Anonymous Story: I took the power away.

Anonymous Story: I took the power away.

June 3, 2015. The afternoon before, I was running late to board the bus back home from Pennsylvania. I stepped aboard the bus and snagged the last open seat next to [A]. Our relationship consisted of causal greeting and prom the semester prior. We spent a few hours looking up from our phones to talk about our favorite part of the trip or what we wanted to do the rest of the summer. All was well. Everything was normal.

The bus began to darken, the movie we were watching started to get boring, and so I drifted off to sleep. Then I felt him put his hand on the inside of my thigh. I thought I must be dreaming this. So I held my breath and waited, expecting him to draw his hand back quickly because he accidentally bumped me.

He kept touching me. He kept undressing me. His huge arms pinned down my tiny waist. I knew that this was something very wrong.

Around an hour later, the bus slowed down and stopped at a shady gas station around Louisville. I booked it down the steps and made a beeline to the bathroom. I stared into the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I washed my hands furiously to try to rid myself of this overwhelming feeling of being dirty.

At age fifteen, I didn’t know this was a crime. I didn’t know what sexual assault was. I just knew that what happened was not okay.

Fast forward two years later. My friend tells me that [A] is transferring to my university. I knew that I had to do something. I had to report the assault to the school.

It took all the courage I had to walk into the office of the Title IX coordinator. I sat down on a hard vinyl chair as I spilled the most intimate event of my life. She was silent until I finished. She told me she couldn’t do anything unless [A] was there, because I could be trying to “damage his academic reputation.” I had never felt so defeated.

I knew that the fight couldn’t end here. I contacted the Office of Civil Rights. I sat outside my dormroom door as I, once again, had to tell the gross details of what had been done to me. Except this time, he believed me. This time, he told me what happened was wrong. I had never felt more free.

Several months later, my case was dismissed. Yet, having my assault affirmed by the attorney was unmistakably powerful. I don’t regret reporting. To me, I won the case when I broke the silence. I took the power away.



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