Should I Tell The Committee That I Was Raped?

Rape is a very difficult subject for anyone to talk about, but it’s real, it happens, and when it does it derails lives.  This courageous young lady was raped, but she got help & battled back – and is now ready to move forward.  But how should she deal with what happened to her?

Hey Josh,
I am currently a sophomore in college and I have a question that I hope you can help me with.

I’m happy to try.

Last year after thanksgiving I was raped at a party, I was scared and ashamed that I was even in that predicament; because I am not the type of person to go around people so easily… I had never even kissed a boy till college or done anything with a boy for that matter. However after the event I was too ashamed to tell anyone so I kept it to myself and as a result my grades suffered from it.

That’s just awful.  I’m very sorry this happened to you.  It’s a shame that there are people in this world who can be so callous with their actions that they think nothing of ruining another person’s life for their own gratification.

I went from a 3.9 to a 2.5 gpa quickly and that was just my first semester, second semester I tried to get over it and act like nothing was wrong and still my grades suffered and I ended my first year of college with a 2.5 overall.  To be honest I was nervous all the time and afraid to leave my room even to eat, because I thought I would see HIM.  Still it wasn’t till the summer that I told my parents what happened to me and began to go to counseling, so slowly I started getting better.

I’m glad you decided to get help.  All too often I hear negative connotations when it comes ot people seeing a so-called “shrink.”  Counseling can mean a world of difference in your life.  I’m happy ot hear it gave you some relief and a return to some sort of normalcy.

Now I’m back at my current university for a semester and I am trying to transfer to Smith College, Barnard College, Mt. Holyoke (all women colleges) but I’m afraid that they’ll reject me.

My question is should I tell the committee about what happened to me my first year?  Because I don’t want to seem like I’m looking for sympathy or pity, nor do I want it to seem like I’m trying to run away from my current school. Its just I have plans for my future and my current university does not have the needs I require as a student to feel safe in my environment, academic and social setting. I don’t want to come off as pitiful because I’m not nor do I want to seem angry (even though I am a little). I want to move on from this even in my life but at a school where I know I can accomplish my goal of be coming a Rhodes Scholar to go to Oxford University after I graduate from college. If you could give me any advice on how to approach this with the admissions committee that would be great.


Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have received a letter like this.  Or the second.  I believe I have addressed it at least once before, but each situation is different, and if I can help someone who has gone through awful shit like this, then I am more than willing to write about it 100 times.

Honestly – why don’t you just say EXACTLY what you just said to me?  I don’t think it sounds pitiful at all.  It’s true that you had a bad thing happen to you that would affect anyone in a negative way.  If you don’t tell them that, then the drop in GPA looks like you slacked for awhile, which is certainly not the case.  If you were in a terrible car wreck that hurt your GPA over time, you wouldn’t have any problem telling them that, right?  I know it’s not easy to talk about, but from a “I sound like I’m whining” aspect – that shouldn’t be a concern.  If anyone thinks you are whining – to hell with them.

Why?  Because you are also going to tell them the rest of what you just said – that you’re strong, that you’re a little angry (justifiably so), and that your goal is to become  Rhodes Scholar & head off to Oxford.  Tell them how you plan to do that.  Tell them you have healed and that you are using this horrible incident in your life as motivation to overcome even the most devastating circumstances.

You were raped.  What happened to you is an explanation of your GPA drop, not some feeble excuse.  If any of those schools doesn’t understand that, then I’m not sure the environment at that school is as safe as you are wanting it to be anyway.

This is a delicate subject, and I am sure that many of you have opinions on it, both in line with mine and not so much.  Please share your opinions to help this young lady out!

8 thoughts on “Should I Tell The Committee That I Was Raped?”

  1. I have been raped twice in my college career.
    Understand that your next college needs to know that you went through a personal matter in the time if it affects your candidacy to transfer. If they ask what happened, simply deflect by saying the matter is still too sensitive to discuss at this time.

    I hope and pray for your healing, as I’m still working on mine. I’m so proud of your fight. On that alone, you should be accepted!

    1. I can understand if a rape experience is difficult to discuss, but advising the young lady to be untruthful is not right. We live in a world where too many people tell half-truths or outright lies. Oftentimes, talking about an adverse situation can be relieving as it reduces the stress that comes with holding in your feelings. Also, the young lady gives her attacker power to disrupt her life and prevents herself from entering the path of forgiveness that will eventually allow her to be completely over her experience.

  2. Fantastic response, Josh! I too am a victim although well before my college years. If there had been someone like you encouraging me I think those next few years would have been easier.

  3. You are very brave – from this submission you do not sound whiny so if you sound the same to the admissions at your desired college, they will not think you’re whining either. I am so glad you’ve gone to receive counseling and, so inspiringly, are not holding too much anger inside, which can continue to hurt you. It is wonderful that you have not let such a hurtful experience damage your ambitions, too. Best of luck, you have my prayers and support.

  4. I agree with Josh. The way you describe what happened to you, how you reacted, and how you are working towards recovery is clear, fair, and appropriate. It is a good example of how you overcome obstacles and the strength of your character.

    It’s not like our parents’ times anymore. There is an ever growing awareness in society about the effects of violence upon women. The admissions at the college will understand.

    I understand the possible concern about repeating the story too much or having too much information in your initial application (which becomes part of your student file). You can state that your grades dropped due to a difficult personal situation, which you are now successfully overcoming and one of the reasons you are interested in that particular program is because of the unique all-female nature of the school, which creates a safe environment for women to come together and focus on their studies. They will probably understand the underlying message and it will come off as a strength of the school.

    You can also request an in-person interview (and explain what you said above, orally, in the interview).

    It is not your fault that you were hurt. It is not your shame to carry. Explaining is not whining, particularly in the straightforward, matter-of-fact way you did in your letter to Josh. It is also your story to tell and your right to disclose only as much as you feel comfortable. Bear in mind that you will probably never see the admissions people again, so it is not as though everyone will know and you will have a stamp on your forehead ‘I was raped.’

    Good luck.

  5. You don’t have to let the committee know “rape,” you can use OTHER WORDS like invaded, violated, and if you don’t feel comfortable expressing it~you can use other expressions.

    If there’s an in-person interview~request for a woman if you feel comfort speaking to a woman. And ask about sexual violence PREVENTION on campus AND GRIEVANCE.

    You are a fighter.

  6. I am so sorry for what you and others have been through. By explaining your GPA drop, you are giving this “crime” a voice. It is the silence that destroys the victims and gives the criminals the ability to continue this unconscionable behavior. You certainly are not whinging. You certainly are not looking to give an excuse. By stating you are seeking an educational institution that will provide you with the a safe environment to accomplish your goals, this will bring this critical issue to the surface because each university has to state how they will “keep you safe” so you can safely achieve your college degree(s). We pay a lot of money for our education and universities are obligated to provide more than an education. This contract students enter into with a university is a two-way street. They are obligated to provide a well-rounded education in a SAFE environment. By giving this a voice, you will become empowered! This also helps healing. God Bless.

  7. Bless you. I am so sorry this happened to you.

    Part of the fallout of being brutalized is feelings of shame, and maybe a little of that is part of why you’re worried. It’s awfully easy to blame ourselves in these situations.

    It wasn’t your fault, no matter what the circumstances.

    It was not your fault.

    I agree with Judge Josh (love you, man, for your kindness and good sense). It’s okay to tell. The car crash analogy is accurate. Being hurt is being hurt is being hurt. I know we blame the victim far too often in this country. But if a college committee tries to put this back on you, you probably don’t want to be there anyway.

    Be well. You are an amazing person. And write us from Oxford, will ya? I want to know you got there safe and sound.

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