Footballers pinned over rape, abuse

ART was an avenue for the Facebook user who painted this piece soon after she claimed to have been molested by a man after their prom night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

One social media post about sexual molestation at the start of the month led to another claim of rape that happened six years ago, both becoming viral and putting on a defensive two men who both played football in one of the country’s leading universities.

The first victim called out the first athlete, dubbed his team’s most promising rookie when he first joined varsity a couple of years ago, accusing him of molesting her while she was asleep with friends in a condo unit after going out that night.

“I was out at XXXX last night. Plan was to hang out there, then three of us girls would sleep over at my friend’s condo. It got late and eventually one of our guy friends said he wanted to hang out and came along with us. It was around 4 A.M. and we all fell asleep soon after we arrived,” the victim tweeted, adding:

“This guy friend isn’t one I’m particularly close to, but I see him around often at parties. At some point I woke up and realized he was hugging me. I just shrugged it off because some people are just affectionate that way you know? Some people like to cuddle and I don’t mind that.”

“So, I drifted back off to sleep. But I woke up again because I felt him start kissing my neck and he had his hand up my bra and was pulling me against him. I always wanted to believe that if I found myself in this situation, I would be agile enough to punch this person in the face.”

“But I completely froze. I didn’t know what to do. I think it’s that part — the ridiculous, maddening, helpless shock — that’s hard for people to understand and what they don’t stop to consider when they ask you “why didn’t you do anything about it?”

“Eventually this guy starts feeling me up and hiking up my skirt. And I finally find it in me to grab his wrist, get up, turn around and look at him. He mumbles that he’s sorry. All I could do was tell him to leave. So, he exits my friend’s apartment and I lock the door behind him.”
Her alleged molester eventually admitted to what he did in subsequent exchanges of messages with his victim and their common friends.

An apology

At one point, the alleged molester said he was “sorry” and that “(he had) no excuse for everything (he had) done.”

At one point, the alleged molester told their friend (the one who owned the condo unit where they slept as a group), that: “(He does) not know what happened.” That he “wanna cry” and that he “feels so bad.”

He also said: “I wanna forget about it.”

But the alleged victim quipped: “You don’t get to forget. You don’t get to decide who hears about this. You don’t get to decide how big of a deal this is going to be. The only thing you had to do was not f_cking touch me and you unfortunately decided against that.”

Habitual offender

“I wasn’t intending on dropping any names. But I found out that he had done this to a number of girls before me; that his friends KNOW and NO ONE called him out on it. Who in their right mind looks at sleeping women and thinks “Great, this is the perfect time to molest them?”

The alleged molester even begged to have the posts taken down. The woman refused.

Her coming out inspired another alleged victim, but who — this time — directly accused another football athlete from the same university of raping her.

The second alleged victim made use of a Facebook post of her painting—made soon after the night the rape happened, to reveal her predicament.

Parts of the caption read: “I painted this portrait the summer after I was molested in 2012. I got home in the morning wearing a black skirt, a white tank top and only one earring. The earring sat on my bedside table for weeks and every time I looked at it, I felt sorrow, darkness and shame. But I couldn’t throw it away because it was so pretty. So, I decided I’d paint a woman wearing it.”

Sketch lets it out

“I spent that summer obsessing over this woman—studying the warm colors of her skin, the delicate strands of her hair, the tight grip of her hand, the tension in her face, the gaze in her eyes. She turned out looking vulnerable but beautiful, and by the end of a long summer spent shaming and hating myself, I longed to believe I was too.”

“The night of my senior prom, my friends and I spent our after party drinking and dancing in a bar. We had only a few more weeks until graduation—and we had a ton of fun. I was with a big group of high school friends I trusted and I took drinks from everyone. I drank shot after shot after shot after shot after shot until the night blurred into oblivion. I got wasted then I blacked out.”

“I can only remember faint fragments. My first memory was waking up in a moving car, and the prom date of my best friend is touching me. My next memory was lying on a couch in his house, weak and nauseated, in and out of consciousness, and he’s on top of me. My last memory was the clearest — I’m sitting on a sidewalk outside his house and the sky is turning from black to blue gray. A friend of the guy arrives in his house with a girl. They look surprised to see me. The three of them bring me home past 5am.”

“I have no recollection how I got to his house, and until this day I still don’t know what really happened there. I don’t want to know.”

Extended nightmare

“I remember waking up that morning thinking I just had a horrible dream. I only realized it was real when I reached for my phone and saw text messages from my best friend. She was furious.”

“She was there and saw what happened in the car. She thought I liked it, and she could not believe I would let that happen in front of her.”

“I spent the day begging for her forgiveness. Begging her to believe me when I said that I never wanted it, that I was too wasted to think and function. But she was too scarred by what she had seen. We did not speak for months after, and those were the darkest months of my life.”

“Then my parents called me to their room. They yelled at me for getting home wasted and missing my curfew. They questioned why my prom date did not bring me home and why another guy had to. I don’t remember the excuse I gave them. I didn’t know why. They grounded me for two months.”

“I never processed what happened to me after because I was too overcome with guilt, devastated by the relationships I ruined. I never told my story because everyone was already telling it for me. I f_cked up. I felt dirty and hollow. And I hated myself.”

“Then I had to stomach the rumors that spread. Rumors that I was no longer a virgin, rumors that I was the girl to go to if you wanted action for the night, rumors that I couldn’t keep my legs shut. I was called a slut, I was called worthless and disgusting, and to this day those words still pierce me. It took me years to recover from those stabs, years to convince myself that I wasn’t worthless, and only now am I beginning to process the assault itself.”

Call for courage

“(Name of alleged rapist)—I resented you for years. You apologized for getting me in trouble with my parents, you apologized for ruining my friendship with my best friend, but you never apologized for what you did to me.”

“So, I spent six years believing that it was my fault. It was the only way I could cope—it was easier to take the blame than to accept this happened to me.”

“But yesterday, someone finally looked me in the eye and told me that it wasn’t my fault. When I let those words to sink in, I finally accepted the truth of what you did. You molested me. You should have been the one to carry all that guilt. But you never did.”

“You never did because you did it again. Two years ago, a friend from high school sent me a private message, telling me that you did the exact same thing to her in 2014. She was also wasted and barely conscious. You brought her to your house. When she woke up, her pants were off and you told her not to tell anyone. It took her two years to finally tell someone.”

“She was relieved she could finally talk about it. We no longer felt so alone, but we still never felt understood. When I tried telling people about what you did to her, they shrugged it off and said her memory was questionable since she was wasted. Others said they already knew you had a tendency to be like that. Yet no one cared. So, you still showed up at parties. You still played football for your school. And we had to suffer through the pain of watching you get away with it. They can deny our testimony, but they can never deny our trauma.”

“I’m exposing this to the public because I want people to know the truth about what I went through. I want people to know the permanent wounds it left me with—wounds caused not only by (name of alleged rapist), but also by the culture that perpetuated the slut shaming, victim blaming, and passivity in the face of injustice. After days of reliving the agony and shame I felt, writing this was the only thing that gave me peace in my heart.”

Then she thanked the first woman who came out bravely.

“Thank you for coming out with your story and empowering me to do the same. To the few people who believed and supported me when this just happened, thank you. You were my light.”

Coming out

So, there are now three alleged victims.

One claimed to have stopped an attempt to rape her.

Two more have shared their experiences of being raped by the same man.

Theirs are stories from brave women who are coming out following a wave of retelling abuses by men of whom they thought were hapless women.

But they have found their voice, partly thanks to the growing #MeToo movement sparked by several US and UK celebrities’ claims of abuse in the work field.

It gained footing in 2006 when American activist Tarana Burke told fellow sexual assault survivors “me too.”

On 15 October 2017, American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “#MeToo,” and several admissions by women claiming to be victims of sexual offenses were made public, including those of Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift.

Before these young women came out, very few sexual harassment cases have been made public. But two cases, one involving an official from yet another leading university and another by a female television new anchor against a couple of network executives, stood out.

These young women, however, appear bent on seeking justice.

The father of the second woman also came out in support of his daughter.

He named his daughter’s alleged abuser and even posted a couple of photographs of the football player with a curt message: “Only about an hour or so ago, I learned that my youngest daughter Xxxxx was sexually assaulted by this guy back in 2012. His name is Zzzzz.”

“For the past six years, Xxxxx has been trapped quietly and subconsciously in pain, while this guy went happily about his business, apparently sexually assaulting other girls through the years.”

“Tonight, the tables are turned.”

“Good luck.”

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