Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm Sorry, Lizzy

I was just reading an article that brought back some old, less than savory memories. A college freshman who had accused a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her has killed herself. She told her friends that she wasn't raped; the attack had been interrupted by a knock at the door ( It seems she suffered from depression and this event may have pushed her over the edge.

My freshman year of college I attended a large school known more for its partying and football team than its educational merits. I was a wide-eyed freshman girl who wasn't used to the attention I got from the opposite sex there. I mean, it's not like I didn't date before then. But freshman girls got labeled "fresh meat" and boy, did the boys treat us that way. I was also too insecure to know the difference between good attention and the dangerous kind. One night at a frat party my friend and I went upstairs with a couple of the brothers to see their room and have (more) to drink. I got separated from my friend - I can't remember how, but do remember that separating from her hadn't been my plan. Yet there I suddenly was, alone with this upper-classman in his barely-lit bedroom. He was sitting on his computer chair and I was standing a couple of feet away from him. Next thing I knew, I was on the floor - he had literally leapt out of the chair and lunged at my waist, wrapping his arms around me as we landed on the floor. His hands and mouth were instantly all over me. I remember feeling like I couldn't protest because after all, he was older and what did I know? Wouldn't it be really uncool for me to tell him I didn't like what he had just done, and was doing? Wouldn't I seem like a baby if I disagreed with anything he said (or did)? God, the dangerousness of those insecurities...

Then an angel appeared. Or as it appeared at the time, came a knock at the door. One of the other frat brothers opened the door, saw us and said "Oh, sorry. I thought no one was in here." As he started to back out of the room I said "NO, no, you didn't interrupt anything. I was just leaving." And with that, I swiftly picked myself up and stumbled drunkenly out the door. I found my friend and told her we had to leave and I was going to be sick.

That night I was was endlessly thankful for the clean toilet bowl in my dorm bathroom. Tonight as I read about Lizzy Seeberg, I am endlessly thankful to God for the near-miss of my own those many years ago. College guys in groups like sports teams and fraternities can lose all sense of individual responsibility and in some cases make the wrong choices based on false entitlement.

I wonder if that asshole in the frat house ever thinks about that night. I doubt it.

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