February 18, 2014


I was raped by a guy five years older than me when I was 19. We had pretty much been starting a relationship. I was really naive at the time. We were messing around to a degree that I was ok with, when he initiated intercourse. We had never discussed sex beforehand, and I was kind of shocked and confused and didn't stop him. He did not use a condom or any other kind of protection and later claimed that he didn't like condoms and had never used them and had never had a problem with it.

I talked to my best friend at the time (a guy) about it when I was still pretty shell-shocked. He opined that what this person had done was completely fine and understandable and that he might have done the same thing in that situation. Getting this advice from someone that I trusted and confided in probably made the situation much worse than it otherwise would have been. The advice reinforced the idea that I already kind of had that what had happened was my fault and had been encouraged by me and that I was being overly sensitive.

A lot of my sophomore year at MIT was spent distancing myself from friends and situations from my freshman year. I behaved more recklessly and focused less on schoolwork than I would have otherwise. I had a lot of trouble processing what had happened and blamed myself for getting "too friendly" and for not stopping it when it had started going too far. I'm still uncomfortable with certain acts of foreplay that remind me of this person and incident.

It wasn't until nearly four years later that I was able to seriously confide with someone else again about this incident, and start to reprocess what had happened as being rape and being not my fault. If the person I had originally talked to had responded differently to my story, I think it would have made a huge difference to my experience.

It doesn't matter what non-verbal cues may have been given. If someone has sex with you and you didn't want it and never explicitly said that you wanted it, it is rape, it is not ok, and it is not your fault.
 I needed to be told "that wasn't ok". What I was told was "that was ok", and, more subtly, "that was your fault".

I've described the most egregious incident of sexual violation that I've experienced, but I, and many people that I know, have experienced many more subtle incidents. Some that have caused me to be nervous about participating in activities that I enjoy.

I almost feel like you have to be lucky to never see a situation where someone inappropriately cops a feel, or repeatedly kisses or tries kissing you even after you've told them "no", or comes on to you inappropriately, or puts you in some other a sexual situation that you aren't comfortable with.

These experiences can happen anywhere, and MIT is certainly no exception. In some sense, MIT may be worse, in that the school may attract socially awkward people who may have more difficulty appropriately initiating a sexual situation or stopping it once it has started.

[Note from the editor: This is one of the many anonymous anecdotes and survey responses collected for the dx/dt project that were not used in the film. They are being posted here as contributions to the discussion of sexual violence, relationship abuse, and stalking in the MIT community. Thank you to all of the authors of these posts for your willingness to speak out.]