College counselor told student not to pursue legal action after gang rape

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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It happened in her freshman year of college several years ago. Kate had met the male student in her first few weeks, and hung out with him for a month. She had been in his car. They had gone to the same parties.

"There was no stranger danger feeling," said Kate, who grew up in North Texas but attended college out of state. "He didn't seem interested in me in any physical manner. Then one day he invited me to this party."

When she arrived, Kate found she was the only female in an apartment full of about 15 men. For the next several hours, she was gang-raped and beaten.

"I just didn't think I was going to make it out alive," Kate said recently at the Women's Center of Tarrant County, where she now receives counseling. "The way they were treating me. The way they were comparing me to other girls. I couldn't help but thinking, 'Okay, there were ones before me. They are still doing this. They're getting away with it.'"

The men forced her to shower before returning her to her dorm

"They told me if I went for help, they would kill me or do this again," she said. "And they made a point of saying, you may get five or six of us, but you'll never get all of us."

Her face was unrecognizable. She couldn't leave her room for days. When she did return to class, the boy she knew lingered in the hallway.

"I did go to counseling at the school and I told a counselor some of what happened," Kate said. "She actually told me this didn't sound like something I should pursue legally. I don't know why she said that. I can't help but think that maybe other girls had gone to her and she saw what happened, or she had been threatened. Or maybe she didn't want it to get out that this was happening at her school."

One of the people Kate confided in was a male friend she had known for years.

He raped her after a New Year's Eve party that same year.

"Then to be assaulted by a friend?" she said. "There was a lot of guilt because I didn't fight back. I did tell him no. I tried to push him away. After awhile, I just covered my face and started to cry."

She never reported that rape, either.

"Everyone knew we were hanging out for a long time," she said. "I had already read all the statistics after the first one: How many people report it; how many actually end up being followed up by police. How much they actually bring the guy in, and how much they actually sentence him to jail. Against those statistics, after what happened, I just felt that people could get away with anything."

She withdrew from school and returned to Texas, and for years tried to cope alone.

"I think I've done about every addiction, cutting, but obviously none of that was helping," she said. "I just thought that everything took time. That time will make things better and it wasn't making things better. ... I had two very separate experiences, but I can't help but think that if it happened to me twice, when is the third time? I can't help it, but every time I open my door, I feel like today is going to be the third time."

Kate started therapy at the Women's Center last October.

"I just felt that enough was enough," she said. "I've had my last drink. I've had my last cigarette. I just feel like I've done as much as humanly possible on my own. It's good to know there is a next step. That maybe eventually I will be able to walk out the door and not feel like I'm going to have a panic attack."

She's back in school. She has a boyfriend. She said she agreed to tell her story in the hope it might help others.

"That's the only reason I'm here," she said.


About the series

Part 1: In Tarrant County, more than half of all acquaintance rape cases since 2008 have died behind the closed doors of a grand jury. National experts are shocked, victims outraged. Many wonder why justice isn’t being done.

Part 2: Meet the typical perpetrator of acquaintance rape. He’s not who you think he is.

Part 3: For the rape victims who report, a teddy bear and a lot of support.

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