I never thought I would be writing here again about what I’m about to say. I thought that, being an expert in sexual assault research (I wrote my senior thesis on the topic for Christ’s sake), I would always know how to react if I ever got into another situation like this. I thought I would know, definitively, the answer to the question many survivors ask themselves: Was I raped? But here I sit at my desk at work, still wondering, still confused. How could I still not know?

Last night, I went out with a couple of the Teaching Assistants that I TA a night class with. We had all gone to happy hour together earlier, because, per tradition, when the class takes the exam (in our case last night, the midterm), the TA’s get to go out for drinks. We went to happy hour and had a great time. We had to come back to facilitate a problem-solving task with our groups (the course is called Groups at Work, and that’s our job as TA’s). We were all pretty buzzed, so trying to facilitate those problems were hilarious. After the class was over, a couple of us decided to continue on with the partying. We went to one of the TA’s apartments nearby and continued to drink, all chatting, laughing, and having a good time. One of the TA’s, let’s call him John Doe, I have kind of liked and flirted with a lot since we started TAing together this semester. He asked about my tattoo that says survivor, and I talked to him about what that meant. After drinking more at the apartment, the three of us walked to the bar close by and got more drinks there. John and I kept talking, and we tossed around the idea of us hooking up. We were drunk, single, and stupid-so why not?

We left together. And that’s where it all gets….confusing. He kept trying to have sex with me while we were walking. Out in the open. In public. He pulled me down to some side streets-inevitably someone’s driveway, from what I can remember. I remember saying I didn’t want to do that outside (or some form of refusal)-why couldn’t we just go back to my place? I remember him yelling at me…I think saying, “Are we going to hook up or not?” and “Come on, Erin!”. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I know that we did have sex in a driveway-even though I know I said I didn’t want to do that there. I know the words “No” came out of my mouth. But we had, at least partially, sex. I would have never wanted to do something like that in such a public place. I didn’t want to do something like that in the open. He was being really aggressive and forceful. He grabbed my head to kiss me-he forcibly put his hand down my pants and fingered me. I didn’t necessarily say no to those things-just that I didn’t want to do them in public.

I ended up convincing him to walk to my place. I thought if I could just get him to my house, maybe we could just do it and then he would leave. I’m not really sure what I was thinking. We got to my house and went into my room. He immediately grabbed my head, started kissing me, shoved his hand in my pants and shoved his fingers into me. I didn’t say anything at first, but I really had to pee, so after I got him to stop (I feel like I remember it taking a second) I went to the bathroom. I told him I was going to go to sleep. And, thankfully, he said he was going to leave. I remember feeling incredibly relieved. I walked him out, he left, and I went to sleep.

So why is this so hard for me to comprehend? Why can I still not answer that question? We still have to TA together-I’m not really sure how to look at him the same way. I’m not sure why this keeps happening to me. I’m not sure how to stop from being victimized. Again. The really fucked up thing about it is that he knew what my tattoo meant. He knew that I had been raped before. And yet, he did this, still. I don’t understand. I don’t feel like there is ever any man that I will trust to not hurt me in this way.

I don’t want to report what happened. In fact, I would rather forget this even happened. I don’t even know if I’ve decided that anything really did happen. But I guess that’s why I’m here. I’ve answered story after story on here telling people it isn’t their fault, and that they didn’t deserve this. And yet here I am, thinking that it is all my fault, and why couldn’t I have fought harder, and why, after all this expertise and experience, do I not know what happened? I’m not sure I want any answers-I’m not really sure of anything right now. Thank you all, so very much.

Join the Conversation


  1. Heather GG

    Hi Erin

    I think that’s the thing with sexual assault… it’s so easy to find yourself in a dicey situation out of the blue. And you can never really be prepared. That’s why things like self defense give people a false sense of safety.

    You were with friends/co-workers. You should be able to relax and have a good time. It’s not your fault.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing

  2. Jacqui

    Erin, you are so incredibly strong and smart and I am so proud of you.

  3. Blake Lane

    Thanks for sharing your story Erin. It’s okay and normal to feel confused. These situations have a way to make us feel foggy and blurred. What is important to remember is that you openly expressed your feelings for not participating in sexual activity in public/at your house and he ignored those requests. He sexually assaulted you and that is not okay. It doesn’t matter if he thought you two were going to hook-up later or not. You told him no and he continued. None of that was your fault nor did you deserve to be treated that way.

    If you do not want to report what happened to you, then that is okay. That is your choice. You want to try to forget about it, then that is okay. That is your choice. But don’t doubt that something happened. You said no. Don’t blame this on yourself. It is not your fault. You are a beautiful person.

    Thanks again for sharing your story Erin. Please know that we are all here to listen. You have a group behind you that supports and appreciates you. Please reach out if you need anything.

  4. Jillian

    Erin, Jamie nailed it! All of it!
    You’re as tough as nails and ‘she persisted’!
    I’m sorry that guy didn’t respect you. There are lots of good people out here and you’ll find the perfect ‘lid’ to fit your ‘jar’ one day. And that man, yes a man, not a boy, will treat you with respect. The respect you deserve! And he’ll be kind and understanding of your heart. Did I mention I’m a hopeless romantic?
    Keep strong and you know we’re all here for each other! Brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters

  5. jamie

    No matter how much we prepare or think we know something like this, it still has the ability to catch us off guard. I was at a school this morning, talking to a counselor about some students. She told me that she has one that has to go to court today to testify against her dad. I made a quick comment that I did the same in 8th grade, and it caught me off guard that I had been through that. It surprised me that even though I say that on a near-weekly basis, that I actually went through it. I did. Me. I stood in front of a judge as a meek 8th grader and told him what happened and asked for my dad to not go to jail because my stepmom was pregnant. This wasn’t a story on some website at the time. This wasn’t an anecdote in a presentation. It wasn’t a Take Back The Night speech. It was real.

    I didn’t come here to talk about me. I guess I am just saying that I understand the absurdity of it all. We can think we are so prepared for something, so knowledgable on some topic, and then we can still be hurt by it. I’m so sorry Erin. I am sorry he didn’t respect you and didn’t even care to consider what you’ve been through in the past.

    You comment on this site so much, and you know the lines we say to people. And they work, and in those moments, even if we’ve said the lines before, it’s never trite. It’s what needs to be said. But somehow, here, those words aren’t enough. I wish I could take away all of what’s happened to you, from your previous stories all the way to last night. Obviously I can’t, but what I know is that these experiences won’t take anything from you either. Even if you’re confused and hurt at this very moment, what I know from knowing you is that you’re far to strong to let this slow you down. You’ll hurt for a bit, and you’ll come back with a vengeance and work harder. And be tougher. Not because this happened…that would give this guy too much credit. You will come back stronger because that’s who YOU are.

    Even when you’re hurt, you’re a leader in this movement. You are a literal beacon of hope and light for others. Don’t ever, ever forget that. You have helped so many people, and I know you will continue to help more. You’re a shining example of how to conquer and grow. This is how people see you. This is how I see you. I will never see you as someone “this keeps happening to”. I will forever see you as someone I am proud to be on the same side as, and damn glad I don’t have to oppose.

    Take all the time you need. Take all the self care you need. You deserve it. But just remember, just like you tell everyone else, this wasn’t your fault. Not in any way.

    We all love you so much. Let us know how we can help.