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 email@example.com. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: firstname.lastname@example.org (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
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
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