I was not raped. I got away from him. I was lucky. But I have not forgotten the boy or the details. This is my #MeToo story.
In the spring of 1971, I was a sophomore at BGSU in Ohio. I’ve always felt a little awkward in social situations. Talking quietly to a friend or two has always been far more pleasant for me than attending any sort of party. I did not drink or party or socialize much at all, particularly that year. I had a boyfriend “back home,” so I felt that any socialization would be somehow be construed as being unfaithful to him. I spent the majority of my time studying in the library, reading, and listening to music in my dorm room. Other than hanging with my trio of friends in the dorm, plus an occasional visit from an out-of-town friend or two, it was a lonely year for me.
My roommate dated lots of guys, and my other good friends, the two girls across the hall, both had steady boyfriends on campus. They often urged me to get out and about, but I always demurred. But one Saturday in May our dorm, Ashley Hall, scheduled a picnic/party with the residents of a dorm in the quadrangle a couple of hundred feet from Ashley, Darrow Hall. Back then, Ashley was a girls’ dorm and Darrow a boys’ dorm. It was a sunny, warm Saturday, and everyone from the floor was excited about the party. After a great deal of nagging from my friends, I decided to go to the picnic.
My friends and I walked to the city park. The weather was perfect. I remember Ashley Hall played Darrow Hall in a rousing softball game, the girls against the boys. Others were shooting baskets, playing tennis, and the rest were sitting on picnic tables or blankets spread everywhere, laughing, talking, and eating hot dogs and chips and drinking sodas. It was the most fun I’d had for awhile. While I was sitting on top of a picnic table watching one of the games early in the afternoon, a boy sat down on the table next to me. He introduced himself, and said he thought he recognized me. Wasn’t I in a class with him that quarter? I was. He said that he was an English Major. Wasn’t I an English Major too? I was.
W e sat on top of that table and talked as if we’d known each other for years. Very early in our conversation he told me that he had a girlfriend back home, said that he wanted to be clear that he wasn’t looking for a date. I happily told him that I wasn’t looking for a date either. I had a boyfriend back home, too. He bemoaned how tough it was to find girls to talk to, that everyone assumed that he wanted to ask them out, and then when he didn’t, they didn’t want to talk anymore. He wanted to remain faithful to his girlfriend. They planned to marry after graduation. I wanted to be faithful to my boyfriend too, so we bonded over that. Most people who weren’t English majors didn’t want to talk about books, or authors, or poets, but he was, and he did. We both liked the same music. He owned a new Cat Stevens’ album, which he promised to bring to class the next week; I could borrow it for a few days. He also made me laugh. I remember feeling that I hadn’t laughed much for awhile.
At one point in the middle of the afternoon, he leaned over and kissed me, which I certainly was not expecting. I quickly pulled away and asked him what he was doing. He immediately apologized, saying that it had been so long since he had just sat and talked with a girl, particularly a girl who shared his interests, that he had simply forgotten himself. I didn’t want to hear it, so I took off and found my friends. He left me alone at first, but a short time later, he approached me and apologized again… and kept apologizing. I was on guard, but finally started to relax. He was so sincere.
He asked me to sit with him for awhile, which I finally agreed to do. He apologized for the kiss several times, and repeatedly told me how nice it was just to be able to sit and talk to someone with whom he shared common interests. Late, late in the evening the party ended. There were only a dozen or so people left. It seemed that everyone who had brought a car had left, so we that were still at the park all headed back toward campus. I recognized the girls from seeing them in the halls of our dorm, but I didn’t know any of them. We all laughed and gabbed during the entire walk back, a couple miles or so.
Back then, BG had curfews in the dorms. Sunday through Thursday the curfew was midnight, but on Friday and Saturday the curfew was 2:00 a.m. After that, the outside doors were locked, and if you weren’t inside, you were in trouble. I had never been late before, never even come close to it. That Saturday evening, by the time we arrived all the way back across campus to our dorms it was around 1:45 or so. When we arrived back at the pond that was situated between our dorms the other girls and I turned left, toward Ashley. All the boys turned right, toward Darrow. We all yelled good night to each other. We had only progressed twenty feet or so when the boy I’d been sitting with yelled to me to hurry over and run up to his room with him so that I could borrow the new Cat Stevens’ album right then. When he told me to run up to the room with him I remember that all the boys laughed. Then he told me to ignore them, that it would only take a couple of minutes. The boy said something to the effect that I could listen to it the rest of weekend, and return it when our class meets again. I told him that I didn’t think there was enough time to go to his dorm and get the album and not be late. He assured me that he knew exactly where the album was, that he would grab it for me, and then I could get back to my dorm in plenty of time. Several of the girls told me to just go on and get it, that I had time.
So I walked to his dorm with him. By then the other guys had gone ahead. By the time we got to his dorm they had all gone inside. I think I remember hearing the sound of a couple of doors closing. He told me to just run up to his room with him; he’d get the album, and I could be on my way. I remember that he said, “Let’s race. Bet I’ll beat you.” So we raced up two flights of stairs.
Outside his room, he put his finger to his lips, and whispered that his roommate was likely asleep, or more than likely passed out. I nodded okay. Then he said that he wouldn’t be turning on the overhead light because he didn’t want to wake his roommate, so he would go in first, in the dark, and turn on a light above one of the desks. I nodded again. I stood in the hallway while he unlocked the door, walked past the closet, over to the desk on the right side of the room, and turned on the small reading light above the desk. He motioned me to come inside, touching his finger to lips, to remind me again, I guessed, to remain quiet. I walked inside and stood next to the desk with the reading light. Across the room, on the left side of the room, was the other desk. Along that wall were a closet, the desk, and two bunk beds. A record player with a stack of albums beside it sat on top of the desk.
Someone, his roommate I presumed, was sleeping in the top bunk. My new friend motioned me to cross over to the stereo, which I did. My back was turned to him. In the meantime, he quietly walked behind me to the door, then quickly closed and locked it. I turned, confused; he grabbed my wrist, whirled me around, and pushed me against the closet. He put his tongue in my mouth and started groping me. I tried to push him back, and said something to the effect of, “Let me out of here.” I don’t know why I didn’t scream immediately. I think the girl who always wanted to please people didn’t want to wake the roommate. And I was so shocked by his completely unexpected behavior.
But then he said, “You know why we came up here. You know you want it.”
I sure as hell didn’t want “it”, or anything like it.
Then while holding me with one arm, he dropped his pants with his other hand, and started fondling himself.
I told him I’d scream, at which time he quit fondling himself, clapped his hand over my mouth, and pushed me even harder against the closet.
He told me that I shouldn’t scream; that I’d wake his roommate.
At that point I started to whimper.
He took his hand off my mouth, but still held me against the closet. At that point I started begging, “Please let me go, please…”
He just kept saying, “You know why you came here. You know you want it.”
I continued to beg, “Please, please don’t do this. Please let me go.”
He began pulling me toward the lower bunk. I said, “But your roommate…”
“Don’t scream,” he said. “You don’t want to wake him. He might want to join the party.”
“Please, please no…. I don’t want to do this… I have a terrible headache…”
“This will make you feel better.”
He started pulling me toward the bed. I kept resisting, but by then he was tugging on both my wrists.
“Please, please, please don’t do this.” I was crying then. And then, because I couldn’t think of anything else, I said, “I can’t. I’m in my period.”
“I don’t care,” he said.
By then he had pulled me awkwardly across the few feet of floor, his pants and underwear around his ankles. He let go of one of my wrists, reached back, and patted the bottom bunk.
When he did that, somehow I managed to jerk my other wrist away, and kick him somewhere in the area of his groin. He fell back onto the bed and let me go, shouting and cursing as he did.
I turned, rushed to the door, unlocked it, and ran for my life; down two flights of stairs, out the door, and toward Ashley.
Unfortunately, though I had kicked him, I had not kicked him hard enough. He had fallen, but he was not incapacitated. He had pulled up his pants, and was chasing me.
It’s probably a couple of hundred feet from Darrow to Ashley, and I ran as though my life depended on it. As far as I was concerned, it did. I screamed “help, help” as I ran.
I could hear him yelling and cursing behind me. I could tell he was getting closer.
Within thirty of so feet from Ashley, I could see a woman locking the door. I kept screaming, and fortunately she saw me. She unlocked the door just as I arrived, and I rushed in. She immediately locked it behind me seconds before the boy arrived, holding his pants up with one hand, and calling out obscenities to me as he arrived.
“Bitch, you fucking cunt!” he kept yelling.
The woman motioned him away as I collapsed onto the floor.
She sat down on the floor next to me and asked me what happened.
Sobbing, I told the story.
She put her arms around me, forced me to look her in the eyes, and told me she wouldn’t write me up for being late, but that she assumed I would never make that mistake again.
I went to my room. My roommate had not returned from her date, but my friends across the hall heard me crying, and came over. I told them the story. I couldn’t stop crying. Finally, the Resident Adviser from our floor came to see what the ruckus was about. I told her the story, too.
I wanted to report it, but my friends and the adviser told me not to. “What good would it do?” they all said.
“Nothing really happened,” they said.
“But he tried to rape me,” I said.
“You went to his room,” they said. “And it’s your word against his. He’ll just say you changed your mind. Just forget it,” they all said.
I wanted to call the police, at least the campus police. But again and again, all three of them told me that I shouldn’t.” No one will believe you,” they all said. “People saw you sitting with him, talking to him, laughing with him. Some of them probably saw him kiss you. They will just think you led him on, chickened out, and tried to blame him.”
“But, if they saw him kiss me, they saw me walk away from him. And… he tried to rape me,” I kept telling them.
“But, he didn’t rape you,” they said. “He didn’t even get you onto the bed.”
Finally the RA said she was tired and needed to go to sleep, that I should too. And I should just forget it. “They’ll just say that if he really wanted to rape you, he would have. You said a bunch of people heard you agree to go to his room. They all probably figured you were going to spend the night. Like I said, they’ll figure you chickened out, and want to get him in trouble. People will never believe you. Just forget about it, and move on.”
“No one will believe you…. Just forget about it……”
He paid no attention to me in class the rest of that quarter, for which I was most grateful. But I did start asking some of the girls in that class questions about him. I learned that the “I have a girlfriend back home, and I want to be true to her,” was his ‘modus operandi’ to get in a girl’s good graces. I do not have any idea what his results were with any other girls. I didn’t ask questions for long. I had no idea what I was going to do if I found out more things about him. I kept busy, and quiet, until the quarter ended a few weeks later.
I still wonder if I should have reported what happened. Would anything have happened to him? What if I could have stopped his attack on someone else? Or would it just have been his word against mine?
My story is similar to thousands of other stories from thousands of other girls. I was not 15, like Dr. Ford. I was 19, legally an adult. But I was naive. I had had the same boyfriend for over four years by then. Before that boy became my boyfriend, I had exactly one date with one other boy. So I was not exactly experienced. As I said, I was naive.
I never even told that boyfriend this story. As I recall, I thought he would have said the same things the others did that night. He would have wondered how I could have misinterpreted the kiss and the ensuing laughter when the guy asked me to “run up to his room with him.” He would also have told me to “get over it.” We broke up a couple of months later.
I have not told many people this story over the years. The few times I have, people usually say something like, “Thank goodness you weren’t raped.” The fact that the boy had that as his intent and tried never seems to merit much mention, which I find curious. And they always ask why in the world I would agree to go to his room with him, even for a minute. There always seems to be a hint of chastisement for my behavior.
I know that the kiss was my warning. And I did walk away from him at the time. Obviously, I should not have even given him the time of day anymore after that. But I made the mistake of believing him after he said he was sorry so many times. He seemed so sincere and genuine. The lady that unlocked the door for me that long ago night was right. Any shining innocence I still possessed that day disappeared like smoke up a chimney that night. And I have never made a mistake like that again.
The only thing that is unique about this story is that it is mine. I wasn’t raped, but I was assaulted. I know that I was lucky. But I have not forgotten about it.