Testimonials

Testimonies each week will be submitted until the University of Pennsylvania delivers a safer and more welcoming campus for their students.

Any University of Pennsylvania community member (student, staff, or alumni) can submit a testimony with their experience surviving any degree of sexual trauma or discrimination in or around Penn Fraternities.

The form allows for anonymity and/or the choice for submissions to be published on this site (below) and on our Instagram account. The commenting section of the Instagram page will be turned off to avoid trolls and content warnings will be provided before each potentially triggering post. Regardless of whether or not you wish for your story to be published, we would love for you to submit.

CAFSA believes and supports all survivors. Any offensive or victim blaming behavior is not tolerated.

Survivor Testimony Form

To submit a testimony, fill out this form

CONTENT WARNING!!!

The page below contains mentions of sexual violence, abuse, racism, and homophobia.

Individual content warnings will be provided before each testimony to more specifically detail the potential trigger.

Testimony 1

CW: sexual harassment

 

I was walking home at around midnight on a Wednesday. As I walked down [street name], I saw a drunk male wearing fraternity letters peeing into a potted plant. 

After I passed him, he began closely following me and yelling unintelligibly, all with his penis still hanging out of his unzipped pants. Luckily, a group of strangers passed by, and I was able to join them, which discouraged him from harassing me further.

The experience was incredibly violating, especially because I lived only a block away. I am not sure what would have happened had I not been sober and lived so close by.  

Being in a sorority has shown me the elitism, toxic masculinity, frequent discomfort, and bodily harm to non-males that fraternities perpetuate. I sometimes feel defensive, like I have to watch my back when going to fraternity parties.

Testimony 2

CW: racism, racist language, fetishization

 

While I was dating a guy in [on-Locust Walk fraternity B] his fraternity “brother” consistently referred to me as his "Asian girlfriend." 

Whenever he and I were not present, his "brothers" would make racist comments about kamikaze pilots. He actually got into a physical fight with one of his “brothers” after they made a racist comment which my ex-boyfriend overheard. 

 

The “brothers” often justified my ex-boyfriend’s interest in me on “yellow fever.” Because of that, I was warned to stay away from other men who also had “yellow fever,” in other words: men who fetishized me for my race.

Testimony 3

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

 

I was sexually assaulted at the [off-Locust Walk fraternity B] house … during my freshman year. A brother got me incapacitated with alcohol and forced me upstairs despite my insistence that I wanted to leave.

He pinned me down and forcibly fingered me on the roof of this house while the party continued below. I know many other women who were raped at this same fraternity house.

Testimony 4

CW: racial discrimination

 

A lot of the time I go out to a party, I go with people of color. Sometimes the group is all students of color, or all but one. We get turned away from a certain fraternity hours (I think this was 'off-Locust Walk fraternity A]), and walking away we notice the brother who just told us to take a lap is letting in an all-white group of students. So we go back to the steps, tell the brother we saw him let in another group. Again we're turned away. The cycle continues. I don't even try to go to some frats anymore; I know they won't let me and my friends in.

A certain frat that I heard about before school even started, during New Student Orientation, was [on-Locust Walk fraternity D]. I was warned by upperclassmen never to go there because they discriminate against people of color and women a lot more than the other frats. The fact alone that I was warned about that specific frat shows there's a problem. And I think about that warning every day when I walk past that frat on Locust on my way to work.

Testimony 5

CW: harassment

 

I was harassed on Locust walking back to my dorm late on a Friday night. I had been studying with my friends who lived in Hill and walked back through Locust to get to my room in the Quad. I had done it many late nights before that, and had never had a problem, but it was a Friday night. Two guys were standing outside their frat on Locust with drinks, maybe beers, in hand. They yelled something like: why aren't you out tonight dancing with us? Come on in. Then they laughed. I almost didn't notice they were talking to me. I just speed-walked home after that.

Testimony 6

CW: harassment

I was singled out on Locust Walk by what appeared to be drunk White males. They approached me and called me a "fat pig" and called me a "lard ass" as they showed off their abs. I proceeded to return to my dorm and cry, not understanding why they would target me for no apparent reason. Situations like this perpetuate an already serious problem of weight stigma and make it difficult for students to feel comfortable in their bodies. 

 

I am unaware of who the perpetrators are and feel like nothing can be done. Reporting the situation would be like reliving what occurred. 

Testimony 7

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

 

He and I were sitting on my bed, talking, and he kissed me. The hookup moved quickly, and both of our clothes came off. There was conversation at the beginning about what the other person was comfortable with. He said that he wanted to have anal sex, which I said that I didn’t want to do. He asked if I was okay with choking, and I said that a little bit was okay. He put on a condom and we started having sex. When he started choking me, it was harder than I thought it would be, enough that I froze and didn’t feel like I could get words out. We kept having sex, but after a while he stopped and said that the condom had come off inside of me. We kept having sex without a condom. I don’t know if he took it off inside me or if it was an accident. It was rough, and left a bruise on my collarbone. At one point, when he was on top of me and I was facedown, his whole weight was on top of me and I couldn’t move. I felt frozen. I didn’t say no, but I wanted it to stop. 

 

Eventually, we stopped having sex. We sat and talked without clothes on. He started rubbing his penis against my leg as we were talking, and said “It’s okay.” Then, he climbed on top of me, put on a condom, and we started having sex again. There was no conversation about whether or not I wanted to have sex again. I wanted it to be over. I asked if we could have sex without the condom, hoping that he would finish and it would be over. Since the condom had already come off the first time, I didn’t feel like there would be any added risk. I thought that having sex without it would make the guy come more quickly. 

 

When he left, I felt gross. I opened my window and took a really long, hot shower. Since I was into the hookup at the beginning, I didn’t feel like I could stop anything that happened after that. 

 

A year after my experience, I decided that I wanted to go through a formal reporting process. At the end, the officer explained what the process would look like from here, and said that she was unwilling to move forward with the report. She said that there wasn’t enough evidence.

Testimony 8

CW: sexism

 

I went to a date night last year, themed was champagne and shackles. Overall, it was a pleasant enough experience, but one glaring annoyance occurred every time one of my date’s “brothers” would approach us. Maybe one out of ten boys acknowledged my existence, introduced themselves, or said hello, as if the women were just arm candy, or worse, dogs on leashes, expected to just sit pretty while the “men” chit chat. An utterly bizarre experience and borderline dehumanizing. 

Testimony 9

CW: hazing

 

Within the first few weeks of my first-year at Penn, I was invited to “dirty rush” [Off-Locust Walk fraternity D] [...] We were led through the house to the living room near the back entrance of [off-campus housing complex]. There we did boat races and had to take cum-shots when our team lost. That was much more relaxed since the event was hosted by sortie sisters who were friends of the frat. Afterward we drank what was probably 4 or 5 drinks, we were brought up to [off-campus housing complex].  

 

When we got to a room in [off-campus housing complex] there were two girls in front of the door guarding it. Before we went in I remembering asking them their names. For some reason they were reluctant to tell me their names. When we entered [off-campus housing complex] apartment, they had us blindfolded then sat us down. They then went up to us one by one asking us what their names were. Because we were blindfolded, most of us could not tell who it was (also I couldn’t recognize which voice belonged to who since they were practically yelling at us). After we failed to produce their names, they poured liquor and chocolate syrup into our mouths moved onto the next person. This process occurred a few times with different sorority sisters pouring liquor into our mouth and asking us what their names were. After the 3rd round, I didn’t want to drink, so I ended up closing my mouth and she poured the liquor over my face, and it got into my eyes through the blindfold. I immediately got up and asked for the restroom. When I washed my face and eyes in the sink, I realized I had syrup over my shirt and was covered in spilled alcohol. I felt like if I had anymore I was going to vomit. [...]

 

I did not feel at all comfortable reporting this to Penn’s administration. I don't think they would protect a first-year student from upperclassmen, especially ones recognized as leaders. Also, they can't protect me from Penn's culture of destroying people who inform the university about breaking policies.

Testimony 10

CW: sexual harassment

I was followed back to my room by a guy after repeatedly stating I wanted to go alone. Once we were there I was very forcibly kissed and the man attempted to shove his way into my room. I continued protesting and arguing that I wanted to sleep, and that my roommate was asleep, to which he responded “I’ll be quiet” and continued trying to come in. 

Eventually I got him to leave, but for months afterwards he kept trying to hangout as if nothing he did was wrong. We had never been friends and this was my first interaction with him. 

  

I didn’t report this to Penn’s admin because I didn’t think it was serious enough.

Testimony 11

CW: homophobia, harassment

I was verbally attacked by multiple members of a few different fraternities at various parties I attended in the past year. I’ve heard fraternity members slinging hurtful words at me such as “fag,” “queermo,” and “pansy,” as well as attacking me with homophobic comments such as “get in the closet where you belong,” “yo suck machine,” and “you’re such a pussy fag.”

Testimony 12

CW: racism, sexism

Tale as old as time: being called ugly by frat brothers outside of their off-campus frat house and not being allowed into their party, while the white girls in our group were allowed in. They yelled to the two boys in our group, “Take your ugly bitches somewhere else,” referring to myself (multiracial) and my friend (southwest Asian).

Testimony 13

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

I was raped in my freshman dorm by someone I considered a close friend. I was raped again by a guy I went on a date with. I was raped and peed on and then thrown in a cold shower by a guy I had a crush on. They were all members of fraternities. I’m sure their brothers know the things they’ve done, and they all protect each other. It’s disgusting. Penn admin doesn't give a shit about survivors.

Testimony 14

CW: harassment, objectification

I don't know if this falls under this category, but I'll share this here anyway. Since coming to Penn I've been taught that partying on the weekends is the way to relieve the stress of the academics of the week. I like to go to parties; I like to drink; I like to dance; I like to dance with guys at parties. One night I was dancing at [on-Locust Walk fraternity C] and a guy came up behind me and started dancing with me. I let him. Just after we started kissing I heard clapping around me. There were shouts and claps I could hear over the music and the guy was smiling, nearly giggling. I felt like an object, a doll, a trophy. I pushed through the crowd to get away as quickly as I could.

Testimony 15

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

A fraternity brother and I were close friends who had occasionally engaged in sexual activity together. He was at a fraternity party and was texting me to meet him there. I told him I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. He asked if he could come over to say good night. I said yes, so he left the party and came over to my dorm in [dorm B]. We started kissing each other. I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. I told him ¨Im falling asleep¨. He said ¨Come on...¨ and started to unbutton my pants. I told him ¨no please, I want to go to sleep¨. He said ¨stop complaining and participate¨. I looked at him and said ¨please¨. But he just repeated the same sentence ¨stop complaining and participate¨ a few times. I just froze. He removed my pants, and he pulled down his own pants and boxers. He started to penetrate me while I was crying. He repeated the same sentence over and over again. ¨Stop complaining and participate. Stop complaining and participate. Stop complaining and participate. Stop complaining and participate,¨ while thrusting in and out of me. I was completely dry so it was extremely painful and the more he forced himself inside of me the more aggressive his words sounded, ¨Stop complaining and participate¨. When he was ready to come, he said ¨Open your mouth I want to come in your mouth¨. I couldnt speak but I just clenched my mouth shut. He pulled out his penis and came all over my neck and then wiped his semen down from my neck onto my breasts and rubbed it in, all while I was paralyzed and frozen. I lay there crying and he pulled his pants up. ¨I have to go¨. And he just left me lying there.

Testimony 16

CW: racism, sexism

My friend and I were at a [on-Locust Walk fraternity D] party. They are Mexican, and I am Black. We had already been at the party for half an hour, but someone asked us who we knew at the fraternity, clearly trying to get us to leave because we were women of color. I was very embarrassed and I realized how prevalent racism still is today. 

Testimony 17

CW: intimate partner violence, physical violence

I was dating someone in a fraternity and experienced violence and harassment on multiple occasions. My freshman year at a party at this frat, before my ex joined the fraternity, he aggressively grabbed my by the arm and dragged me outside to the backyard before forcibly shoving me into the exterior wall of the neighboring home multiple times. He held me there in place, pinning me up against the wall. While this took place a member of the fraternity watched before simply walking away and not helping. This all happened because a guy grabbed me from behind at the party. Unfortunately, this wasn't the only instance of physical violence. 

The next year after my ex joined the fraternity , I discovered that multiple members of the fraternity were cheating on their girlfriends. Upon discovering this I was intimidated into staying silent. On one such occasion, my ex got violent and began punching and throwing things around the room.When initially finding out about the situation from my ex and talking to him about it, he kept heavily defending everyone who was involved. He wouldn't admit that there was anything wrong with the situation nor how these women (myself included, which I found out later) were being treated. He kept saying that 'they are grown men' and 'can make decisions for themselves' and that there was nothing wrong with what happened. I had to basically explain to him how wrong it was by comparing it to racism. I remember saying to him, "if you saw someone doing/ saying something racist, it's therefore okay because they're a grown adult?" The conversation continued with him being dismissive and later intimidating me into not saying anything to women that were affected. He later had two members of the fraternity that I trusted approach me and lie to my face about his involvement. He later confessed to me a year and a half later and said that he 'just wanted to have fun,' implying that we could have fun together at a party and that he needed other women despite starting a committed relationship with me. We had been dating for about a year when he decided that he 'just wanted to have fun.'

On a third occasion, my ex cheated on me in a very public location. A friend of mine informed me of the situation and I decided to go talk to him about what happened. When I arrived at the fraternity’s house, where my ex lived/lives, I went up to his room. He got very angry. He took a drawer from his dresser and threw it at the wall before running over to me. He grabbed me aggressively and proceeded to shake me around violently before shoving me on to his bed. There were other fraternity brothers at the house that night but nobody came or helped. When I reached out to a member of the fraternity (their president) about the incident, he left me on read.

Testimony 18

CW: cyberbullying, sexual harassment, sexism, objectification, slut shaming, graphic language

A friend of mine called me crying because there was an email thread circulating around [on-Locust Walk fraternity E] in which the brothers were discussing that they wanted to set a record by having every single member of the fraternity ¨fuck her¨ within one month. Their reasoning was that she was a slut with no standards.

Testimony 19

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

I haven't thought about this in a while, because it was a very disturbing event. It's taken years of therapy to become comfortable with this experience. In January of [year], I went with a friend to a fraternity house. I don't remember which one, but it was just barely off campus. I was given a date rape drug in a drink (non-alcoholic) in a fraternity house, isolated by one individual, and taken upstairs and raped. I found out that I was in the room of the guy who was handing out drinks downstairs. I was drinking cranberry juice and water to stay sober, and I suspect it was all laced. In the middle of the rape, the same guy came upstairs, fist-bumped the guy raping me, and then closed the door and let it continue. I somehow pulled myself together (under the effects of this drug), and escaped the room. I called the Penn emergency line to try to get a van ride home, but they told me I was too close to campus and they couldn't help me. I somehow made it home. I used Penn resources to get therapy and help over the next few months, working with the ombudsman and Penn Police to pursue some kind of justice. He was a graduating senior, I was a sophomore. I knew his name and found out that he was a generally respected student, with a powerful family behind him. Given the choices available to me (lack of evidence, necessity of a long process that would only result in him being expelled), I chose to move on with my life. It was one of the darkest chapters I've yet experienced.

Testimony 20

CW: harassment, objectification

During convocation, as groups of students walked past the frat houses on Locust Walk, I still remember frat boys sitting on sofas outside shouting numbers at women, rating us as we walked past. It was during my first week at Penn and was one of the first of many times I was made to feel like an object on campus.

Testimony 21

CW: graphic description of sexual violence

It was Valentine’s Day of my sophomore year. I had a drink with a friend at Copa before we went to a late night at a fraternity house. I saw a guy that I had briefly dfmo-d with once before — I knew his name but we’d never really talked or known each other, and the previous time I’d run home away from him because he was being pushy. This time, we did make out a bit at the party and take two shots at the frat. After that, I know I was very intoxicated and did consent to walking back to his dorm with him. We then hooked up and after that I know I was lying down, and couldn’t lift my head. He started performing oral sex and fingering me, it was forceful and really hurt and I told him to stop. But he didn’t. I remember saying you better not get me pregnant. And then I passed out. And then I woke up, completely naked, next to him in his bed. I asked him what happened. Did we have sex? He said yes. I didn’t believe him. I was trying to process that this was how I "lost my virginity." I ran home to my dorm, freaked, trying to reframe the story for myself. I laughed at myself when I told my friends where I’d been that night saying, "Ugh, of course I don’t remember the first time I had sex." In my head I didn’t believe it happened but when I went to the bathroom, I was bleeding. I took the plan B pill and decided to forget it ever happened. When I went to student health services a few days later to check for a yeast infection, the doctor shamed me when I told her about what happened, because I didn’t know how to answer the question “are you sexually active?” I reached home sobbing. After that, I was scared of drinking and going out, and of men.

I didn't report it, after the doctor shamed me, and mostly because I was still in denial. A year later I went to [on-campus resource] and told my counselor the story. She said I could report it if I want, but if I didn't think it was rape, it didn't have to be. I had already shamed myself into thinking it was my fault and didn't own my story. I also was focused on other issues, mental health and studying, and didn't want to distract myself. But it was mostly because I still didn't really believe what had happened. 

Testimony 22

CW: sexual harassment, sexual violence

I was at a frat party freshman year fling. It was the middle of the day, and I went to darty with my friends, like many people do. We walk into the house and one of the first things that happens is a brother approached me, talks to me, and then says “nice tits” and proceeds to extend his hand and grope me. I was horrified and tried to get away as quickly as possible. What was more horrifying was that there were people around, and they did nothing to stop him.

Testimony 23

CW: sexual violence

I was fresh out of a breakup and hadn't done more than kiss anyone, much less a stranger. During the fall semester of my freshman year, I had just met a guy at a party; we had mutual friends. The drinks had kicked in hard by the time we were making out. Soon, he had his hands in my jeans. Knowing something was up, a friend of mine checked in on me; she did this multiple times, each time with not much of an answer. After attempting to interfere twice to no avail, she finally pulled me away from the guy. When I was separated from the guy, she asked again, and I could not respond clearly. That is when she knew it was time to go. We left after that. I had hoped it would be the last experience like that. 

This guy is now in a fraternity, and we have crossed paths at several date nights and parties. For a long time, I tried to brush off the experience as another drunken mistake. After all, we had originally wanted to hook up. But the truth is, I was pushed beyond my comfortable boundaries, and it has happened again, sometimes without alcohol or other interfering substances. Being at Penn has proved to me that some people are willing to use your insecurities against you. They will shame you and pressure you into crossing boundaries. They will make you think you asked for it because of a flirtatious wink or kiss. They will act like doing everything they want you to is the norm – a reasonable expectation from your actions.

Testimony 24

CW: sexual violence, disordered eating

It was freshman year. I was like many other freshman going out to frat parties and drinking. After a mixer with an on-campus frat, I went to [Off-Locust Walk fraternity F] for a late-night. It was a normal experience, dancing and talking with my friends, and a few of the guys. One guy I talked to for a while claimed to be a brother in that fraternity. Everything seemed to be going right, and I remember a delightful conversation spoken in German, as we both knew a bit. Nothing unusual; we made out and he asked to leave. I agreed. He ubered back to his place which was one of the Sansom places. It seemed weird he was ubering home, but maybe that’s what the rich people do in February. I was fairly drunk, but remember all of the encounter vividly. He had the place to himself, and we undressed in the kitchen as we made our way to the bedroom. He was on top of me, he put his dick in me, and we began to have sex. It was consensual. It seemed fine; I had been actively participating in Penn’s hookup culture before; nothing was wrong. 

At one point, it began to feel uncomfortable. I don’t know if it was the angle, or what it was, and it doesn’t really matter, but he was hurting me. I told him to stop or just to move a little bit and he didn’t. He kept shoving his dick in me. The guy was pretty tall and built, and I was sober enough to realize that I SHOULD ENJOY SEX and deserve to be comfortable. I told him if he didn’t move I would leave. He didn’t move or stop so I tried to wiggle my way free. I finally got out from under him. But that was just the beginning.

 

I couldn’t find my clothes. I was frantically running around this man’s apartment looking for my underwear. He slowly got up and said that he hid my clothes so that I couldn’t leave. I told him I was done, and I wanted to go home, and he pulled me and slammed me on the bed. He pinned me down and continued to have sex with me against my will. Any sort of aggression towards him (I tried punching him) egged him on and only made things worse. I knew I needed to escape, so I wiggled my way free, kicked him and scraped up what clothes I could find before he could get up. I dressed myself in pants, shoes and my jacket, leaving behind my shirt, bra, and underwear in the hallway. I left crying back home to the Quad somewhat clothed. 

While this experience sucked, I find the aftermath just as disturbing. I went to my room sobbing, covered in tears. I wanted nothing more than to have someone support me. My roommate, who was in a committed relationship at the time, and whom I wasn’t on good terms with, said I deserved it because that’s what I get for having sex outside of a relationship. This has been the most invalidating experience of my life and for years I believed I did deserve what happened to me. Lurking in my brain has been a huge mistrust of men, the idea that men are trash, and some disgust with myself. I started taking laxatives again briefly because, as irrational as it sounds, I thought that skinnier people didn’t have this issue (not logical, and I have a normal BMI, but this is the place I was in). I hated my roommate, I hated this guy, I hated all men, and I hated myself. 

 

I never told anyone because of shame until junior year, when I finally came to terms with it. I’ve gotten okay with the term “sexual assault,” but there’s always been this imposter syndrome. I was not raped, I was not drugged, and I initially consented. Even hearing others experiences wasn’t comforting, as I felt like mine meant less, even though it still torments me. I initially consented, I remember it. I’ve gotten comfortable with going through the experience. I just started therapy for other reasons, and I probably needed it earlier, but that’s helped me become more comfortable. Also there’s no person talking back on this form saying I did something wrong or invalidating me or saying the wrong thing, so I can say what I want without a consequence. I’ve only told my roommate at the time, my therapist, my current roommate, and the guy I’m seeing currently.

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