As a community, do we take sexual violence seriously? How do we treat survivors of sexual assault as compared to survivors of physical assault? Do we respond to one form of violence more attentively than to the other? What do the questions we ask rape survivors indicate about our attitudes toward sexual violence? How can we improve our disciplinary hearing system?

I have spent a year crying over this
Four months in therapy
and pages of emo poetry
and I’m still not ready

Here I am, sitting across from the person who changed so many things and I can’t look him in the eye because if I do, there’s a good chance I’ll jump across the table and strangle him. I will watch as every ounce of life slowly squeezes out of him and see if he finally has the ability to feel. If he finally understands what it’s like to have someone top of you who doesn’t care about your body or your feelings or the scars their actions will leave.

But I don’t
because one hearing
is more than I can take
and these people
do not look kindly on assault.
I have to be calm.
I have to answer concisely.
And under no circumstance can I be sarcastic.
“Why didn’t you leave him after the first incident?”
I don’t know. I was young and I didn’t know any better. I thought maybe it wasn’t real.

“Is it possible that what you thought was rape was actually begrudging consent?”
I said “no.” I know what consent is. Believe me.

“It’s been a year. What made you say something now?”
I know how long it’s been, but how much disrespect am I required to take? At what point do I stop forgiving and pretending this never happened?
I want him gone and I want him gone now.

Tears streaming from my face,
I have no way of knowing if anyone will believe me.
There are no witnesses.
There is no proof.
There is just my word—
against his right to plead the fifth.

His silence speaks volumes.