Month: February 2016

How I Survived My Rape at Baylor

My name is Cailin.  I’m in my junior year studying marketing.  I absolutely love Baylor, it is the place I call home. I am 20 years old, but I feel like I am 50.  I was raped my first semester as a freshman. And this is my story.

I came to Baylor from Kansas City, Missouri. I had been raised to know to abstain from sex until marriage, to not get drunk at college parties. By October 20th, 2013, I had done one, and had the other become transformed into a vicious attack.  It was Homecoming, a huge tradition shared by universities across the nation, and an even bigger tradition at Baylor.  I had planned in advance to go to all the events with my friends, and to go to certain parties at night.  I knew my rapist on only one prior occasion, that past Friday, and thought he was harmless. I soon came to learn that he was everything but that.

We went to a frat party, and I was drinking everything in sight. He was handing me drink after drink, and before I knew it I had become the most drunk I had ever been in my life. He was comfortably sober. I remember getting into his friend’s car and they drove my friends and I back to the dorm.  I stumbled to the back stairwell of the building to avoid the person at the front desk.  I would have given anything now to have gotten in trouble for drinking.  But we made it to the stairwell. I don’t remember him following me up four flights of stairs, but I do remember him opening my door. I stumbled inside, and went to the bathroom- oblivious of his presence. I climbed in my bed, ready to go to sleep.  He climbed in my bed. He started kissing me and taking off my clothes. I let him, but once I knew what he really wanted, I started telling him “no”.  I said it over and over.  He didn’t listen. He knew what he was doing, what he wanted. I waited until he was finished, and until he fell asleep. I counted the minutes as his breathing slowed, and after about 10 minutes, I knew I could escape. I slowly slid out of my bed, grabbing any clothes that I saw, and left the room.  I called a friend and told her what had happened.  My head was spinning, and I was in shock.  I  managed to close my eyes as I attempted to sleep in a study room on a different floor and waited until 8am.

I texted a friend that I needed him out of my room as soon as possible. I didn’t tell her why. When he was gone, I went back to my room to find blood all over the sheets, and on the wall.  I tried to clean up the mess the best I could, but ended up throwing away my comforter.

I didn’t shower.  I remembered from all the crime shows that you weren’t supposed to so that there would be more evidence.  I knew from the start that if I was going to fight this, I would need every scrape of proof to back up my story.  To this day, I don’t know how I was able to make the decisions that led up to reporting the assault and going to the hospital. I must have had a twenty-four hour window before everything truly set in.

My mind wouldn’t turn off. I was still in shock, and even more confused on how terrible that experience was.  I went to our parking garage and cried for about two hours. Another friend then tried to call me, knowing something was wrong.  I finally let her know that something was indeed wrong, and she told me to come to her room.  I told her everything, and we came up with a plan on what to do.  Tell my CL, go the police, get counseling. Simple, right? No.

When I told my CL, she was supportive and comforting in every way.  She even came with me to the police station and sat with me while they fired question after question.

The police station is where things got extremely difficult.  As my memory started unblocking the events of that night, I shut down to feel no emotion. I felt like my soul had been separated from me as questions were asked. The police were great in the beginning- there was sympathy, understanding and kind words.  Then as the questioning proceeded, they started getting annoyed at my misunderstanding as they threw legal terms that went right over my head.  It was hard enough to form a sentence, and harder to try and understand what they were talking about.  When it came time for me to decide what I exactly wanted, they told me what each scenario meant.  If I went to the hospital, got the SANE exam, and filed for a case, this would be a long process, but one where I would go to court and he would be punished.  If I wanted to report anonymously, I would only be evidence if another girl got raped and she decided to report it.  And of course there was the option that I could not report it at all and just go to the hospital.

I decided to go to court. There was no way that I was going to let him walk freely so he could tear someone else’s life apart. I asked questions regarding the strength of my case, and this is where the police made their first big mistake.  They blamed me for everything.  If I hadn’t been drinking…or wearing what I was wearing…or kissing him back…this wouldn’t have happened. I have the Baylor Police Department to thank for years of guilt that still hasn’t ceased in believing the lie that this wasn’t my fault.

After the questioning, I got taken to the hospital.  There, I would meet a horrible advocate, and a stone-cold nurse. I got taken into a room where I waited for the nurse.  The advocate would attempt at conversation, and then before I knew it blamed me for her lost sleep. In the matter of two hours, I was being blamed for something out of my control. I met with the nurse, and she made me put myself into a very vulnerable position as she prodded me with swabs and took photos. She offered me drugs to prevent HIV, and all sorts of STDs.   During the entire procedure, she showed no emotion and slight annoyance.  I couldn’t speak.

At about 5 am, I finally got to go home. I hardly slept. I didn’t go to class, for the Baylor Police told me that it didn’t matter if I skipped class/missed any exams or quizzes, for I could take them later. Unfortunately, I believed them and missed two exams. Classes that I would soon fail because of this false information. Classes that made me change my major from Biology to Business because my GPA had become too low.

I did my best to continue on with the semester, but thanks to panic attacks, and sleepless nights, my school performance suffered.

The emails from the Police and case workers started to become fewer and fewer, but by that January I received an email that changed everything. A police officer emailed me to say that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with the case. I was extremely distressed, thinking that all the emotional hardship had been for nothing, and that someone might get hurt.  I convinced myself further that it must have been my fault; I must have answered their questions incorrectly, or that I got to the hospital too late.

I moved on with my life.  I focused on school, found better friends than the ones who led me into the party scene, and started a relationship with God.

However, by March, something pressed me to go over to the Police Station after months of no communication, and demand answers. I walked in to the station, and asked to speak with one of the officers on my case.  I explained the email that I received a few months back.  They replied with confusion that they have no recollection of sending that email to me, and that it was a mistake.  See, that email was meant for someone else. So after all the time I spent getting closure, and thinking that it was meant to be, I was smacked in the face with this news.  My case was still active. I left the station defeated, knowing that it wasn’t over.

Months passed, and I started my Sophomore year.  I still had the effects of PTSD, and still hadn’t come to accept what truly happened.  I started to go into a deep depression, especially in October as the one year anniversary approached.  A wave of the depression and anxiety hit so hard, that I considered dropping out of school.  I hadn’t been sleeping for days, and had started cutting myself when the pain was intense. I was suicidal.  I got taken to the hospital.  My grades suffered. I was cycling.

I found the counselor who I still see on a weekly basis, and she helped me identify what was going through my head.  I’ve made great progress with her help these past two years. She not only diagnosed me with PTSD and anxiety, but found that I am bipolar type 1. This explained a lot.  Why I went through waves of depression, and had waves of high moods where everything seemed to make sense.  It seems now that fall will always be a trigger for me, and where I cycle into depression.

I focused on therapy as more months passed, not hearing any progress from my case.  I was okay with that.  I made myself believe that it was not helpful to worry about something that is still “pending”.

However, this past summer before my junior year, the case with Sam Ukwauchu occured that caused an outbreak of anger, confusion, and in my case, a panic attack.  The victim had been in the Baylor survivor’s support group that I had attended, so I knew exactly what happened. We both had very similar stories- both raped on Homecoming by guys who we barely knew, both struggling to trust people to let them help us.  The only difference was that she had the courage to let the media broadcast this story while I stayed comfortably silent.  I commend her and am so proud of what she has done. She was angry, rightfully so, and did something about it so other individuals might become more aware of this crime.

After hearing this story come out, I decided to email my case manager to ask for an update.  To no surprise, she said that my case was still pending.  After two years.

This journey has not been easy. It has challenged me in every way possible.  I thankfully finally found an amazing support system whom encourages me every single day to keep going.  I still severely struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but I’ve found the help that I needed.

With everything that has happened in these past six months with Baylor in the news, it has inspired me to finally share my story publicly.  A story that I feel so uncomfortable and vulnerable in sharing with people who I’m not particularly close to.  (I honestly am shaking right now as the post is coming to a close).

I do wish that the Title IX office had existed when I was raped.  I believe that it would have helped me a great deal in 2013, regarding supporting me with aid in schoolwork. But I can’t spend too much time thinking about that. All I’ve got is tomorrow.

So for anyone who is reading this, I want to close with this: Sexual Assault will never be the survivor’s fault.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been drinking, doing drugs, or dressing a certain way. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone who know, someone who you are in a relationship with, or a stranger. It doesn’t matter if you flirted back, if you stayed out too late, or you looked like you wanted it. YOU are not forcing yourself on the rapist. YOU are not to blame.  Please remember that. You are valued.

 

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