We don’t normally think of men being sexually assaulted on American campuses, but it happens more often than we realize.
The recent scandal that surrounded a Rolling Stone piece on campus sexual assault, in which a freshmen woman was allegedly brutally gang raped at a University of Virginia fraternity party, brought the topic to the forefront. The article was called into question because the journalist reporting did not bother to talk to any of the alleged rapists and so the case of the woman, known as Jackie, was tossed to the side.
This time the story — published by the Huffington Post — focuses on Andrew, who claims he was sexually assaulted in a men’s bathroom three weeks into his freshmen year at Brown University. The victim reported the incident and the attacker was expelled; however, recently Andrew discovered the man had previously been responsible of assaulting two other men at the campus and was still attending school.
Needless to say the news was devastating, but Andrew has decided to break his silence in order to help other male sexual assault victims, who may be too embarrassed to speak up.
“It’s time to include male survivors’ voices,” the young man said.
“We are up against a system that’s not designed to help us.”
On September 5, 2011, Andrew — who has asked that his last name be withheld — was returning to his dorm room on Keeney Quad Hall after a night of hanging out with buddies. As he was walking to the bathroom to get ready for bed, he saw a man he had never seen before, but thought nothing of it.
As he brushed his teeth, someone knocked on the door, which was odd because residents had keys to the bathroom. Andrew opened the door and realized it was the stranger from the hallway. He let the guy in and went back to the duties at hand.
“You’re hot,” Andrew remembers the man saying and when he propositioned him, he politely declined. But the man was undeterred.
“Nobody has to know,” the student told a now-frazzled Andrew. He grabbed the freshmen and sexually assaulted him for 15 minutes.
It is difficult for Andrew to remember what he was thinking during the sexual assault at the hands of the unknown student.
“I just remember focusing on the stall door, knowing that he was between me and my escape.”
“I didn’t even know his name. I didn’t know who he was. Nobody saw anything.”
Later on, the sexual assault victim found the name of his male attacker through a mutual friend and also was informed that he was a sophomore, who had been visiting a residential adviser at the dorm earlier that day.
Andrew told his friends about his sexual assault and joked that it was a “5 a.m. hook-up in the bathroom.” Ironically, later in the day all freshmen were required to attend a mandatory orientation lecture titled “Understanding Sexual Assault.”
As time went by, Andrew blamed himself and asked if he could have done more to stop the sexual assault, but eventually he moved on and started enjoying all that college campus had to offer. Then when he joined a stage production, he began seeing his attacker “almost every single time” because the theater was near where the perpetrator lived.
After a panic attack on February 29, 2012, — while taking a shower — Andrew decided to talk to a counselor. He didn’t share his attacker’s name, initially. After a couple of months of counseling, he filed charges in May of 2012 and a hearing was set for November.
At this time Andrew wasn’t aware that his attacker was also accused in the case of two other victims. Brenton — who only gave his first name — and another anonymous student filed a joint complaint with Brown University in December of 2011 and a hearing was scheduled for March of 2012.
Brown found the assailant responsible for sexual misconduct in both cases and suspended him until the following December.
“I was happy that he got suspended, but I didn’t think it was enough. I knew there were even more people he had gotten to,” Brenton said.
The man who sexually assaulted the three victims appealed all rulings, but was rejected. He declined to comment for this story.
According to the Huffington Post, this is not the first time Brown University is scrutinized for its handling of sexual assault cases on campus. Most notably, the case of Lena Sclove resulted in a federal Title IX investigation.
As for Andrew, he wishes Brown would have done more than just suspend this sexual predator, after his two previous victims filed a report.
“I wish they had taken it seriously the first one or two times,” he said.
“The process weighed on me from April to November… I could’ve had days of my sophomore year that I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed every morning… To know that (the hearing process) could have been prevented if they had expelled him the first time is incredibly upsetting. My sophomore year could have been totally different.”
Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, recently sent a letter to the student body announcing a revision of their policies when it comes to sexual assault on campus. However, Andrew is concerned that it doesn’t determine specific sanctions for violations of sexual misconduct. The University cannot comment on individual cases.
Steve LaPore, founder and director of 1in6, believes male sexual assaults on campus (and elsewhere) are under-reported because the topic is still taboo. Culturally, we don’t want to perceive men as being weak, so many victims stay quiet.
[Image via Shutterstock]