The Amplify Project
February 16, 2017
Trigger Warning: Explicit descriptions of sexual assault and/or rape.
Choosing to report my sexual assault to the SJPD and Santa Clara’s Title IX was both the best and the worst decision I’ve ever made.
It was the best decision because it gave me my power back. I was able to confront my rapist and expose the tremendous injustices he committed against me. But it was also the worst decision because I was dragged into so many investigations, court hearings and Title IX interviews. I was forced to relive my rape over and over again, and see my rapist at all of these hearings.
The Title IX investigator would lie, change my story and she would claim I was changing my story and could not be trusted when I tried correcting her mistakes. With Santa Clara’s Title IX, my case went all the way to a final judicial hearing, but at the very end, the board decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to punish my rapist.
Santa Clara continued to let this man walk freely on campus without a single punishment. They even lifted my restraining order against him. With him and his friends walking around taunting me, I no longer felt safe being on campus. Santa Clara let me know that they prefer my rapist’s interests over my safety.
When I went to court hearings, I would make sure I wore my favorite dresses and small “good luck” tokens like a necklace from my best friend for empowerment. Being in a courtroom surrounded by lawyers is one of the most overwhelming experiences in the world, but I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself for standing up for myself in such a powerful way.
Having little tokens to hold onto helped me feel confident. Standing in court in my white dress as the judge confronted my rapist reminded me that I am still here, I am in control of my future and I am more than what he took away from me that night.
I was raped by a man I considered to be one of my closest friends. I was so drunk that I was blacking out and throwing up. I definitely could not consent but I should have seen everything coming. I was always too trusting of people. Too naïve and too young—a devastating combination. However, despite all of this, he should not have raped me and it was not my fault.
There were signs the whole time. The man who raped me was abusive, manipulative and a pathological liar. He put his hands around my neck and threatened to kill me. He called me a c**t. And all of this happened long before he raped me.
If you’re stuck in an abusive relationship or friendship, it can be terrifying but you need to tell somebody. Tell anybody—just don’t suffer alone. That was the worst mistake I made. I would do anything to just go back and tell someone so I could escape from that situation before it happened. If you’ve been sexually assaulted, don’t be afraid to speak out. Tell the truth and the people who are worthwhile will believe you.
Yes, the system is broken and yes, unfortunately, Santa Clara severely mishandles sexual assault cases. But we can’t give up. We have to keep reporting, and keep pushing for change. There are so many people available to help you, please reach out to the Violence Prevention Program or the YWCA.
When I woke up the next day, I was so confused, scared and angry that I didn’t know what to do or how to react. It wasn’t until one of my friends told me I had been raped that I realized what happened. My world crumbled and I stopped knowing who I could trust. In times of crisis, some people stay but the majority turn and run.
In a matter of days, I was alone. Everyone who promised they would be there for me left. My closest friends abandoned me. But I was lucky. This tragic event showed me who my real friends were. To the girl who took me to the hospital, stayed with me all night and sat through the police investigations, the SART exam and even called my parents when I was too afraid to: You are an angel and I will never be able to thank you enough for what you did for me that night and everyday since.
I’m glad I decided to report my rape, because it showed my rapist I am not afraid to tell the truth and that I know what he did to me. This process held him accountable for what he did and that’s all that I can ask for. Even though he was not punished, his lies were exposed and the horrible injustices that he committed were shown to the world. I hope he never does this to anyone ever again.
I understand why many people decide not to report, and I respect their decision. It is a very personal choice so I only recommend moving forward with reporting if you understand you will have to go through many investigations, hearings and have to constantly relive the assault through this process.
Set the world on fire with your truth. Don’t be afraid because there are so many people who love you and will support you. We will fight for justice and work towards a better future together.
This story was submitted anonymously by a survivor of sexual assault at Santa Clara through The Amplify Project.