As my knowledge and awareness of sexual assault has grown, so has my friendship with Eva. Except it hasn’t been as positive; in fact there is more distance between the two of us with an obligatory feeling that keeps us in contact with one another – until recently.

Eva called me about a week ago. When I realized who it was, I didn’t really even want to talk to her. I felt I had put so much effort into helping her, but her ignorance and denial were really starting to get on my nerves.

Reluctantly I answered my phone. It started off with small talk. Then out of nowhere she told me how sad she was that this incident had enough of an effect to almost ruin our friendship. She asked how I was doing with the sexual assault projects I was involved in. Surprisingly, she asked if she could come with me to the Students Stopping Rape meeting this Wednesday. She said she’d like to try it out.

Wow, was I a jerk. Here I was again falling into my own self-interests, becoming more knowledgeable and letting my frustrations push away my best friend who still needed me. Listening to her made me realize firsthand that everyone deals with the same situations differently. Of course she was ruined by all of this, but she obviously needed more time than I did to heal, and I should have respected that from the very beginning.

So rather than completely overwhelming her with information and details, I simply supported her with encouragement and picked her up Wednesday evening. It was funny because the meeting turned out to be just what Eva needed. The main topic discussed was the project that dealt with figuring out how to educate people that sexual assault is not the victim/survivor’s fault.

Eva just sat there and absorbed it all, applying this knowledge directly to her own situation: “I shouldn’t have worn that outfit? That’s crap,” Eva told me. “A female has the same freedom as a male to wear what she pleases. So why should she be objectified – let alone violated – based on what she feels good in? We were having fun – sure we were having fun, but that stopped when it was no longer mutual. I was no longer having fun and he didn’t care. He didn’t mean to? Yeah right – if he didn’t mean to, he would have respected my decision and immediately stopped when I said NO. No questions asked!”

By the end of the night she realized that it wasn’t her fault. She said no and he kept going, against her consent.

Despite her realizations and growth, she was pissed. Now it was a question of whether or not she was ready to take action and what would happen next. Would she confront her attacker? Would she report the assault? Would she press charges? Was she ready to tell her mom?

Imani Rupert and Muriel Philips are media interns for the Rape Prevention Education Program.