A Moment in the Dark

Written By: Danielle Bradley

Image By: Gloria Yuen

Content warning:

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.

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I had recently moved to New York City to start my ten weeks as a summer associate at a firm. I was living in Brooklyn for that time period, and sporadically frequented The Woods, a funky and fun dance club in Williamsburg. I went out with friends and my boyfriend, and yes of course, I'd been drinking and socializing at this dance club, enjoying what it was like to be in a big city, even if for so short a time. After entering the bar, a man made a lewd, sexual comment directed at me that I did not fully catch. I did not offer up the affectation of a smile in response. It was loud and hard to decipher his word's particularities and shape when radiating thumps and thuds surrounded me. Was I to give special clarifying attention to a conversation I had no interest in partaking in? I was among friends and happy; why should I carve out a moment to appease?

Later in the evening, as I momentarily left my friends to find the bathroom, he approached me yet again and asked if he should get my phone number now or when he takes me home later. I was waiting in the bathroom line and it was hard to hear—don't all women know the woe of waiting in this long line? I was not willing to leave and be uncomfortable all night to avoid this man. Surely my only thought was, "Why choose now when I am trapped?" I declined in that manner many women have come to know—kind enough to not incite the "who do you think you are, bitch?" response, but firm enough that perhaps he will take your no to mean just that. He persisted until I was able to enter the packed women's room. Upon exiting, I did not see him and made my way back to the corner that my friends were in — dancing, enjoying one another. I felt again comfortable seeing them near. He was standing there hidden in the crowd of moving people, the moving lights and darkness obscuring his figure. As I moved past him unknowingly he quickly ran his hand up my thigh to, as I can now properly articulate, grab my pussy. He was wearing a number of rings that I could feel the cold metal of as he swiftly pulled up and across from back to front in a motion that I now realize must have been perfected on many women before me. He did it in so aggravated and entitled a fashion that my initial bodily reaction was not to defend but to scour. We made eye contact—the colored-strobing lights giving me only a peek of the satisfaction he got from watching the blood drain from my face. I said and did nothing, and returned to the corner where my friends stood, myself no longer feeling enchanted but instead thankful, for a moment, that it was dark.

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Campus Resources:

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) jmertz@upenn.edu, 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.

Penn Women's Center: 3643 Locust Walk (Office Hours 9:30 am – 5:30 pm Monday–Thursday, 9:30 am – 5 pm Friday), pwc@pbox.upenn.edu. PWC provides confidential crisis and options counseling.