The day I moved into my dorm room, a man called just after my mother left me alone for the first time in my life. He threatened to come and rape me. He went into graphic detail of what he was going to do to me. I laughed at him and hung up, but I didn't leave my room until I saw women in the hallway through the peephole. I thought having people around would keep me safe.
The following summer, I was walking out of the cafeteria with a woman friend. A man followed us, very close behind in the hallway. As we neared the dorm office, he lunged forward, pinning my arms to my side, and groped my breasts as he licked my face from collarbone to ear. My friend assumed he was someone I knew, so she turned away to give us some privacy until I struggled free and starting cursing him.
A custodian who had also watched the attack without intervening offered to chase my attacker. Turned out he lived in my dorm on the floor below. The University called his parents. That afternoon they came to move him back home. My Resident Advisor told me the University had been watching him, expecting a suicide attempt. She appealed to my pity and asked me not to press charges. I felt belittled by her lack of concern for me.
Then a policeman called me. He told me that if I didn't press charges, I would be responsible if he attacked anyone else, if he actually hurt the next girl. I went down to the station and made a statement. Nothing ever came of it, because my attacker had moved out of town.
I wasn't physically harmed, but my sense of safety was shattered. The next month I attempted suicide. For years afterward, I NEVER went anywhere alone. I had to know a man for months before I could be alone with him, even if only walking across campus during the day. Having witnesses had not protected me the last time. Neither the university or the police considered me worth protecting.
That was 25 years ago. In the past week, I have been feeling increasingly agitated when reading about the new enhanced airport security measures. Every time I think about having a stranger touch my breasts in a busy public place, I remember the sense of helplessness that it took me almost a decade to overcome.
At the same time, my mother had melanoma and bears a scar the size of a bar of soap on her arm. I worry about 30 years' of accumulated X-rays from mammograms. My father is dying and I will be flying home to see him as much as possible in the time he has left. In a choice between submitting myself to something I believe will kill me vs. being molested in public by someone supposed to protect me, I feel like a terrified university girl again.
The only safe thing is to never leave your room.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports