About a decade ago, when I was an undergraduate at Columbia University, a graduate student raped me during my college orientation week. Four years ago, the “mattress protests” in full swing in response to the university’s systemic mishandling of sexual violence cases, I was one of several survivors who told my story to reporters. At various points since then I have been asked about my experience in 2009 by journalists covering stories, usually high-profile sexual assault cases. Having a few survivors on background provides context.

This time, I was taking a lunch break from work. I opened my phone to a backlog of emails that had come in from journalists covering the sexual-assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, asking me to explain #WhyIDidn’tReport, preferably before noon. An important concept, worthy of discussion, but I chose to pass on the opportunity to share the knowledge I’ve gained from my searing experience.

Here’s the thing: I have lots of opinions, most of which aren’t related to a rape that took place nearly 10 years ago. Asking me to relive my trauma and put myself back in the mindset of my worst moments to prove an important point – that people who have been sexually assaulted have valid reasons for not reporting their experience at the time they were assaulted – is itself traumatizing.

It also is predictable. When yet another story of sexual violence surfaces (Bill Cosby, Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein), there is national handwringing. Reporters take out their contact list, relocate a handful of survivors who have already gone public, the microphones turned toward us. We are asked to relive the rawest moment of our lives to personalize the tragedy, to help the nation put their emotions in context.

Then the cameras are turned off and life goes on, the promised cultural reckoning postponed, only for the cycle to be repeated. Our names resume their obscure place in journalists’ contact lists, kept for the inevitable time when a similar story grips the nation again.

Regardless of the national coverage, this is a personal experience, and people have to deal with their emotions predominantly on their own. The message we continue to receive is that we are only survivors. That’s the core identity we’ve been assigned, and we should respond accordingly.

Survivors like me are expected to relive their trauma on request, but the predators whose actions created that very trauma aren’t asked to reflect on their behavior, much less advance national conversations about their deficiencies and basic decency. Sexual assaults don’t “just happen”: Someone makes the choice to use their power against another human being, their desire overtaking another person’s will. What is our timeline before we can return, unmarked, into society? When will we stop being defined by the violent rape a man committed? Why do even feminist-leaning journalists insist that those who were hurt continue to verify that it was real and dig through the implications? Is that burden still on us?

I’m grateful that, as a society, we seem to be moving toward believing survivors of sexual violence instead of repeating the cycles of disbelief that led to the crush of people saying #MeToo. I am willing to revisit what happened to me almost a decade ago if it leads to an investment in prevention education to teach children the importance of treating each other with respect. I’ll stand up for a drive toward a society in which teens and young adults did not feel entitled to harm another person.

Nearly a decade after being raped, I still get nightmares, I’m still anxious, I don’t visit the bathroom when I go out for a meal, as it triggers the memory of being drugged, taken into the men’s room and brutally attacked. He hasn’t even gotten a firm talking to. If retelling my story contributes to shaping a culture that does not entertain any excuse for committing acts of sexual violence and holds accountable men who rape, and men who attempt rape, I’ll keep at it. Otherwise, it is too triggering, too painful, too futile. I’m past ready to move on.

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