This story is difficult for me to tell, but shows some insight into how my personality has developed.
Some people may ask why I chose to put this story up on the Web, for everyone to see. I say because people should never forget that harassment can happen to anyone, anytime, anyplace. My story is not unique, and that’s the scary part. Nor was my story unique to my college’s administration, where my harassment took place. This person had been accused of harassing, stalking and/or raping fifteen other women in the three years he was at our college. It took the administration three and a half years before he was thrown off campus. I was outraged that it took that long. By the time he was thrown off campus, I had already graduated. I’ve gotten over my outrage. I don’t hold anything against my college anymore. I had far too many good times to balance this experience.
My story begins roughly in November of 1991. I had just been through a traumatic breakup and was visibly depressed. I was in my dorm, in the common room, watching television. My clothing was fairly normal — I was wearing a pink sweater and jeans. The sweater had a hole up near the shoulder, but I was lounging around and didn’t really care what I looked like. Theo (the harasser, who also happened to live in my dorm) saw me and sat down next to me. We were acquainted — I wouldn’t call it friendship — but he would sometimes seek me out if he was having a problem with his computer. He had found out about my breakup through mutual friends. We were talking, and he was trying to sneak looks at my sweater, where the hole was, to see what he could see. The movie we were watching ended, so I invited him back to my room to continue our discussion. I still trusted him at this point, because he had never done anything to hurt me. We began to fool around a little, but then he had to go — he was meeting his girlfriend (it was rumored that he beat her), but promised a rain check. I nodded, said okay, and watched him leave my room. I was exhausted, so I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I remembered what had happened the night before, and couldn’t believe I let myself be so vulnerable with someone of Theo’s history. After talking to my counselor, I decided the rain check was going to be canceled. I told Theo this shortly after.
When we got back from Thanksgiving break, the dorm was having a holiday party. I was having fun, hanging with my friends, sitting on the couch. Theo came in and sat down in front of me. He had somehow found out that I had a date over the weekend, and began to make suggestive remarks, asking if “I was a screamer or someone who just counted ceiling tiles” (in reference to how I respond to sexual stimulation). I tried to ignore him. He kept making comments about my breasts, saying that they were voluptuous, but that was okay, because he liked them that way. He said he liked sitting down on the floor in front of me so that he could see my breasts better. After a few minutes, he sat on the couch and put his arm around me. I tried to move away, but he was holding my arm, while also rubbing and patting it. He started to stare at me. I was scared — I couldn’t talk. All’s I could do was shoot him nasty looks. He said, “You said someday — a raincheck.” I told him that things change. He said, “We’ll see,” and continued to stare at me. The tone of voice he used was so cold, so calculating, that I was very, very afraid. After a few more minutes he let go, and I went to my room, where I shook for an hour and a half. I heard him walk by a couple of times while I was in there.
The next day I saw my counselor again, and she encouraged me to go talk to the dean of students. I was really afraid to do that, especially since I initiated the first contact with him. But, I went to the dean with my journal, which had recorded a lot of things I had written about the whole experience, just in case I went blank and started to forget things. That was next to impossible — I can still remember the experience today as if it had happened yesterday. The dean reassured me that I had done nothing wrong. I had said no, stated my position firmly. He was definitely harassing me. I was given the option of writing him a letter telling him to stop, of having a three way meeting with him, the dean, and myself, or having the dean talk to him one on one. I opted for the dean to just talk to him, which seems like the cowardly way out, but I didn’t want to risk making him upset or angry, because he just lived down the hall and could have very easily retaliated against me. The dean spoke with him, and except for accidentally running into him on campus, I was able to avoid him for the rest of the year. It took a very long time before I felt safe in my room alone again.
Still to this day, I shudder when someone I don’t know touches me without permission or someone comes up behind me that I’m not aware of. That’s sometimes very difficult, because my patients don’t always understand that there are physical boundaries that they should not cross. I am always aware of whether my doors are locked or not [usually they are]. I get a little paranoid when I think people are following me [not fantastic, since I work 3pm – 11pm and am frequently driving home late at night]. I lost a lot of my innocence, and my basic trust in people. I hate him for doing that to me.