Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor for Friday, Nov 7.

Dear Editor,

The purpose of my writing this article is to explain that sexual assault is extremely prevalent, with one in four women and one in 10 men at risk of being sexually assaulted at least once in their lives. From the societal norms which we have instilled within our minds behind how the length of your skirt is why you get raped and being out late at night leaves you fresh for the picking, we are secluding our minds from the obvious truth that there is only one essential issue: the assaulter.

My story is one that is extremely personal to me, one that I have not shared with many individuals as I felt that I would be judged and no one would believe me. When I first told my story, that’s what happened. No one believed me. They were smitten, set in their mindsets, and concealed by their preconceived notions that no one in “actuality” would “really” assault or emotionally abuse someone. Especially not someone they knew. But this is not the case, and assault in residences is a very real subject. I want my story to reach out to someone, anyone, to help them speak out and realize that they don’t need to be silenced. Silence leads to violence: don’t be afraid to speak up.

Most people don’t realize that 73 per cent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone that the person already knows. This was the case for me. A male friend and I were extremely good friends, lived on the same floor, directly across the hall from one another. He was extremely charismatic and got along well with practically everyone on my floor, but he had a terrible temper.

I recall an incident from first-year regarding a female friend in common of ours who he was also unofficially seeing at the time. I remember this friend telling me that she had just hooked up with another guy that night, then my male friend storming into my unlocked room, grabbing her by her shoulder, and pulling her into his room. I didn’t know what to do. He had locked his door and I could hear her sobbing and my male friend screaming and things smashing around in his room, but I simply couldn’t move.

I felt helpless and vulnerable, but I finally gathered up the courage to slam on his door and demand that he open up, just as my female friend swept out in a flurry of tears. I remember talking to her the next day, and her acting like nothing had ever happened. I remember her minimizing the prevalence of assault and emotional abuse. Then I remember it happening to me.

I recall sitting in my room studying for a test and opening up my door one day to “whore” written on my door in duct-tape, done as a “joke” by my male friend and him saying obscene things that his friend wanted to do to me and laughing in my face about it and running away down the hall.

I felt objectified and used, like there was nothing I could do about the sexualized manner in which I was being viewed. I remember feeling vulnerable, trying so terribly to hide my fear. This led to a spiral of events that consecutively followed, where I went into my male friend’s room looking to confront him. He stormed into the room and we argued; he went from screaming obscenities at me and throwing things around the room threateningly, to grabbing my wrists and slamming me repetitively against the wall, and then eventually violating me by kissing my forehead with me screaming and sobbing and hyperventilating the entire time. He had left me with bruised wrists, a pounding migraine, and undeniable humiliation. None of my floormates came to help me.

I’m putting my story out in the open now because living in a male-dominated, patriarchal society where a woman is marginalized for her sexuality is no reason to touch someone. Someone being your friend does not give them the right to manipulate your feelings and emotionally abuse you. Emotional abuse and sexual assault is not acceptable, and by ignoring it, you are perpetuating it. You are perpetuating a culture of ignorance, rape, and misogyny.

If you feel that you are struggling, try your best to reach out to someone that you trust or to counselling services. I know it’s difficult, but I can promise that you will see results in healing yourself as a person. These harmful, sexually intrusive acts harm victims not only during the occurrence of the event, but create a web of interconnected problems that last throughout the victim’s life; following them into adulthood especially if these memories are repressed or not discussed or brought to face legal consequences for their trauma. Suppressed memories, pains and violations can ruin someone, and no one deserves that.

Because yes means yes, only when you say yes. Because the only thing that causes rape are rapists, no external factors. Because you don’t deserve to be told that it was your fault for what you were wearing, for being out at night, for having your hair in a ponytail, for being intoxicated, for being taken advantage of, for trusting your friend. Because you deserve better.

Payal Majithia
ArtSci '16

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