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Time does not speed up and jump ahead like it does when you are with friends.

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Instead, time becomes your nemesis; it slows to such an excruciating pace that every second becomes an hour, every minute a year, and the rape becomes a lifetime. Some nights I can still hear the sounds of his roommates on the other side of the door, unknowingly talking and joking as I was held down; it is far from a pleasant wakeup call. I had always fancied myself a strong, no-nonsense woman, whose intense independence was cultivated by seventeen harrowing years of emotional abuse in my backwoods home.

May 25th temporarily shattered that self-image and left me feeling like the broken victim that I had never wanted to be. I did not report the rape after it occurred. But there was no denying the facts. One week before I was supposed to fly back East, everything rushed over and consumed me.

When I returned to Amherst for my sophomore year, I deed a simple plan of attack for surviving: Business as usual combined with a new mantra I will NOT cry.

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First semester passed relatively well, there were rocky times, but I kept it together. I masked fear with smiles. I mastered the art of avoiding prying questions. I drowned myself in work and extracurricular activities in order to hide my personal pain. I was unnervingly good at playing the role of well-adjusted sophomore. In February twisted fate decided that I had to work with him on a fundraiser.

Stopping me in the gym and at the dining hall. Pats on my back. It was all too much. I spent most of my spring semester an emotional wreck. I saw his face everywhere I went. I heard his voice mocking me in my own head. I imagined new rapists hiding behind every shower curtain and potted plant. I bandaged the situation by throwing myself into more work and by resolutely refusing to acknowledge that I was anything but well adjusted. Are you SURE it was rape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should forgive and forget.

For four months I continued wandering around campus, distancing from my friends, and going to counseling center. I was continuously told that I had to forgive him, that I was crazy for being scared on campus, and that there was nothing that could be done.

It would be you, a faculty advisor of your choice, him, and a faculty advisor of his choice in a room where you would be trying to prove that he raped you. Hours locked in a room with him and being called a liar about being raped? When May rolled around, everything finally came to a head. He was still out there. He could get to me again. If I told anyone he would find out and do it again.

No, no, no, no, no. For my independent studies photography course I produced a series of 20 self-portraits representing myself before, during, and after the rape. I showed them to my classmates.

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I went to the counseling center, as they always tell you to do, and spoke about how genuinely sad I was at Amherst, how much I wanted to leave, and how scared I was on a daily basis. Twenty minutes later campus police was escorting me into an ambulance. This is for your own good. Amherst cares about you and wants you to get better. Three hours after sitting curled up and terrified on a hospital bed I was admitted into the Psychiatric Ward for depression and suicidal thoughts.

Trust us, this is for your own good. The Psychiatric Ward was a lovely place: the top floor of the hospital, bare white walls, Spartan furnishings, and two stainless steel locked doors at either end of the corridor making sure that anyone who goes in, stays in.

Doctors and Nurse Practitioners wondered around the bare hallways checking in on myself and my fellow patients—every fifteen minutes they recorded where we were, what we were doing, and whether we looked happy.

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It was in our best interest to take them, so they told us. During the day we discussed our thoughts and feelings, our inhibitions, our strengths, but more often than not we did nothing. Stage 2: Numb and Ornery—You have finally realized that something is wrong with you, but you are overwhelmed and confused about how to go about fixing your problem. You therefore decide not to do anything. Stage 4: Enlightenment—Everything falls into place. Your mind is no longer an oppressive hell and it begins to function again. The outside world no longer seems so daunting. My Enlightenment occurred when I least expected it.

Four days into the Ward, I was sitting in on an introductory Substance Abuse and Mental Health Rehabilitation meeting since there was absolutely nothing better to do. To start us off, the meeting leader decided to have everyone go around and talk about why we were on the Ward. We went around the circle: hours in rehab, drug relapses, alcoholism, abusive boyfriends, being an abusive boyfriend, and escapism from the stresses of daily life.

Every problem, every ounce of frustration, every personal tick was laid bare that evening. And everyone was open, not proud, just blunt and sincere; the desire to improve their lives was palpable. As my fellow patients went around the circle it all suddenly clicked. I realized why I never spoke about the rape, why I had refused to tell my school friends, why I had totally broken down, why I had steadily degenerated over the past few months. I was ashamed, and because of this shame I could not begin healing.

Later that night, as I lay in bed—still in an adrenaline induced state of wakefulness—I heard my roommate whisper my name, and then, a question. My uncle raped me when I was The police never arrested him. I did not sleep. That night I realized that from then on I could not stay silent—if not for myself, then for my roommate. I decided that once I was released I would continue with my plans to study abroad that upcoming semester; I would be rejuvenated when I returned to campus in the winter, ready to take on the world and fight for survivor rights.

From the moment I woke, this plan hit one pitfall after another; a domino effect of roadblocks that continued for the next three months. I sat at breakfast in bright spirits, attempting to carry Hot looking hot sex Amherst a conversation with a manic depressive woman who rarely talked. In the middle of my stimulating conversation my harried looking social worker suddenly strode into the dining room and headed purposefully over to me.

In order for students to be allowed back they had to have parental supervision while on campus in order to make sure that the student did not relapse into substance abuse again the most common reason for student admittance into the Ward. She trailed off awkwardly and began to resolutely examine the upper left-hand corner of the dining room. Shock to incredulity, back to shock, to sadness to anger, back to shock again, then back to sadness, and then an overwhelming amount of shame and embarrassment settled over me.

Did this mean I was trapped on the Ward forever? Claustrophobia and paranoia dropped on top of me and I wildly scanned the room. The room stopped spinning, the walls went back to their normal locations, I could breathe again, and now I was angry.

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I told her flat out: Let me get this straight. I was raped on their campus. I went to their counseling center, like they told me to, and I told them how I was feeling. They decided that I should be sent to the hospital. The girl who did nothing wrong. Needless to say, Amherst let me back on campus later that evening. Five days after being admitted, I was finally released from the Ward. The car ride back to campus with my dean was, also needless to say, the most awkward car ride of my life. Her response: No, no, no!

On the inside though I was still dripping with anger, shame, and embarrassment. Several days after my release I had to defend my chance to study abroad. My chance to leave campus for the first time in 8 months, my chance to relax and heal in a new environment, my biggest chance to revive my love of Amherst, and my chance to move on in life by studying what I truly love. The prospect had gotten me through the most frigid hours on the Ward and I was convinced that it would be the perfect way to continue my healing process. I half-heartedly murmured, Your actions were understandable.

I understand your policy when dealing with depression and students coming out of the Psychiatric Ward…during the meeting that included my dean and several of the campus counselors.

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Relief instantly flashed across all of their faces and the atmosphere rose in friendliness. Then: The Ward was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have re-found my love of life and my desire to heal. They responded with enthusiasm: Of course! Very coherent explanation. You seem much happier, which is wonderful! We agree that going abroad and getting off campus will do you good. A few weeks after my release from the Ward I had a routine check-in with my dean to make sure that I was still doing well. I was excited to be leaving soon, and I must have looked quite content, sitting in her office with a million watt smile and bright eyes.

I began to rattle on about how nice the warm weather was, how beautiful commencement had been, how great life was, on and on. She seemed distracted: Nod, nod…Mhmmm…Well, excellent! Africa is quite traumatizing, what with those horrible third-world conditions: disease…huts…lions! It will give you some time to think about…you know…that…unfortunate incident…. My face was blank. You were supposed to study in Africa. No one ever told me flat out that I would no longer be studying abroad. Not even the study abroad dean told me.

I scheduled a meeting with her for two days after the meeting with my dean. For the month of June I was decrepit, nothing could perk me up. I returned to feeling the embarrassment and shame that had consumed me before going onto the Ward. Living was difficult. Each day I woke up and wandered around in a daze.

At night I stared blank faced at a wall and curled up in my chair in a fetal position.

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