The Amplify Project
March 2, 2017
Trigger Warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual assault and/or rape.
We haven’t said a word to each other since sophomore year, but I hope your senior year is going well and that you have found some semblance of peace. I hope I have more and better words today than I did for you then.
A long time ago, my grandpa gave me a glass rectangular prism for being a “good girl.” You could have seen straight through it, if not for the hollow angel carved in the center. I’m agnostic but I liked it and kept the prism on top of a bookshelf, safe from stray elbows that might knock it down.
Just like I couldn’t figure out the angel inside the prism, I never figured you out, either. You were quiet, except for when something made you stubborn. You were distracted, as if you were always figuring out complicated math problems no one else could solve. You were the angel in the glass, a woman I loved but could never reach. Like the glass I found you delicate, something that I only could have “saved” if you had let me put you on my shelf too.
You kept trying to tell me you weren’t made of glass but flesh, not an angel but another college girl. You spent your Saturday nights with boys who also mistook you for fragile—but who didn’t handle you with care. I sat with you on Sunday mornings, when those Saturday night boys made you cry. Sometimes you told me what happened; sometimes you didn’t.
And then, that night. We stumbled drunk to his dorm, my best friend’s dorm. Others were there, too, breathing the same tainted air. You sprawled on the couch and caressed his hand, my best friend’s hand. The air became heavy and I became tired so I left to sprawl on my own bed. You stayed.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed.
The next morning you and I ate together and you said nothing, your quiet demeanor gone in favor of a darkness I couldn’t understand. The next week you told me he raped you—my best friend raped you. That you said “no” and “stop,” but he didn’t.
I held you and I cried with you, but I thought perhaps the words “no” and “stop” never left your angel mouth. Because he couldn’t be capable of hurting someone. This was my best friend, my best friend, who said he didn’t remember anything from that night. He would later ask me to testify against you and mention all the Saturday night boys. I did and I’ve been sick ever since.
Though my bubble wrap proved inadequate, I didn’t stop trying to protect you. I tried to tell you I could keep you safe up on my bookshelf, write rules for you so you would never break again. Don’t drink so much before we go to a party. Don’t go to a guy’s room if you’re drunk and alone. Say “no” louder next time. But I never gave you enough credit for your strength, for being kind and intelligent and beautifully flawed.
Now I can’t look at the angel in the prism. I don’t see you in it anymore. I see the fragility of my loyalty and my inability to reach you, to support you. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for all of it.
This story was submitted anonymously by someone affected by sexual assault at Santa Clara though The Amplify Project. If you are interested in sharing your story, reach out to Emma Hyndman at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit amplifyproject.wordpress.com.
Correction: The story was not printed in our March 2 issue. Instead, a previous Amplify Project submission from Feb. 16 was printed in its place in our March 2 issue on accident. We apologize for the mix-up.