One Kappa’s Personal Story on Sexual Assault as told to Ann Graham Schnaedter, Missouri
(The author, for personal reasons, wishes to remain anonymous. But this story, in her own words and which she hope helps other women, is true.)
Rape. Sexual assault. Unwanted contact. Dirty words for a subject that no one wants to talk about. It’s taboo. It’s controversial. Unfortunately, it’s also a harsh reality. I know because it happened to me as an undergraduate.
The night started with a ride from a friend who, by the end of the night, was drunk and unable to drive me home. As the night wound down, a close friend of my boyfriend offered me his couch and I accepted. It was a short walk with a guy I knew and trusted. After all, I knew his girlfriend and had even gone on double dates with them. He was well respected on campus. I felt safe.
We made it back to his room, and talked for a bit before I went to sleep on his futon. The next thing I knew, it was almost 4:00 a.m. and he was on top of me. I was scared. I froze. What could I do?
The shock quickly wore off and I realized I needed to move fast. I saw an opportunity to escape and I took it. Then I text-messaged a friend so someone would know where I was and that something was very wrong. No sense of fear or embarrassment trumped the immediate danger I was in. Thankfully, I got out before it was too late.
However, getting away that night was only the beginning. The more difficult part was figuring out what steps to take, how to bring myself to admit to others what had happened to me, and how to honestly accept that I had no control over and no blame for what he did. Regaining control of my life again was a day-to-day process. Sometimes I almost forgot that I ever experienced something so horrific; other times I felt like my world was still crashing down.
Still, since I couldn’t control what happened to me, I felt I had to try to stop this from happening to others. That’s when I started taking a stand. Initially, this meant going through my university’s judicial system. It was hard, but necessary. I never wanted to look back with regret.
After exhausting my options with the judicial process, I started volunteering, working with survivor groups and as a mentor for college students. I worked with my college’s student government and dean’s office to create a guide that outlined options that sexual assault victims have, so future victims could make clear decisions during such a difficult time. Perhaps most important, though, I found a group called One in Four, Inc., which has graciously accepted me with open arms.
One in Four is a national nonprofit organization whose name comes from decades of research showing that one out of every four women on college campuses has experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
One in Four.
It’s astonishing that so many college women have been forced to experience something similar to what happened to me. This unthinkable reality becomes even more brutal when you realize that many of these women do not get away in time or are too afraid or embarrassed to get help.
Recognizing this horror, the members of One in Four work to make this statistic change by going directly to its source. They educate men, but they do it in a unique way. They don’t blame them for rape or even attempt to explain why men shouldn’t rape. Instead, One in Four teaches men how to help a friend who comes to them after being sexually assaulted. By approaching them as potential helpers as opposed to potential rapists, “The Men’s Program” has fundamentally changed the way men understand the topic of sexual assault. In fact, research has shown the program to be the most effective educational intervention available on the topic, causing everyone from academics to Oprah to take notice.
In 2004, the organization started a national RV tour to help reach students that have yet to hear their message. Fueled by four recently graduated college men, the RV tour has now reached thousands of students and military personnel on college campuses and bases all over the country. Despite their increased visibility, the organization continues to lack the support it needs to continue to grow, operating on a meager annual budget.
One example of their determination can be seen through the recent unveiling of a new program created for all-female audiences. Their goal was two-fold: educate women on how to reduce their risk of sexual assault by recognizing potentially dangerous situations and focus on how women can help others who have been assaulted. The result is a program that looks beyond standard risk-reduction strategies, as well as allowing women to speak out about their ideas and experiences on the topic.
I am passionate about the RV tour as I continue to heal. The four men on the RV tour each year are extremely dedicated to this cause. They truly are making a difference every day all across the country.
My Kappa sisters have also been very supportive. They have helped me heal and continue to encourage me to fight harder and louder, which I will continue to do—for myself and the many other women who have faced such a tragedy.
- The Key, feature article, revised 11/1/10.