Believe it or not, I was an advisor at a fraternity for three years. I was hesitant to do this, but am glad that I could work with these young men and help shape their futures even a little bit. Most of the time when I gave a report it was updating them on the latest happenings of the college, scholarship opportunities and internships available. Every now and then though we had to tread into some tough discussions like excessive drinking and sexual assault. Uncomfortable, but necessary discussions. Truth be told, I was not very good at these discussions. I remember what it was like being a college student and didn’t want to bring the fire and brimstone, but also didn’t want to give them a free pass.
In the winter, the fraternities and sororities on campus go to winter resorts for a weekend and have a formal event. I was always uneasy with these things because college students+booze+away from home = trouble. How is this any different than students being away from their parents when they are at college? Well, nothing really but this time it would be on my watch as an advisor.
One year when I was giving the cautionary don’t drink too much, respect women talk I thought I would really make them think.
“So, gentlemen! Is everyone excited for formal this weekend? Yes, I’m sure you are. I know you guys will have a great time.”
“Quick question – how many of you want to have children some day?”
Majority of the hands shot up
“Good, good…I’m sure you will make great parents. How many of you would love to have a beautiful daughter who is the apple of your eye? Your little girl who you will protect at all costs.
Same amount of hands shot up.
“That is great, guys. Really good. Here’s the deal gentlemen. Those young ladies you are taking to formal next weekend are somebody’s daughter. They have fathers back at home who would be extremely upset if you did anything to their daughter. They want to protect their daughter just like you want to protect your future daughter. So, when you look at your formal date and are thinking some stupid thoughts, I want to think of your future daughter. Got it? Good.”
There were a few groans, but mainly these young men were shocked with what I said. It made sense to them and they really had to think about responsibility and intentions. Mission accomplished.
I was once a young college student learning the ways of the world. I really didn’t drink much until I was 21. Seriously. I had my reasons, the first one being I didn’t want to be taken advantage of if I was drunk. Boy would that come back to haunt me later in life.
I went to parties and had lots of fun. I almost always felt safe at these parties. I knew that there were my friends, both female and male, looking out for me and I for them. We abided by the ‘leave no man behind’ mantra at parties. For a long time I was the sober one making sure all my friends in the sorority got back safely. After I turned 21 I started drinking and was always looked after by my friends. There is only one instance I can think of where a guy was being extremely inappropriate to me, and it wasn’t even at a party. My guy friends (who were also friends of his) took action immediately and kept him away from me for a very long time. I’m sure they had a little chat with him too about inappropriate behavior. Twenty years ago you didn’t hear about assault or harassment much. So, I trusted that my friends took care of the situation. Case closed.
I have been blessed with amazing male friends who are good, respectable men. I met most of these friends in college, in the midst of all the drinking. They were all raised well and never once tried to take advantage of me if I was in a compromising situation. If needed, I was taken care of, got home, and they checked on me the next day. These are real men. I respect and admire these men greatly. The world needs more men like this.
A new song on country radio stopped me in my tracks this past week. It is a song by Chris Janson called, ‘Drunk Girl’. I was expecting yet another song about some sloppy drunk girl making poor decisions, so imagine my surprise when the song was just the opposite. This song is sung from the perspective of a father telling men to respect his daughter.
Check it out:
Know what? It’s not just college students who are raped. Since coming forward with my story, I’ve listened to several stories of adults being raped by people who they thought were friends. These women trusted these so-called men and they were taken advantage of. Sometimes drinking was involved, sometimes not. Sometimes they were drugged and remember nothing like me. Regardless, these awful men took advantage of someone they knew and supposedly cared for. It literally is criminal.
And then there are those of us who are raped by complete and total strangers. Some of these people are true monsters and some take advantage of situations. My rapist took advantage of a situation where he thought he was ‘helping’ an obviously drunk woman, but in the end took advantage of the situation.
If this guy who saw me stumbling around truly wanted to help me he could have taken me to the police station. I actually mentioned this in my victim impact statement and the defense lawyer had the audacity to ask me if I really meant that.
“You would rather have a record of public intoxication? You don’t think that would have affected your career?”
At this point I’m thinking to myself, “are you serious? Do you know the absolute HELL I’ve been through? There is a special place in hell for you.”
I calmly answered the defense attorney, “I’d be more than willing to take a chance at a charge of public intoxication than the hell that I have been through as a rape victim the past three years.”
That shut him up.
I fully take responsibility for the fact that I drank too much the day of my rape. I was stupid and drank too much. Does that mean I should be raped? Absolutely not. Does that mean I should never go out socially with friends again? Absolutely not.
It took me a good year to realize that I was letting my rapist, who I didn’t even know, dictate my life. If I want to go out with friends, I shouldn’t be afraid of that. My rapist had decisions to make that evening in 2014 and he made the wrong ones, even if he intended to originally help. He was not a man.
The absolute shame that I felt for the last three years about drinking too much and being raped has started to go away. I believed for a very long time that it was totally my fault for being raped. I drank too much and blacked out. All my fault. No way around it.
Thank goodness for my amazing therapists that helped me work through this in realizing that I can take responsibility for drinking too much, but I did not cause the rape to happen. Only one person in the equation can rape someone. Honestly, I still have some shame lingering and probably always will. It’s a tough thing to shake, but I can stand up to it now.
So, take a listen to the song by Chris Janson. I hope that it will spur conversations with your friends and family. This stuff needs to be talked about and not joked about. Take the drunk girl home, regardless of her age, and make sure she is safe. Be a man.