Southeast student raped at age 13, still haunted
From editors’ introduction to this special report: "To put a face to the statistics, we are sharing the first-hand accounts of real-life experiences of students who have been allegedly, sexually assaulted. These are their stories, bravely told, though not independently investigated or corroborated by Arrow reporters.”
Rachel Fox was 13 years old when she was sexually assaulted on a routine walk to a friend’s house.
“I walked there a million times and as I was walking there one day a man was walking across the street from me on the sidewalk, and he was looking at me and I kind of was getting uncomfortable,” Rachel said.
The man crossed the street and started to follow her.
“I was wearing a tank top and I felt a cold, hard object against my back,” Rachel said.
The man grabbed Rachel.
“He had the strongest grip I’ve ever felt,” she said.
She started to yell and fight back but the man overpowered her. Her assailant took her to a floor-level apartment nearby.
“He pushed me onto a couch and started yelling at me, basically like take off my clothes and I was screaming, trying to get away,” she said.
In a split-second moment she was overcome with fear and she decided to follow his instructions.
“I had this moment in my head where I was like, ‘Maybe I should just listen to him, maybe he’ll go easier on me. Maybe if I stop screaming and fighting he won’t hurt me,’” Rachel said. “I just really didn’t know what to expect so I just did what he said. Yeah, so he got on top of me and raped me.”
After he assaulted her he left her alone in the apartment.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I was kind of frozen and numb at that point.”
She laid on the couch covered in blood.
“My shorts were at my knees, they weren’t even off me,” Rachel said.
When her attacker came back he sat in a chair next to the couch and started crying.
“He just started crying,” Rachel said. “I didn’t know if he was going to kill me, I didn’t know what was going to happen. He started weeping and said I could go and I didn’t hesitate.”
Rachel stood up from the couch, put her shorts on and left. She went directly to her friend's house, and upon arrival her friend started to question if she was OK.
“She really didn’t know what happened,” she said. “She kept asking me and I didn’t tell her because he threatened he would kill me if I ever told anyone, and at 13 I really believed him.”
She lied to her friend so the questioning would stop.
“I told her I got my period,” she said. “I didn’t get my period, obviously, and her mom was like, ‘It’s OK, I’ll wash your shorts, it’s no big deal.’”
She did not tell anyone and began to keep to herself.
“I got really, really depressed, didn’t go out ever really,” Rachel said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve done to not tell my mom.”
She waited a year to share her story.
“I shut down basically for about a year,” Rachel said.
She shared her story with her pastor’s wife, who encouraged Rachel to share what had happened with her mom.
“My mom was really shocked and hurt, and that was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.
The feeling of shame and the feeling of guilt had kept her from telling anyone.
“I just felt like it was my fault,” she said.
Rachel never reported the assault to the police because of the lack of evidence and the time that had passed since the assault.
“That’s one of my biggest regrets — not telling anyone — because who knows, he could be doing this to other people, so I’ve had to live with that,” Rachel said.
She fell out of touch with the friend whose house she walked to the day of the assault.
“I would no longer hang out,” she said. “She noticed it, but she was just kind of like, ‘OK,’ I mean we were 13 so we really didn’t think too much, we were kind of carefree. I think all my friends and family noticed something different with me.”
Her mom noticed she had changed but thought she was going through a “teenage phase.”
Rachel still feels that she was lucky.
“As much as an awful situation as this was and it’s hurt me and it’s going to continue to hurt me forever,” she said. “It’s going to affect every relationship I have. I was let go and that is a blessing and I give it up to God for it.”
Since her rape, Rachel said she finds it hard to get close to anyone.
“Relationship-wise, I’ve been super closed off and don’t trust people easily at all,” she said.
Now 20, Rachel is a sophomore and member of Redhawks Rising at Southeast.