I Was Sexually Assaulted Twice But I Didn’t Report It. Here’s Why I Was Sexually Assaulted Twice. And I didn’t Report it The raw, unapologetic exploration of words helped me heal from the trauma I have faced in my life. Hearing other women and men speak out inspired me to be stronger, to shine brighter, and to share my voice even louder. I turn to poetry to help me understand the complexities and cope with the matter of someone taking advantage of my body. Poetry helps me understand myself, and the deep decision to not report my incident. I wrote this particular poem to clear the murmuring voices that fill my head; “it was your fault, you don’t remember anyways, you drank too much”. I wrote this poem to reclaim my voice, and to make it known to society that any survivor who does or does not remember their assault is still a survivor. This is my voice, this makes up for me not reporting, and choosing not to go through the excruciating system that our justice system creates for survivors. They say not knowing what happened to you is better than knowing. They remember every violent act, They remember trying to scream “no” louder, And it not being heard They remember the person’s face that will haunt them, And awaken them in the middle of the night. However, The side of not knowing isn’t any better. They remember waking up, Cold, Bare, Bruised. They remember nothing, And they have nothing to say Because there is nothing to say. They quickly gather their clothes, And run as fast as they can. The stigmas are enough on all of us Do not segment survivors and say what is worse You do not know what is worse Until you have been in my shoes. This is the first time I am publicly saying that I was sexually assaulted, twice. Many will not believe me, many will blame me for the amount I drank, or the fact that I got in the car, but guess what? I blame myself enough so that no one else could surpass how bad I feel about those two traumatic nights. Here’s a little insight on my personality; I trust people. I believe that everyone is a good person and sometimes it is my biggest strength, but it is also my weakness. My family might say, “you could have prevented this,” “or this wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t take a sip of alcohol”. Trust me, I think those things too. I will think those things for the rest of my life. You don’t hear a situation like mine often, in fact, I don’t think I have ever met anyone with a story like it. All the people I considered friends, watched the assault happen, and the person that tried to stop what was happening, a man, got kicked out of the party for “causing a scene.” There were no bystanders that night because it was girl who assaulted me. So, was it really that wrong? Yes, it was very, very, wrong. I was in no position whatsoever to give consent, and another factor, even though it shouldn’t matter, is that I identify as a “straight” cis woman. When I woke up the next morning, I had no idea what had happened. All I know is that I felt like something happened “down there.” Fast forward to later that day I discover the disturbing text my assaulter had sent to my friend, “Did you see me fuck Devi on the front lawn?” It was like I was some sick joke. Take advantage of the blackout girl, how funny. I flew home, back to Philadelphia, PA the next day and only told close friends. The first friend I told, cried. She asked me if I went to the hospital, I asked why? I didn’t know what a rape kit was, I didn’t even know they existed. I also asked why because I didn’t think it was a big deal. She was a girl, so what? It’s not like I could get pregnant, and everything would be back to normal once I returned back to school in the Fall for Cross Country season. I would run amazing, I would see my best friends again and it would all go back to how it was. Wrong. My eating disorder got worse. I became anemic, and my running career took a turn for the worst. To top it all off, my perpetrator was still on Xavier University’s campus. She was the sister of a girl on my track team, so how could I report it? I was a Division 1 athlete. I represented my team, my school, and its integrity. I couldn’t report something like this, I would also be getting in between family members. I stayed silent and let it eat me alive. However, something good always comes out of the bad, and months later, after hours of counseling, and finding the support of friends I discovered activism. I remember watching these two strong women come to my school from a group called, Speak Like A Girl, and my life changed. They were an out loud poetry group speaking on women issues. After breaking down in the audience, I wrote them an email. I wanted to be just like them. Shortly after I founded a company, Sparkle, with my best friend, Karmen Auble. Karmen and I chose the word Sparkle and redefined it as someone’s happiness, passion, and self-worth. However, we recognized that someone’s Sparkle could be dimmed by the traumatic event of sexual assault. As a solution, we developed a bracelet that would raise awareness, and also serve as a reminder of an individual’s Sparkle and that nothing and no one can ever take that away. We became educators on sexual assault awareness and prevention. Needless to say, I was stronger and better for it. After the first incident, my biggest fear was being raped again. Never in a million years did I think I would wake up another night scared, confused, and hating myself all over. I was bare, cold, and felt the tears in my private areas. This couldn’t be happening, not again, I thought to myself. I yelled, “where is my bra?!” He replied sarcastically, “I don’t know, maybe at the beach.” Why the hell were some of my clothes there? I don’t even remember being at the beach. I felt the sand in my hair. “I’m surprised you are still here,” he said, “you kept saying you wanted to go home.” That’s when it came back to me. I remembered being in a different room than the one I woke up in. I remember being across the room, shaking my head and saying no. I was practically begging to go home and I remember him trying to make sly moves to get me to come over to the bed. But, that’s all I remember. I ran out of the huge, glamorous, Caesar looking palace, recognizing that this family had money. I went to the beach and admired the sunrise because it was the only thing that gave me hope and peace. The pain in my vagina was practically screaming at me, “something happened, something happened!” I took a deep breath, I’ve been through this before, I can do it again. Driving home that day I decided I wanted to be sure that something happened. I needed to be sure that I wasn’t imagining the pain. I called my friend to take me to the hospital to get a SANE exam. This time, I knew the steps. Don’t shower, save your underwear, and be prepared for the most invasive exam you’ll ever experience. Photo courtesy of Devi Jagadesan Crying over the phone to the detective after hearing the nurse say there were vaginal tears, I told him I wasn’t reporting it. I turned to my advocate holding my hand and whispered, “you and I both know this system. There isn’t enough evidence, they are going to victim blame the shit out of me.” After I swallowed about five different pills the hospital had given me, followed by hours of poking, stretching, and examining, they finally let me free. In the end, it comes down to fear. It comes down to wanting to return to normal. It comes down to wanting to forget about it and move the hell on with your life because life doesn’t stop for anyone. That’s why I didn’t report it. Whether it was the first time or second, I feared if people would blame me and rip me apart. I didn’t report it because I wanted to focus on representing my University in the best possible way and because I wanted to focus on the amazing things I can do with my company. I wanted to move on because I know the legal process doesn’t make it better for survivors, in fact, they make it much worse. There is the common misconception that 50% of people who report rape are lying. Let me make it clear, according to the National Sexual Assault Resource Center, only 2-10% are false reports, which is the same amount as any other crime. The scrutiny that survivors go through when they report a crime like rape is traumatizing in itself. This is why many don’t or take years to come out with their story. The effects of rape are taxing whether it is anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, or suicidal thoughts. No amount of money or jail time will ever truly heal a survivor, their lives are never the same. So when someone says “I have been raped” believe them. “Believe survivors, because the people we are today, are not the same people who we used to be.” Devi Jagadesan Devi Jagadesan is an entrepreneur and CEO/Co-Founder of Sparkle Ignite LLC. Devi believes everyone has a "Sparkle," which is someone's happiness, passion, and self-worth. She is a passionate advocate for ending Gender-Based Violence and supports Women's Rights.