The following was read aloud for students, faculty, and staff to hear on March 1, 2016 at Chapman University's annual Take Back the Night, an event hosted by C.A.R.E.S. for rape and sexual assault victims and survivors to unite, support each other, and share our stories.
Trigger warning for sexual assault and suicide.
I want to begin this by stating that many organizations state that 41 percent of trans people have attempted suicide, with common factors of invalidation, body or gender dysphoria, lack of support from family, and/or sexual assault and abuse. Studies have indicated that 50 percent of trans people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life. 10 percent of trans people have been sexually assaulted in a health care setting. And a recent study by the Association of American Universities found that 1 in 4 trans students has experienced sexual assault while enrolled in college.
This is a letter to the college professor who assaulted me two months after I graduated.
I can barely say your name, let alone think of your face, without going into a panic attack. It's been a little over 7 months since you assaulted me, and I'm still struggling to process, heal, and breathe. I continue to blame myself daily even though I know I shouldn't, but I can't help but think I could have saved myself from you if I prioritized myself over being polite and complacent.
I'm constantly at a loss for words when it comes to what I want to say to you, but I'm ultimately left with questions. So many questions that will go unanswered, so many questions that you will never see or hear or continue to deny, but I ask them today.
Why? Why would you do that to me? Why would you manipulate, deceive, and betray me? Was inviting me to a party at your house, groping my hair throughout the night after I said no, continuously trying to get me to drink, then forcing yourself on me all worth it? How could you tell me "it's okay, you're not a student anymore" after I said no to you touching me?
Why me? What made you choose me? Why was there a choice at all? Was it because I'm trans? Was it because I was your friend? Was it because I was your student?
Was this all part of some sort of plan? Did you want this to happen? Is this why you insisted on using non-Chapman emails to send me the invite? Is this why you waited until after I graduated? Is this why I was the only Chapman student invited? Is this why you insisted on walking me to my car after I repeatedly said that I didn't need you, just so you could be out of sight of your party guests and witnesses and able to assault me? Did you plan to not get caught?
Does your fiancée know? She was there that night, is she appalled by your actions? Or was she in on it? Did everyone else at the party know what you were doing? Are you proud?
Do you care to know that I could barely eat and still struggle to eat following the assault and in moments when I'm revisited by that night? Do you care that I'm still struggling to reclaim my body, something that was already a difficult task? Do you care that you've damaged what intimacy and trust mean to me? Do you care that my suicidal thoughts along with the victim-blaming I've been conditioned to tell me I'm worthless, that it's my fault, that I should have known, that I'm "damaged goods"? Do you even care that 7 months later I still have nightmares of you forcing yourself on me, of me trying to use my voice and share my truth but you holding me down, of you threatening me? How do you sleep at night?
I can't help but wonder, have you done this before? Have you done this since? If so, have they ever come forward and reported you like I did? How many are there? Did you deny their assaults too? Did you send them emails the three consecutive days following the assault pretending nothing happened? Did they ever receive justice in any form? Because I feel like I haven't. Are you able to forget about what you did to me? Because I can't.
Can you ever say you're sorry? Can you ever admit to me and others what you did? Will you ever learn from what you did?
How has it felt knowing that I reported you? Knowing that I shared my story with other faculty and staff members who work directly with you and supervise you? Have you felt their anger? Have you felt mine? That's all I feel now: anger. How do you feel knowing that that's the only type of justice I've received? How do you feel knowing that I can't forgive you until you apologize, and that I can only hope to receive closure from myself and not you?
Why? Was it worth hurting me as my professor, mentor, ally, and friend? Was it worth it?