Related Stories: Alleged rape at Sigma Chi
On Feb. 25, The Badger Herald sat down with a University of Wisconsin student who made allegations of rape against unknown members of the Sigma Chi fraternity, as well as a friend of hers who was present to tell a portion of the story and give emotional support. Below is the transcript of the 44-minute interview.
Portions have been edited for clarity, and other parts have been removed entirely to protect the victim’s identity. This text is being posted with permission of the victim.
BH: The Badger Herald
VF: Victim’s Friend
BH: First of all, thank you again for coming in. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or anything like that just tell me.
BH (to VF): So, you had a part in this too it sounds like?
VF: Well ours were at different times. Last spring I went to a party at [the Sigma Chi] house and I was talking to a member of their fraternity and while I glanced away for like a second he dropped a pill in my drink, and I looked back soon enough to see it dissolving in the drink. I was with a friend who didn’t notice it until I pointed out that it was dissolving, so we just walked away, poured out the cup.
BH: OK, that’s good to hear.
V: Basically I want her here for that, so people aren’t like “Oh, it only happened once,” and for support, too.
BH: Sure, sure, understandable. OK, we’ll move on then. We’ll just dive in right away then, if you could just describe when the assault occurred in as much detail as you’re comfortable giving.
V: Do you want the whole story? Like my whole day?
BH: Sure, anything leading up to it.
V: It was on Oct. 4. It was a night game. Sigma Chi was having a pregame, and there were tons of people there and then after the pregame I left and went to the Badger game. Afterwards, everyone was walking back, and I met up with two Sigma Chis and a pledge from my sorority, and we went to [State Street] Brats. And I got one drink there, and then one of the Sigma Chis bought me a shot. I was fine — I wasn’t blackout or anything. I was like drunk during the day, but then I stopped drinking from like 5. … I was drunk, I’m not going to lie, but I wasn’t like blehhh.
So then we went to Johnny O’s, and it was really, really crowded — we were up top [on the rooftop deck]. I bought everybody pineapple vodkas and I handed them back to everybody and mine was the last one. The last thing I remember was saying to [my friend], “Wow, this pineapple vodka is really good.” I don’t remember one thing after that. I wake up, and this person comes into his room and says “What the fuck, why are you passed out in my room? Why are your pants off? This is not OK; you cannot pass out in someone’s room. What the fuck are you doing here?” And just yelling at me. And I said “Sorry, I don’t know why I’m here.”
I texted somebody that I was so embarrassed. And that’s all. Then I woke up [in my bed] and I went to the bathroom, and I wiped and I was gushing blood. I was like “What the heck?” and I was really, really sore. I called my mom, bawling, and I told her I thought I got raped.
Then I went to Meriter Hospital and my mom met me there; my roommate came too but left later. I was there from 11 to 5, because I collected evidence with what happened to me — they took pictures, grabbed DNA. She stuck a Q-tip in me and I just started bawling, and I have a really, really high pain tolerance.
She said from how I was down there that more than one guy raped me, like they took turns with me. She said I was one of the worst cases she’s seen with how violent it was. The next day I had a fat lip, I couldn’t move my jaw, and I had a bruise on my face. I had bruises up and down my legs and by my vagina, so it wasn’t consensual or anything — it was really violent. I went to the doctor obviously and I had to get tested for STDs, AIDS and all that, I don’t have that, but they said from how my lip looked I either got punched in the face or I bit my lip so hard. The reason I had a bruise was because they think they moved my head to make me move.
BH: So just to clarify, when you went to Meriter, was it 11 the next morning?
V: Yeah. Oh, and I got tested to see if I had been given roofies, but [it came back negative]. But they also said you need to go within the hour or it’s not detectable. So they said it wasn’t that [I] didn’t get roofied, it just couldn’t be proven.
BH: Are there any details that you can think of that need to be added?
V: No, I think you’ve got it.
BH: So, you have no idea who the assaulters were?
V: No, if I did, they would be going to jail. I’d press charges, I have a police investigation going on. If I knew who they were, I would be putting those fuckers in jail. And also my therapist said that most girls who get raped don’t report stuff, they don’t do what I’m doing right now. They usually prey on weaker woman, so most people don’t come forward.
BH: You went into this a bit earlier, but what happened in the days following the assault?
V: I went home for the whole week. I didn’t go to school. I was really depressed and felt violated, and I couldn’t believe that something like this happened to me. And it was really frustrating because I felt like I deserved this or something, and I absolutely didn’t deserve it, but most rape victims feel like that. You feel worthless, is a better word for it. It steals so much of your life. My life is ruined because of what they did. And if I knew who these people were, I would want to ruin theirs.
BH: Do you know the status currently of the investigation?
V: No, she (the police detective) doesn’t tell me one thing because she thinks the investigation will be blown.
BH: Does that make you feel more or less secure that you can’t know?
V: No, absolutely awful, because I have no control over this, of getting raped, so I feel like I have no control over this investigation. And I had my therapist call to say this isn’t right that she doesn’t know one thing, and my detective basically told her nothing. The one thing I know is that DNA is being processed in the lab. So I guess that means I have DNA, which is good. [Chuckles].
BH: Did you tell the university immediately afterwards?
V: Well, actually, you go to Meriter and they contact the Rape Crisis Center, who then gets in touch with the university. The university actually contacted me about it, and was like “Hi, are you OK? Blah blah blah.” That was it. Honestly, from my experience with the university, I don’t think that they helped at all. And I feel like a lot of teachers here at UW-Madison [aren’t] empathetic to it. Within my major they’re very understanding. But I just felt that part of it was unfair because people don’t understand what I’m going through. So they’re just like, “OK, well you have a week to do your homework.” And it’s just like, “Yeah, I would love to have a week to do my homework, but right now I’m every emotionally affected, and I can’t study for my midterms unless you want me to get F’s.”
And also, with the dean of students, my dean, wasn’t very helpful. I still have effects from my rape, with my situations where I can’t leave my house. When you get raped they say, “Oh, you’re a victim of a crime.” That’s all the university says. That’s not as big of a justification as, “This person was raped.” So I personally have to e-mail all my professors and tell them that I was raped. Which is awful — it’s like, I don’t want to talk to anyone about it, so why would I want to talk to some stranger I don’t know?
My dean of students wasn’t very helpful with my situation. But this semester she called me and said, “[My professor] called and we need to know where you’re seeking therapy and if you’re still seeking therapy.” I say, “Well how is that relevant and how is that any of your business?” And she’s like, “Well I need to know.” She wasn’t very friendly. But she (VF) spoke to somebody who was so helpful, was totally on board, and she’s the reason [Sigma Chi is] on social probation.
BH: Sigma Chi is on social probation?
V: Yeah, they were just put on social probation because of Suzanne, with dean of students. They just were put on the day [VF] contacted Suzanne. [Editor’s Note: Sigma Chi voluntarily placed itself on social probation].
VF: I sent an anonymous e-mail to the Pan-Hellenic Association, dean of students, Interfraternity Council basically saying how disappointed and disgusted I am by the lack of action that was taken after the incidents and that I had heard there was another person raped [at Sigma Chi], and as a woman and a friend of someone who was a victim that they hadn’t taken any action. I guess I sent that letter a little over a week ago to them, and since they received that, my dean of students, Suzanne, was really receptive. She contacted me immediately the next day and set up an appointment with me and moved forward with the actions, including contacting the national fraternity headquarters to notify them of the incident, who they said they had never been contacted about prior.
BH: As far as social probation goes, do you feel like that’s not enough?
V: Obviously it’s something and I’m happy about it, but I personally think because they just recently raped someone that they should be kicked off campus. But that’s just my opinion.
VF: Talking to the dean of students, it sounded like that was an initial action to at least take an action instead of doing nothing. It obviously isn’t a good enough action.
V: But I mean nothing is enough. I’m happy that they’re on social probation, I’m really happy this happened, but nothing is going to replace what I went through.
BH: You delved into this a bit earlier, but can you just talk about why you decided to come forward?
V: I was at a bar and I was talking to this guy and he was in Sigma Chi. My friend knew he was in Sigma Chi and comes up to me and says, “Hey, he’s in Sigma Chi.” But I didn’t really register it. So [my friends] were at another table saying they can’t believe I’m talking to a guy in Sigma Chi, and this girl comes over and says “Don’t let her talk to them. I was recently raped there by more than one person. Please don’t let her talk to him — they’re not OK.” So my friend comes over and says “Hey, he’s in Sigma Chi, come on.”
So this girl wanted to talk to me, and she was raped [at Sigma Chi] the first or second week of this semester. She isn’t going to come forward, isn’t contacting police, because that’s what most rape victims do. But she was like, really, really upset. She was like bawling. And I think her friends contacted the dean of students, so the dean of students are aware someone else was raped there too. So I felt like even though I did everything in my power I felt like … I don’t want people to be like, “Oh my god, Sigma Chi, they’re so fun.” No. I want them to be known, I want people to hear Sigma Chi, and say, “Did you hear they raped someone?” I don’t want people to be like, “Yes, they’re awesome!” Not everyone within their fraternity is, but they do have rapists.
VF: The thing that’s scary about it is that it seems like it’s a problem within their house, not just an isolated person, not just an isolated incident. Obviously if I was roofied almost a year ago at their house and two people have been raped there since, and we’ve only had one person come forward with it, it seems like there’s obviously other people. And the rapes were all with more than one person. And I understand how sororities and fraternities don’t really know the backgrounds of the people they offer membership to, but when it’s more than one person there’s obviously an internal issue with the fraternity itself. It’s not just one bad apple.
BH: What was it like talking to this other victim? How did it make you feel?
V: Honestly I almost threw up. It’s disgusting that people go through with this thing. Do you have a mother? Do you have a sister? Do you have friends who are girls? Imagine them getting raped — how the hell do you think you would react? I had guy friends and they were furious, they wanted to beat everybody up in that fraternity. How can you rape someone and not think of other women? And I felt like as a woman we’re all being targeted at this frat and this needs to stop. I did everything in my power to get something done, and nothing happened. And it made me sad, and it made me feel like this girl’s rape was my fault.
BH: So your assault and this other girl’s assault are the two that you know of?
BH: You haven’t spoken to anybody else specifically, but you think it may just be a larger problem?
VF: Another thing, for me at least, the perpetrator in my incident, what makes the situation even more complicated, is that the person who dropped a pill in my drink is on the executive committee for the Interfraternity Council, which is like the governing body for the fraternities. … [A]nd if you want to bring a complaint against a fraternity, your complaint has to have all of your information on it, including your contact information, your house, your name. And the thing is that the people on the judicial board are all in fraternities and sororities, so that creates an issue with confidentially. The process for the judicial board has a statute of limitations is I believe 15 days post-incident, or 15 days after the start of the next semester, and obviously with something as traumatic as rape, a rape victim would not be ready to come forward to the judicial board non-anonymously with an issue within 15 days. That’s an unreasonable amount of time.
This issue has been circulating throughout the Greek community since it happened. People have been speculating about it, but I guess one of the reasons that spurred me on to push this issue with the university is because it seems like people have thought of this as a rumor. And I guess people thought it was a rumor at one point, but nothing happened, and I know for a fact that the Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council both are aware that this occurred and not just that it was a rumor, so I guess the fact that they didn’t act quicker on it makes me really suspicious. And like I said, knowing that there’s two people on their executive committee from Sigma Chi makes me even more suspicious. Knowing that one of them is a potential rapist because he roofied my drink before makes it not surprising that they haven’t done anything.
BH: And how does that make both of you feel that the power is kind of possibly in the hands of the perpetrators?
VF: I think it’s just really scary. I mean, it’s kind of like the good ol’ boys network.
VF: You know this person; I know that person; I’ve got your back. It just kind of suppresses all other outside voices like for the good of just protecting each other.
V: I feel like it diminishes me as a rape victim. It’s saying, “Oh, you know what, that was something bad, but we don’t really care about it because it will ruin the Greek reputation. I feel like this thing is hidden because they don’t want to ruin our Greek system reputation because I feel like something like, “Oh, people get raped” is like, “Shh… don’t talk about it,” you know?
It’s something people don’t want to hear about and don’t want to talk about and it really, honestly, them not saying something makes me feel like [they’re] saying, “Oh, it’s OK you got raped.” You know, “That sucks, but really no big deal.”
BH: So, what kind of support have you received since the rape occurred, whether this is through the university or…
V: No, it’s OK. I’m seeing a therapist. I have a therapist I go to every Friday. I have all my friends within where I live. They’ve been extremely supportive. Some haven’t been, but it shows their true colors. That’s kind of my support, and my family I guess. My family is like, very, everyone in my family knows and they haven’t been pressuring me to do anything. They’ve just been really supportive, and I feel that’s how my friends have been and same as my therapist.
BH: Looking back, would you change anything either what you did afterwards or who you asked for help, or would you change any of your actions?
V: I definitely would not have seen the dean of students I saw; I would have seen Suzanne. But I wasn’t like, I didn’t get to choose who my dean of students was, I just was contacted. I just felt like my dean of students wasn’t really empathetic at all to the situation.
Like, she just [recently] called, because [the Herald] called her I’m assuming, and she was like, I said, “You know, I’m trading. I’m probably going to talk to Suzanne,” and she said, “Why?” and I said, “Because I felt like she actually did something,” and she said “Oh, you never said you wanted to do something.” She knew full well I was having a private investigator. Doesn’t that say you want to do something? I feel like it should have been asked, too. I was never asked, “Do you want them to get in trouble at all?” And honestly, it’s something they shouldn’t ask right away either. They should contact, like, you know, a month or two after. Maybe even like, it’s six months ago. October, November, December, January, February almost March. Six months ago and I’m just coming forward with my story, and I just felt like my dean of students wasn’t empathetic at all. She like yelled about me about my professor. I just wouldn’t go to her again — I think that would be the only thing I would change.
BH: So do you feel the university could offer better services to people?
V: Honestly, like also with the Rape Crisis Center, I know this has nothing to do with the university, but like they don’t tell you if you don’t collect, when you do it you’re in a room with them and they say, “You know you have the option to collect evidence which can be just put on hold and no ones going to have it,” like “We’ll have it, we’ll see it unless you decide to contact the police or you can just not get evidence.”
And I felt more that they pushed you to not get evidence because getting evidence takes hours because they take pictures of your vagina, they take DNA, they have a total feel test, like they test if you were raped in the butt, all that stuff. I feel as if they encourage you [against getting the evidence]. Not like saying, “Oh no don’t do it,” but it’s more you’re pushed toward not collecting evidence, and I felt as if I didn’t have my mother there, I probably wouldn’t have done it.
I feel like that maybe would be one thing to do. And honestly, people who are raped, right afterwards they are contacted — I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want to talk to anyone about it. Like, maybe contact me in a month or two. Not right away because honestly I don’t want to talk to you. I want to be alone and secluded and pretty much be depressed.
BH: OK, so I guess that kind of leads into how overall has this affected your life?
V: My life is ruined because of this. I don’t trust anyone. I honestly feel as if I can’t be a normal college student anymore. I can’t go out and drink. I get only bottles because I cover up the hole because I am afraid someone is going to roofie me. I have roofie testers that I bring out every single time I go out and check if it was roofied and one time I was pregaming before a Badger game and one of the roofie tests came up positive. Like, how does that happen? Like, that shows that people around here have roofies, and it happens all the time. Maybe girls think they got blackout drunk. No, you got roofied, and I think people don’t really realize that.
And I feel like I hate men right now. I’m not like a lesbian or anything, but it’s just like, how do I know that you’re a good guy? It’s like my whole perspective of life has changed. I don’t want to date someone. I don’t like really care anything for them right now. I think they’re pigs. I mean, my life is completely changed and ruined. Even my ex-boyfriend who I have complete faith in and stuff, I see him as an asshole, like as someone who’s disgusting.
And it’s as if my whole aspect of life was taken away because of this. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed. I’ve never had that before in my life. I’ve never felt sad. I’m on depression medication, and that would have never happened. I’ve always felt happy and now there are days where I don’t feel happy.
Like, I’m struggling to make myself look happy. It’s like as if I’m drowning and I’m treading water. Before I was under and now maybe I’m at my shoulder level. It’s just something that’s really difficult, and it’s also hard because I can’t sit and talk to you about it. You don’t know how I feel. You can’t be like, “Oh, I understand.” You don’t understand. Like I can’t sit and talk to anyone about it because no one understands how I feel, which is very frustrating. And it’s also frustrating because many rape victims don’t want to talk about it and be like, “Oh, you know?” All of us don’t have the same story. I went to a thing back at home … a group meeting, and most rape victims weren’t coming forward with who they knew, who their rapists were, weren’t contacting the police, thought it was their fault. I don’t relate to them because I don’t think it was my fault, and if I knew who it was I would be contacting the police. It’s honestly like they have taken away a part of me and I will never get that back.
BH (to VF): OK. Do you have anything you can add, anything you’ve noticed?
V: I’m not going to be offended. [Chuckles]
VF: I think I have seen an extremely, I guess a really significant change in how she has been in terms of recovery from like when it happened until even now. I see that you are like so empowered to do something about it, and I think it’s amazing because it’s in such a short time period. Some people wait their whole lives or don’t ever tell anyone about this in their whole life and given the situation, you’ve done everything right and I think it’s a really amazing example for your friends, for people who this has happened to because, like you said, some of these people won’t come forward with it. And so just to be able to see someone who is strong and who is doing something about it and like how you said, people aren’t pressuring you to do it — it’s all you. You have the strength to do it.
V: Yeah, it was my decision.
VF: It’s been really an inspiring thing for me just to see that, and for me it’s also kind of a life-changing perspective to see such a close friend go through something like this. It’s going to impact and it already is the way I look at the world and just like, my friendships with people are so close I seriously feel peoples’ pain. It hurts me to see what you had to go through and so it also makes me feel like really strong to see you are moving forward with this and seeking the help you need with your therapist, and doing this interview is huge. This is a huge step for your recovery.
V: Yeah. And also, just to comment, after it happened, like I used alcohol to help me, like, be numb. And when I saw that girl who was in the bar, she was bombed out of her mind because we don’t want to feel what we’re feeling. We want to be numb. I don’t want to think about it. … [But] I’m not drinking to get numb anymore. I’m OK.
VF: I think that a lot of people underestimate the impact of rape.
V: I completely, 100 percent agree with it. Someone in my sorority said, “Oh I thought you’d be better this semester.” Fuck you, like honestly, it is something that has changed my life and I won’t be able to just get over.
VF: I think that is the main linkage in people not moving forward with this is that they don’t understand how serious it is. It’s like, “Oh well, that’s too bad that it happened. I’m really sorry to hear it.” And that is pretty much all they say; they don’t actually feel like the impact that it’s had. They don’t think of all the things. It’s like, “Oh that’s really too bad; that must have felt like horrible,” but if they don’t understand it’s not just a feeling that happens like from the next day. It’s like the next day and the next day for the rest of your life. Every second of your life you feel right what you felt right at the beginning. Like, right after it happened and people just like don’t get that. And its not just, “Oh, I’m afraid to go out,” it’s like, “Oh, I like don’t want to date people.” Like, it impacts the rest of your life, like how you raise your kids.
V: And I also feel I have three girls out of probably the 40 [I live with] that I feel comfortable that actually care about, like, how I am and understand. Like, they’re, “Are you OK?,” not being like, “Hey, Oh, how was your day?” It’s “Are you okay?” It’s like three people, that actually, who actually get it, you know? I feel like that will be maybe a thing that embeds how most people don’t understand.
BH: OK. And just to wrap up, what does campus need to know moving forward from this?
V: What do you mean?
BH: What do people on campus need to learn from your story?
V: I mean, I feel as if people who get blackout drunk, it’s somewhat insulting to me, because it’s like you’re not being careful, and I was one of those people. I used to get wasted. You never think it will happen to you and it will. It can happen to you, and I feel as if people should be aware that this stuff does happen.
It’s not just stuff you see in movies. It happens all the time, and most of it’s shushed up because that’s what as a society we’re taught to feel. [To VF] I don’t know, what else do you think I should say?
VF: I feel like we’re talking about how we always used to go to Sigma Chi. Like even though you feel like you have a level of trust you can never be too careful.
V: Yeah, even if you feel you have a level of trust with someone, you can never know who that person really is. Like, you never know, could that person be a rapist? And I know, probably sound a little, “Whoa, you’re paranoid,” but it’s true you don’t know, you really don’t know someone. We haven’t grown up with these people, we met them one or two years ago and a few years doesn’t really help you get to know someone at all.
VF: I mean, with that house, we’ve spent a lot of time going to that house.
V: Tons of time.
VF: It’s not like we’re just random people off the street.
V: We have a connection with them.
VF: It’s not we would just randomly go there. [To V] Oh, also, wouldn’t you want to talk about like, how, who you go out with…
V: Oh yeah, I didn’t add this part, but I went out that night I got raped with not people I was really close with. I feel as if you should go out with people who you are really close with. Make sure you are not going home with some random person. It’s like a buddy system that should be established in groups because this stuff, [VF] would never let me go home with someone who I don’t know. It’s changed our whole outlook on going out because you need to have someone who will watch you, not as a babysitter, but as a friend. I was out with people who didn’t care about me. I was left in what someone said was in Sigma Chi, and that girl who I was with, she said I was left playing beer pong with three guys. Like, who just leaves someone like that? The girl just left me, she was like, “I gotta go home,” and she left. And honestly, that’s fine, but looking back, I’m never going to do that to someone, because something could happen. I’m sure she thought, “Oh, you’re safe here, you’re fine, we know people here.” But you really just don’t know everybody. Girls, and maybe guys, you need to have someone to watch each other because you shouldn’t just go out with random people. [To VF] What do you think, anything else?
VF: No, I think that’s good. I think someone also needs to address what’s making people act this way. First of all, people need to be empowered to stand up to them if this does happen, but there’s obviously a serious problem. The thing that’s kind of funny is it’s kind of like people stereotypically think of rapists as a creepy guy, like you know, shady character who is just lingering around bars preying on people.
These are affluent guys. These are guys who got into this university, not uneducated guys, not guys who are [from] poor areas. I think that people just need to be aware it’s not just like the stereotype of a poor creepy person who’s lingering around like a transient. It’s normal people. It’s someone who you know. [Someone] you might be friends with could have done this.
V: Like if a guy was sitting there (points), I would be like, “I don’t know if you’re a rapist.” Now, I’m very wary of all men in general. And that was taken from me, and I used to be very good friends with guys and now my only guy friend is a gay guy because I know he’s not going to rape me. It’s just something that I will never in my life get back. Like, I still take showers and still try to scrub myself off because I still feel dirty. Also with my body image, I feel like I am ugly, disgusting and obese.
Like, I look in the mirror and see myself as ugly and fat and gross and I was never much like that before. I was a confident person and, yes, people still see that I am confident but that is a shield. I’m trying to show people I’m OK and it’s not how I’m acting really. I’m acting for other people and it’s something, I still feel violated.
I got a pap smear and I was bawling the whole time. That is something that’s just, and I have a woman gyno, it’s something that affects my everyday life and I was sick last week and I have a guy doctor and they said, “You have to get in a gown” and I was like, “I’m not getting in a gown and can I have a girl doctor.” And they’re like “No, I’m sorry the only person who is here is a guy,” and I was like, “I’m not getting in a gown” and she was like, “No, you have to.” And I was like, “Well I was raped, I’m not getting in the gown.” And when the doctor had to feel for my heart I was [extremely uncomfortable] and that just shows you how it affects me because it’s a doctor who like sees stuff all the time and because he’s a male, I feel like he’s violating me.
BH: That’s all my specific questions but is there anything else at all you would like to say?
V: I don’t think so, what do you think?
VF: Do you want to say anything at all about how it impacted your view of your faith?
V: Oh yeah, I don’t know if you guys want to write about this, but I was a person who was very close with God and I feel as if, “Why did God do this to me?” It’s like, how could he let this happen, and now I don’t ever want to go to church. I don’t want to pray. I asked him, “How could you let this happen to me?” and it’s like that part of me is taken away, and that’s really sad because God was a comfort for me and, I still have never, I haven’t come to terms with him.
I say to him, “I know you’re making me do this for some reason to help someone else, but why me?” You know what I’m saying? And like I think of that every day: Why did this happen to me? What did I do in my life to deserve this? They took away my faith and for me that was one of the most important things that was taken away from me because that’s something that I lean on and I can’t lean on this. I’m stuck in a fog here. I had all these things with me and I can barely see the light, it’s dim. I feel like I’m never going to get out of this.
BH: Anything else?
Editor’s Note: The Herald did talk to the victim over the phone and in person outside of this interview for both articles.