Self advocacy

No Longer Silent

The following letter, addressed to USC, was written by a member of SCAR who will remain nameless. Fearing ramifications, the author has not submitted it to the university, but feels she can no longer remain silent. 

Hello,

I am and always will be part of the Trojan family.  My years at USC were wonderful, for the most part.  Today, I am writing to urge you for change.  In light of the Rehteah Parsons case I feel I cannot be silent anymore.

I was raped at USC.  I was a freshman.  It was October.  I reported this to Student Affairs as well as the police.  I repeated the painful story many times, to many different people.  I sought the resources laid out for me at school.  My rape counselor was very wonderful (though she left just two months later).

But what I am writing about is the outcome of the Student Affairs process.  At least they found him guilty, but his punishment for what he did to me was not enough.  He was told to stay away from me in a formal letter, and he was allowed to finish his semester as a graduate student.

I was lucky.  He never came after me.  But I remember every single day of his last semester I felt sick.  Whenever I saw someone who looked remotely like him, I was terrified.  My stomach dropped.  I walked around our not so big campus in total fear that I would run into my rapist grabbing a coffee at Tro Gro, or in the Leavey library while I was studying.

You failed me because you allowed my rapist to continue his life without interruption, while he destroyed mine.  Granted, the letter did keep him away from me, but if he was willing to violate my consent one time, what was a piece of paper threatening to kick him out going to do?

The LAPD would not take the case because they couldn’t prove it wasn’t consensual.  That hurt really badly.  So the fact that I got some justice from USC was appreciated.  I know the people I spoke with believed me, and knew I had been through trauma.

But my rapist ruined my life.  And his was not ruined.  I am grateful for the rape crisis counseling but I think a more strict attitude toward rape in general needs to be taken at our school.

I love USC with my whole heart, and this incident was not enough to destroy me, but I can tell you it cost me many opportunities and joys that I did not pursue because I was dealing with a sexual assault.  It cost me friends who didn’t believe me because nothing happened to HIM.

Maybe that is not USC’s fault, but I am afraid for the future.  Do I feel safe sending my daughter to a school that did not stand up for me?  That allowed me to live in fear for months?  That acknowledged a man had violated me physically, yet allowed him to stay on their campus with all their other students.  That’s terrifying.

People on campus who commit crimes such as robbery or theft are arrested and banished from campus, potentially expelled.  The man who raped me was allowed to get his degree, to leave this school, to marry his fiance, and get a great job.

I am strong, and I love my Trojan family.  But I wanted you to know about this experience since I have had some years to reflect on it.  I was driven to suicide by my rape eventually, but I survived.  I am lucky.

I sincerely hope that the reputation of the school is not the reason for these lax charges against rapists, but perhaps it is.  USC doesn’t want to look like it enrolls rapists, I understand.  But you do.  You did.  And you let him stay.

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