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August 14, 2016, is a date that unfortunately I'll never forget. I was hopeful going into my sophomore year of college. I had met all of my freshman year goals and I was ready to conquer my new ones. I arrived on campus at the end of July for RA training. It was such an exciting time because I was stepping into a role of big responsibility. I also made a friend in training who later became one of the best friends I could ask for.
After training for a week we were handed our first task of helping fall athletes move in. They come early to start training. It was pretty standard stuff, we give people keys and papers to sign and return. Even though that day seemed normal, it was the first time I met him.
The second time I met him was completely by accident. I was walking around the building when I saw him stumbling up the stairs. I don't know how much of his information I can release so we'll say he bumped his head. It had left him slightly unbalanced and since I was so determined to be a good RA, I helped him to his room and said goodbye.
It wasn't until the third time I met him that things went south. The week after fall athletes move in was move in day for another select group of people. I was up bright and early because one of my very good friends would be returning to campus that day. I had my ringer on waiting for the "I'm here" call but instead I got a Snapchat ping. Someone had added me as a friend on Snapchat. I accepted the request and instantly got a "hey" chat. I responded and he explained who he was. We started chatting and it was pretty normal conversation. There was no flirting or suggestions just small talk mostly.
He eventually asked to hang out to which I declined because my friend I hadn't seen all summer was back on campus! He accepted and gave one of those "maybe some other time" answers. We were chatting a little bit more when he asked to hang out again, which should have been a red flag, and I told him that I would if my friend wanted to hang out. He was a little hesitant but agreed. Eventually, my friend arrived and we hung out for a bit before she realized she had a meeting to go to. I went back to my room to watch TV and wait. Then I got a text from an unknown number; it was him. We started normal conversation. He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was eating cereal because my friend had a meeting. He asked me to hang out again.
There should have been sirens going off in my head telling me that this was wrong and maybe it was the excitement of that day, but they didn't. So I agreed to hang out with him. I went up to his room and sat on the unmade bed assuming it wasn't his. He asked me to play a card game with him and I agreed so we moved to his bed. It didn't take long for me to lose this card game of which the rules were very unclear and still are. He put the game away after the first round and we were talking. He turned on the TV and started flipping channels but I made him stop at Pitch Perfect. Everything was fine until it wasn't.
He got really close and almost on top of me and asked me if I was uncomfortable to which I replied, "Yes." That didn't stop him. Nothing did. I told him I was seeing someone but it fell on deaf ears. I moved and I wiggled and I even tried pushing but it wasn't enough. After it was over, I dressed myself and sprinted out of the room so he wouldn't see me cry. I called my best friend from her meeting and had her meet me in my room. She didn't get a word in before I was bawling. I told her I didn't want to report because I felt that it was my fault and she respected that.
I ended up reporting anyway and being taken to the hospital for a rape kit. I was taken it at 11 that night and didn't leave until six the next morning.
It's a year later and I wish I could say I was completely healed but I'm not. My depression and anxiety had worsened. I gained a ton of weight because I eat when I'm sad and I kind of wanted to. I pierced my nose and started dressing differently. I just wanted to be a whole new person. For a while I was quiet. A lot of people on campus knew and I didn't know how. Some were very sympathetic and offered support. Some were mean. He was a football player so I got some backlash there. The case went through court for eight months and that was tough. His lawyer tried to make it seem like I wanted it of course. He tried to make it seem like freshman football players were my type, like something was up being that I never screamed because I was paralyzed with fear. I didn't get the outcome I wanted with court but I told myself that it was better than him being on campus. I lost my faith in God but it came back stronger. There are days where I can be totally okay and days where it hits me all over again. I still haven't been able to successfully watch Pitch Perfect. That card game, Phase 10, that I'd never heard of before, is suddenly everywhere. Sometimes when I hear his name I freeze. However, I've had some amazing people to help me through all of it.