Friday, May 13, 2005

The other night there was a stranger rape (as opposed to the far more frequent rapes by those who people know) in the building where my department is. In fact, the floor just below mine. And it wasn't even dark out at the time--maybe 8pm, if that.

There was a student working in the biology lab and her lab partner left briefly to get something to eat, and that's all it took. It sounds like the attacker may have been scoping out the situation for a while; who knows. I can't tell you how many nights I've spent alone in that building working on my data and pacing the halls while taking phone breaks. Everybody's a little weirded out, but nobody's talking about it. This is somewhat strange for a psychology department.

Today I accompanied my clinical supervisor to a debriefing for some people who work in the building. But really, it could have been any of us--he could have chosen any floor. I think we should have a debriefing amongst ourselves, too.

I'm feeling pretty resentful that I now don't feel I could comfortably work alone in my own department, should I choose to. Or walk home across campus in the evening, let alone at night.

Even if they catch this particular assailant, it'll be all the campus women who are paying with our freedom, once again.


Tim said...

When I was an undergrad, we had a string of rapes from what was believed to be a serial rapist. It started during the summer, when there were less people on campus, and continued well into the fall and winter.

One of the things that amazed me (in a creepy way), is the swiftness and audacity with which these crimes were carried out. Girls weren't safe anywhere really, even in situations like you described, where they might be working with someone else.

It set the entire campus on edge. Within a few weeks of the second attack, everyone was using the buddy system to get from class to class. And no one would walk across campus alone at night.

We were pleased when the attacks stopped, but they did so completely on their own. The guy was never caught (though he might have wound up in jail for something else).

I know what you're talking about though, and how things probably feel on campus right now. I always thought that there has to be a balance between security and freedom. One in which the community looks after each other, and the underlying law enforcement is nearly invisible (though present). That's certainly the environment we wanted, even though it's so hard to accomplish.

Hmm, I think I'm just rambling now, so I'll shut up.

m3 said...

Hey, I'm a survivor of stranger rape (details are on my blog I don't know if you still check this thing, but I wanted to give you some tips.

Buy some mace. Seriously. If you walk on campus alone, carry mace with you. Not only will it make you more confident both inside as well as appearance wise outside (rapists tend to like "vulnerable" or ppl who are distracted, or so I've been told) also, if a stranger approaches you and confronts you or asks if you want to do something you don't (like go for a cruise and get high) just put your hand around that mace until your sure he's out to hurt you. Then pull it out on him. Chances are, you probably don't need to spray (if you're soft-hearted lik eme, it might be hard to hurt someone) the appearance of the can will be good enough. FYI the bigger the can the better.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AD TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE BEING FOLLOWED, DONT WORRY ABOUT OVEREXAGGERATING THE EVENT. Most women felt like they were being followed before they were raped, and they were right. That's the best advice I can give you. I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO USE IT