Letter to my perpetrator: “I felt like I had to say yes to you”

To my perpetrator—

You took advantage of a moment in my life where I was not mentally or emotionally all there. Did you realize this? I was always told, “Oh he just really likes you. He’s been pining after you. Take a chance on him.” Because of this rhetoric, I felt like I had to say yes to you when it came to dances, going out, and just my social life in general. You trapped me.

I realized something I had overlooked when you first said it to me in high school. I was in no healthy mindset at the time and thought nothing of it. It was, at most, an odd story. You said that something I mentioned reminded you of your crazy ex-girlfriend. The one that accused you of rape and took you to court. But it’s OK, you assured me, she’s crazy, nothing more. Looking back on that now, there were no further explanations as to why she was supposedly crazy. I took you at your word. That was my mistake.

I have developed trust issues, depression, and anxiety because of your actions and your deceit. The worst thing you did to me was silence me. I lost my voice because you took the shell of me and further cracked and crumbled it. Once you left my life, I gained an even stronger voice. I put my mental health on the back burner and focused on helping others through activism — and it worked.

A year after you asked me out and began to manipulate me, I could finally start to separate the feelings from what happened. I still couldn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t even tell my partner at the time. Without the person who came after you, though, I don’t think I could have began to heal emotionally. They were a godsend. We ended up breaking up but are still close friends and support each other. I put you out of my mind until graduation a year later.

I saw you at graduation. Of course you were there, your sibling was graduating. You followed me. Wherever I went, you seemed to be in the corner watching. I know I was breaking the dress code — I wasn’t wearing a skirt, but I wasn’t showing anything off. I had on pants and a long sleeved button-up. Then again, I wasn’t showing anything when you violated me. Why do people constantly think clothing is the issue? Someone made a comment about how you might still miss me and regret that we broke up. I laughed through the tears brimming in my eyes. I do not miss you.

That summer I told my mom. I was finally able to disassociate my feelings from what happened. I could talk about it as much as I wanted and feel numb, like it hadn’t happened to me. She was shocked. She had just thought he really liked me, nothing more. It wasn’t noticeable. So I went off to college. And then Kavanaugh happened.

I clearly remember going into a class during that whole fiasco and having the majority-male class making up random conspiracy theories about Dr. Ford and how she was lying. I interjected with my story. Immediately I was asked what I was wearing, if I said no, why I didn’t leave… Even if I had said no any louder, you wouldn’t have stopped. I tried to leave, several times. It’s hard to leave when your mental and emotional health is a mess. It’s even harder to leave when your supposedly-loving partner threatens suicide and puts the blame on you. It wouldn’t have been my fault.

Why am I writing this to you? What do I get out of this? I am writing to you to make others aware that you have done terrible things and have affected multiple people. I am writing to you to state that what you did is not OK. I am writing this to hold my hand high and say Me Too. I am writing to you in such a public matter to show other women, and even men, that this behavior is not okay and they should attempt to see the signs whether it’s for the sake of themselves or for the sake of someone else.

– Class of 2022

Free counseling services at Butler University are available at https://www.butler.edu/counseling-services

(Toll free) National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 800.656.4673

Information about sexual misconduct can be reached at https://www.rainn.org/about-sexual-assault

Please contact Bridget Early at bfearly@butler.edu for anonymous submissions.

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