The following text describes sexual assault and violence, and can be disturbing and/or triggering for some readers. Please find resources listed at the bottom of the article.
I, and every single one of my female friends, have been forcibly kissed without any warning or consent at a frat party. This is fucking rattling. This is an aspect of rape culture on campus that is rarely spoken about and perceived as benign. This action and the unbelievable normalization of it send the message that my body is not my own—that my body is available for public use and enjoyment, and that I have no say in what is done to it.
The non–consensual touches, kisses, ass grabbing, and waist squeezing, that occur mostly at parties and also just on the fucking street between classes, make me want to jump out of my own skin. And when I push the seeking hands off of me—spin and yell and writhe away—every single time I look up and see some smug face laughing and taunting, I feel even more removed from my body and agency over my body than before.
I am furious. These actions are not benign. These actions are the base layers of the pyramid that culminated in my rape. These actions, every time I experience them or see them or hear about them from yet another female classmate, remind me of the feeling I had when he held my shoulders down with his knees and forced his repulsive dick down my throat. The feeling that my entire existence was desecrated. Condensed to an open mouth and paralyzing, paralyzing fear.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relived this in my head. I hear my own voice in my nightmares pleading, begging him not to. But the WORST part for me—worse than the physical pain and the terror and the degradation and the resulting panic attacks and nearly constant fear of it happening again—was that when he decided he was done, he got off of me, zipped his pants up, sat down on the end of the bed and pulled out his phone and asked for my number. He didn’t think he had done something wrong. He wanted to do it again sometime.
The exculpatory culture on campus and at parties allowed him to go just one step beyond a forced kiss and think everything would be fine. He smiled at me as I got up and left the room trembling.
Tell me it was my fault again. Tell me it has nothing to do with campus culture. Tell me it’s a few bad apples, sociopaths, aberrations in the system. Tell me again that I obviously wanted it because I was upstairs with him. Thank you so much for the clarification.
Tell me again to stop being such an angry bitch when you grope me. I’m not fucking listening.
The HELP Line: 215-898-HELP:
A 24–hour–a–day phone number for members of the Penn community who seek help in navigating Penn's resources for health and wellness.
Counseling and Psychological Services: 215-898-7021 (active 24/7):
The counseling center for the University of Pennsylvania.
Student Health Service: 215-746-3535:
Student Health Service can provide medical evaluations and treatment to victims/survivors of sexual and relationship violence regardless of whether they make a report or seek additional resources. Both male and female providers can perform examinations, discuss testing and treatment of sexually transmissible infections, provide emergency contraception if necessary and arrange for referrals and follow up.
Reach–A–Peer Hotline - 215-573-2727 (every day from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.):
A peer hotline to provide peer support, information, and referrals to Penn students.
Penn Violence Prevention: 3539 Locust Walk (Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm), (215) 746-2642, Jessica Mertz (Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention, Education) firstname.lastname@example.org,
Read the Penn Violence Prevention resource guide.
Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention Team:
A multidisciplinary team at CAPS dedicated to supporting students who have experienced sexual trauma.
Public Safety Special Services:
Trained personnel offer crisis intervention, accompaniment to legal and medical proceedings, options counseling and advocacy, and linkages to other community resources.