I am a second-year student, living in a female res. One day, during O-week, I was sexually harassed in my room. On this day, a boy that I know had made his way from the dining hall to my room. He was not signed into the res as a visitor, but he gained access to the res as it was a meal time and he lived at our brother res that eats in our dining hall. Apparently, he had been asking people during lunch where I was. He didn’t know what my room number was but he followed one of my friends, without her knowing, to her flat as he knew that we shared a flat in the res.
I was watching youtube videos in my room when I heard a knock on my door. I was not decent so yelled “just a minute” assuming that it was one of my friends. Before I was even out of my bed, the door flung open and this boy walked in. At first I was worried about the fact that my room was a mess and that I was not wearing a bra. I was also worried that I might get in trouble because he was not signed in. So, I tried to push him out of my room. He pushed against me and forced himself back into my room. I didn’t even realize how serious the situation was at first because I knew him well. I just thought that he didn’t realize that he was being inappropriate.
Once in my room, he proceeded to squeeze me so that my arms were tucked under his and I couldn’t use them in defense. He kissed me hard against the cheek and then pushed me against the wall. Here is when I realised the severity of the situation. I could feel, what I believe to be, an erection pushing up against me. So, I pushed back against him to free myself from being pinned up against the wall but, he managed to steer me towards the bed where he fell on top of me and the struggle continued.
I was not raped as, by the grace of god, I managed to roll out from underneath him. I turned around and yelled “what is wrong with you?”. What was absolutely shocking was that he looked up at me, confused, believing that his actions were not wrong. I believe that he didn’t consider his actions to be a violating.
I left the room and he followed me out. I tried to get to a more public place but suddenly he turned around and began chasing me. I ran back into my flat and into my friend’s room which is a floor above my own. He thought that I had ran into my own room and proceeded to bang on my door, throw his body against my door (even taking run-ups), and yell my name and to let me in. It took 4 girls to talk him into leaving.
Immediately after the event happened, I reported it to the res. When telling the RFO what had happened her response was “you see, I keep telling you girls to lock your doors”. This is absolutely shocking, never mind the fact that I was violated, that my privacy, volition and free will was infringed upon. The point here is not that I should have locked my door, it is that somebody felt that they could walk into my room and hold me down because they felt entitled to my body.
Immediately a meeting was called with some sub-wardens, the RFO and the temporary warden of our brother res that this boy belonged to. The boy, being on the House Committee of that res. In the meeting, one of the sub-wardens from my own res suggested that he receive a warning and if he did something again that he should be removed from house-comm. Throughout this meeting the warden of the boys’ res nodded blankly and looked completely disinterested- as if I had woken him up from a nap.
The res told me that they would handle it from there. Yet, I received no notification of what was being done to deal with this situation.
I reported my case to the police and opened a criminal case against him. However, I learnt through a friend and not my res, that he was being taken back to his home in Durban to undergo psychological treatment as it was believed he had a “manic attack”.
I closed the case because I believed that I could not cope with the stress of it all.
My main concern was how the res and UCT handled this situation. I was shocked that they even considered keeping him on house- comm. I had to fight so hard to get him removed from res.
– What also shocked me was that the res was so secretive about it. There was no discussion about it. No warning was given to the rest of the res. Nothing, just silence and secrecy
– I was not informed of the options I had, that I should report the case to Discho or even to the police.
– I was not offered any counseling. All they did was send an untrained sub-warden to my room that evening to ask how I was doing.
For months after that, I didn’t feel safe in my room. Thankfully, I have family in Cape Town that were there to help me, advise me and offer support. But, I shudder to think how anyone without an established support system would have managed in this situation.
The boy underwent psychological treatment in Durban for about 4 months and returned to UCT in second semester with no mark on his record. I sometimes see him on campus and freak out. Why should I have to take different routes to avoid him on campus? Why should I be the one to not go to certain campus events because he is also going?