loveof Amherst, and my chance to move o n in life by studying what I truly love. The prospect had gotten methrough the most f rigid hours o n the Ward and I was convinced that it would be the perfect way to continue myhealing process.I half-heartedly murmured, Your actions were understandable. I understand your policy when dealing withdepression and students coming o ut o f the P sychiatric Ward…during the meeting that included my dean andseveral o f the campus counselors. Relief instantly f lashed across all o f their f aces and the atmosphere rose infriendliness.Then: The Ward was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have re-found my love o f life and mydesire to heal. I will never be 100% better, but I no longer f eel like a victim. I’m a survivor, I’m strong, and Ithink that studying abroad will help me continue healing. When I return in the winter I’ll have a greater
understanding o f myself and a greater appreciation o f Amherst.They responded with enthusiasm: Of course! Very coherent explanation. You seem much happier, which iswonderful! We agree that going abroad and getting o ff campus will do you good.Study abroad here I come!I f elt genuinely happy f or the f irst time in a year, and I could not wait to head o ut.At Amherst though, things are never that easy.A f ew weeks after my release f rom the Ward I had a routine check-in with my dean to make sure that I was stilldoing well. I was excited to be leaving soon, and I must have looked quite content, sitting in her o ffice with amillion watt smile and bright eyes. I began to rattle o n about how nice the warm weather was, how beautifulcommencement had been, how great life was, o n and o n. She seemed distracted: Nod, nod…Mhmmm…Well,excellent! I’m so glad to hear that you’re excited about the upcoming summer here. I know how much youwanted to study abroad and how much work you must’ve put into it, but really, it’s f or the best. Africa is quitetraumatizing, what with those horrible third-world conditions: disease…huts…lions! You’ll be much better o ffhere at Amherst where we can watch o ver you. It will give you some time to think about…you know…that…unfortunate incident…My f ace was blank. “I’m supposed to go to Cape Town, South Africa…” Her response broke me down: Yes dear,I know. You were supposed to study in Africa. It’s all f or the best that you aren’t though.No o ne ever told me f lat o ut that I would no longer be studying abroad. Not even the study abroad dean toldme. I scheduled a meeting with her f or two days after the meeting with my dean.A f ew minutes after exchanging pleasantries she asked: What are your plans f or the summer now that you’re o ncampus?For the month o f June I was decrepit, nothing could perk me up. I returned to f eeling the embarrassment andshame that had consumed me before going o nto the Ward. If I hadn’t told anyone about what happened I’d beabroad…If I had been stronger…If I wasn’t such a f ailure…This is all my f ault, I really am just a broken, pollutedpiece o f shit…Living was difficult. Each day I woke up and wandered around in a daze. At night I stared blank f aced at a walland curled up in my chair in a f etal position. I couldn’t talk with people. If I talk with them they might becomeinfected with my dirtiness.I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I secretly hoped that o ne day o n a run my heart would just stop and no o newould have to see me again. I wasn’t worth anything anyway.I continued having to meet with my dean;; she blamed my sadness o n not being allowed to study abroad, but Iknew that it wasn’t that simple. I could live with not being allowed to go to South Africa at the moment, thecountry would be there f or a while, but being f orced to stay o n campus in a dorm populated with men I did notknow, that was the real psychological issue. Every time I told my dean that I didn’t f eel safe o n campus, that Iwanted to be allowed to leave , o r at least be put in a different dorm, I received the same unhelpful responsesthat I had received in February. They told me: You were lucky to be given a room here this summer in the f irstplace, housing is tight right now and you really shouldn’t complain. All o f your f ear is ungrounded, Amherst isone o f the safest places imaginable…If we let you leave campus we won’t know what mental and emotional placeyou’ll exist in when you return in September;; you could become completely unstable! At Amherst we canmonitor you, and, if need be, strongly suggest time o ff when the school year rolls around…I f elt like a prisoner, o r, more accurately, like a harem girl. My jail was luxurious and o penair, I was f ree tomove about, the ruling power judged my worth o n a weekly basis, and I was constantly reminded how lucky Iwas to be there.One night, after a particularly rough meeting with my dean (I just don’t understand why you’ve been so angrythroughout all o f this. You have no reason to be angry about anything.), I was curled up o n my f loor—I wasn’tthinking, I didn’t f eel anything.I went o ver to the mirror o n the back o f my door and stared. What had happened to the girl who had come o ffof the Ward so empowered and strong;; the girl who decided to no longer be silent and f eel shamed? Where hadshe gone?I went o ver to my desk and picked up a brochure I had been given about a survivor center at UMass Amherst. I
gave an exaggerated sigh. Might as well…I called the number and made an appointment f or the next day.I went back to the mirror and stared at myself again.For the next 15 minutes I repeated: “Silence has the rusty taste o f shame.”I walked o ver to my computer, typed up an email, hesitated f or a second, and then pressed send.I had just sent my entire sports team an email-rant about my rape and subsequent breakdown at the end o fspring.It was about time people began to realize that Amherst wasn’t just majestic dorms and world-class professors.It was about time I resumed the silent pact that I had made to my roommate o n the Ward.I will not be quiet.The next f ew weeks were a blur o f unending days spent resolutely working to f eel better (A f riend told me: Youcan’t help o ther people if you f eel like shit).I was able to sleep again. I ate more. I went to f ree therapy sessions. I wrote and mindlessly colored in o rder toground myself. I o bsessively made lists o f all the things imaginable. I joined a survivor group. I cried less andsmiled a bit more.I started healing.It took a month o f hard work until I was noticeably doing better. My f riends, my therapist, my coworkers, andmy f ellow survivor group members all started commenting o n how much healthier and happier I looked. I stillfelt uncomfortable and o ppressed while surrounded by men o n campus, but I was no longer afraid to leave myroom after 7 p.m. I was determined to love Amherst again.Life was tolerable.Early July and I had another meeting with my dean: You look like you’re doing better today. Well done, I’m soglad to see this kind o f improvement! I think it’s safe to assume that you can come back next semester, and inthat regard I think that it’s time that we talk about your time at Amherst o ver the next two years…I know youwant to do African Studies through the Five Colleges, but I don’t think I can support that decision. Africa is verytraumatizing and I think that studying Africa is just a way f or you to relive your real-life traumas;; it’s just not agood place to be studying.Over the next thirty minutes several more restrictions were laid o ut: no Five College classes this upcomingyear, no study abroad in the spring, definitely no senior year thesis, I would have to meet with a counselortwice a week, and f riends o ff campus would have to be pushed to the wayside. She told me: Amherst is the o nlyplace that matters, and, really, you don’t have a f amily, so where else would you go? Amherst is the o nly placethat you can be.At the end o f o ur conversation I grunted o ut a vapid response and headed straight to my room. I sat o n my bed,million-mile-gazed at the wall, and thought.What was the point o f staying at Amherst? I had been stuck o n campus f or eleven months straight;; each day hadbeen more challenging and emotionally draining than the previous o ne. I had been f eeling better recently, buteach time I met with my dean I f elt more emotionally distraught than I had beforehand. Her commentsreminded me that in the Administration’s eyes I was the most base individual: a poor and parentless humanitiesmajor who was the school’s token-Deep-Southerner. I was sullied, blameworthy, and possibly insane.I made a P ros and Cons o f Amherst List.The P ro List had seven items.The Con List had twenty-three items.On July 14th I made o ne o f the hardest decisions o f my life.I was going to withdraw f rom Amherst.That next week I threw myself into f inding a way o ut. P lans were made, plans were broken, P lan B was made,and f inally P lan B was successful!
I did not tell the Administration f or f ear that they would somehow sabotage me. It was probably paranoid, butafter being prevented f rom leaving campus multiple times I was not going to take any chances. Theconversation went similarly to this:“I’m withdrawing f rom Amherst.”That was my greeting to my dean when I met with her in late July.The look o f complete shock o n her f ace was priceless. When she recovered: So you’re taking a semester o ff?That’s perfectly o k, many survivors do, I think it’s best that you do what you…No, I’m withdrawing, permanently. I ain’t planning o n ever coming back. I’m going to transfer to another schoolafter taking a semester o ff to travel around.You can’t…You…Nobody withdraws. Where are you going to go? You don’t have parents. What are you goingto do?I’m working o n a Dude Ranch in Wyoming.…I didn’t think you’d be able to f igure o ut a plan…Well, we technically won’t withdraw you f rom the school untilthree years have passed. After three years we’ll double-check to make sure that you really want to withdraw andthen we’ll remove you f rom o ur current-students system.No, I just want you to withdraw me. I don’t want to come back, I don’t want to be affiliated with your schoolanymore. I’m sick o f this place.I think you need to meet with o ur sexual assault counselor again, you’re way too angry right now and notthinking clearly. I have a f eeling you’ll change your mind and come back. Amherst is o ne o f the best schools o utthere, it will be a transfer down unless you go to an Ivy…You know, I have I f eeling that I won’t want to come back, but that’s just a hunch.As my dean suggested, I met with o ur sexual assault counselor a f ew days later. The meeting wasuncharacterizeable by o ne word, but bizarre might be the closest description: This is a bad idea, you’re notthinking straight.I didn’t understand this. I’d been thinking about this f or quite a while;; I was unhappy at Amherst and I didn’tunderstand why I should stay at a place where I was absolutely miserable. There are o ther places in the world.The next two hours was a hodgepodge o f topics: Your lack o f parental support makes you emotionally volatileand prevents you f rom f ollowing through with decisions that you make.Apparently I had decided not to study abroad. Then there was bizarre ‘concern:’You don’t look very healthy.Have you been eating? I think you might have an eating disorder. You know there’s a great clinic inNorthhampton where we can send you f or in-patient eating disorder treatment.I don’t have an eating disorder;; I used to have o ne, I know what they’re like. I don’t eat a lot because I can’tafford to buy f ood.Then the ranch came up: Do you realize how difficult working o n a Dude Ranch will be? The people in Wyomingare different f rom the people at Amherst, they won’t be well-educated, and they won’t understand you. You’regoing to a backwards place. Do you realize how bad it will be?Yes, because the rest o f the US is f illed with ignorant savages who haven’t been saved by the light o f Amherst.How would I ever survive?To the counselor’s great surprise, these stellar arguments did not convince me to stay at Amherst. I becameeven more resolute about my decision to leave, and decided to talk with the Victim Rights Law Center, a pro-bono law f irm based in Boston that my survivor group had recommended to me several weeks earlier. Mypreliminary intake with the VRLC was quite eye-opening: Oh Amherst? Yeah, unfortunately I know Amherst alltoo well. I’ve been down there many times to deal with the administration and their constant mistreatment o fsurvivors. Our law f irm keeps trying to f orce them to change but they just don’t seem to understand, they keepdoing the same o ld thing.Amherst has almost 1800 students;; last year alone there were a minimum o f 10 sexual assaults o n campus. Inthe past 15 years there have been multiple serial rapists, men who raped more than f ive girls, according to the
sexual assault counselor. Rapists are given less punishment than students caught stealing. Survivors are o ftenforced to take time o ff, while rapists are allowed to stay o n campus. If a rapist is about to graduate, theirpunishment is o ften that they receive their diploma two years late.I eventually reported my rapist.He graduated with honors.I will not graduate f rom Amherst.The stories and statistics are miles long in regards to sexual assault o n campus. My story is f ar f rom unique,and, compared to some o f the stories I have heard, is tame.The more that I learn about Amherst’s policy toward sexual assault and survivors in general, the more relief Ifeel in deciding to transfer. How could I stay at a school who had made my healing process not just difficult, butimpossible? How could I stand knowing that the Administration promotes silence? How could I spend the nexttwo years made to f eel dirty and at f ault?I could not.At o ne point I hated Amherst with an indescribable amount o f f ury, but I do not hate the school anymore.Amherst took a lot f rom me, but they gave me some o f the greatest gifts imaginable: self-confidence, my closestfriends, intellectual curiosity, and endless personal strength. For these things I am f orever grateful. Foreverything else, I stand back and behold the college with a f eeling o f melancholia.The f act that such a prestigious institution could have such a noxious interior f ills me with intense remorsemixed with sour distaste. I am sickened by the Administration’s attempts to cover up survivors’ stories, cooktheir books to discount rapes, pretend that withdrawals never o ccur, quell attempts at change, and sweepsexual assaults under a rug. When politicians cover up affairs o r scandals the masses o ften rise up in angryprotestations and call f or a more transparent government. What is the difference between a government andthe Amherst College campus? Why can’t we know what is really happening o n campus? Why should we be quietabout sexual assault?“Silence has the rusty taste o f shame.”There is no reason shame should be a school’s policy.Tags: rape Sexual AssaultComments Kristin Ouellette (not verified) says: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:19 Thank you to a brave young woman As a 2012 grad who struggled with the right way, right time, and right tone to combat sexual violence and the degradation of women at Amherst, I want to say thank you for your courage and strength in telling this part of your story. No person should ever have to face the horror that you have, or to try to heal in such a negligent and mistrustful environment. I have heard the tale of a friend of a friend being told not to press charges because her rapist was graduating in a few months once before, but I hadnt guessed that it would be the schools administrative policy. It seems that the college believes that graduation results in a blank slate for perpetrators and victims, but just because troublesome students get out of their hair, doesnt mean memories of rape, assault and shame magically fly from victims minds with the toss of a square black hat. You are strong! The world realigns. Fight the good fight. Permalink reply Michelle (not verified) says: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:34 Thank you for being so Thank you for being so incredibly brave and sharing this story with everyone. Others who are going through the same thing need to know that they are not alone and that the responses that counselor and the doctor gave you are completely insensitive and inappropriate, and that responses such as these only show an outrageous lack of empathy and understanding for a rape victim. I personally experienced rape when I was younger, and I feared telling anyone for years because I thought I was going to be judged, and I deteriorated as a consequence. Speaking out and making sure that schools are equipped to handle these cases is absolutely crucial!!! Thank you for speaking out. Permalink reply
Keith Wine (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:56 Angie, I think I speak for Angie, I think I speak for all of your friends when I saw that we love you so very, very much. It took an incredible amount of courage to share this story, and I hope two major things will come of it: 1. That Amherst will begin to take the very serious issue of sexual assault more seriously, and 2. That sharing, as hard as it is, will be cathartic and help you heal. For now, have an incredible time in Europe, and remember that your friends are always here for you. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:21 I dont know what to say Struggling to find the right words, I really only come up with "thank you". Thank you for your story. You are the most courageous, impressive, strong woman I can imagine (I have not had the pleasure of meeting you yet). The world needs to know about the failings of this community. If Amherst is not safe, then everyone, everywhere should know. You are making the world a better place with your words, and you will ALWAYS have my support. Thank you! Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:35 Thank You Thank you for coming out and sharing this story in your own words. I really appreciate the honesty of your account and feel that its important to me, other students (both the male and female populations), and the staff at the college to hear not only what happened to you and how you endured but also what went wrong in the colleges handling of the situation. In experiencing a similar trauma my sophomore year, I know the struggles of getting along emotionally after the fact. It can feel numbingly isolating. This account, however, should force a renewal of perspective on those who read it. The intimacy of these details has given spotlight to an experience that deserves to be treated more sensitively and more fairly than it was handled. Thank you again for your courage. Permalink reply Adam (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:04 Thank you for this I think many of us know that Amherst is not the progressive, forward-thinking institution it likes to present itself as. Sadly, this is the kind of situation that all too frequently gets swept under the carpet to preserve the colleges carefully cultivated image. Huge amount of respect and admiration to this (now sadly former) student for coming forward and telling her story. Hopefully this will no longer be an issue that the administration willfully ignores and suppresses out of fear of unwelcome publicity. Permalink replyDaniel (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:05 True Unfortunately, this is a sickeningly frequent occurrence that doesnt just affect the women in our lives but also the men. Sexual assault of any kind is truly disgusting. I was sexually assaulted at Amherst and had a similar experience. The counselors there tried to force me into going to the hospital for suicidal thoughts. I refused and luckily my parents backed me up on that decision. Within 1 month of it happening, I left Amherst for good. When I tried to confront my assailant, he told me that I should be careful with such serious accusations of sexual assault. I shouldve called the police immediately and pushed more the most dire consequences I could. I was just in shock. Its hard to get into this school and feel like you are one of the intellectual elite in the country. I felt so helpless and weak and I just couldnt face my classmates. Permalink replyKirby (Schell) ... (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:11 THANK YOU Thank you for speaking for so many of us - myself included - who walked the fields and halls and dorms looking around every corner because our rapist walked them too. I was encouraged by the deans office NOT to press charges, to "think of my bright future without the stigma" of being a victim of this horrible violent act. "This is such a small school -- do you want everyone to know you THAT way?" I was asked. Turns out they did anyway, because I too told my story, my truth, to keep it from eating me alive. My "Anniversary" is Halloween, and each year it is difficult -- I know yours will be too. But this year, I want you to keep something new in mind -- by writing about it, photographing it, publishing it -- youve made it YOURS. Youve stepped out into the arms of so many people who have been through it and made it, have fought for understanding of "how did this happen?" and "will I get through this?" every single day --- and youve become one of the people who other survivors will turn to as a powerful, courageous and unique resource. The world will, I promise, feel less dangerous and scary as time passes. It does get better. Thank you for sharing your experiences -- you are not alone - you will grow stronger, and yes, braver, and even braver still, over time.
Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:41 The reactions that you The reactions that you received when you trusted someone enough to tell them your story - especially from people who are supposed to be trained in sexual assault counseling makes me absolutely furious. I run support groups for survivors of sexual assault and I am also a survivor who kept her story to herself for over a year after it happened for many of the same reasons you did. You should have never been made to feel as if what happened to you was your fault, or that it wasnt rape. I am so sorry for what you have gone through - and I hope you know how strong you are to be sharing your story with the broader public. It is through these stories that we can encourage the proper response to sexual assault and rape. Thank you so much. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:01 You are so courageous for You are so courageous for speaking out when so many of us could not. Permalink replyT (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:19 In Solidarity Dear Angie, I have never met you, but I hear you and your words are bringing me to tears. Like the other commenters, I want to thank you for writing this, but I also want to acknowledge that you were (and are) totally not obligated to go out of your way to explain your situation. No survivor should have to justify an account of rape in this way, to so many people whove refused to believe you right off the bat. I am incredibly sorry. Thank you for sharing the info youve decided to make public. Thank you for speaking out. I am sending you strength, compassion, and my best wishes. The way Amherst handled your case is unconscionable (yet this same scenario plays out exactly the same way at so many college and universities). This incident should become part of your rapists permanent record. It should follow him to every grad school application, every job interview, etc.--the way that its mentally/emotionally following you. I hope that your life and recovery are going as well as possible. In solidarity... Permalink reply Kalie (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:21 Thank you for sharing your story Im sorry you had to experience this, as well as the many women who face sexual assault and harassment at their Universities. Hopefully your story will inspire your Uni to take action rather than leave its women in the dark. Permalink reply Katherine (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:24 More than one of my friends More than one of my friends was raped/sexually assaulted at Amherst, and our time as students overlapped with the T. Patterson rape trial, something none of us who were there then will ever forget. I would have hoped in the years following, the college would have become more sensitive to this issue, but it seems it was simply a part of a culture where the administration has become more committed to preventing another embarrassment than to protecting female students. Your bravery in telling your story is deeply valued and respected, and I hope that with time you will find peace and a resolution that satisfies you. Permalink reply ERW (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:44 THIS IS A REALITY CHECK We should appreciate Angies story, not only for her immense courage in telling it, but for the brutal truth it reveals...1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate college. I was fortunate enough to not be one of those women, but I had friends who were. The response by the staff and administration of Amherst to Angies ordeal is an all too familiar occurence across college campuses. Private institutions in particular have an interest in pushing rape and sexual assault under the rug...after all, who wants to send their daughter to "Rape University?" The fact that higher education establishments care more about image and funding than acknowledging the increasing frequency of sexual violence on campuses is absolutely despicable. And we can do nothing about it as long as we continue to accept this behavior. As women (or men who care about women and other victims of sexual violence), we have to assume responsibility for ourselves and our options in dealing with such a harrowing ordeal. I am not saying that all rape victims should or should not try to press criminal charges, and I am
not claiming that everyone is against the victim. What I am advocating is that EVERY VICTIM, whether female or male, gay or straight, black or white, know that they have OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO THEM. Whether this involves legal action or not, every victim is entitled to justice and the right to reclaim her identity and sense of security. I am a law student, and I plan on using my J.D. to represent sex crime victims in civil court, to help them seek damages against their attackers. I feel this is the best way I can serve these people, because pressing charges is not always the best option. By working as a civil attorney as opposed to a prosecutor, I am not bound by the policies and agendas of state government and can be flexible in deciding how best to serve each individual client. Everyone should know that it was WRONG for Amhersts counseling services and other administration to try and tell Angie or any other victim what she should or should not do, and be anything other than objective and supportive. Implying that a victim should question whether or not she is to blame for what happened to her is DESPICABLE and UNACCEPTABLE. Just because a victim may not have a strong case in criminal court does not mean she cannot or should not press charges. If doing so will help her heal, if by accusing her attacker in open court she can reattain some of the security she lost that fateful moment, then she should have the option. But she should also not be pressured into pressing charges by law enforcement or other parties if she truly does not want to do so. Everyone heals differently. Everyone has a different sense of justice. And when something as personal as rape or sexual assault happens to you, you and YOU ALONE have the personal choice to choose the course of action that is in YOUR best interest. Victims out there who feel lost, abandoned, or shafted by the legal and criminal justice systems, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. You have the right to know what options are available to you. There are free counseling and legal services available to sexual assault victims that are unaffiliated with your educational institution or local law enforcement. Utilize them..if that is what you want or need to do. There are people out there who care, who can help you get your life back. And those who care WILL NOT JUDGE YOU for any decision you make...they will only support you. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:58 You should tell everyone who the guy is Why should you let the guy walk out of this one free? If you already decided not to take legal action against him, at least subject him to public humiliation. In the remaining part of the article, why dont you reveal his identity? Amherst is a very small community and people keep in touch after graduating so even if he is an alum now the bad reputation will follow him. Also, other girls who interact with him deserve know what hes capable of and its possible that many of them are actually Amherst alums too. Seriously, tell us his name. Permalink replyc (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 18:28 prob because If she named him, he might be able to sue her for libel? And that would suck - shes gone through enough already. Permalink replyGregory (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:05 RE: Haiku The crippled winged dove, lame to some, but I see it glide with the fair wind. Thank you Permalink reply Vancouver, BC (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:25 Word is getting around Just wanted to let you know that your story is getting around. Its because of people like you that rape victims can start to see that it wasnt their fault and action should be taken. Its showing people around the world that rape is a very seriously traumatic experience that stays behind closed doors. I just want to thank you for opening those doors. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:28 I am ashamed of Amherst College I have lost an incredible amount of respect for my alma mater after reading this, and even more so after reading the subsequent reactions of others who were also encouraged not to press charges (!) and encouraged to keep their experiences a secret. Angie, I am terribly sorry, and am extremely embarrassed on behalf of my college. This is not acceptable, Amherst. Permalink reply
Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 18:47 Also ashamed. After all those damned talks about how "consent is sexy" and "no means no" and how the "sexual respect counselors are always there for you" during orientation, your story just makes me sick. I am sorry that you had to go through not just a physical violation that no one should ever have to go through, but also and prolonged psychological because of the school. It is despicable that they should try to cover this up and prevent you from getting the space for healing you clearly needed and deserved. I am just horrified. Thank you for sharing this story with me and everyone else;; it is incredibly brave of you, will certainly help others, and I hope it will help you heal. Your roommate would be proud. Thanks again. Permalink replyyasmina (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:49 Angie, youre so incredibly Angie, youre so incredibly brave. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:50 While it (unfortunately) is While it (unfortunately) is not news to me that this happens at Amherst, I am deeply saddened and troubled to read this account. Thank you very much for your story and let us hope this is an inspiration to all Amherst students, faculty, and alums to demand a change. Permalink reply Fellow NESCACer (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 15:57 Solidarity from a Wesleyan Student Please know that you have an ally in Wesleyan students. Our administration has historically and quite recently handled rape in a very similar, reprehensible way. There is currently a lawsuit going on between a former Wesleyan student (she transferred) and the administration--Jane Doe is suing the University for mishandling the response (basically, lack of) to her sexual assault. Momentum is building. There are people across the liberal arts that SUPPORT YOU and EVERYTHING you stand for. Solidarity. Permalink reply current student (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:02 Thank you. Angie, I never knew you, but you are so incredible. Sharing your story is so brave and I am disgusted by the way that you were treated at this institution. I hope that you find joy wherever you go next. Thank you. There are people standing with you. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:10 Are you all serious? Why are we trusting everything Angie writes, specifically about Amherst Colleges administration? I think everyone should seek a little background information before gobbling up every word written. Permalink reply MO (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:29 What would she gain if she What would she gain if she lied? Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:29 Re: What would she gain if she lied? I dont know her intentions. Im just an analytical reader and am reading this with a bit of skepticism. Do you really think the "dean" told her that she couldnt study in Cape Town because itd be too traumatizing? The college clearly tried to help, but in the end it is true in some rape cases, ambiguity of the story kills the case. On the other hand, I know of people whove been accused of rape on this campus and have
been blackmailed by the accuser to either go to real court or quit the school and never come back. The topic of rape is very complicated obviously, but I think its important to note the majority of rapes on this campus happen when both subjects are heavily intoxicated. Perhaps we should be talking about alcohol abuse rather than rape. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:33 are you serious? are you serious? Permalink replyJessica (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:44 Are you all serious? As illustrated by the string of comments below, maybe because it appears that this institution does not take sexual assaults seriously. Please present whatever "background" information you are referring to. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:01 You sound pretty defensive. You sound pretty defensive. Perhaps you work in administration? From the other comments, it certainly seems like Angie isnt alone in her experience. Nor is she vindictively naming names. The only result that could come of this article is that the Amherst administration might take a look at how its policies can harm both survivors and its own public image. And I think thats a very positive thing. Permalink reply Rory (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:09 google Well, a quick google search led me to several articles from 2005, 2006, 2007 and so on... maybe you should have done some research before posting this comment. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:25 Nice try, Amherst College Nice try, Amherst College Administration. (1) I know her. (2) I know many other individuals who have gone through the same unfortunate situation. (3) She has nothing to gain by lying. So I suggest you back off. Permalink reply Jordan Moors (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 19:12 Maybe she isnt who knows? Maybe she isnt who knows? The thing i dont understand is why its happen too more then one person. There seem to be many storys that sound similar to hers if you read more comments. The fact that you have no idea if it did or didnt happen, you should probably keep that too yourself just saying. Permalink reply D.M. (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 19:43 Maybe because her name is Maybe because her name is attached to this? She isnt accusing her rapist. She isnt trying to get revenge. Her motives and intentions behind writing this article are to inspire current Amherst College students and members of the administration to change. Your attitude is just like that of the administration. It seems that youre inclined not to believe someone who is seeking help and fighting for an unpopular cause. It seems that youre inclined not to believe the unbelievable. Guess what? Rape is unbelievable. The fact that another human being could do something so horrible is unbelievable, but it happens. You want background information? How about we ask Angie and every other survivor to put a camera on them while they sleep, so we can see how many times they wake up during night because of nightmares? How about we ask them to wear heart monitors so we can measure their palpitations? How about we have psychologists follow them around to confirm that every flashback is indeed a flashback, and not just a performance? Would that meet your
requirements? I hope you know that you and your comment represent everything wrong with the way the society, but more specifically, members of the administration represented in this article treated Angies case. Permalink replyJennifer (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:11 You said what Ill never be able to Thank you for saying something Ill never be able to say myself. Permalink replyAishani (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:16 Courage You are incredibly brave to tell this story;; to tell it when you are younger than later. To be able to shed any regret, shame or frustration that you feel - none of which you deserve. I hope the perpetrator is brought to justice and that it does not take any more out of you than it already has. I am sorry that you did not receive the support that you needed, in spite of reaching out for it. Above all, I hope that your life from this day forward knows only strength and wonder and many, many happy memories - and that you are one day able to go to Africa and Cape Town and several other faraway places to explore your passions. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:21 I, too, frequently feel I, too, frequently feel ashamed of Amherst College because of how it handles sexual assault and other matters. However, we should take pride in the some of the people we have met at Amherst, the amazing women and men, like Angie, whose courage, compassion, and support are inspiring. Permalink replyCharlie (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:24 Thank you. Just, thank you. This is one of the bravest things Ive ever seen. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:25 Thank you You are an incredible person with an inspiring story and I am deeply grateful for your bravery in sharing this. I wish you the best in wherever you choose to take your life. You deserve it. Permalink reply Alum (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 16:46 It is time for change in the It is time for change in the Amherst College administration. I am disappointed and saddened by my alma mater. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:00 Solidarity from a Swarthmore Student. Solidarity and love. Good luck in your future endeavors. Permalink reply Swat Alum (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:03 Thank you. You are so incredibly brave, to share your experiences and pain and healing with us. Im an alum from Swarthmore College, and it was really frightening to read your story and literally be able to match both my own and my friends experiences with the college re: being assaulted and/or abused 100%. I appreciate you debunking the myth that a progressive institution and its students are somehow better than everywhere else.
Permalink reply Brian (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:06 A lasting impact Angie, even though you will not graduate from Amherst, you have made it a better place with your words and you have started a conversation that will have a lasting impact that will prevent this from occurring again. Any thoughts of shame or guilt should be replaced by pride--youve truly done more for this College than any donation could do. Im proud to know such a courageous woman. Permalink reply College Student (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:12 Thank You Thank you, Angie, for having the courage to give a voice to those who often feel they are left without their own. You are incredibly brave and strong. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:14 Thank you so much for sharing Thank you so much for sharing this, Angie. You are so brave. I hope this is a huge wakeup call to the Amherst administration. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:17 A bit exaggerated, but a A bit exaggerated, but a touching story nonetheless. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:44 Thats exactly what Amherst Thats exactly what Amherst told her... Permalink reply Harvard14 (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:23 thank you so much this just got sent out over an email list at harvard, and i would like to echo everyone by thanking you for speaking up. im so sorry you had to go through that, but you are truly an inspiration to everyone. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:31 Dear Angie, thank you for not Dear Angie, thank you for not keeping yourself silent. Sharing your story will pressure Amherst take actions against these crimes. I cant believe the school never realized that they were covering up for guys who did just that: brake the law in the most despicable way. Unfortunately, Amherst, like many other elite schools, still is a place where these type of crimes simply do not matter because the victims are women... The administration believe Amherst is forward thinking school but their actions only prove the contrary. Legal actions could be taken by you and other survivors against the school for not taking responsibility for what has been going on for a long time. Permalink reply Anonymous (not verified) says:Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:33 Amazed by your courage You are a survivor. Permalink reply