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In her own words: Survivor shares victim impact statement she wrote


Area victims of sexual violence talk of their trauma and their healing

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Jane, another young woman who experienced campus sexual assault, shared her victim impact statement with The Dominion Post. This woman wrote her statement hoping to read it during a student conduct hearing. She was told she could read it during sanctioning, if the proceedings made it to that point. They did not, and she received a letter saying the man in question was not responsible for sexual misconduct, as the woman’s recall of details led some officials to believe she was not drunk at the time. Some information has been redacted to protect the privacy and anonymity of those involved.

 A warning: The following contains stories and details about sexual abuse and rape, and could be upsetting or triggering to some readers. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and needs help, the RAINN hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or you can chat live on RAINN’s website,

“I put off writing this for some time, because I didn’t know where to start or how to find the right words to describe the impact this has had on me. And the truth of the matter is, I shouldn’t have to. Because it isn’t sex when she says no. It isn’t sex when you have to convince her or tell her you aren’t taking no for an answer. It isn’t sex when she’s too drunk. It isn’t sex when she’s asleep. It isn’t sex. It’s rape.

“Today is my 20th birthday. In my 20 years of living, I have never been more proud of the young woman I have become than I am today. I got to spend today alone in my room, reliving the worst moments of my life. It’s a little comical. My misfortune, I mean. I was naïve to believe that I would even be able to enjoy one day out of the year. I have come to the painful conclusion that I will never be able to be as happy as I was for the 7,107 days I lived before [redacted]. My life has been forever changed, and I will never be the same again.

Before I got to college, I lived a very sheltered lifestyle. I had never been to a party of more than 10 people. I had never been to a club. I had never consumed Four Loko, beer or jungle juice. And I had never had sex. So when I got to West Virginia, I wanted to experience life. I went to frat parties, and I drank more than I was used to more often than I was used to. I hadn’t yet learned my limits. But I felt safe in that environment because I had met incredible people that I trusted. I trusted [redacted].

“I met [redacted] on [redacted] through my friends [redacted]. We were drinking in [redacted]’s room before going to a frat party. A week later, we celebrated his birthday in his dorm. We went out a few other times after that and would talk on occasion about class or personal situations. After our first math exam of the semester, I disclosed to him that I was not entirely happy at West Virginia, mainly because of incidents that had taken place in the weeks prior and that my consumption of alcohol played a large role in that. I considered [redacted] a friend from that point on.

“I’m never one to turn down a good time, so when [redacted] invited [redacted] and me to the [redacted]  party on [redacted], I was more than willing to go. Before we went to the party, we drank at [redacted]’s house. Seven people were interviewed because of this incident, [redacted], and myself. And of those seven people, not a single one can agree with another with how much I had to drink. I don’t remember entirely either. But I know for a fact that I had half a Four Loko and at least two cups of jungle juice. I think it’s a bit arbitrary to expect me to remember how much I had to drink given the period of time between that night and the day I decided to report what had happened. I most likely wouldn’t be able to precisely recall that information if I had reported it within the week because, at that time, I didn’t feel it necessary to keep track. The fact that I remember even that much is slightly surprising. Regardless, I was drunk enough to the point that I deemed it acceptable to lay face down in the grass in a mini skirt with a solo cup in my hand until [redacted] came over and told me to get up. So for one to say I was “most definitely sober” as if they knew how my body responds to alcohol or how I behave while drunk in their first moments of knowing me is completely ludicrous. One by one, the girls I arrived at the party (with) left, and I was not yet ready to leave, so I said that I would stay with [redacted] because he was my friend, and I trusted him. I guess my judgment of character isn’t as good as I thought it was.

“By the time we got back to [redacted], it was in the early morning hours of the next day, and I had changed out of my party clothes into shorts and a sweatshirt because I was just going to hang out with my friend. When [redacted] and [redacted] went to go smoke in the bathroom, I fell asleep. A period of time later, [redacted] came in to wake me up to tell me he was going to take a shower. I fell back asleep and that would be the last time I would ever close my eyes to go to sleep thinking that my life was normal.

“When I was little, I used to watch Disney princess movies on repeat. I would dream that one day I would find Prince Charming and maybe be woken with true love’s kiss. But I will be the first to say, being woken up from your sleep with a man on top of you, kissing you and groping you is no way to wake up. As I mentioned earlier, I lived a sheltered lifestyle which in turn made me a little neurotic. I had thought many times what I would do if I ever found myself in a situation similar to where I was  in that particular moment. And everything I had thought I prepared myself for left my mind, and I froze. I did what I thought would be best for me at the time. Because I had no fight in me. I was so tired. I just wanted to go to sleep.

“As I lied (sic) there being violated and degraded to just a hole to be discarded like single-use plastic, I stared at the vent above his door hoping someone would come to my rescue. And nobody ever did. The entire time, I thought of what I needed to do to get through the situation. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I was quiet it would take longer, and if I pretended the pain wasn’t excruciating and just pretended to slightly be into it that he would finish faster. And when he did finish, he said words that still ring in my ears. And I will never forget them because those are the words that made me hate myself. He said, “Good job, [Jane].” As if I was a dog that had just performed a trick. He then proceeded to say, “You have a really nice vagina, it’s very tight.” I have not been able to look at myself the same since then.

“I want to make a few things clear. I did not “finish before he did.” I did not finish at all because not a single second of that was enjoyable. He really shouldn’t flatter himself like that. And no, I did not want anything more from him. I did not want to “sleep with” him again. I did not want a relationship with him. Because he is foul. For him and his mother to say that I yelled that he wouldn’t have the last laugh is despicable. I’m not laughing. This isn’t funny.

“It wasn’t until a few days later that all my memories came back to me, and I saw it for what it was, rape. My mind most likely suppressed memories to protect me from the truth. I found myself experiencing all seven stages of grief. The first two being shock and denial. Acceptance and admittance are hard. To come to terms with the fact that your life will never be the same, and you are now a victim is incredibly challenging and a reality I still struggle with. I was slipping into a pit of isolation, sorrow and hatred for the world, trying to claw my way out and hold on to the life I had known before I met [redacted]. But at some point, I had to let that go too, watched it slip away into that pit of darkness, and accept that this was my new life. To adopt a new identity, because the [Jane] I had been for 19 years, five months and 16 days before died that day, and I became someone different that I no longer recognized. I stopped believing in God. Because if he were real, he would have protected me when I needed him most. When I told my friends about it and had made mention of filing a report, they talked me out of it. They said  that people would blame me and that it would be a long, drawn-out process. And both those things happened. I was told that it was my fault, because I went back to his room with him and fell asleep in his bed. But that was never an invitation to enter my body. It has been five months and two days since I filed a report to Title IX and six months and 15 days since [redacted] raped me. I want to paint a more accurate picture of what those past six months and 15 days have looked like for me.

“There are only a few moments of peace I get each day when I first wake up in the morning when I don’t remember what happened to me. I sought refuge in the words of Chanel Miller, Morgan Wallen’s “Cover Me Up” and cherry vodka. For over a week, I walked around campus with makeup caked on my neck and my sweatshirt tied tight to hide the large, deep hickeys he left on me that were a constant reminder of what had happened. “[Jane], are you really that cold? It’s 70 degrees outside?” “Yeah. I’m naturally chilly.” No, I was not cold; I was not ready to accept what had happened to me or for the world to know. I would stand in the shower with only hot water running, burning myself to decontaminate my body to get him off me. I would scratch at myself, wishing I could get new skin because I didn’t want mine anymore. I will never listen to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire again because yes, I do remember the 21st night of September, and I wish I didn’t. I will never use mouthwash again because that is what his breath tasted like. I have not been able to be intimate with anyone without crying.

“Nine days after, I saw him for the first time since I had accepted what had happened to me and spat at him. I would do it again. Twenty-one days after, I told my older cousin, and she assured me that I was right to feel the way I do and I should say something. I expressed my fears to her, and she contacted the university on my behalf. This was the start of my speaking up. I contacted my friend who shared a similar experience with [redacted]. I feel it appropriate (to) bring this up because [redacted] himself makes mention of her in the Title IX report. My friend and hall-mate, [redacted], who also attended the [redacted] party with me, had told me her story about [redacted] after I told her mine. I asked her if she would feel comfortable coming forward with me, and we decided that if we were to do it, we would do it together. Forty-two days after, I saw [redacted] again. And I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the Sheetz at Seneca with two of my friends, and then I saw him. I immediately got up and left without saying a word and sobbed on the side of University Avenue. With tears streaming down my face, my stomach in knots, heart beating out of my chest, and my palms sweating, I knew that I did not want any other woman to feel the way I felt that day or 42 days prior. That was the day I decided to report it. The next day, I sat in my room with [redacted] for a good three hours writing our statements and filling out the Title IX complaint. And that was the start of the longest five months of my life. 

“The unknowing of what was being said about me and not knowing what to expect in the coming weeks was incredibly difficult. Fifty days after, I had my first real mental breakdown. I sat on the floor of my room, crying uncontrollably, thinking about how I wanted to die. I wanted the hurt to stop, and I thought about how good it would feel for all the blood to spill out of me and finally be at peace. But I kept fighting.

“I lied to my mother on a daily basis telling her everything was okay, and I was fine. But I wasn’t. I didn’t want to tell my parents about it over the phone and wanted to hold out until Thanksgiving break. But I didn’t make it that long. Fifty-seven days after, we were hanging out in [redacted]’s room, and our other friend had made mention of going back to [redacted], and I said I had no desire to go back there and I called it “rape-aca,” [redacted] and my little nickname for it. [Redacted] said, “I hate when you call it that,” and I said, “I wouldn’t have to call it that if you hadn’t left me alone at that party with him. But I can’t really blame you; I thought he was my friend.” 

“And that sent me into hysterics to the point where I couldn’t breathe. My friends wanted to call 911 because they didn’t know what to do. It was about 1 a.m., and I just wanted my mom. So I called her, but deep down I hoped she wouldn’t answer. But she did. I still didn’t want to tell them over the phone, so I kept saying, “Please come, just come,” and when she kept asking why I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth, so [redacted] got on the phone, and I won’t ever forget this either. She said, “Uh hi Mrs. [redacted], you really need to come; she isn’t doing well. I don’t think this should come from me.” She handed me the phone, and in three words, I broke my parents’ hearts. ‘I was raped.’ 

“And they were on the way. My mom wanted me to stay on the phone with someone until my friends got back, so I talked to my little sister. My little, 17-year-old sister who didn’t need to deal with this at 1 o’clock in the morning on a school night. I had told [redacted] about it a good while before, so it was nothing new to her. We stayed on the phone crying for about half an hour, and I told her that I couldn’t take the hurt and anger anymore. She said to me, “[Jane], please don’t do anything to hurt yourself.” To which I replied, “I won’t. I don’t even have anything sharp in my room. I checked last week.”

“ One hundred twenty days after, I saw him at a frat party with a few girls. And I wanted to get belligerent. I wanted to give those girls the warning I didn’t get. I was tired of the investigation taking so long, and I wanted to take matters into my own hands. But once again, my good buddy [redacted] talked me down. We went outside and cried in the snow and not long after, we left. We went back to [redacted]’s house but at this point, I was very irritable, and [redacted] was getting frustrated with me for my reaction at the party. So, I promptly gathered my things and walked back to my room alone in the snow at three in the morning, and I just wanted to call it quits. I wanted to withdraw from the university and go back home. I wanted to call off the investigation. But as I walked up High Street, I reminded myself why I was doing this, so that no other woman would have to. I would take on all the pain, so that nobody else had to know how it felt.

“Most, if not all of you will get to walk away from today without trauma added to your lives. Months from now, today will be a moment of the past no longer consuming you or your time in the ways it has leading up to today. I do not get that luxury. Regardless of what decision gets made, it will never change how I feel or what I went through, and I will continue to carry these emotions and experiences with me until the day I die. 

“At some point, I thought to myself, ‘Why do I know so well that he is lying or falsely remembering things? How do I remember and he doesn’t?’ I thought long and hard about how I could put into perspective to better explain to people, and this is the example I came up with. My aunt passed away when I was 12. If you had asked me what the second to last conversation I had with her was, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But if you asked me about the last conversation I had with her or the last thing I said to my parents before we found out she had died, I would be able to tell you almost every detail. Because I held onto the moments before life, as I knew it changed forever. So I know that he came in to [redacted] with me that morning, because when I close my eyes, and I look over to my left I can still see him saying to the man working the front desk, ‘We’ll just be a second, we don’t need to check in,’ and the man replying, ‘You’re good,’ just as he had almost every time I entered the building because he knew me at that point.

“ I still know what underwear I was wearing that night. A thin piece of black fabric protected me from the outside world but couldn’t protect me from his hands taking that last piece of security off me. Memories came back to me in the following days that contradicted the things I told myself and others to fill in the gaps where I didn’t know what happened to me. So I made assumptions when people demanded answers about the who, what, where, when and why, after seeing the incredibly noticeable deep purple bruises that no coin, frozen spoon or makeup could conceal. And I held onto those memories too, despite wanting to push them into the depths of my subconscious, only to be seen in nightmares so that when the time came that I was brave enough to say something, I would be able to be the best victim I could be. Each painful detail engrained in my mind that I thought about over and over again would send shivers down my spine. These memories are the truth; they are the painful truth that I live with every day.

“With this finally coming to an end, I have felt more anger, frustration and resentment with this process after the hearing got rescheduled twice and it felt like I would never make it to today. The over-looming fear attached with unknowing of the inevitable, that once I made it to today another decision would be made about me and my life that will forever impact me. But I find comfort in knowing that nevertheless, I am resilient. 

“I now understand why women never come forward. Because it’s an incredibly long and taxing process, both physically and mentally. The things that people have said about me, that I was using this to get out of doing homework despite my 4.0 GPA, that the way I handled things seemed ‘off’ as if they knew what I was going through or offered a better way to cope, but my behavior and the way I reacted to this does not constitute his innocence or negate what he did, and a grown woman completely belittling me to just a girl with ‘hurt feelings,’ who is conspiring to ruin a young man’s life are reasons I sometimes wished I had never hit submit on that Title IX complaint. 

“I read that email his mother sent every day because that thought process is why we as a society are so halted in its progression. Her outlandish speculation of the reasons I reported it when I did and events that occurred that morning are menial efforts to discredit me and my experiences. Just because my story isn’t the quintessential rape story in most people’s minds doesn’t mean that what happened to me is suddenly invalidated. Because when you hear the word rape, you assume that a girl is walking down a dark alleyway alone at night and suddenly gets attacked by a stranger. 

“But the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network reports that 80% of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. So, one might say that my story is the quintessential rape story. Just because I knew him and we’re both young, doesn’t mean that I deserve to be blamed or his behavior should be excused. People like that, who continue to put brave young women down, are what is fundamentally wrong with this country. They are the reason that so many victims remain silent. 

“So when people ask me why I decided to say something knowing that it would be this way, I have one answer for them. He ruined my life. He ruined my parents’ and sibling’s lives. He is the reason I put spoons in my freezer before I go to bed at night so when I wake up I can reduce the puffiness of my eyes from crying myself to sleep. He is the reason getting out of bed is the hardest thing I do all day. He made each breath more difficult to take. [Redacted].

“[Redacted] defiled me, violated me, took my trust, my privacy, my intimacy and my will to live. He took almost everything from me. But he did not take my voice. My voice is my power, and it is all I have left. There are people who do not have the strength to speak out against violence and the flaws in this world that not everyone sees firsthand. I will continue to bring awareness to this issue long after this case is closed. I will continue to use my voice for those who have been silenced. I will continue to fight to protect women everywhere from the violence I experienced.

“We are here today because of decisions that [redacted] made for the both of us. He wanted to have sex. I didn’t. No doesn’t mean yes. I guess doesn’t mean yes. Do what you have to do doesn’t mean yes. Only yes means yes, and that simple, three-letter word never crossed my lips that morning. He took it upon himself to insert himself in me after being told no. Just because what was taken from me is intangible doesn’t mean it wasn’t stolen. I am not going to let what he did to me get swept under the rug. It is not up to me to decide if he is responsible or not, but I need to advocate for myself and fight for what I know is right. 

“At the end of the day, I know he is guilty, God knows he is guilty, and judgment day will come. I did not file this report out of regret, embarrassment, hurt feelings or any other reason that may have been implied today. I filed this report, because I was robbed of a normal life. Gone is the comfort of the life I used to live and any shred of innocence I used to have. Forever lost, never to be seen again because of [redacted]. I wrote this before today, so I did not know what was said about me as it had not taken place yet. But as I wrote this, I imagined I was made out to be someone I am not by an attorney who has never met me. I thought about saying, ‘What if I was your daughter, sister, cousin, niece, any variation of a loved one, would you think differently?’ But that shouldn’t matter. Because I am somebody. I am somebody who is worth more and deserved better. I want to smile again. I want to laugh until I cry again. I want to look forward to waking up in the morning. 

I want to want to be alive again.

“[Redacted], it is my understanding that you are the person that will find [Redacted] responsible or not, and if he is found responsible you will decide his punishment. I know this whole hearing has been a he-said-she-said case. But regardless of what was said, I was mentally incapacitated as I had too much to drink that night. It is time that women who have the courage to speak up are believed. [Redacted], I was not the first. Please make me the last.

“Thank you.”