Coming clean

Hey everyone,

So, the story written by deadpoetssociety9 was actually written by me. I wasn’t ready for anyone to know it was me yet, but know the situation has become more complicated, and I’m sitting at my computer trying to write a 7 page essay midterm that is due tomorrow, and I feel like throwing up. My professor emailed me early this morning wanting to talk to me. He claimed that he thought I was showing interest, romantic interest, and that he thought we were “two adults” implying consent. Implying that there was no power dynamic. He assumed I was showing him all this attention and that he was so flattered and blah blah blah. I was just trying to get to know him as a person because, like I said before, I was close to a lot of mentors in undergrad and I was just trying to make a name for myself as a 1st year student. I was in no way portraying any romantic interest. I would never want that. I just feel so sick, I feel like I have felt every time I have been raped or sexually harassed. When will this end? Men assume because I am interested to hear about their life that that means I want something sexual, and I don’t understand why. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I am a nice person, I just care about other people and hear what they have to say. Why can’t I get away from this? No matter where I live, no matter who I meet. I get raped. I do not know if I should respond and tell him all of this, I don’t know what to do.


Join the Conversation

15 comments

  1. browning19

    I’m just wondering how you are dealing with this awful situation. Has anything changed?

  2. Ashley Day Captain

    Erin,

    Although you and I haven’t spoken, please know I’m here for you. I noticed you were still responding to stories after the rape – How are you feeling? Please take care of yourself and know it’s okay to take a break if you need to.

    You shouldn’t have to endure emotional pain while working with your perpetrator for five years. In your previous post, you mentioned that you’ve worked too hard to let this get in the way of your career – You’re not responsible for your perpetrator’s criminal acts. You shouldn’t have to keep this inside and I’m proud of you for choosing to attach your name to your story. I can understand wanting a recommendation letter from an influential person in your department, but please don’t allow his “power” to keep you silent. You don’t deserve to suffer in silence.

  3. Jacqui

    Erin, I am so so sorry. I am going to text you too, but you know that you do not deserve this. There are stats that say that victims are more likely to be victims again…why… I do not know. It is so hard and it is so scary, but you are strong. Do not stop being yourself.

  4. Julia Mandel Day Captain

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. The first thing I would do is make sure you save any inappropriate emails and go to the school’s title 9 office. They deal with these types of situations specifically and will be able to help you in case it starts to impact your grade in the class as well. I hope everything turns out ok with this and please let me know if I can do anything to help you more.

  5. browning19

    Erin,

    I responded to your other post as well. You have the email now, so you have written proof that something happened. I am sure your university has a policy about faculty relationships with students, so even if he says it was consensual, it will still be a violation of that policy and could be grounds for his dismissal. The policy is usually written in the catalog or posted on the school’s website.

  6. Heather GG

    It’s not you. It’s the society we live in. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry you were hoping for a fresh start and you ran into the same. What happened wasn’t your fault. Your professor knows there was a power dynamic at play and used it to his advantage. He’s trying to make you think it was something it wasn’t.

    Sometimes the easiest way to figure out what the right path forward is to put someone else you care about in the situation figuratively, such as your friend Hannah, how would you advise her? It can be so hard to find a path when you are lost in the middle. I would recommend you not respond to your professor for a few days, take a deep breath, do what centers you, and find what makes sense for you. You don’t owe him an immediate response.

    Thank you for sharing your story

  7. THEmPROJECT

    Cheerup Buttercup! Stay amazing and keep surviving Sweets!!! ???

  8. Kimberly McCloud

    Erin,

    I’m so very sorry this happened to you. I’m so sorry that your kindness and compassion was misinterpreted into something else. This is absolutely not your fault, you’re not to blame in any way.

    I’m so incredibly proud of you for speaking out about this and please know you’re not alone and you’ll never be alone. And although I don’t know you as well as everyone else, I too am here at a moments notice to help you every step of the way.

  9. Bethany Volunteer

    Erin, i have an immense respect for you and I love you so much. I am so sorry this continually happens, but it isn’t your fault. That seems hard to believe right now but it isn’t. Remember that your story is yours and it’s up to you who to tell or report to. If you need to, i will FaceTime in for moral support while you do it. You continually push support to other people and give them the light and friend they need to get through the day. You deserve the same. This doesn’t define you, this is a piece of your story. You are more than what has happened to you. You are loved. You are important. You will get through this. Let us know how we can help.

  10. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Erin,
    I am so sorry. This is not your fault. If guys think that just because you are being nice to them means you want a sexual relationship with them, they clearly have never met a nice girl before. Since joining AVFTI and getting to know you, you seem like such a sweetheart. I am here for you if you need anything.
    If this professor is making it hard for you to study I would consider telling someone at your school. You need to focus on school not whether or not your professor is going to hurt you again.
    You are so strong and I know you are going to get through this. Everyone here wants you to be safe and okay. You help so many people and we are here for you now.
    You are smart and I know you will do the right thing.
    -Alyssa

  11. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you everyone. It is so important to hear that you all are here for me, because I don’t have many people I can talk to right now. I was able to tell my roommate and she has been so supportive, and my friend Hannah from back in Cincy, who might try to come up to visit me. Thank you so much for everything, you guys. <3

  12. Tyler

    My dear friend –

    I am crushed to hear that this happened. I am very sorry that you feel the way that you do. I’m appreciative that despite everything you go through, you see that you can count on us to support you. I’m extremely proud of all you’ve accomplished…which is, in my opinion, more than I have seen in most people I’ve ever met.

    Please understand that this is not your fault. You have been made to feel by several people you should have been able to trust that this is what is just “going to happen”. You should not be ashamed. You should not blame yourself. We’ve had a lot of conversations about freezing in these kinds of situations. You’ve even shared that in your responses to others. While it may seem natural, it’s important to recognize that you’ve been conditioned to respond like this. None of this should have happened and its not your fault. This man abused his power. Period. It’s gross and inappropriate. And then to follow up with his ridiculous email about being two adults implying consent? Yeah…you’re spot on with your distaste for this.

    I wish I had more to suggest at this point. Kristen has made great suggestions and I echo a majority of them. The unfortunate downside is that you are trying to build these trusting relationships early into grad school, and you’ve been betrayed by someone you did trust. Whatever you choose to do, I have your back and we are all here to support you through it no matter how hard it might seem. If there is anything you need us to do further, don’t hesitate to ask.

    I’m proud of you, again, for coming to us to share with us. I love you with everything I have, lil homie. You are my sister always and I am here to talk to you personally outside of the website if you need to. I’m here to lean on.

  13. Eric

    Erin, I’m so sorry.

    I’m just now catching up on everything and I am so sorry this has happened. I am struggling with what to say because I know this is very tough for you and I am so so sorry that it keeps happening. Mainly, I just want you to know that we love you. You have been such a huge part of this AVFTI family and we want to see you happy, safe and doing the things you love. This is not your fault. You’ve got power that no one can take away. We hear you loud and clear and we care deeply about you. None of us have the answers, but we will work our hardest to help you in whatever way we can. You deserve so much more than this and it will all come to you. Please let me know how we can help you or be there for you. You aren’t in this alone, my friend.

  14. jamie

    Hi Erin. I am so sorry. I can’t express enough how much my heart hurts for you, and the fact that this has happened again. What I do know is that you didn’t deserve this. You haven’t deserved any of these experiences. And you aren’t somehow more deserving of this one than any of your previous experiences. Each one has been equally wrong and undeserving. I just want you to remember that. I know you will, and you’re so wonderful with responding to other people, but sometimes it can be so hard to remember our own advice. This was wrong, and it was ONLY the fault of this professor.

    I’ve given this some thought before responding, and I keep thinking about the dynamic of power here. I also think a lot about the inherent trust that likely comes along with someone who works against sexual violence. I would assume that males who are very outspoken about stopping sexual violence are likely to receive a level of trust just right off the bat from people in their lives, as compared to a regular guy. Unfortunately, I am certain that there are guys who know this, and use that to their advantage. We see articles and commentary all the time about these guys…the male feminist, or the liberal guy who “understands these issues”. We see these articles because these guys obviously exist. And I hate it, and I hate so much that you encountered one.

    No one in the history of consensually hooking up has ever, ever followed up with a text or email saying “good thing we were two consenting adults”. That’s not normal language. He knows he was wrong. He knows it. Part of David Lisak’s work titled The Undetected Rapist shows that the last step from offenders like this is normalizing what happened. He knows what he did was wrong, but he wants you to think it wasn’t. He wants you to think that it was just a normal hookup. But normal hookups don’t have that language around them.

    As an outsider, that’s what I see. As far as what you should do, that’s all up to you and what you’re comfortable with. Know that you have my full support with any choice you make, as well as the support of this entire organization. I don’t want to sway you one way or another, and I certainly don’t want to tell you how to feel. With that in mind, we are hearing story after story right now of powerful people being challenged by those they assault. If you chose to go that route, it’s seems a good time for it. However if you don’t feel you can take that on right now, that is absolutely completely understandable, and you have my support there too.

    Let us know how we can help. We have your back 110%, and if there’s anything at all we can do, know that we will. We are here for you. We love you. And we want to help support you in absolutely any way you need. Please stay strong.

  15. Kristen Eby

    Erin, I am so sorry this is happening to you. It means a lot to me that you trust us enough to disclose your identity, because I care about you as a friend and a member of this community. I admire you and I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished, as a student, an advocate, and just as a generally amazing human being.

    I’m sure you know this, but your professor is in the wrong. SO in the wrong. A professor coming on to a student isn’t okay…the only situation where I think this could be okay is if it were enthusiastic, mutual, clear-cut interest and consent. Even then, the two parties should adjust so there’s no longer a power dynamic (e.g. switch courses). Obviously that isn’t the case here. His behavior is gross and the fact that he’s reaching out shows he knows that what he did wasn’t okay. It’s normal to do what you did – I did the same in undergrad and I am certain I’ll do the same in law school! As ambitious professionals seeking mentors and academic connections is our JOB. He knows better.

    I’m going to respond here to your other story, because I actually read this first.

    Nobody has the right to your body. Being friendly is not an invitation. I know you know this, but it’s worth repeating. This was not. Your. Fault. No matter how many excuses this man may have, there’s none for you lying there doing nothing as he did what he did. No grown-ass adult could possibly NOT realize you weren’t into it. It’s gross. It’s not okay. You didn’t deserve it.

    As for future steps, I can’t tell you what to do. I understand you may need a letter of recommendation from him in the future, I understand he is influential in your department. Myself, personally? I would disclose to someone higher up than him who I trust, if there is such a figure in your program. Depending on their response, I would report it. I would push through the Title IX. However, I haven’t been through that, and you have. I cannot know what you struggled with during that process, but I know it can be horrible – so if you don’t want to, I support you 100%. In that case I would get away from him. Limit his access to you. Switch out of his class if you can. I’m unsure how your program works so I don’t know if my advice is valid, but I want you to know you get to decide what happens next. You are in control, because you’re strong af and you know the respect you deserve and aren’t afraid to demand it.

    I’m here for you. We’re here for you. If you want to talk outside of the site, I’m here. I will always fight for you however I can and I will always support you as you move through this.