Survivor stories

This page contains anonymous submissions of stories of sexual violence that Davidson students have experienced on campus. We are modeling this page and these stories after events like Take Back the Night, a survivor storytelling event organized annually by the Davidson College Rape Awareness Committee. If you would like to submit a story, regardless of whether you want it to be published or not, you can submit it here. 

We have had many students submit stories that they don’t want published, but that they have needed to tell someone. When we presented this form as a way for students to be part of a digital Take Back The Night collection, we were clear about the fact that we aren’t using their stories for data collection or research, but wanted to provide them with a platform for telling their stories without having to fear being named. We weren’t expecting to mainly receive stories that people didn’t want published, but that’s what happened. We also weren’t expecting anyone to send us “joke” stories, but someone did. The stories people want published are below. We are currently working on creating a map that contains the locations of where people experienced sexual violence on campus. 

Survivors' Stories

Essentially, she invited me over knowing that I wasn’t really interested in getting sexual with her beyond maybe some kissing. I thought we were just going to hang out and drink a little and maybe play a board game, but she kept giving me drinks while she wasn’t herself drinking, which I didn’t really realize until later. the next thing I knew, she was kinda just on top of me and I didn’t really know what to do. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but she definitely did. We ended up having sex even though I had told her I didn’t want to, and after I left I felt used and wasn’t even sure what had happened. It originally kinda felt like a bad hookup, since I wasn’t even considering the idea that this kind of thing could happen to me. It was only after I talked with one of my friends that I realized everything that had gone down, and what it had meant. I felt powerless, and it took me a while to get back to a happier place. I wanted to share because I feel like guys sometimes don’t always share their stories because of the ridicule that they might face at the hands of other guys. That’s what kept me from talking to people about it for a while, and I probably could have processed a lot better if I hadn’t been so embarrassed. 

A letter to my rapist:

I am fucking angry. Angry at you. Angry at myself for spending the last three years trying to forgive you before I forgave myself. For trying to forgive you when you didn’t deserve it. You deserve nothing. I owe you nothing.

You raped me during my first semester at Davidson. I didn’t want to admit what happened was rape because I wanted to believe you were good. I filled my head with maybes: maybe you didn’t see me crying, maybe you didn’t mean to make me bleed, maybe you didn’t mean to hurt me. I wanted so desperately for this to be an accident. For there to be no cruel intention behind you shoving me to my knees, throwing me on my back, tearing my legs open, forcing yourself inside me. Were you trying to be cruel?

I still want to believe you are good, but I can’t do that until I know that you know what you did. And not know in that you acknowledge this happened, but know in that knowing this shakes you to your core. That what you did fills you with guilt and shame. That you walk around knowing you committed a terrible, horrible act and that you are trying to do better. You are trying to be better.

What you did to me was not criminal. And I don’t think that should matter because what you did was wrong. I lost so much of everything after that night–my sense of worth, my ability to feel safe here and beyond, my desire to live. I became a shell of a person. And I have spent so much time and energy and money into trying to get better after you tore me apart. I have had to live with what you’ve done. It impacts every decision I have made since then. I have had to live with what you’ve done. I have had to carry the weight of this and it is fucking exhausting. I am fucking exhausted. I want you to feel that exhaustion. I want you to feel that loss. I want you to share this burden, at least some of it. And most of all, I want you to reckon with what you’ve done. I don’t know what this reckoning looks like. Is it you carrying this burden for the rest of your life? Is it you looking back at the choices you’ve made, reflecting on how you’ve treated women? How you treated me? What does it mean to fully and wholeheartedly look at your past mistakes? What does it mean to want to do–to be–better?

I don’t know what this looks like for you and I am tired of trying to figure it out. I am tired of doing the work for you, of living with this for you. I don’t know if writing this letter will help me heal. Or if knowing you read it will make me feel any better. I don’t know if you knowing any of this will change a single thing. All I know is that I am tired. I am done trying to forgive you. I am done making excuses for you. You have to carry this burden now.

It was my nineteenth birthday. We were spending the weekend in Seville. I loved and trusted everyone around me, so I let loose and drank. I drank a lot. It was my birthday, and how often does someone turn 19 on a rooftop overlooking Seville?

I remember the night. I remember the night ending. I remember going to bed. I don’t remember him being there. I don’t remember how he got there. But I remember laying on my stomach and how he reached around my hips. I remember how he penetrated me with his fingers. I was in and out of consciousness. Each time I woke up his hands and his pelvis were still glued to mine. When I was awake, I was frozen. I didn’t know how to stop this man from reaching up my dress. I remember staring at the wall, wondering how I got here. I trusted him and I thought he respected me.

I remember crying that morning. I crumpled before my friend as she brushed her hair and put on her makeup. And then I did the same. And we walked out the bathroom as if nothing happened. I wish that were true – that nothing did happen. Some days I can still pretend like that’s the case. But some nights I wake up and feel like his hands are still there.

I went back to a boy’s room. We started to have sex but he refused to put on a condom. He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to stop. I didn’t go to class the day after it happened and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I am so scared of seeing him again.

I was attending a frat formal freshman year and we were assigned to sleep in the same bed. I didn’t really want to but we kissed a bit. He said “don’t worry, we won’t do anything too serious.” After I said I wanted to stop, to diffuse the situation, I asked for a back rub. He climbed on top of me and choked me from behind. I couldn’t breathe. He rolled off, and I asked him to not do that again. I was crying. I was terrified and texted a friend when his back was turned to me, but hid my phone when he rolled back over. I pretended to be asleep. He still climbed back on my back and massaged then choked me again, when I was pretending to sleep. I didn’t move for a bit, frozen, then eventually rolled him off of me. I had to spend the next day with him. The next night I slept somewhere else, on a couch squished in like sardines with three other women/friends who were also avoiding their dates. I told some friends of mine in the frat about it later so they could know and keep an eye on him, but I didn’t want to have to deal with the aftermath of reporting, and I didn’t feel like it had been serious or “real” enough. I still hung out at that frat and saw him often but avoided contact and would move if he was too close by. A friend of his and the “chaplain” of the frat approached me at a party later, said he was sorry that had happened but he was a really good guy. He just really wanted me to understand what a good guy he was, regardless of what he’d done to me. I still have PTSD reactions if anything touches my throat too much and just started going to therapy for it, because the PTSD has lasted five years.

locations

  • Soccer field 
  • Frat formal in Gatlinburg, Tennessee 
  •  Chidsey Hall (“New Dorm”)
  •  Duke Residence Hall (2)
  •  Unidentified apartment
  •  Armfield (“F”) apartment 
  •  Davidson in Cadiz Summer program
  •  Sigma Alpha Epsilon House 
  • Turner House
  • Chambers Hall 
  • Richardson Hall