On Thursday, The Daily Texan ran a story about a bill — sponsored by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin — in the Texas Legislature that would create a statewide task force to study how to better deal with sexual assaults on campus. The hearing included testimony from Allison Hawkins who spoke about how Texas Tech University handled a case of assault against her when she was a freshman. Her full testimony is below:
I attended a frat party three days into my freshman year of college at Texas Tech University. I was trying to have the “full college experience” that everyone kept talking about. That night multiple girls had been drugged with GHB. Some, including myself, were overdosed. The fraternity had their new members take a girl back to their dorm and rape them as a part of their initiation. Of course to them, it wasn’t rape – it was just a joke. I was raped by one of the new members while his buddies stood outside the dorm, listening, recording everything that happened. I felt humiliated and ashamed and I hated myself for letting this happen. I had no idea what to do or where to go for help. A good friend of mine suggested going to the school counseling office; I went there and met with a counselor who encouraged me to report the crime and go to the hospital. Later I felt that this was a big mistake.
I was interviewed by a cop who wasn’t trained and kept getting the process wrong, so I had to keep reliving my story over and over to this man who did not know what he was doing. I felt raped all over again. The only support I could find through all this was the Rape Crisis Center in Lubbock, and even that support was limited.
After reporting my crime, I was put through two separate investigations: one through my school and one through local police. The police and the school investigated my case along with another girl who attended the same party as me.
I was told repeatedly from both sides that her case had more evidence than mine. I was told from both sides that certain evidence made me look “unreliable.” There was security camera footage from my abuser’s dorm that showed me before and after the rape. Before the rape occurred, I was told I didn’t look “drunk enough” – that because I could walk on my own, I must not have been drugged or drunk and must have been able to consent. After the rape occurred, I was told the security camera showed me “not acting like a rape victim.” Because I wasn’t crying, because I was composed, they assumed I was lying, when really all I was wanting to do was get home.
People in charge of investigating assault and violent crimes do not understand what rape is, and have no way of knowing how an individual acts unless previous precedents and policies are set in place. I constantly felt like I had to prove myself – I was even accused of lying. I was told that because of the time of night that it had happened, they said that the only reason I would be in a guy’s dorm was for consenting sex and not rape. I was made to feel like this guy had more rights than I did. The school was more concerned about his rights being protected than the fact that he raped me. Eventually, after agonizing over two cases and retelling and reliving my rape, the guy was let free and the fraternity is still active on campus. I was not made aware of any arrests or any sort of consequence given. My rape means nothing to my college, and this group of guys are out there able to commit crimes against someone else’s daughter – even your daughters.
I regret having reported my rape. My situation could have turned out so differently had there been somewhere to go, someone to stand up for me, and walk me through the process of reporting my rape and what to do afterwards. I believe this bill can give girls a place to go, and a louder and more prominent voice when it comes to reporting these types of crimes. Most of all, this bill would put someone in charge of watching over these universities, ensuring that they are adhering to these laws already set in place when in comes to investigating a rape and helping the rape victim. Texas Tech, when investigating my crime, did not make me aware of my rights. It wasn’t until I contacted a non-profit group on my own that I was made aware of my rights as a victim.
My case was treated like any other violation, and that is not right. Sexual assault and other violent crimes are not like any other violation. They not only affect the individual for a short period of time, they affect every aspect of and indvidual’s life for the rest of their life, including friends and family members. My mother doesn’t know how to deal with my rape; she blames herself. She feels that it was her fault for not protecting me. She has to see a counselor just to understand what happened to me.
For me personally, I don’t feel safe on my own campus. Because of the lack of support from Texas Tech University, I do not feel safe and I do not know how to change that. I still see these guys every day walking around campus, smiling, free to rape another girl and turn the life of a family upside-down. This bill will give girls who have been raped or the victim of violent crime a little hope in a hopeless situation. Even better, it can potentially prevent these crimes altogether and save lives. I need you to hear me. I need you to feel the urgency and importance of this bill. This crime is important, and it’s happening on every college campus whether you choose to acknowledge it. Please try to acknowledge it. Please make this bill a priority, because I will be damned if this happens to any of my friends.