Project Open Voices: I Like to Make Jokes

The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of Project Open Voices, a coalition of students providing a platform for open dialogue on campus. Today’s essay is titled “I Like to Make Jokes” and was authored anonymously. If you want to share your story, email openvoicessubmissions@gmail.com. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: projectopenvoices@gmail.com (password: kenyoncollege).

I like to make jokes. I joke about a lot of things and make quips here and there to

not just poke fun at the awful occurance that is rape, but to more importantly try to

ease the pain of such an ordeal and to raise awareness that in fact- rape does exist

here at Kenyon and is an all-together horrendous reality that demands attention.

What’s perhaps bittersweet is that comedy was the seed that planted my own rape.

In light of another young woman’s bravery and eloquence coming forth with her

story, I wanted to share my own- I can ascribe perfectly to the “blurred lines” of

which she speaks. Those who know me well know I’m fairly outspoken, and in fact I

didn’t hesitate to expel details about my attack after it happened- In fact, I was lucky

that both the reactions of trusted individuals and the Kenyon College Counseling

staff and my own family were more than supportive and understanding; I realize

that I am a minority in this.

 

I was lucky. I tell myself every day exactly how lucky and in fact privileged I am and

continue to be, at least on a support basis for my entire ideal.

 

He said there was something different about me when I auditioned- I, a scared

freshman would just nod along picking at the drink placed in front of me. It was

clear even then that I wasn’t sure if there actually was something about my

performance a week ago that was unique or he was just attracted to me. Either way,

I was now apart of an extra-curricular activity the way most pamphlets suggest

incoming freshman to do. He was at this point, jaded and cynical; constantly picking

on me as a brother would have. ‘Oh you freshmen always do that”, “This is why I

don’t hang around with freshmen girls” his attempts at flirting were more than

offensive at best. We maintained a friendship throughout the year until halfway

through second semester when he decided to begin an awkward courtship; the

occasional more –than-friends coffee at the then-Middle Ground, a walk at 2 am to

the graveyard and back. Against my better judgement, but willingness, we began a

casual romance a few weeks later. Through a number of painful and childish

circumstances the romance dissipated and we remained friends through my

sophomore year prepared to never see one another again.

 

However, we didn’t account for fraternity reunions beckoning recent alumni from

across the entire usa- he wanted to see me for a visit and I, obliged, ducking out of a

plummeting night out to meet up. I invited him into my room, we talked about life

outside of Kenyon and then in Kenyon, his new job. Small talk. Then everything

slowly started to snowball; he kissed me after laughing, subtly belittling me as “just

a sophomore” and telling me “nothing had really changed with me”. After being

single for several months I was okay with the kissing, and told him I was as he held

me down on the bed, but other things?

 

This is where things become a blur, swirling together in my room’s yellow lamp

light. “I just want to feel close to you”, I think we’re close now, “Don’t you trust me?”

and perhaps the worst and ill-fated “don’t take this the wrong way, but were you

raped before because you’re acting so weird…” Yes. My rapist told me that my

refusal to have sex with him was an indication that I wasn’t okay with sex. It wasn’t

sex I wasn’t okay with; it was very clearly sex with him. After this charming ping

pong battle I didn’t know how to say no anymore, in a moment I am less-proud to

admit.

 

I was really angry with my body. Ashamed with it throughout this entire ordeal- It

wasn’t screaming out in agony or in pleasure but truly wavered in-between only

adding to my confusion. Nothing about this felt real or like it was really happening

to me- I felt in a daze or trapped very much within my own form.

 

After the first time, I thought he would leave me alone. We put on clothes, I used the

bathroom and realized how much I was in pain. After peeing, I realized, weeks

before my period, I was bleeding. This had never happened before. I sat him down

and asked him if we could just go to sleep- he stared at me and started to undress

me again, “But you didn’t finish…” I didn’t it’s okay, “but you clearly want to” he tried

to find any part of me that still “wanted it”. A true bitterness of being a woman; just

because your body responds in one way, doesn’t mean your mind does.

 

The night wore on, we fought before the last time at 3:30 am and afterwards all I felt

was numbness. He woke up next to me in the morning and kissed me.

 

That morning I washed my sheets, I couldn’t stand his scent on them. There were

showers. I called over my friend and talked to her- I called my mother an ocean

away and she understood. After a trip, I was getting my strength back. I told my

therapist who tried to offer solutions that after much thought I debunked, knowing I

wouldn’t necessarily get the justice I thought was reasonable or appropriate for the

situation. It wasn’t even until the end of the semester when I stopped referring to

the incident as “that thing that happened to me” disassociating myself from the

event, to “rape”.

 

On the Saturday night after the Friday when he came over, he “wanted to talk” and

followed me to a party where I was. I dodged him, a friend pretending to be too-

drunk. An hour later, I was home, dressed in my PJs when he came by again- I took

him outside to the corner room where I dropped the bomb. What last night was, was

not okay. He cried in my arms when he asked if I called him a rapist, reputing his

own personal sob story, his grandfather raped his mother. I replied he wasn’t a

rapist (he was) but he was a bad listener (in every single way). He left yelling at me.

We didn’t speak for months.

 

Later on that year, I would fear every time his frat had a party or we had a

performance. Irrational, crazy fears- in april they were proved right when he called

me several times within an evening and eventually came to my door (which means

someone with a k-card let him in—GUYS!). My heart leapt a mile out of my chest

that night and I slept in a friend’s room afterwards.

 

In a way- I want this not to be as much as an account of my own story but a thank

you. While I disagee with many of the ways Kenyon College has dealt with sexual

assault in the past, I see so many sparks of hope; I want to see things getting better

in this community- especially when it comes to groups on campus. There is a long

way to go; I know that much, but not once did my friends tell me I was wrong in

feeling the way I felt; in fact they helped clarify my thinking. Without their help, I

might not truly have understood my own feelings which I was conflicted about for a

long time.

 

In fact my major beef is with the legal system as a whole; many people ask why I

didn’t press charges against my attacker and I have several reasons. Because tv

shows like SVU have severely warped my mind, as well as actual rape cases on

television, I knew the gray matter in my story was perhaps too gray to actually

convince a jury of my rape. Additionally, to say I didn’t have an emotional

connection to my connection (which is sickening in a way) was wrong, I to this day

do care about the guy and as an alumni of the college would want him to have a

successful life. I don’t want to ruin anybody. I want to find more ways to speak out,

move on, and eventually find a way to laugh.

 

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline – 800-656-HOPE
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233
  • Kenyon College Sexual Misconduct Hotline – 740-358-1544

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