Katie’s Story

“The way we address this as a society is to make it very clear that we condemn this behavior.”

Katie Clark was drugged and raped by strangers during a graduate research trip in the Dominican Republic. After the rape, she was left in the hotel lobby where she was staying. She has no memory of the assault.

Katie says the reaction of her close and trusted female research advisor was more traumatizing than the assault itself. Katie’s advisor did not believe her when she said she was assaulted. She discouraged her from reporting it, going to the police, or seeking medical attention.

“It’s really telling that a woman I trusted tried to silence me. I can’t stress enough how upsetting it is to have someone you trust silence you. To refuse me medical treatment because it would look bad on her reputation - that is really toxic.”

 

Katie left her Ph.D. program because of the lack of support her advisor and department provided after the assault. “I had to get out of that toxic atmosphere.” Incidentally, she had been conducting political science research on the relation of sexual violence in armed conflict with post-conflict peace-building efforts.

This was unfortunately not the first time Katie experienced sexual violence. Three years earlier, Katie was raped by an acquaintance at a college party. “I have memories of him holding me down while I cried.”

 

 

She went to the hospital immediately after the assault. They refused her treatment unless she reported to the police. She was not ready to talk about the assault and was denied a rape kit. Katie was able to get appropriate support and treatment at a center for women and children. “I didn’t know what to do - I think I called the RAINN hotline and that’s where I found out where I should go.”

After the trauma of the first assault, Katie developed a life-threatening eating disorder. “People think it is about being pretty. It wasn’t about wanting to be attractive, it was about destroying myself. It was about wanting to die. I lost half of my body weight in nine months.” 

Katie has regained her health after her eating disorder, and has found therapy to be helpful in her healing process from both assaults and the PTSD and depression she has experienced. Her husband has also been supportive, “that was really healing to meet someone who actually loved me, despite all my mental illness problems - he loved me and wanted to care for me anyway. I felt so safe.” 

She’s currently enjoying working as a business analyst in market research, where she has supportive colleagues. She does a lot of hiking and painting and loves spending time with her four cats. 

“Don’t question survivors and don’t question our experience.”

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