Stanford Rape Case: Date rape victim ostracised for speaking out

In 1990, an 18-year-old Katie Koestner was raped in her dorm room on the College of William and Mary campus in Virginia, USA.

She was the first victim to speak out publicly and it was from her case that the term ‘date rape” was coined.

Katie had been out for dinner with her rapist in a nice restaurant. Afterwards, they went to her bedroom. She had planned on remaining a virgin until she married and when her assailant tried to have sex with her, she repeatedly said no.

This fact was admitted by her rapist during the campus trial. She was ostracised by her peers for pursuing the case and, to this day, her relationships remain strained with her own family.

“When you feel that your life and your soul and your body doesn’t matter very much you just feel less than human. It’s a terrible, terrible feeling,” she told Dave Fanning on RTÉ Radio One last Thursday.

“I called my parents. I was so scared to call my parents. My parents did not respond well. They were angry that I had a guy over in my room. They were embarrassed that I had now lost my virginity and I wouldn’t get a good husband.

“I had an arranged meeting with the guy and I said: ‘Did you hear me say no?’ And he said: ‘I heard your dad’s angry you’re not a virgin, I’ll call him and tell him I’m a nice guy, you’re in good hands.’

“And then he told me I just needed more practice. He said: ‘You’ll relax and enjoy yourself better because it’s always tough with the virgins the first time.’

“And I snapped, that light bulb went on that he could do this again like if he just thinks I need more practice, he thinks that’s normal, he thinks how he acted to me is the normal, good way to treat a person.”

She met further resistance when she dealt with the district attorney, who would not initiate a case against her attacker.

“He did not want to prosecute. ‘It’s your word against his; the bruising and tearing you suffered is only rough sex’,” explained Katie.

She was then left with a campus trial as her only access to justice. “‘Yes he is responsible,’ but the only thing he got was ‘don’t go in her dorm’,” she said.

With little vindication, Katie turned to her peers for support but they too, invalidated her experience.

“They covered my car in talc and honey. I’d go into the female restroom and they’d have written ‘Katie’s a slut’. Every day was a challenge not to be harassed or shamed,” she said.

Now, after 26 years, her relationship with her family is what causes her most pain.

“The hardest part for me is that, to this day, my dad has never heard me give a speech,” she said. “He just shut down on this. My mum similarly, she was just so convinced that a good girl would not speak out like this, that I was doing the wrong thing with my life. I have no words.”


Lifestyle

Bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes talks about the books she grew up with, what she’s reading now, and the literature gaps she wants to fill.Jojo Moyes: My life in books

This week's food news with Joe McNammee.The Menu: Quick nibbles; International Women's Day; The People's Choice

With spring around the corner, it’s the perfect time to treat your home to a detox. Gabrielle Fagan taps up the Topology design gurus for tips.How to make your home calmer and less cluttered in 7 simple steps

From Bermuda shorts to romantic white dresses, Prudence Wade looks at the styles you’ll want to wear this season.7 of the biggest spring fashion trends fresh off the catwalk

More From The Irish Examiner