We included these four personal narratives from four UT-affiliated women who have been sexually assaulted or raped. These women courageously shared their stories with us, and we respected the wishes of those who wanted anonymity. If you'd like to contact them, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It happened twice.
It was freshman year, and I had (oh so cleverly, I thought) circumvented UT’s dorm requirement by declaring I was living at home. Meanwhile, snickering and high-fiving all the way to the leasing office, my two best friends and I moved into a three-bedroom apartment.
This was a move that, admittedly, I was perhaps not ready for. I’d grown up with highly controlling parents and was inexperienced with heavy drinking. The new-found freedom of living on our own, with nothing more than a mostly disinterested apartment management staff to provide any semblance of regulation, meant that a lot of heavy drinking happened in that apartment. Serving as an oasis to several of our friends who had gone the dorm-life route, we invited people over to drink regularly. I, a hard liquor rookie, would often black out before the evening’s end. I felt no need to censor my alcohol intake, though; I was at my own apartment surrounded by my best friends and people I trusted, some of whom I had known since elementary school. They wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, right?
In an effort to be the cool older sister, my roommate *Heather began inviting her 15-year-old brother, *Spencer, to some of these gatherings. Since middle school, Heather had been one of my best friends whose house I stayed at often. I got to know her family well, and she indicated to me on several occasions that Spencer had a crush on me. We poked fun at him for this. I viewed him as a little brother.
One night at our apartment, I blacked out in the midst of a round of a beer pong. Evidently, I went upstairs to my room to pass out and after a while, Heather went to check on me. She found Spencer in bed with me; save for my underwear, I was naked. I remember nothing that happened, but her entrance — and immediate exit — was apparently enough to rouse me from my stupor. I got dressed, and the next thing I knew I was on the porch with both my roommates.
“What just happened?” I remember asking.
Heather told me what she’d seen, to my horror. I was a virgin. I wasn’t remotely attracted to Spencer and hadn’t invited or initiated anything. I knew that and said so.
Heather told me she was sure I had encouraged him somehow, and my other roommate supported this hypothesis. I was told by my two best friends that I was “probably just embarrassed” for wanting to hook up with him, since he was three years younger.
My confusion was debilitating. Though I had initially been convinced Spencer’s presence in my room was unsolicited, their words cast a crippling self-doubt over me. Although I was still shocked, I began to believe them and was quiet about the incident. Most likely it was my fault; I’d blacked out, and my best friends told me I wanted it, so it must be true.
A month passed, and I came home from work to find Spencer among the friends gathered in my living room again. I avoided all eye contact with him and attempted to socialize with the others. After one beer, though, my discomfort at his presence was too great, and I told everyone goodnight before going upstairs to my room. I shut the door behind me and got in bed.