Anna  's Memorial

Anna
(Unknown - 2014)

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General Details

Name: Anna
Gender: Female
Lived: Unknown - Sunday, 7 September 2014

My Story

This is a memorial for Anna, a sexual assault survivor from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. No, she has not lost her life, but like many other sexual assault survivors, she has lost her sense of safety. A few weeks into her first semester at the school, she attended a fraternity party with some of her friends. While there, she became very drunk and got separated from her friends. One of her friends eventually found her bent over a pool table with a senior football player sexually assaulting her from behind. She was taken back to her dorm, but later that night was taken to the hospital. A rape exam showed  blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating ‘intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.’” She accused three football players of raping her and their semen was found in her vagina, in her rectum and on her underwear.

While she had the option of turning to the police, she chose to let the campus administration deal with her case. The school, however, was unprepared and grossly mismanaged it. At the disciplinary hearing, the “panelists interrupted her answers, at times misrepresented evidence and asked about a campus-police report she had not seen. The hearing proceeded before her rape-kit results were known, and the medical records indicating trauma were not shown to two of the three panel members.” They interrogated Anna on matters such as what she had to drink that night, who she kissed and how she was dancing, while repeatedly interrupting her account of the night. They ignored evidence showing that the three accused football players had initially lied to police officers. Mere hours after talking to the last witness, they cleared all three-football players of all charges. Anna’s troubles, however, did not end there. Once students found out that she had accused members of the schools’ favorite sports team, she faced much harassment. Physical threats and obscenities were found on her dormitory door and she was pushed in the dining hall. Despite this, Anna eventually decided to return to the school saying that she needed to be there to help other survivors.

While Anna survived her attack, she has lost her sense of safety. Like many others before her, she did not believe that she could be sexually assaulted. She recounted that days before her attack, she and her friends were joking about the rape statistics and how it could possibly affect them. The rape itself took away her feeling of being safe at her own school, but it is not the only way Anna was deprived of her feeling of safety. Like some other students at Hobart and William Smith, Anna chose to press charges against her assailants. She believed that the administration would remove the students from the campus and perhaps give her some sense of safety back. Instead they not only cleared the players of all charges, they even released her name in letters to students. The school claimed that it was legally obligated to release this information to students who may be called to testify. This, however, allowed Anna’s name to get around campus, where people began to harass her. The way the school handled her case destroyed Anna’s feeling of safety in reporting. It shattered the idea that the school would provide justice and instead gave her more reason to feel unsafe. Anna eventually chose to return to Hobart and William Smith Colleges saying, “Someone needs to help survivors there.” Clearly, she believes that she and other survivors are not safe in seeking help from the school.

Anna’s case, unfortunately, is not uncommon on campuses across America. Statistics show that 1 in 20 women will be sexually assaulted during their years in college. So, while many may believe that it cannot happen to them, unfortunately, sometimes it does. Her case also highlights the lack of safety many students feel in reporting. Underreporting sexual assaults has always been a problem when dealing with the issue because it underrepresents its seriousness. Even when reporting rates are high, the statistics are often misconstrued as that college being rape-prone. Many do not realize that low rape reports do not mean that it is not happening. It merely means that students do not feel safe reporting. Anna’s case demonstrates many of the reasons why students feel this way. Campus sexual assault cases are often mishandled, which results in the accused being cleared and remaining on campus. The survivors, if they choose to remain on campus, must then face their attacker almost daily. Like Anna, many rape survivors often face harassment from other students once it gets out that they accused another student of rape. These students either blame them for what they see as false accusations or even for the attack itself. Anna had to face both of these. Students criticized her for accusing the popular football players. The panelists, when questioning her, seemed to be trying to find something she did that could justify the rape. All of this contributes to why many do not feel safe reporting to either the campus or the police. Instead they often feel that they must hide it.

Even for those who have not experienced sexual assault, knowing Anna’s story destroys our sense of safety. When people read stories like this, they are forced to realize just how often rape occurs and how easily it could happen to them. They are also forced to recognize the consequences of sexual assault, which continue long after the rape itself ends. The incidents and how they are handled create a climate of fear, where many do not feel safe. I chose to tell Anna’s story because it represents a lot of the problems with campus rape. Not just that rape happens, but how the police, the campus officials, and the other students handle it. Combined, they all take away from both the survivor and others’ sense of safety. So, while this is a memorial for Anna and her losses, it is also a memorial for so many other men and women out there who no longer feel safe due to campus sexual assault.

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Biography

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
City of Residence: Geneva, NY

Interests

Passing

Place of Passing: Geneva, NY
Date of Passing: 7 September 2014
Cause of Passing: Sexual Assault
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