Anonymous: What they don’t say about sexual assault on your campus tour

Content warning: This article discusses and describes sexual assault.

If you’re going to be sexually assaulted, make sure he goes to your school. And make sure it happens on campus. Not in your off-campus apartment. Start bulking up now, so he isn’t twice your weight. Set boundaries in your texts ahead of time so you can prove you said no. Don’t use Snapchat.

Make sure you don’t have condoms with you because otherwise they’ll say you planned it. Make sure he invites himself over, so you don’t blame yourself for letting him into your home. Make sure you wear a lot of layers so it’s harder for him when he gropes you.

Get him out of your home as soon as possible.

Make sure you have friends on call who can pretend there’s an emergency. Make sure the emergency is well-justified and an Oscar-winning performance so that he doesn’t think its a lie. Make sure the emergency is large enough to warrant leaving him with an erection. Have friends that can come over at a moment’s notice.

Make sure to have something off about your appearance that you can use as a last ditch proof when you plead your case. Don’t say you were sexually assaulted unless you’re prepared to relive traumatic details.

Make sure you know which of your professors and TA’s are mandatory reporters — don’t tell them if you want to remain anonymous. Make sure you take classes with accommodating professors. But have low expectations. Even if you go through AccesibleNU, extended time is all you’ll get, if that— it’s at the discretion of the professor. He probably will say that he “cannot retroactively give you an option without giving everyone in that class an option,” even if the midterm is four days after the incident. Remember it was an option to be sexually assaulted. Remember it is about fairness and justice, just for others and not you.

Try and plan the assault to happen early in the quarter and not during midterm season. Don’t ask to take a midterm on a seperate date. But don’t blame the professor. Blame yourself for being in that situation.

Remember, AccessibleNU is the only organization that will show up and support you. Maybe because they’re rooted in advocating for students, not covering the University’s ass.

Make sure you don’t have a job or important classes or any other obligation. You’ll need plenty of time to grovel before the Title IX office. Don’t expect anyone from your university to attend the meeting with you at his university.

Remember the “Response” is silent in your university’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education.

Recognize that although “we definitely want to support you through this as much as possible,” Northwestern obviously doesn’t “have the capacity to go to another university with a student.” After all, you’re not the only person this is happening to and it won’t take 17 days after the incident to meet with CARE.

It is best that you have your own therapist not affiliated with the school because every waiting list is too long and all the care provided is short term. If you can’t afford a therapist, you’ll figure it out. Go for a walk and maybe take a nap. You know, because you have tons of time for that.

Don’t expect the Title IX office to be equipped to communicate with the other university. Remember it is your responsibility to reach out to his university and maintain communication, it’s in your job description. Don’t expect your university’s academic support services to reach out to you, remember that’s your job. If he does not go to your school, make sure you have tons of spending money for his Uber home and the inevitable trips you’ll have to make to his university for their investigation.

Make sure you know if he will be at the meeting. Recognize that obviously his university “can’t protect you if he tries to contact you in the future” because if you are not a part of their community, you don’t matter. Remember that the investigators might know him, after all “it’s a small school.”

One of your investigators might be the director of annual giving, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to give justice to you. He will protect his university’s precious, revenue-generating football team.

Remember his Division III sports career comes before your mental wellbeing. It’d be a travesty to ruin his life over a misunderstanding. Remember if you say your name, it might ruin your life — or your future dream career.

Make sure that you remember that his Division III school’s football endowment is twice your school’s mental health endowment. Remember that their policy “applies to incidents that occur on campus property, as well as any off-campus functions sponsored or supervised by the institution.” As in not your apartment. As in not Northwestern. Be prepared to drive past billboards advertising his Good Christian University.

Have this happen in the fall — so you wear a lot of layers, so you don’t have to look at yourself. Change in the dark, so you can’t see the body that he violated. Turn the lights off when you shower. Burn the shirt that he tore off of you. And the sheets. And the shorts. And the pillow. Cut your hair to sever the strands he grabbed.

Make sure you haven’t missed any classes, so you can miss class for the countless time you’ll have to advocate for yourself. Make sure you can devote the rest of your quarter to thinking about this man who probably hasn’t given you a second thought since he asked for nudes, perhaps the exception for “what a bitch” and “she definitely wanted it.” Remember if you just mutter the words “never mind” it will all be over, except that it won’t.

Make sure you’ve had enough sleep because you won’t sleep soundly until you can go home for break. Make sure your parents are supportive and believe you. Make sure everyone believes you. Memorize your story so when anyone asks for minute details, you won’t slip up to prove that you are telling the truth. But don’t sound too rehearsed or they will think you made it up.

Remember you are going to be dealing with this for the rest of your life.

Try not to be scared of men, even your classmates or coworkers. Be prepared for unanticipated panic attacks at the movies, at the grocery store, at the basketball game, at the library, at the crosswalk on Sheridan, at the Billy Eichner speaker event.

Give up watching sports. Give up the field-side position you worked so hard for because you cannot be within a two-foot radius of a football player, even if it is one of your closest friends. Have your friends be emotionally mature enough to support you and say the right things when you tell them. Have friends who can sleep over because you are afraid to be alone.

Don’t be gay or queer or non-binary or transgender or bisexual or lesbian. But all of these identities make you less desirable as a target anyway, right? Don’t be a person of color. If you are, expect the system to ignore or dismiss you. Don’t have a disability.

But the police and your university would never discriminate against you for not being a white, affluent, straight, female with college-educated parents, right?

Remember that you have to heal while also going to work, attending class, completing homework and driving the investigation.

Remember to keep your grades up, so you can stay on your scholarships.

Remember this has happened to almost every woman you know.

Remember you can talk about it with anyone and preemptively know they’ll believe you.

Remember the University sees you just as a student. One out of 8,000. They might think of you as one of their employees, possibly an engaged community member, hopefully a future donor.

But the last thing they will see you as is a survivor.

The author of this story is a Northwestern student who would like to remain anonymous. They can be reached through [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].