Bushcast Episode 4: You Are Not Alone

storytelling, women


This is my contribution to the You Are Not Alone project. It’s sort of like the It Gets Better project, but instead of talking about what it’s like to be bullied for being gay, this is about talking about what it’s like to be sexually assaulted.

This story is about an upsetting sexual experience I had in college. This story is a good example of how grey and muddy these cases can be. If you’re blacking out drunk, how much can consent can you really give? If I, a relatively empowered young woman at an Ivy League school, felt this much shame and personal responsibility around what happened — and never said anything to anyone, not in any kind of accusatory way — it’s hard to believe that less empowered women are reporting what happens to them. Where is the line where we start calling something sexual assault? I don’t consider this assault, since I gave consent in the moment, and yet I was so drunk I couldn’t see. I feel traumatized by this experience to this day.

I alluded to this story in this post about my father abandoning me, making the point that my worst secret (abandonment) is the shame that leads to the rest — that’s what leads to eating disorders and blacking out drunk a lot in college and winding up beneath two football players.

Talking about it helps. Once I share stuff here, it hurts less, and I find it far easier and less charged to talk about in the world. When I alluded to the football players in that post above, that felt very dangerous, because that was one of the bad secrets. Then I knew I would have to tell the story here some day. Now is as good a time as any. I’m a storyteller.

26 thoughts on “Bushcast Episode 4: You Are Not Alone

  1. I’d wish I believed you, but this video and the body language in it are just way too melodramatic for me to feel sorry for you. At the beginning, you even kind of brag about the manly appearance of the two football players who allegedly molested you. Let me ask you and your readers: Which girl, who really had a traumatizing experience with sexual abuse/molestation, would smile when talking about her molesters in retrospect?

    To me, the whole thing looks like you’re seeking attention. Or that you have a borderline personality trait. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong about that, these are just my honest, outspoken thoughts after having watched this video.

    If the whole story is true and not fictional or over-dramatized, here’s my advice for you: If you really want to avoid sexual or other interpersonal disappointments in the future, better take care who you trust, and who you go with. And no, that’s not a gender-thingie. Men can feel abused by their female or male partners too. It’s like: If you like lying in the sun, apply suncream to make sure you don’t get a sunburn. Or if you don’t have any suncream, think twice whether the joy of lying in the sun is really worth the sunburn afterwards.
    And above all: Don’t get wasted/drunk in situations where this could be used against you. If our ancestors were doing this back in the dark times, the could have even been killed by a bear, lion or enemy. You simply don’t do this, particularly not if you want to have (good) sex.

    All the best and good luck.

  2. Partially to Jeremy: That’s not a smile; it’s a painful grimace. We are taught to ignore our real feelings, taught that it is in some way our fault; taught to be victims; and in turn become consummate actors and actresses to avoid feeling the real pain. Had you more experience with survivors, you would have been able to see past the rhetoric and body language. This was rape, pure and simple, of a less powerful entity by two angry hulks. Kudos to Ms. Bush for the courageous telling of an humiliating experience in the effort to help others.

  3. Many of us have regrets (is that the right word?) about a wasted portion of our lives. I’m still trying to catch up after wasting 25 years of mine. I’m glad you eventually found a path that lead you to something you enjoy. I’m still lost in the woods.

  4. Julie, I just wanted to connect with you after watching your video. A similar thing happened to me when I was in my early 20’s. It is really upsetting, and because alcohol is involved and it *seems* consensual to those looking in from the outside (Perfect Example #1: douche bag Jeremy below), you can spend a lifetime trying to figure out what the hell happened and/or trying to forget it.

    Thanks for being so brave and telling your story, and please know you aren’t alone either. Bookmarking your blog because of this post, but also because it’s just a stupendously awesome blog.


    1. Amy,
      Thank you so much for this kind comment. After I first posted the video, I
      felt too overwhelmed with anxiety to respond to the comments. But I so
      appreciate your ability to relate to this story and your support. These
      kinds of situations are very troubling and unclear and leave all the room in
      the world for us to feel shame (and no blame for anyone else). I’m sorry
      that happened to you.
      Thank you for liking the blog. I look forward to knowing you!
      X Julie

  5. You are one of the bravest people I’ve ever listened to. Good for you, posting this video–and writing this blog.

    1. Wow, when I saw in my email that there was a new comment on this post — my heart sank and I was like “great, now what kind of crazy is someone going to diagnose me as?”

      So what a relief to read such a nice supportive comment. Thank you. I don’t know if I’m brave so much as compelled, torn, conflicted, driven to talk more (when everything inside me screams “TALK LESS!”)

      Thank you for giving me the compliment I admire & want the most —

      X Julie

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