For the latest in college rape news, we turn to Amherst College in Massachusetts. On Wednesday, Angie Epifano, a former Amherst student, published a heartbreaking 5,000-word account of her on-campus rape and its aftermath.
After Epifano was raped on May 25, 2011, the Amherst administration completely failed her. Epifano was not allowed to change dorms and was pressured to not press charges. When she went to the counseling center to talk about how scared she was, she was sent to a psychiatric ward and pressured not to come back to Amherst. When she did return, Epifano was not allowed to study abroad, move off campus, or take the classes she needed.
“I spent most of my spring semester an emotional wreck. I saw his face everywhere I went. I heard his voice mocking me in my own head. I imagined new rapists hiding behind every shower curtain and potted plant. I bandaged the situation by throwing myself into more work and by resolutely refusing to acknowledge that I was anything but well adjusted.
Eventually I reached a dangerously low point, and, in my despondency, began going to the campus’ sexual assault counselor. In short I was told: No you can’t change dorms, there are too many students right now. Pressing charges would be useless, he’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do. Are you SURE it was rape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should forgive and forget.
How are you supposed to forget the worst night of your life?”
Epifano asserts that her situation is not unique. She writes:
“Amherst has almost 1800 students; last year alone there were a minimum of 10 sexual assaults on campus. In the past 15 years there have been multiple serial rapists, men who raped more than five girls, according to the sexual assault counselor. Rapists are given less punishment than students caught stealing. Survivors are often forced to take time off, while rapists are allowed to stay on campus. If a rapist is about to graduate, their punishment is often that they receive their diploma two years late.
I eventually reported my rapist.
He graduated with honors.
I will not graduate from Amherst.”
Epifano transferred from Amherst. “How could I stay at a school who had made my healing process not just difficult, but impossible? How could I stand knowing that the Administration promotes silence? How could I spend the next two years made to feel dirty and at fault?” she writes.
Amherst College President Martin responded to the article with a statement promising an investigation into the “handling of the incident.” Let’s hope that Amherst College makes some changes to the way it treats rape survivors: One in four college-aged women are survivors of rape or attempted rape, and all too often universities do nothing to help rape survivors or fight rape culture.
You can read Angie Epifano’s account here.
Images from studentsreview.com, businessweek.com, gotagotaxi.com, amherst.edu