"I graduated from university. A rape victim with a bachelor's degree."

“Dear University: you failed me.”



Warning: This article could be triggering to anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault. 

To my university,

I’m writing this because you need to know how many women you’ve failed. Women who expected to attend university, go to classes and live at residential colleges on your campus without being raped. Women who tried to report it when they were raped but couldn’t find anyone who would listen. Women who are forced to see their attackers every day because on your campus, there are no consequences for raping a woman.

I’m writing this because you failed me. I was raped on your campus by a young man who got away with it because he knew he could.

It happened one Wednesday night in my second year at college, after weeks of flirting. The guy was sweet, a little bit younger than me, and extremely good-looking. I had a very real crush on him, and after a night at the little bar tucked into the basement of the college next door, we ended up kissing. We were drunk, making out up against a sandstone wall, whispering sweet little things to one another.

I can’t remember if it was my idea or his, but we ended up back in my bedroom. And there, in the privacy of my tiny cupboard-sized college room, he changed from the cute guy I thought I knew, into an aggressive man who pretended not to hear me when I told him to stop. He pushed me to the ground and had such violent sex with me, I walked around with carpet burn on my feet, shins, knees and hands for weeks. He dragged me to the communal bathroom, pushed me into a shower cubicle, bent me over and continued to have sex with me despite the fact that I was barely sober enough to stand, and too shocked to object. He overpowered me physically, intimidated me verbally, and left once I was passed out naked on my bed.

“Your colleges are not safe for women…”

Months later, a friend of mine would tell me that he did a similar thing to her. This guy was allowed to rape women repeatedly on your campus because he knew there was nothing we could do to get him. I tried to tell male friends of mine, I tried to speak to one of the student leaders at the college, I tried to get advice on what I should do. But again and again I was silenced, I was told it was my fault because I was drunk, I was ignored because I was the one who invited him to my room. I’ve spent years thinking I deserved to be raped that night because the location of my attack was my own room.


Your colleges are not safe for women. The lack of any legal recourse for rapes like mine and the lack of any support system for victims like me has created an environment where rapists feel as though they can rape without consequence. Victims of sexual assault are abandoned right when they need someone to help them, and worse, discouraged from reporting crimes against them. As an institution that attracts hundreds of thousands of young people, you have a duty of care that you are wilfully neglecting.

Your failure to support the victims of sexual assault on your campus affects our lives and our mental health forever.

As an anonymous Harvard student wrote to her university: “There are few things more disempowering than being sexually assaulted. You suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself in a situation where someone else — perhaps someone you trusted or loved — claims absolute authority over your body. You are desperately trying to have your voice heard and to assert control over what is being done to you, but are systematically shut down until you are forced to simply wait for it to be over. In that context, being practically denied the right to decide what you want to do with your story, being told that something with the potential to be as empowering as prosecuting your assailant is unlikely to result in any action, being denied several requests that you think will help you heal. Those things truly make you feel hopeless, powerless, betrayed, and worthless.”


That same victim experience – of being assaulted, ignored and ultimately neglected – happens all the time on Australian university grounds.

At this prestigious Australian university, I made a lot of beautiful, close friends. Over the years, virtually every single one confided in me that something awful had happened to them on campus. One had been gang-raped by male ‘friends’ in the alley between two colleges. Another had gone back to a guy’s room, where he and his ‘friends’ took turns raping her in the dark. She only realised that it was more than one guy when they started bragging about it – it’s called ‘tag-teaming’ – and they publicly referred to their victim as ‘a corpse’ because she was so still throughout the attacks. Several others had invited guys back to their room, where they were raped in their own beds and told to keep it a secret or they’d be called a slut.

On my first day at college on campus, senior students and staff told me the same thing over and over, gleefully: “One in three students meet their husband at the college next door.” It was always said with a wink, like the secret aim of going to university is to meet your future husband.

Honestly, I think the same statistic applies for sexual assault. But there’s nobody there to warn you when you arrive, “One in three female students meet their rapist at the college next door.” There’s nobody there to say, “It could be during orientation week, at a toga party. It could be in the bushes between colleges. It could be in the bedroom of a guy you thought you liked. But chances are, one in three of you will be raped, and you will be told to stay silent about it for so long you decide to blame yourself.”

It happened to me, and it continues to happen to your students on your campus every day. Until you learn to value the trauma of a victim over the reputation of the attacker, that will not change.

Please note if this post or any of the comments bring up any issues for you, or if you need to speak to someone please call 1800-RESPECT or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.  It does not matter where about you live in Australia, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.