SUNDAY, JANUARY 23, 2011
The night prior marked the 21st birthday of a friend in the grade above myself. I helped him home, fending off his drunk advances, before returning to my freshmen dormitory where I slept alone that night.
The sun rose the next day in Boston and last night’s alcohol woke me up early. My best friend and her boyfriend accompanied me to the dining hall for a lazy breakfast. The hot food does not come out until at least 8 or 9am on Sundays so we enjoyed an appetizer of cold cereal. Through our meal we discussed our plans for the chilly January Sunday which did not involve heading to our training facility for any sort of Sunday session. As athletes, we took this Sunday to enjoy college like normal college students with no obligations. We chose to lounge in the room of my best friend’s boyfriend and watch the movie 21 with a couple of snacks.
Fast forward an hour, and last night’s birthday boy had join the lounging with a twenty rack of beer. A grade above myself and my friend, he was the first of his sophomore friends to turn the big twenty-one. Excited and rebellious, we all began to crack open a beer and continue our movie-watching, dorm-lounging, lazy Sunday. The hours passed, more of the boys’ friends joined, and more beers were opened. Time did not exist inside the walls of the dorm with black-out shade pulled tight across the window.
In those passing hours I became drunk. My friend had become drunk. Her boyfriend took her back to our dorm. He was focused on her so much that he left me. I was the only female aside from her so when she left I was left with a room full of young men. These men knew me well. They were fellow athletes and friends and colleagues in the classroom. To be honest, many had attempted to be romantically involved in various capacities but I chose to draw a line early on. Being a freshman, I wanted to be friends with these young men and remain friends.
Unfortunately my honest intention of staying friends was compromised that Sunday afternoon when two of the young men chose to take me to a separate room and penetrate me without my consent.
The days and weeks that followed that Sunday are still a blur. I can recall the feelings of shame and guilt. The feelings of uncleanliness and disappointment that filled my head as well as the head of others who heard rumors of the alleged threesome. I was assured as I was walked back to my room that night by a freshman on their team that no one would find out. As I woke up my friend and she showered me as I cried, I can imagine that I was reassured that I was going to be okay. That this was all okay.
This is what I told myself for the rest of that freshmen year. I told myself this that following summer, and the academic year after that. Accepting that I was the freshman girl who got “double-teamed” by the two hockey players was easier than accepting that I was the victim of sexual assault. This is the story that circulated the athletic teams and the social groups that followed the athletic gossip. It was not until the summer before my junior year that I was able to be broken of this thinking. Something slapped me in the face one day and shook it from my core. This was not a threesome.
Allowing myself the space to survive involved quitting track and seeking out the assistance of an on-campus therapist. I chose not to report what happened that Sunday afternoon as I believed I knew the way that story ends. The finger is turned to point back at me. I should have been careful about my drinking. I should have been careful about my clothing and what I said to these young, impressionable men. I should have been careful about the company I chose to keep. An athletic scandal is so financially burdensome that my school would have assuredly done their part to silence me and save their champions.
The two young men were freshmen the year they won the national title. This sophomore year they had been basking in the glory that is winning and being important to this school’s prestigious reputation. They also were young men that I thought were my friends. I had told both of them “no” on separate, multiple occasions, both sober and intoxicated. This was not an accident. This was not my mistake. This was rape. This was sexual assault. This was male privilege. This was white privilege. This was hockey privilege.
My family spent over two hundred thousand dollars for my education. I was not a full-ride athlete. I was attempting to compete for myself and the love of the sport and meanwhile gain a degree from a reputable institution. Unfortunately the environment within the athlete world became the environment that was most toxic, mostly because of the people and the talking and the treatment. The men considered me easy and expendable. The women considered me an enemy, a slut, and a joke. Although, I am sure they were all secretly thinking “thank God that was not me”.
I hated/hate my college experience and that is how I felt graduating in 2014. I parted ways thanking all gods that I could leave that place at last. I thought that would make these feelings disappear as though I only felt them due to my environment.
In September 2016, two years after graduation from the university, I was given hockey tickets at work. Hockey as a sport is not a strong trigger although I harbor much negativity and resentment around the sport as a whole. I have recently been actively participating in a new therapy in the hopes of moving past this experience of 2011 which apparently have affected my ability to control emotions around the sport and issue.. The tickets were harmless until I realized that one of the young men who had assaulted me might have been on the team opposing the Bruins. I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I checked the roster and saw that he was not on that team. However I was curious as to which team he was on. When I googled to find this information, I was faced with a myriad of details about his NHL profile.
Eight hundred thousand dollars.
This is one of my rapist’s annual salary in the NHL. Another player who verbally harassed me via Facebook post-rape makes one million, one hundred seventy five thousand dollars. These young men, who received full ride educations to a notable and well-established university in Boston, paid nothing for their education and now earn million dollar salaries in their mid-twenties.
I went home sick from work that day after vomiting in the downstairs bathroom. My body has learned how to tell me when it has had enough and this moment was a breaking point. Those numbers represent something that I have not quite put my finger on but I know it is big. The disparity between what they have done and and how the system has rewarded them is vomit-inducing,
The writing that follows next is the part that is still in process. I am not sure exactly what I feel and why I feel that way and who I want to blame. My thoughts are not clear and I jump from point to point lacking any ability to provide clear deeper insights. This is what the therapy is for. I have been going back to relive the moment they raped me. I have been forced to sit and think about them. One penetrating me from behind and the other in my mouth. I think they may have switched positions at one point. The light that came into the room from the hallway when one left since he had finished with me. How he left and left the other alone with me to do the same. I don’t remember him leaving but I remember being alone. Searching for the sweatshirt and sport leggings that had been stripped from my body. I remember crying and being washed. The waves of terror throughout the following day as I approached the training room. Knowing they were inside. They had been inside. All of me.
EMDR therapy is a type of therapy used in patients suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I sit in a room with my therapist for two hours once a week with a light bar in front of me. We recall specific images and triggering memories and then I track the lights with my eyes. When the lights stop we talk about anywhere my mind went and the thoughts that came up. The goal of this type of therapy is to allow myself to fully acknowledge and feel and process what happened that afternoon so that it can truly feel like it is in the past. The reality is that for the past 6 years I have told myself that I have grown from the experience and that I am the person I am today because of what happened.
This is all true and I am the person I am because of the things that have happened to me. However, I have not put this day behind me even if I try to convince myself that I have. Those feelings have been projected onto other facets of my life and blocked my progress both professionally and mentally.
I am angry. I am filled with rage. I am filled with regret. I am filled with a seething hot hatred.
I chose not to go to the police and no one encouraged me to do so. So, on the big screen these people remain untouched and innocent. They get to behave as icons to the children who watch them on and off the ice. They surround themselves with non-profits and outreach. I think that overall they feel pretty good about themselves although I can’t know much about their actual mental state..Their incomes would suggest that the system has not yet punished them in any karmic way.
I regret not transferring. I am disappointed I did not tell my parents sooner and let them force me to transfer. I am angry that my pride told me to stay and face them when the pain of what they did was killing me inside. I wasted my time, my money, my education.
Two hundred thousand dollars is what my education was worth. Unfortunately most of my time spent at this university was spent trying to survive the social consequences of what happened to me that night. I have spent hours in therapy, not to mention an additional five thousand to ten thousand dollars on those treatments. I imagine that number has not capped yet. I lost my college experience. I was forced to quit a sport that I loved in order to remove myself from an environment that would not protect or support me.
I know that I am not the only young woman who has invested time and money into college. Who wants to give back to their family and to the world. To know that their time was well spent and used to set up for future successes. I thought that my university would help me in doing this.
I am not the only young woman, or young man, that has endured some sort of sexual assault throughout college. And I find it hard to believe that I am alone in feeling like I am owed. By the perpetrators, by the school, the system, and all of society.
I feel that I was silenced by a community unwilling to accept the financial consequences of deeming two star athletes as rapists. This is a headline that the university would have done everything to avoid. And at the end of that day I would have just been a girl who was publicly humiliated and then told that what happened was her fault. I have no case and I have no proof. This system does not protect any of us, but it will protect the prestige of the university in question.
I was raped on January 23, 2011 by two sophomore young men on the hockey team. They will never understand how the few minutes that it took them to finish in me will have a lasting impact on me, on every man that dates me, on my future husband, and on my future children.
The university will never know (and never care to know) how it feels to put a human life ahead of financial gains.
On Monday, January 24, 2011 you texted me something along the lines of “you’re not going to the police, are you?”
You are welcome. I didn’t.
And I wish every day that I had.
I let you both keep your lives at the cost of my own.
But I will find a way to find justice.
— Survivor, age 24