Perspective from a survivor

Perspective+from+a+survivor

Ruth Watry

Over the past week or so, people have been questioning why Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would not immediately report a sexual assault, why a woman would not be able to clearly remember the circumstances surrounding her assault, and why a person would wait until now. I am going to try to provide an answer to those questions, from the perspective of a survivor who is close in age to Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.

During my freshman year of college, my sorority sister Chris and I went to a fraternity party (we were both fraternity little sisters). She went off with her boyfriend, and I partied with my friends. My boyfriend, Jim, was out of town that weekend, but his best friend Bill was present. I had too much to drink, and when I was ready to leave, I could not find Chris. Bill suggested that I crash in the TV room, and that he would let Chris know
where I was.

The next thing that I remember is waking up to a penis being shoved in my mouth. I was drunk and half asleep, and other than saying no, and trying to push him away (he was larger and stronger), I was unable to stop him. I did not scream. I knew him. He was essentially royalty in the state we were in: a fourth generation pledge to the fraternity and his grandfather had been a charter member of his chapter. At the point that he was ejaculating on me, Bill came by to check on me. Bill immediately removed Saul from the room, took me to “clean myself up,” and saw me back to my dorm. The next night, I was out with girlfriends and ran into Saul and he had the nerve to ask me “if I wanted to hook up again.” I turned and left the bar.

It is here that the story changes direction. That Monday, Saul was blackballed from the fraternity, lost his place to live, his academic support and flunked out of college. I later learned that most members of the fraternity did not know why he was blackballed, and those who did only knew that he “assaulted the girlfriend of a brother.” Had my boyfriend not been a member, the assault would have probably been condoned.

I went years without consciously thinking about it, until a couple of years ago, when the Cosby allegations were in the news. I thought about Saul, and due to his distinctive last name was able to find him online. He comes from a family of doctors, lawyers and CEOs, and he is currently working at a carwash and as a bartender. His punishment (blackball) for his assault on me ruined his life, and that is okay with me.

I am confident that I am not the only woman who he has assaulted. His behavior toward me the day after the assault showed that he did not see what he did was wrong. I am sure that if he were questioned, he would wonder what he had done wrong. We do not need a person like that in a position of trust. And what about the harm done to someone like me by his assault?

Why did I wait so long to tell? It took me five years to realize that what had happened to me was sexual assault. The first person I told didn’t see it as an assault. They told me that because I was intoxicated, what happened was my fault and that my failure to protect myself equaled consent. It has only been in the last eight years that I have shared this experience with others. Having lived through this, and knowing how difficult it is to share this with others, I fully believe Dr. Ford when she says that she was a victim of an attempted assault.