Sexual Assault on the College Campus: The Role of Male Peer Support


Martin D. Schwartz & Walter S. DeKeseredy

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    This book speaks to me on several levels. When I read it the first time, I found myself frequently making notes in the margins: Get this article, good example, Send to VP of Student Life, longitudinal study needed, and so on. The loose pages of the manuscript that I have are now well-marked with red ink; some are tea-stained, others are dog-eared. From my experience as a teacher, researcher, editor, and activist, this is usually the sign of a very good book—good not only because it makes an interesting read but, more important, because it is “useful.”

    As a researcher, I was struck by the book's utility in two ways. First is the authors' attention to methodology. Throughout the book, Schwartz and DeKeseredy highlight the difficulties inherent in researching a topic as sensitive as sexual assault on campus. They discuss such issues as the best ways to word questions to potential or actual victims as well as perpetrators, problems with various sampling strategies, and the effects of using different types of statistical tests on the data. Moreover, they repeatedly remind us of the distinction between causation and correlation. Although such discussions may be especially valuable to newly minted researchers and current students of research methodology, the more experienced among us benefit from them too. We are cautioned about the dangers of making too sweeping claims that extend beyond the strength of our data and our analyses. Thus, we are reminded, for example, of the limitations of the traditional means by which we have conducted studies on sexual assault and woman abuse on campus. It is clear from the discussion in this book that longitudinal research is desperately needed—starting perhaps in the lower levels of elementary school, but certainly following female and male students for a number of years—to try to detect the emergence of attitudes and behaviors supportive of and conducive to violent and abusive behaviors and those factors that contribute to these behaviors.

    The second way in which this book appealed to me as a researcher is its contribution to theory building. Schwartz and DeKeseredy capture the complexities involved in trying to explain sexual assault and woman abuse on campus. They emphasize the multidimensional nature of the problem, skillfully addressing both the suggestions of quick-fix administrators (e.g., Ban alcohol on campus, Institute an escort service) and the diatribes of those like Neil Gilbert, Katie Roiphe, and John Fekete who have become media darlings of the anti-feminist backlash. For me, however, the strongest contribution to theory building that Schwartz and DeKeseredy have made here is their test and refinement of the male peer-support model.

    Schwartz and DeKeseredy review research showing that when men band together strongly in groups that exclude women, they are more likely to see women as Other. Although women are frequently talked about in these groups, the focal points of the conversations are typically women's sexuality (e.g., stories of sexual exploits with particular women, how to “get” sex from women) and control or domination of women (e.g., tales of how a woman was “put in her place”)—both of which, the authors point out, are not unrelated. Schwartz and DeKeseredy concentrate on fraternities as sites for validating and sustaining masculine dominance and female inferiority, but they also make note of other, similar sites, including lodges, locker rooms, and taverns or bars.

    Reading the research on male peer support and violence against women called to mind for me a disturbing experience I had while attending a conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, several years ago. The conference hotel was full, so I had to stay at an alternate hotel in Minneapolis. As luck would have it, this particular hotel was also hosting the annual gathering of a liquor dealers' association, the vast majority of whose membership was male. Integral elements of this meeting included several components that Schwartz and DeKeseredy identify as facilitating the degradation of women in all-male groups. One obviously was alcohol. However, closely linked with the alcohol —indeed, the primary means to market it—was the sexual objectification of women. Common were posters advertising various brands of alcohol using seminude models and double entendres. These, of course, are familiar to anyone who has ever seen a beer commercial on television. However, there were also various items that were apparently given out as “favors” to attendees, such as bottles in the shape of nude women, bottle stoppers with “decorative” tops in the shape of nude women, and drink stirrers similarly festooned with the shapes of nude women in various poses.

    There was clearly a carnival atmosphere in that hotel lobby the final afternoon of my conference when I passed through to take the elevator to my room. Joining me on the elevator were a young woman and several men. Two of the men were friends who, based on the paraphernalia they were clutching, were attending the liquor dealers' gathering. They loudly exchanged small talk until the elevator made its first stop. The young woman exited alone and as she did, one of these two men said, “So long, baby.” She appeared either not to have heard him or to have ignored him, but as the doors closed and the elevator started again, the man looked at his friend and said, “We'll have to come back later and teach her a lesson about friendliness.” The two burst into laughter, with the second man adding, “Oh yeah!” I was instantly gripped with fear. I was fearful for the young woman, whom I didn't know and didn't know how to contact; at that point, I couldn't even remember what floor of the hotel she had exited on. I was also afraid for myself. Would I be next? Realizing that I was the only woman left on the elevator fueled my concern. I didn't dare chastise the men for their comments, not trusting any of the other men on that elevator to support me. None of them spoke up either.

    Probably less than 30 seconds passed before the elevator stopped again, although to me the time seemed much longer. The two harassers got out then, but I didn't feel much relief. I was left on the elevator with two other men. Were they friends, I wondered? Had the harassers' behavior encouraged them to harass as well? I couldn't even face these men; I stood staring at the elevator doors, my body tense. Mercifully, after a few more seconds, the elevator door opened at my floor. I exited and took a few steps before turning to see if anyone was behind me. Alone, I raced to my room and went inside, finally feeling safe.

    Certainly, I recognize that the harassment I witnessed is unfortunately commonplace and the “bonding rituals” of a virtually all-male gathering are not a prerequisite for it. Nevertheless, Schwartz and DeKeseredy's analysis suggests to me that there is an important connection here. The fraternity party camaraderie that the liquor dealers' meeting seemed to generate, as well as the omnipresence of alcohol and the sexual objectification of women, undoubtedly created a social context that was at least conducive to the abuse of women. At the same time, the discussion in this book underlined for me the powerful impact such abuse has on the majority of women. After all, I personally was not harassed on that elevator. Still, simply witnessing the harassment of another woman instilled fear in me—enough fear to silence me. To many readers, this incident probably appears to be minor, but it is precisely because of this that I ask you to consider carefully the effects that a more serious incident of abuse—such as a date or acquaintance rape—most likely has, first and foremost on the victim, but also on others close to her and on women generally. Schwartz and DeKeseredy weave such a consideration throughout this book, but it is to their credit that they also include the voices of Katie, Catherine, and Josh, who speak to us from their experiences about the devastating effects of violence against women.

    Schwartz and DeKeseredy raised for me another question about what I have come to call “the elevator incident.” I wondered, especially when I read Chapter 5 (Prevention and Policy Implications), what would have happened if the two male observers on the elevator had expressed their disapproval to the harassers? Although Schwartz and DeKeseredy present evidence that indicates that many men (and some women) would likely view incidents like this one as harmless, even humorous, they also suggest ways that pro-feminist men can make significant contributions to dismantling hegemonic masculinity and hence help to stop violence against women. Their logic is appealing in its simplicity: If male peer support promotes or encourages violence against women, then men who confront and openly oppose the sexism of their male peers will likely discourage and perhaps even prevent violence against women. The trick is to get pro-feminist men in the university community to step forward and to take action as a critical mass.

    This brings me to another level on which this book speaks to me: as an educator and a member of a university community. As an educator, I am impressed by the accessibility of Schwartz and DeKeseredy's analysis, which makes the book useful as a text in many different courses. It is an interesting read; in fact, I predict that most students will report that they liked reading it. At the same time, however, it contains a wealth of information that not only carries the credibility stamp of science but also speaks directly to students' experiences. I would be surprised if many students came away from reading this book without seeing themselves in it somewhere.

    It is this aspect of the book that leads me to be optimistic. Although I doubt that many college men who strongly support rape myths and practice hypermasculinity will be changed much by reading this book, I do think that the book will influence others. First, young women who have been victimized may come to understand their experiences better and thus be helped to heal. At the very least, they will know they are not alone. Women who have not been victimized, as I have already noted, are nonetheless affected by the threat of victimization. This book may also help them to understand their feelings as well as the nature of the problem of violence against women on campus. For all women, this book represents an important antidote to victim-blaming books like Katie Roiphe's and may also prove to be a motivator to action against violence on campus.

    But Schwartz and DeKeseredy speak to men, too. Some male students may be prompted to reexamine their attitudes and behavior toward women after reading this book. I hope also that men who claim to be pro-feminist will be motivated by what they read to actually act on some of the authors' suggestions for bringing about change. Because the majority of university administrators and faculty are still men, many of whom see themselves as pro-feminist, I would like to put this book in their hands, too. As Schwartz and DeKeseredy point out, despite the greater attention to sexual harassment of students on university campuses, little attention is given to the problems of sexual assault and woman abuse by peers except when an incident occurs. Even then, the primary focus is on damage control. Male students come to believe that they can get away with raping and abusing female students because so often, they do get away with it.

    This book is a valuable resource for faculty and administrators willing to scrutinize their personal attitudes and behavior as well as the policies and practices of their institutions. Of course, as Schwartz and DeKeseredy note, many are motivated to do so if only to protect against lawsuits. Indeed, some may soon be forced to reconsider at least their campus judicial systems, given that the first civil suit under the Violence Against Women Act was brought against a university as a result of the way its judicial system and administration handled an acquaintance rape case (Bernstein, 1996b). Nevertheless, I urge readers who are themselves faculty and administrators not only to ask their colleagues to read this book, but to sit down with them afterward to discuss it and to follow up until they act on it.

    There is still one more level on which this book spoke to me, a more personal level. I am the mother of two young boys. Although I have long realized that my husband and I are not the sole socializers of our sons, this book made me more fully aware of how soon children begin receiving messages that encourage male hegemony and that degrade women. When reading Chapter 3 in particular (Growing Up in a Rape-Supportive Culture), I was reminded of a day last summer when my 6-year-old came home from camp asking why the boys in his camping group hated girls so much. Having gone to schools that we carefully selected because of their commitment to nonsexist education and having spent most of his classroom time in mixed-sex cooperative learning groups, my son was baffled by the comments and behavior of his new friends. They called the girls names, he told me, and said they're dirty and yucky; they chased them and pulled their hair; and they refused to play with them and made fun of him for wanting to. Needless to say, my son's enrollment in that particular day camp was short lived, and camp counselors and administrators were made well aware of the reason for his withdrawal. Although they said they understood my concerns, they described this sort of behavior as “natural” at this age.

    Although I didn't really need to read this book to know that such behavior is not natural at any age, the association that Schwartz and DeKeseredy make between such early socialization experiences and adult sexism that contributes to violence against women jolted me. Taken individually, such events appear minor—like the elevator incident—but taken cumulatively they can have a potent and lasting impact on both males and females. Schwartz and DeKeseredy also made me recognize that my private complaint to those in charge of the camp was not enough; public attention should be drawn to such incidents and the potential consequences discussed. In short, we must make a commitment to what the authors call “news making”: reaching out beyond our own circles to get alternative messages heard by as many people as possible.

    Finally, one parting comment is in order. When I sat down to write this foreword, I intended to compose a dispassionate academic introduction to what I consider to be a fine piece of scholarship. Instead, I spent a good deal of time staring at a blank computer screen. Every attempt at an objective, impersonal opening seemed disingenuous. The book just evoked too many familiar images in my mind, too many personal connections. And therein lies, I suppose, this book's ultimate value: what we have here is a testament to the fact that the personal is political. That old feminist adage has been quoted so often and is on so many bumper stickers that the words sound hollow much of the time. I want to take this opportunity to thank Martin Schwartz and Walter DeKeseredy for reinvigorating it—and me.

    Claire M.Renzett St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia


    This book weaves together two distinct topics. In the first place, it is the story of sexual assault on the college and university campus. We discuss how often it happens, why it happens, and what can be done about it. Although certainly not every possible topic is discussed, readers will find most of the important facts, figures, and theories covered here. Much of the material is original research, or at least has been previously published by one or both of us, but this is not only a book about our own work—we only bring our own work to bear on the subject where relevant to the topic.

    The second goal of this book is to explain why we feel that one of the most important subtopics in this area is the peer support that men get to commit these sexual assaults. This part of the book had its origins 10 years ago in a York University coffee shop, where Walter DeKeseredy overheard a group of six undergraduates provide a group member with “solutions” to his dating problems. The recipient of advice was deeply disturbed because he took a woman out for dinner and she refused to have sex with him at the end of the evening. Some of his peers suggested that he stop seeing her, while others stated that he should have physically forced her to have sex with him.

    Interestingly, there turned out to be few attempts in the literature at the time to explain the linkage between male peer support and woman abuse. That discovery, 10 years ago, led to a doctoral dissertation, many articles, and a major research study on the subject. With Martin Schwartz, the theoretical perspective behind this work was vastly expanded and enhanced. That newer perspective forms the theoretical backbone of this book.

    Schwartz began working in the field of physical abuse against women in intimate relationships but later began to conduct, with the help of many students, local victimization surveys on sexual abuse on college campuses.

    Thus, both authors have had extensive experience in this area, including two doctoral dissertations, several books, and more than 50 articles on woman abuse alone. Both of us have been strongly committed to developing a more adequate sociological understanding of woman abuse in intimate relationships and to participating in the global struggle to end all forms of male-to-female victimization.

    Whatever our interest in pro-abuse male peer support, this book would not have been written without the encouragement of Ola Barnett, who not only convinced us to write the book, but to write it for Sage Publications. Terry Hendrix of Sage was very encouraging and helpful, even as this book became impossibly overdue. We are also indebted to Dale Grenfell, who selected excellent reviewers, put up with a variety of pestering requests, and motivated us to finish this project.

    Even more central to the completion of this book was the social support provided by our families. We are especially indebted to Carol Blum, Patricia, Andrea, and Steven DeKeseredy, Marie Barger, and Eva Jantz. Without their patience and understanding we would not have been able to muster up enough psychological and physical energy to focus on our work.

    Special thanks go to the following people who took time away from their busy schedules to provide us with their comments and criticisms on our research and theory: Desmond Ellis, the late Michael D. Smith, Clifford Jansen, Claire Renzetti, Christine Mattley, Brian D. MacLean, Dawn Currie, Gary Keveles, James Messerschmidt, Linda Davies, Linda MacLeod, Mary Koss, Meda Chesney-Lind, Betsy Stanko, Kersti Yllo, Susan Caringella-MacDonald, Shahid Alvi, Kimberly Cook, Ronald Hinch, Robert Shelly, Ola Barnett, Jurgen Dankwort, John Pollard and his colleagues at York University's Institute for Social Research, the Ottawa Regional Coordinating Committee to End Violence Against Women, and the anonymous reviewers of our manuscript. Because many of these people disagree with one another, we assume full responsibility for what we took from them and what we left behind.

    The support of Ohio University and Carleton University is also greatly appreciated. Victoria Pitts, Carol Nogrady Wendy Taylor, Dana Nurge, and Molly Leggett were all instrumental during their time at Ohio University in working through many issues as part of research projects reported in this book. Several grants by the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University and by the Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development (ILGARD) were important to the completion of these studies. Also at Ohio University, Jennifer Rowe, Kim Varney, Amy Phillips-Gary and Molly Leggett provided invaluable assistance in gathering or providing research materials, while Arnie Kahn at James Madison University also provided important material.

    The pseudonymous Catherine, Josh, and Katie were all students at Ohio University who have given us permission to reprint their writings here. Nona Wilson conducted the interview with Catherine and was extremely generous in providing the transcript for our use.

    Financial assistance to gather information was provided at Carleton by the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences and by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, while some of the research and writing was supported by sabbatical leaves provided by Ohio University and Carleton University. One research project reported extensively in this book was supported by a grant from the Family Violence Prevention Division of Health Canada to Walter DeKeseredy and Katharine Kelly. The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Health Canada or Katharine Kelly.

    Last but not least, we would like to thank the thousands of the students and many dozens of instructors who participated in the variety of victimization surveys discussed in this book. It is our hope that the results of these studies and this book will help make unsafe learning environments safer.

    Small parts of Chapters 2 and 3 include material adapted from Walter S. DeKeseredy, Woman Abuse in Dating Relationships: The Role of Male Peer Support (Canadian Scholars' Press, 1988); Walter S. DeKeseredy, “Woman Abuse in Dating Relationships: The Relevance of Social Support Theory/' Journal of Family Violence, 3 (1988), and Walter S. DeKeseredy and Martin D. Schwartz, “Male Peer Support and Woman Abuse: An Expansion of DeKeseredy's Model,” Sociological Spectrum, 13 (1993). A few pages of Chapter 5 were adapted from Walter S. DeKeseredy, “Making an Unsafe Learning Environment Safer: Some Progressive Policy Proposals to Curb Woman Abuse in University/College Dating Relationships,” Violence: A Collective Re-sponsibility (edited by Cannie Stark-Adamec, Social Science Federation of Canada, 1996), Walter S. DeKeseredy, “Left Realism and Woman Abuse in Dating,” Crime and Society: Readings in Critical Criminology (edited by Brian D. MacLean, Copp Clark, 1996), and Martin D. Schwartz and Walter S. DeKeseredy, “The Return of the Battered Husband Syndrome Through the Typification of Women as Violent,” Crime, Law, and Social Change: An International Journal, 20 (1993). Permission to use or reprint this material is gratefully ac-knowledged.

    Martin D.Schwartz
    Walter S.DeKeseredy
  • Appendix

    Catherine's Story

    What follows is an edited interview with one woman, who was raped as a 20-year-old third-year student, followed by some journal entries she made at roughly the same time. There are several things that make this woman's story particularly useful. First, she suffered the type of intrusion that most people trivialize as fairly minor. In this case, she was drunk and passed out, and a man who was a close friend took her to bed and had intercourse with her. Although those who have never had this happen to them may argue that this was fairly minor, Catherine's reactions may show you a different side.

    Second, this is a highly educated woman, a committed feminist, and a rape activist. Still, it took her weeks to figure out that what happened to her was rape.

    Third, she discusses the empty and bitter feelings she had at the reactions of her friends. There are many lessons to learn here about how to react to the grief of a friend or lover.

    Finally, she ruminates on the uselessness of the student judiciary system, and takes on Jason herself, convincing him that he did something really terrible to her. This, of course, appalls her friends even more.

    If date rape were a minor event that perhaps only the sexually naive or the badly injured suffered from, then Catherine is one of the last people to have poor reactions. She has taken classes in rape victimization, led her campus's Take Back the Night march, and been active in both campus politics and local community politics. But date rape doesn't just affect the weak and naive. Listen to her own words in this interview a couple of months after the rape.

    Amazingly enough, one of the things that she must deal with is that she is a volunteer in campus rape-awareness programs, as is Jason, the man who raped her. In some passages that might be confusing below, she talks about the added problem of working with her rapist in date-rape awareness classes.

    Q: I'd like to start by asking you to describe the ways that the rape has affected you.

    Catherine: The most obvious way is that it has very much hindered my progress on my thesis, which is on date rape. It's a date-rape survey. And I started my thesis before this happened; the rape happened in November, and I started my research in September, and I had planned on doing my research long before that. I got a grant to do it with my adviser. And afterward, after the rape and then after I started thinking about it and realizing what had happened to me and all—this is after really the ball got rolling in my own head—it became increasingly difficult for me to, to face my work. So I pretty much abandoned it for several weeks and couldn't even deal with it. Now, I'm back on track, fortunately, but I think, I think that is the most … obvious and tangible way it has affected me. Other than that, well, I broke up with my boyfriend. I couldn't deal with that situation, because I didn't see that he was very helpful or supportive and so it's affected me socially, I guess. I think it has affected me indirectly. I'm much less organized and uhm, I seem to forget things a lot lately. You know this is pretty … I consider it to be pretty recent, and so I'm still dealing with a lot of things. I've also had really bad dreams. I've had a really hard time sleeping. So, in those sort of indirect ways I think my life is kind of … I feel like I have less control over my life, you know, as far as sleeping when I want to sleep, and remembering my appointments, and things like that and, you know, working on the work that I need to do to get out of here and graduate. So I feel that I have lost control over a large part of, over a lot of my life. And I'm trying to get some of that back. I'm working on little projects; I'm teaching myself how to play the guitar and I'm lifting weights and things like that, just little things to put more structure in my life. But I would say generally a lack of control.

    Q: Does that mean you are thinking about what happened, somewhere in your head, most of the time?

    Catherine: Well, at the beginning of the quarter when I really started dealing with the issue…. Pretty much over Christmas break I didn't even think about it, didn't realize what happened to me was rape, all that crap that I thought that I was way beyond, being a feminist and being informed and all that…. But right at the beginning of the quarter it was more direct. It was more like I was thinking about things all the time like that and I was obsessing about it and, you know, crying about it. Now I don't find myself actually, consciously thinking about it but it's somewhere back there. It's affected me and I can't reach it. But I … I'm the kind of person who normally takes on lots of projects and has control over lots of things, and I usually do extremely well in those sorts of environments, and since that has happened, I'm sort of going through this phase right now where I just can't do that. I find myself incapable of doing the same kinds of things I used to be doing. And I don't, it's not that I necessarily find myself thinking right now, you know, when I was supposed to be somewhere else, “Gee, I was raped.” But I guess maybe it's depression and things like that, that have come up, that have distracted me.

    Q: OK, well that makes me interested in when you talk about how it has affected you, you don't mention your feelings.

    Catherine: Uhm, well, I don't think I'm ready to deal with my feelings about it in a direct way. I don't remember what happened to me because my rape was an acquaintance rape and I was completely drunk and passed out and that sort of thing. So, I don't have actual feelings about that event because I don't think I was there. It was a “friend”—in quotes—who raped me, and I have feelings about that. I have feelings about him and our friendship and feelings about the way other people have treated me. But no, I haven't really confronted them a lot. I'd say mostly not, mostly I haven't confronted them.

    Q: Well, are you willing to talk at all about the period of time that you were crying about it?

    Catherine: Sure. Well, the first … I think of it in sort of chapters and the first chapter was “I think what happened to me was rape.” And I kind of chuckle about it because, you know, I'm studying this and I've talked about stuff for years and it doesn't make any difference. And so my first chapter was kind of feeling out my friends and saying, “What do you … What you do think happened here?” you know. And the reactions I got from them, my friends who call themselves feminists, [were] very negative. They were very negative. They were … One of my friends said, “Catherine, you'd sleep with anyone when you're drunk” and things like that. And so initially when I was crying, I was crying about “Gee, I feel abandoned, you know. Why, why don't I feel that support there that I thought would be there?” You know, my friends who consider themselves feminists and who support women's issues and who are very “radical,” uhm … don't seem to be very supportive when it really comes down to the wire. And they are friends with this person as well, and I think that might have been part of it. But that was mostly what I was crying about in the beginning. Gosh, my feelings about the person who raped are really … confused. And I don't remember crying too much about that. I remember feeling really vulnerable, feeling like people didn't believe, like I was a liar, or that I wasn't trustworthy, not understanding my own depression about things. I cried when I talked to my boyfriend. He … I … I said, “It sounds to me like you're jealous of what happened because I slept with someone else.” He said, “Maybe a little.” And … I cried about that. So I guess … still I haven't cried about “the rape.” I've cried about all the other things, the second rape, the victimization that's happened to me since then.

    Q: So most of your hurt seems to focus around the stuff you didn't get from people.

    Catherine: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I still know this per—… I work with this person in one of my student organizations and it's kind of an interesting situation. We've kept in contact and I've talked with him at length about this many, many, many times and he said to me, you know, finally, “Yes, I did rape you.” And I cried then, when he said that you know. It was, it was like it really happened when he said that. And we still kept talking because he's really remorseful and all that business and, you know, I kept trying to encourage him to come to [the student health center] and talk to someone, that kind of thing. And I think I've cried a couple of times mostly because I felt like I lost a friend who…. He was … I called him my best friend before this happened. In fact, to even prove to me, you know, that he's trying so hard, he called his parents and told them in front of me. He said, you know, “I raped my best friend, Catherine, and I wanted to tell you about it.” And his parents reacted very negatively. They said, you know, they asked what happened, so I wrote them a letter and I told them—a five-page letter and I described what happened. And they said, “Well, your friend's obviously an alcoholic” because I was drunk at the time, and “obviously an alcoholic and she just doesn't want to take responsibility for her actions” and on and on and on. And so I cried about that, you know. That was really hard for me because I haven't talked to my parents about it, and so [his parents] were really the only parental figures involved at all and they were very unsupportive. And in fact … the … “rapist” … uhm, even tried to convince his parents that yes, that's what happened, “Yes, that's what I did.” So, he's come a lot farther, really far. His parents haven't, his friends haven't, my friends haven't … and really I feel less hostility towards him about it than I do the rest of the people now, which I think is pretty ironic.

    Q: Yeah. Yeah. Can you talk to me about the dreams?

    Catherine: Yeah, they're not about him but they're about…. They're really vague. But they are fear dreams, stalking kinds of things. Uhm, there aren't people in them really but they're just … lots of fear. I feel like I'm running, I'm running from something. They usually happen right before this…. They're kind of in a REM stage before I really fall asleep. And I have a really hard time going to sleep now. I don't sleep very much at night. I sleep during the day. And when I sleep at night, I turn the light on. I do all sorts of things to sort of trick myself into calming down and sleeping because, you know, I have to keep functioning.

    Q: Like?

    Catherine: Like sleeping during the day, like keeping the door open, things like to try to make the environment seem less threatening, not be dark with the door closed by myself. Things like that. I just feel this sense of fear when I sleep. I can remember one specific dream, my uncle was in it actually. He's not someone I know well at all, but my uncle kept trying to kiss me in this dream. It was very terrifying, and I don't know what that means, but I keep thinking “Jesus, this is bringing on every victimization experience I must have ever had” or you know. I think it's like opening a very humongous can of worms.

    Q: Are those kind of nightmares a new experience for you?

    Catherine: Yes.

    Q: And have they been pretty steady since November?

    Catherine: Yeah…. Not since November, since January. November was when it happened, January was the recognition of what happened.

    Q: So since January?

    Catherine: Yeah.

    Q: And how often?

    Catherine: Oh, probably at least … four nights a week. So, I don't sleep much at all. It's kind of ironic, I might as well…. You're going to read my journal anyway, and like I kept thinking what am I going to say because you know this person…. It's Jason. And I was thinking when he was doing that work, how ironic it was that he was sitting there on one side and you were sitting on the other and I wanted nothing to do with it because I just couldn't deal with that. And it's interesting, I had an experience with the man in charge of it that really pissed me off. The student had initially contacted me to help with this thing. Well, subsequently we decided Jason would do it because I just didn't want to deal with it. No way in hell was I going to have to deal with that in the midst of all of this. And so by this time I pretty much trust … trusted Jason to do it well, because he's been, you know, flagellating himself mentally for months now, and he's really come to terms with, with how to treat women. But when I went over to talk with the person in charge, which I do quite often in my capacity as student volunteer, he had a very hard time turning it over to me. He said, “I want to make sure you don't have any personal interest in this,” you know. And I said, “What do you mean personal interest?” He said, “Well, I want to make sure you're not biased in any way, blah, blah, blah, …” and I said “Do you mean because I'm a woman, I'm a feminist, is that why you won't just let me do this?” He went … “Well,… holy cow, you're right. You have every right to do this, go ahead.” And during that whole experience, I kept thinking, “Jesus, you know, here is … you know, if anybody's biased, it would be Jason,” which he didn't know, but here's Jason with a similar problem to what the whole thing was about, and uh, having to deal with that was very difficult. And you know, the person in charge is a great guy, and I think he's learned a lot in the past couple of years from you, but he's, he's got a long way to go. And so that was really hard. And things like that seem to keep popping up now that I'm a survivor. There just seem to be things all the time that are in my face like that. It's really weird.

    Q: It's hard.

    Catherine: Yeah.

    Q: Well, are there are other … I mean, when we start to talk about this stuff, obviously there is a lot more than “it's interrupted my thesis.”

    Catherine: Uh huh.

    Q: Are there other ways that it's shown up for you?

    Catherine: I guess I don't know how to describe … and that's why … I mean, it's affected my entire life, you know; every minute that I'm awake and then when I try to sleep it's there. But it's so abstract, it's difficult for me to describe. My thesis is an obvious tangible way. My boyfriend is an obvious tangible way. But I guess I just can't … I don't know how to … I'll try. A general sense of depression, a loss of control. I feel very lost, but it's something that is with me every minute, so, you know, it's sort of … I'm getting used to it now.

    Q: Describe to me what the depression is like.

    Catherine: It's like … being on the verge of tears a lot for no reason. Feeling very lonely, very alone. And I think my particular experience has really contributed to that. I feel like I've really been abandoned. Although my friends have come around since then, it doesn't make any difference. Feeling stigmatized, like when I had that experience with that whole thing I was just telling you about, I really wanted to tell him, “Screw you, you know, it's these men who are biased. It's not women who, who know, you know, what it's like to be victimized, that are biased. It's these men who know what it's like to be victimizers that are looking out for themselves.” But I feel too stigmatized to say that, to say, “I know what these women have been through.” It's … I haven't been able to tell my adviser about it because of the embarrassment and the stigma, even though I know he's a feminist and he's wonderful and, you know, he taught me about the issue of violence against women. But I feel like if I tell him this is why I abandoned my thesis, things would be different, that he'd treat me differently. It's just, I feel very fragile, like my position in the world is very precarious.

    Q: That's a very good description for not knowing quite how to do it…. When you think about all of that, what is it that feels most significant about it?

    Catherine: Something that I didn't mention, but that is pretty significant, and this is weird, because I haven't really talked about this, in this way, to anyone, so it's just all being articulated for the first time so … I … I guess there is also a sense of rage and injustice, particularly because I feel that I spend most of my life trying to help other people, trying to make this world a better place, and that's really the source of my getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. And I don't know, I feel like everything's against me for doing that. I feel very, I feel like…. It's a great injustice that people like me and the other women I know have to go through this. Because for the most part, we're wonderful and we all want to change the world and make it a better place. And even our friends, who call themselves liberals or, and run in the same circles, are working against us, and that's … that's very difficult. I feel like, I have felt about … I've felt like giving up. And I don't mean giving up in the sense that I don't want, I want to stop helping people but giving up in the sense that I don't want to get up in the morning. I just don't ever want to get up again … so, that's pretty damn significant I think.

    Q: So where do you find the energy to get up?

    Catherine: I don't know, but I do it. I have no idea … other than what gets me up every day and that's, you know, every day's an opportunity to interact with people and to make some kind of a difference.

    Q: Has the wanting to give up ever become more than “just don't want to get up?”

    Catherine: Yeah. Like you mean, suicidal thoughts? Yes. Yes. I can remember walking home a couple of times, I live on the west side, so it's down the hill. I can remember walking home and crossing the street and very seriously thinking about continuing to walk in the street and you know, not actually making it to the sidewalk. And I guess you could definitely call that a suicidal thought, because cars come and that's the whole idea. And I…. It's not been a very melodramatic kind of like “I'm going to kill myself” kind of thing but just “I want to keep walking and want this car to hit me.” I got in a car accident a couple of weeks ago with my sister, it wasn't very serious. The other car was totaled but everyone walked away. And I remember feeling a tiny bit of disappointment that I got up and, you know, everything was fine.

    Q: Does that scare you?

    Catherine: Yeah, Yeah. It does. But I think I'm dealing with as much as I can deal with as I go on. And there's so much there that I haven't dealt with. And even those things, I sort of put aside and eventually I'll probably feel more upset about than I do now. It doesn't scare me like “Oh my God, Oh my God, you know, that's so horrible and how could you think that” but it's just, I have this sort of anxious feeling that doesn't really go anywhere…. And I keep thinking this is normal, I'm supposed to feel this way. You know, so many people who have been through this….

    Q: Well, one of the questions that is, you know, in my mind for you specifically is what has it been like for you having all these facts about “the experience” in comparison to living the experience?

    Catherine: It's a totally different experience; reading and knowing. I thought I had a handle on it all, you know. Both my sisters have been raped, and, you know, more friends than not have been, and you read and read and read and read. And I really thought, you know, “I know what's it like. I can intellectualize and I can think about this.” It's just so … It's so different. It's like putting on a pair of glasses that actually work. And now I'm really getting into my thesis because now when I read women's answers, uhm, to some of my questions, I say “Aha! I know exactly what you mean” and…. There's just no comparison. Although I have to say if I were not prepared in the way that I was, then things would have been a lot worse for me. It was hard enough for me to come to the conclusion that I'd been raped, even with all the education about it. Had I not, if I didn't have that knowledge, you know, maybe 3 years ago in high school, I would never have come to that conclusion at all. And yet I would have felt the same way, I think, about it and maybe even worse because I wouldn't have something to point to, something to move on from, something to get over.

    Q: Well, have there been changes in how you feel about yourself?

    Catherine: Umm hmm! Yeah, I think a lot about my relationships with men, and I think that this has really forced me to examine those. I've always had relationships that were sort of unbalanced. I've always been the one to not want commitment, to have lots of dates and never want to settle into, you know, something serious. But on the other hand, I've always had serious relationships, so I've had both, which is very interesting and difficult. But I used to think that I was really emotionally and psychologically independent, and I don't think that anymore. I think that's something I need to work on. I think it…. A lot of it had to do with the way my boyfriend reacted, and I had to break up with him. You know, I told him I needed some time to be by myself and this has been really good for me because I've realized that “shit, I'm really a lot more dependent upon … upon … knowing what men think of me and how I relate to them than I used to think.” … And I wonder why it is that I had so many male friends, like Jason, when I'm such a feminist and I should be having all these female friends, which I don't. Well, I'm trying to foster that. Also, I started lifting weights, I think because I…. It's made me feel really helpless, not really that that would have made any difference at all. No self-defense class in the world would have made any difference there, but that's not really what it's about. I think it's more psychological helplessness. But now I feel psychologically stronger now that I have biceps…. And also, you know, I think I mentioned this a few minutes ago, that I feel less sure of my position in the world, maybe less idealistic, less ready to take it all on.

    Q: We've talked about some of these but I'd like to know … your descriptions of how the things you've talked about in terms of feeling less secure about your place, feeling abandoned, alone, all of it, how does that show up in how you relate with your friends?

    Catherine: OK, well, I'm pretty much an internal kind of person anyway, but I'm also very talky with my friends about things and I've stopped doing that. My roommates, Patty and Karen, were the first people I told, and in fact, I told them the day, the day after it happened. But I didn't say I was raped. I said, “Do you think it's appropriate that Jason has sex with people who are unconscious, or who are barely conscious?” And their reactions were very … Karen especially, Karen said, “Uh! I just don't want to even think about this anymore or talk about this,” and walked out of the room. And so, I don't relate that well with them anymore. Uh, and you know, we still live together and on the surface everything is fine, but I don't spend any time with them. I don't go out with them or hang out like we used to…. I spend a lot more time by myself. My sister Ann has been wonderful from day one and always will be, and because of that I think, I think I'm a lot closer to her. From the beginning, she said, “This is whatever you define it as. If you feel that you were raped, then you were. I'm not going to put any expectations on you. If you want to spend time with Jason even, I don't care what you do as long as you're doing what you want to do.” Speaking of that, I also feel pressure from my feminist friends, who feel guilty about the way they first reacted, to no longer speak to Jason anymore, which I find amazing. My friend Lisa initially just really blew me off when I told her what happened. And now she is up in arms that I still speak to Jason, and, you know, and I keep thinking to myself, you know, out of all the people in my life who've really tried to change and really tried, or … to come to grips with this, Jason is the one. Jason felt horrible and cried and cried and it was a horrible experience for him. And he dealt with it day after day and talked about it and he's really made some major changes in his life. My other friends have merely reacted upon, I don't know, selfish tendencies, I'm not sure. But initially they were very resistant, and then when it started seeming like a political issue that they needed to jump on, they did it. And now they're even, some of my friends are even saying, “I think you're spending too much time doing this or this or this. I think you need to go to the health service. I think you need to do” … and it's more of a control thing. And the other day I said, finally, “Just leave me the hell alone. I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm tired of everyone telling me what to do. I'm tired of people being supportive when it's convenient for them.” So I guess it's really been “detrimental”—in quotes—to my friendships, although it's been educational and been interesting. And my other sister, Lynn, I talked about it with her as well, and she was great. So my sisters are wonderful friends and it's been good for us.

    Q: I know you've mentioned that you haven't talked about it with your parents, but do you notice any change with them even though you haven't told them?

    Catherine: No, because … for one thing, I don't spend very much time with them, and also I'm very good at hiding the things that are wrong. And also I think that my parents are willfully oblivious to things that go wrong in their daughters' lives. My sister Ann was gang raped in high school, uhm, and after that experience she became an alcoholic, a drug user, she even at one point broke down and asked for psychological assistance, and they pretty much ignored the entire thing. So if they are capable of doing that, then they're surely capable of ignoring what may be very subtle in my behavior. But they are very cool people, but generally not supportive. Nice people, bad parents.

    Q: OK, and the last group is…. I had a question about your partner, but you sort of talked about what happened with him.

    Catherine: Yeah.

    Q: And then the last category is about men in general.

    Catherine: Well, I used to date a lot. I haven't dated anyone since…. I mean, I broke up with my boyfriend and I haven't dated anyone, don't want to. Would rather go out with women. Although, I think I'm unfortunately more heterosexual than is really convenient.

    Q: When you mean “go out with women,” do you mean in a romantic sense?

    Catherine: Yeah, I would like to do that, and right now I really don't want much to with men, as far as romantic situations. But like I said, I think I'm too heterosexual to go out with women.

    Q: I'm curious to know if that—sort of on an intellectual level—thinking about that, is a new option for you, or if that is something that was present before?

    Catherine: Uhm, well, I've always been really … open minded … and I had a fling with one friend last year, but it's never, I never really took it seriously. I never really thought that's something I would think about, you know. I'm just so open minded, and I'm … you know, I'm such a radical. And of course, you know, all my friends are gay, “why not?” that kind of thing. I never really seriously considered it, ever. Now, however, I'm finding myself wishing that I was attracted to women more than I really, you know…. I like having affectionate relationships but right now I just don't want anything to do, in that way, with men. So … yeah, intellectually speaking, I would definitely…. All my friends are gay, or bisexual mostly, but I never took it seriously … I never really thought….

    Q: So there has been a change in …?

    Catherine: Yeah, I think I've taken it more seriously. I've actually considered, “maybe I should have a relationship with a woman.” Whereas I never really thought that before.

    Q: If you were going to describe the rape, living through that, and living past it, to somebody who had no idea, how could you do that so that they might understand what your experience has been?

    Catherine: You mean my psychological experience, or do you want to know more specifics about the rape?

    Q: What has it been like for you?

    Catherine: OK…. Oh, gosh, I guess I would tell them…. It's like nothing I would have ever expected. It's like having all your foundations, all the things that you stand on, all the things that support you, crumble instantly, including your past, your family, your … paradigm that you work out of, your belief system, your social support. I guess I would say it's like being cut off from everything … past … future … friends…. Yeah, I'd say it's like being very alone.

    Q: We've talked some about talking with other people, but I'd like to do that in a little more detail in terms of what that has been like for you.

    Catherine: OK, well, I mentioned the one friend who said, “Catherine, you'd sleep with anyone when you're drunk.” And I mentioned my one friend Karen who got very ardent and didn't want to talk about it at all. And my friend Patty was less hostile but not supportive when I first talked about it. And because of that, she's feeling very guilty now I think—guilt or whatever—feminist guilt and she's now, uh … I feel like it's an intrusion actually. She asks me about it all the time; how am I feeling, and you know, “how are things?” and “I think you're spending too much time with Jason” and “I think you ought to go to the health service” and things like that. I'm obviously not very happy about that…. I've had a lot of people, I've not told that many people, but of the people I've told, if they're women and feminists, they've been mostly not supportive and then … overcompensating, I'd say. I told two important men in my life, one is a friend that I've had since seventh grade, his name is Dan. Another one is an ex-boyfriend, we went out for 4 years. I told them both, and they were very supportive at the time but then, uhm, then it's been silence as if I never told them, as if I never told them.

    Q: That gives me a sense of what … of how other people have responded to you, but what's that been like for you?

    Catherine: Come on Catherine! Uhm…. Well, I guess, for the most part, I've been real angry, real angry, in fact, just pissed off. In fact, in fact, Susan said, mentioned, the other day, “you know, Catherine you just seem very angry lately” because my jokes are getting really sarcastic and I was kind of being very angry. And I thought about that and decided “yes, I am angry” but something else also, I carry around with me: Anger. I'm just pissed, you know. I want to just say, “Fuck you all!” As far as Dan and Chris, I'm angry about that. I feel like … I don't know, I guess just like they're just all acting quite inappropriately, and I know they don't know how to act, intellectually, but that doesn't make me feel any better.

    Q: Well, tell me what you wanted from people that you didn't get from them?

    Catherine: Uhm … from the women that I told—and this excludes my sisters because they were wonderful—I wanted them to believe me first of all, most importantly. I wanted them to say, “Catherine, isn't that rape?” or “What you're describing sounds very inappropriate, yes, you're right.” I'd say that is absolutely the most important thing. And from Dan and Chris—who pretty much acted like that anyway; “yes, you're right,” which is kind of ironic—I guess I wanted, I wanted to feel like I could talk about it with them afterward, that they were open to that. But they don't seem to be. And I probably feel the same about both groups. It's probably, probably because of the way the women acted in the first place, you know. Then when they ask me questions, I feel like they're not doing it because they care; they're doing it because they feel guilty But overall, most importantly, I just wanted them to believe in me and to not make me do all the work. The work being “was I raped? Yes.” You know, that is a tremendous burden, and it would have been very nice if they had said, “Go for it, Catherine, you feel this way and that's your right. You have a right to feel this way.”

    Q: So a sense of support?

    Catherine: Yes, absolutely. And now that is over, and I had to come to that conclusion almost by myself, I feel like they weren't with me all the way, so … and they weren't with me when it counted, so I don't want them to be with me now. And I especially don't want people to be telling me what to do.

    Q: Well, when you talk about your sisters being terrific, what was it that they did that was good?

    Catherine: Well, uhm … both of them right away said, “Catherine, you're right to think of it, that what he did was wrong. You're absolutely right.” And both of them understood when I didn't cut him out from my life and write his name in the bathroom walls and that sort of thing. In fact, you know, Ann's been—Lynn lives further away, I live with Ann—and she's been great. And even saying, “I'm proud of you. I know the reason why, you know, you're still friends with him, and it's because you care about the world, and, you know, you want to teach him, you know, to be better. And I think that's great.” So she, she never judged me about what is appropriate behavior. She never tried to tell me or take control of my life, or, you know, send me over to the health service when she couldn't deal with me or anything. She treated me like, you know, with respect, you know, an adult, fully capable of dealing with this. And she's believed me 100% all the way If I went in and told her today, “I changed my mind I wasn't raped at all,” I don't think she'd believe that but she'd say, “Catherine what you think, you know, happened to you, happened to you, and, you know, you need to deal with those feelings, but it's how you feel about the event that counts.” You know. And Lynn was the same way. Lynn went a little further even and said, “The legal definition of rape, blah, blah, blah.” … And they're both intelligent enough to note that, knowing that, knowing that this person raped me they still respect my decision about still maintaining contact with him. In fact, Jason even comes over to my house and you know, shows me guitar things, and Ann's nice to him, not because she's not sticking up for me and being loyal, but because she believes in me, she believes in what I'm doing. And so, I guess, gosh … you know … everything; believing in me, trusting me, supporting me, respecting me, and not thinking about themselves, not thinking about what's P.C., or what's appropriate, or “this is my friend too and do I want to get involved in this.”

    Q: Are there things that you haven't been able to talk about with people, that you've just kept inside?

    Catherine: My feelings. Obviously. How I really feel inside. I talk a lot about the external world and “this pisses me off” and things like that, but I don't talk a lot how about how Catherine's feeling inside her own head. My boyfriend, who I love a lot, you know, we've been going out for two and a half years. It's been very hard for me to even think about it, let alone talk about it, him not being supportive and the implications that has for our relationship. Also the actual event. I mean, I've still been talking about “the incident” not “the rape.” And I have a hard time saying “Jason” and “rapist” in the same sentence, things like that.

    Q: Well, that's quite a segue for my next question, which is, can, can you, you describe what happened….

    Catherine: Yes. The first time I did it was in a five-page letter to Leonard and that was pretty detailed, so I think I can do it now. We were at a party. I was not on a date with Jason. We were with all the other volunteers; Lisa … Jason … my friend Marie … I think you know all these people, Marie, Lisa, Jason, and Mike and myself. We had been to Seven Sauces and had downed four bottles of wine, which sloshed me over. We went back to Marie's and … we drank lots more, a lot, and I drank a lot. We were there for a couple of hours and Jason was on one side of the room and I was on the other side of the room. I was just minding my own business getting sloshed, and when it came time for everyone to leave, and Lisa said, “Jason, take her home, take her directly home, do not stop at your house. She's far too drunk to be making any decisions about, you know, intimacy or anything.” And Marie told me later that she also thought about, about having me sleep on the couch there, but then she said, “Oh, what difference does it make?” By this time, I was really really drunk and most of what I'm going to tell is not from my own memory but what I've pieced together from other people, mostly Jason, but other people too. Jason and I live on the same side of town, so he was going to walk me home, but my house is two blocks further than his house. And apparently it took him an hour to get me home because I kept falling down and passing out. I was really drunk. Oh, in addition to changing other things about myself, I've stopped drinking. I don't trust anyone to be drunk around. But I had had way too much and went beyond just, you know, happy drinking, I was completely bombed. And so, apparently I fell down several times along the way and when I woke up the next morning I had a big bruise on my face from when I fell to prove it. So it took him an hour to get me to his house, and he decided … He tells me…. He thought … It would have taken him too long to get me to my house. And we got to his house. I passed out on the porch for 10 minutes and, as if that weren't indication enough … And he got me inside … and carried me upstairs to his room … uhm … And he says that I started kissing him, which may or may not be true but it really doesn't matter much at this point. So he took that as an indication, and he doesn't say much about what happened for the next hour but … uhm … And he knew I was extremely drunk. And I asked him the next day, “Look, couldn't you tell that I wasn't going to remember this the next morning and how many indicators, things … you know…?” He said that I kept getting up to leave, trying to go home … uhm … and I was too drunk to go home and “it was much more safe for me to be there.” So … and I do remember actually getting up and then falling down on his floor, like three or four times, and he kept putting me back in his bed. And he said that, that, we had sex for about an hour. The first half an hour he thought that I was, that I had been sobered up but then I started repeating questions that I had just asked him, and it was clear that nothing was going in my head and staying there. And so, apparently, he realized this…. He told me that he realized this and I asked him, “So Jason, what about the next half an hour?” And he just looked at me like, you know, “I'm an asshole.” So, I woke up the next morning…. Also, apparently, things were pretty violent. We both had bruises the next day, and I said “Where the hell did I get these?” That was after I asked, “Why the hell am I in your bed with no clothes on?” And he said, “Well, you know, we were pretty wild, you know, getting all aggressive and stuff.” I had no idea … whether or not … to believe him that I was participating in that … but I told him that, you know. “Jason, if you had to, I mean, if you had to carry me practically, carry me upstairs to your bed, I passed out several times, you know, why did you think I was … enough to participate in anything violent, you know, that I was, you know, making a decision, you know, to be thrown around?” And he said, “Well, you know, I have bruises too, you know, see and it was obviously mutual.” And I don't know what to think about that. But anyway, I woke up the next day with a splitting hangover and I didn't remember a thing. I remembered slowly and I'm remembering a little bit more but don't think I'll remember most of it. And … Oh, I also … Jason said, “You don't remember anything that happened do you?” At the time, I wasn't actually very aggressive about it, I said “What am I doing here?” You know, I wasn't like “What the hell am I doing here?” I should have been. And I said … Jason said, “You don't remember any of this do you?” And I said “No, not … none of it. I remember being at Seven Sauces and I remember being at Marie's and that's all I remember.” And he actually acted hurt, you know, that I didn't remember this experience. It hurt his male ego, you know, that it wasn't memorable. Which I couldn't believe. And then he said, “Well, you're lucky that I'm such a nice guy that I used a condom.” And those things really hurt me. When I think about the rape, I think about those things because I remember them and those were … “How could you say that to me?” You know, “I'm lucky that you used a condom on someone that obviously was not, that you knew was not capable of even knowing to think about something like that…. I'm lucky?! And your ego is hurt?! You know, that I didn't remember?! I think you should have been thinking, wondering, things like, is she going to call the police? Not, you know, my ego's hurt.” And … I walked home, and I was a mess. My face was all cut up from where I had fallen and I was really sick. I think I was sick for 2 days because I had had so much alcohol, and you know because, unfortunately I don't throw up when I'm too drunk. So I might have had blood alcohol poisoning because I was shaking for 2 straight days. So, I pretty much had to go to bed. And right when I got home, that's when I had this encounter with Patty and Karen about “Do you think it's appropriate for someone to have sex with someone who is so drunk?” And Karen said, “Oh, I don't even want to talk about this.” And that was my first encounter with … with my experience. That was the indication of all the things to come…. So, that's what happened.

    Q: When you … I mean, I realize that when you recount an experience it's easy to remove yourself from it. But are there things that you think are important to say about the things that happened to you and how it makes you feel?

    Catherine: Yes … uhm … but again, I'm recounting this all on sort of an intellectual level, and I don't know if I can get closer to how I feel…. But I, you know…. The things that I kept saying to Jason when we had these talks, night after night after night, about what happened, you know…. I kept saying, you know, “How, how could you do that knowing … you knowing that I was incapable?” And his response had been, only, “I didn't know, I didn't know, I didn't know.” And, you know, I didn't believe that, and I kept saying, “What do you mean, you didn't know? You had to carry me upstairs. I passed out, you know, several times. I was practically, you know…. You might have been calling the hospital, I was so drunk. How could you not know?” And it bothers me so much that people lie to themselves. And he lied to himself and me that he didn't know, because eventually he said, “Yes, you know, of course there was at least that half hour where I had realized that you were totally gone, that you weren't even there.” And that bothers me. The fact that…. In fact, he didn't tell me about me getting up and trying to go home. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I remembered it myself. And I guess some things are too embarrassing to talk about. And I said, “Jason” … I asked him, “Jason, can I ask you a question about what happened?” And he said, “Of course.” I asked, “Did I get up and try to leave?” And he said, “Yes,” and I said “How many times?” He said, “Several.” And I remember that now. I remembering getting up and leaving … trying, trying to leave, and I wasn't saying at the time, “you're raping me, I'm leaving.” I was saying, “I want to go home. I want to go home.” And I guess… I just can't believe, you know, that someone who's actually a nice person, you know, compared to the rest of these people … which I guess makes him not so nice, but…. You know, someone who considers himself sensitive would have sex with someone who kept trying to leave and was not even capable of getting out the door! You know, those sorts of things make me extremely angry The condom comment. I cannot get over it. I … Every time I think about it I get angrier, you know. I'm … All of a sudden I'm lucky that Jason was gracious enough to use a condom, you know, (a) as if it isn't both people's responsibility, and (b) you know, obviously, if he, if he, really wants to say I was lucky that he did that, then he knew enough to know that I was incapable of thinking of those things myself. And also that, you know, what, it's women's responsibility? It's like, you got away … you would have gotten away with something?! You know, “Cool, I didn't have to use a condom.” What the hell is that?! That I'm lucky I didn't have to have an abortion after my rape?! … That upsets me a lot. I remember … walking home by myself. I keep thinking about that, that I had to walk home by myself. It was really cold, and I was freezing. And I was really hung over. I felt really sick but I wanted to go home and … that I … the fact that I had to walk home by myself really pisses me off. You know, I don't know why that's stuck in my head, but that, you know, here I was feeling horrible, and feeling sick, and very bewildered about my experience, and Jason stayed in bed and I got up and walked. And … for some reason, I kept thinking about telling him, you know, despite him being so supportive…. He's always very, very giving and he was always very nice about, you know, always, making sure that I got to walk with someone, even during the day. And I keep thinking of the story that I told Jason afterward, that when Charles and I first started going out, we didn't kiss until the fifth date. And then I kept … We were, you know, have a bunch of wine … and we both are really into red wine and pasta and stuff because we're both Italian…. And I would come on to him and he would absolutely have nothing to do with me if I was even slightly drunk, if I even had one drink, you know, until it was certain, you know. So we didn't have sex for months after we starting going out. And I keep telling that to Jason like, you know, “that's how you're supposed to act.” But then I guess I assume men were supposed to like that, the men that I trusted, the men I knew, were like that. And he seemed so parental that night when we were at Heather's house and when we were at Seven Sauces, about “Catherine, I think you're drinking too much,” and you know, you know, things like that made me trust him, you know, “Here, take care of me” and you know, I could maybe not have to walk home by myself, and so I wouldn't have to worry. And obviously he wasn't trustworthy. I would have been much better to just walk home alone. And I've heard that many times but didn't really think about it and really, you know, in my life; that it's safer for a woman to actually walk home than to find someone to walk with her….

    Q: Are there other things that you want to say that we haven't talked about?

    Catherine: I think I might have already said this, but I think … if I were telling someone how to behave after someone tells them they've been raped, I would say two things. Number one, believe and number two, don't judge. And right now what I'm dealing with is, you know, all these people telling me what's appropriate right now for me, you know, how to deal with this. My boyfriend wants to get back together but he's, he's got this idea in his head that now that—now that he's believing that I was raped—now he can tell me not to have anything to do with Jason and all this crap. And I guess I would just tell people to stop judging, stop trying to control, especially when it's out of guilt.

    Q: The last area has to do with you—important things about who you are—and some basic things like how old you are, where you are in school, that sort of thing. So can you tell me some about you?

    Catherine: Oh, an open-ended demographic question! … Uhm … Well, who am I? I'm a feminist, still. I'm socialist, still. I say that because I've been so jaded by this experience. And I think I'm still quite a bit of an idealist…. It's funny, I can talk about rape but I can't talk about myself. I guess that's what depression is, I don't know…. I'm at a midwestern university [laughs], a public institution. I'm a junior, but I'm graduating this year. I'm a psychology major, and I hate quantitative research, and I'll never do it again … Oh gosh….

    Q: How old are you?

    Catherine: I'm 21, I was 20 when I was raped, but I'm 21 now. I'll be 22 next year … What else?

    Q: Anything else you want to say about you?

    Catherine: I'm a survivor. And now I guess I really understand what that means.

    Journal Entries
    2/24 6:49 p.m.

    Minutes after initial interview.

    I feel very unsure about my place in the world whenever I think about the rape or its aftermath. The hour and 1/2 session with my counselor was very difficult for me because when I talk about it I feel even more precarious, fragile, as if my lungs aren't capable of breathing the air, my feet aren't capable of walking me around, and my back isn't strong enough to carry such burdens. I feel sad.

    What would feel helpful right now? I don't know.

    2/2711:24 p.m.

    I haven't written not because I have had nothing to say but because there is almost too much to say. The rape has been with me, is with me, and it seems will be for some time. It's not the actual event that keeps coming up; it is the peripheral issues that have come to have a prevalent place in my daily existence. For example, dealing with other people about it has been extremely difficult. My friend and housemate Patty has taken on maternal roles toward and with me. Her maternal concern, however, is completely uninvited. She questions how I spend my time, where and when I go out, and whether or not I drink a beer while I'm there. I feel as if she is trying to compensate for her rather unsupportive first reaction to the issue. But right now I don't need to be controlled; I am not a child, and being raped doesn't take away my need for self-sufficiency—in fact, it heightens it. Control is a major issue for me right now. I need to feel like I can make decisions for myself and that I can survive in the world without someone holding my hand. I perceive a certain precariousness about my position in the world and I need to face it and overcome it.

    Patty and other people in my life also assume that I trust them. I do not. I have lost faith that many (most) of my close friends are capable of responding to any crisis in my life with any degree of thoughtful consideration. It is especially my feminist friends who have let me down. They who are so well-versed in nonvictim-blaming rape theory were the first to criticize me and the last to believe me. Two exceptions are (of course) Ann and Lynn, my sisters.

    3/3 1:15 p.m.

    In class and I keep thinking about stigma. It's diversity week on campus, in which gay/lesbian/bisexual students “come out” in an effort to be visible and thereby help fight the stigma of homosexuality. Women who have been raped feel stigmatized too, but what can we do? Social forces seem even more determined to silence us than to silence the gay community.

    How have I been stigmatized? By whom? I feel stigmatized more by societal silence about rape than by my friends and acquaintances who have directly labeled me, disbelieved me, judged me. I feel stigmatized because I can't tell my professors why my grades have been slipping, why I have missed so many classes. Even if they would understand, they'd say “poor ____, she's had it rough,” they'd treat me like a victim (best case scenario), they'd encourage me to go to the health service to get my head checked.

    I am not poor or pitiful, I'm not crazy. I'm just depressed and pissed. I want people to accept that, and to direct their concern to the men who do these things and to leave me the hell alone.

    3/5 1:00 p.m.

    My friend Lisa told me today that she feels like she's “given (me) so much this quarter” in the way of moral support and I haven't given anything back. After thinking about this for a few minutes, I told her I haven't anything to give her right now. It's true. I feel so drained emotionally; physically, that all I can do is keep plugging away Keep studying and trying to make up all the work I missed.

    3/5 5:15 p.m.

    Another story in [student newspaper] about a woman being attacked on campus. For every stranger-rape incident there must be 10 date rapes. How amazing it would be to see those in [student newspaper]—would people start to wonder, finally, what the hell is wrong?

    3/9 5:30 p.m.

    Working on my thesis, finally getting control of all the work I must do. It's astonishing to think that after all I've been through, I must finish this work on date rape, or I don't graduate. But things are better in that regard. I'm beginning to view my thesis as a way to say what needs to be said, as the first step in the process toward contributing to other women, other survivors.


    I keep wondering if I did the right thing with Jason. As I see it, my three options were: first, never confronting the issue; second, pressing charges through the judiciary process; and three confronting him but not pressing charges. I did the latter, for a couple of reasons. (The first option I wouldn't even consider now.) I didn't press charges in part because I didn't think that such action would ameliorate my situation. What hurts me so much is that I trusted him and he broke that trust. Nothing will change that. Also, I've seen what women go through in the judiciary system. They have to defend their charges, they're asked very personal questions, and they have to do this in front of many people, (the hearing board, the judiciary director, the defendant, his character witnesses, his parents, etc.). I talked to Jason about this, and he says he would have admitted the charges to avoid all that. I think I believe him. But then would I feel any better if he were suspended from school? Hell no!


    Talked to my thesis adviser about why I've been so slow. He was great—his reaction was exactly what I needed. He didn't act like I was a poor victim that needed to be rushed over to the health service for psychological counseling, or assume that I'm now incapable of doing work on the issue, but he was also not flippant. He actually looked quite sad, very understanding, and he still treated me like an adult, and somewhat of a colleague.


    Just spoke to my counselor. When I told her how great my adviser was about the whole thing, she said, “he'd better be!” What a great reminder that understanding is something I should expect and not be so grateful for. This is everyone else's problem, too!


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    About the Authors

    Martin D. Schwartz is Professor of Sociology at Ohio University. He has written more than 60 articles, chapters, edited books, and books on a variety of topics in such journals as Criminology, Deviant Behavior, Justice Quarterly, and Women and Politics. A former president of the Association for Humanist Sociology, he has never been convicted of a major felony. He is the co-author of Contemporary Criminology and Corrections: An Issues Approach, now in its fourth edition; the editor of Researching Sexual Violence Against Women: Methodological and Personal Perspectives; and the co-editor of Race, Class, and Gender in Criminology: The Intersections. He serves as deputy editor of Justice Quarterly and has received the lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Criminology's Division on Critical Criminology.

    Walter S. DeKeseredy is Professor of Sociology at Carleton University. He has published dozens of journal articles and book chapters on woman abuse and left realism. He is the author of Woman Abuse in Dating Relationships: The Role of Male Peer Support; with Ronald Hinch, co-author of Woman Abuse: Sociological Perspectives; with Desmond Ellis, co-author of the second edition of The Wrong Stuff: An Introduction to the Sociological Study of Deviance; with Linda MacLeod Woman Abuse: A Sociological Story (forthcoming). In 1995 he received the Critical Criminologist of the Year Award from the American Society of Criminology's Division on Critical Criminology. In 1993 he received Carleton University's Research Achievement Award. currently he is co-editor of Critical Criminology: An International Journal and serves on the editorial board of Women & Criminal Justice.

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