Melissa Bruen, the outgoing editor-in-chief of the UConn Daily Campus decided to write a first-person essay about her sexual assault as her last act as EIC. In late April, UConn had its annual spring weekend — a drunken rite that occurs at most colleges during the hazy end of spring semester. Bruen was walking home from parties at off-campus apartments on a path affectionately known to Huskies as "rape trail." She decided to make a phone call, and, as she was leaning against a telephone pole, a large man shoved her against the pole and "dry humped" her. Bruen, who had been assaulted before, decided to take action. She pushed him away, and when she had him pinned to the ground, punched him smack in the face. A group of men who had been watching this all go down eventually pulled Bruen off her assailant, who ran off. She started screaming, "He just assaulted me," and that's when one of the violence voyeurs said to her, "You think that was assault?", pulled down her shirt, and grabbed her breasts.
As Bruen tells it:
More men started to cheer. It didn't matter to the drunken mob that my breasts were being shown or fondled against my will. They were happy to see a topless girl all the same. I punched him in the face, and someone shoved me into a throng of others. I was surrounded, but I kept swinging and hitting until I was able to break free of the circle they had formed.
For a college senior to have the bravery and presence of mind to fight back is impressive. For Bruen to write about it takes even more courage, since, not surprisingly, Bruen's story sparked a menagerie of misogyny on the Daily Campus message board. They call the story a "journalist's cry for fame," and complain that "When it comes to 'rape', the vast majority of the time the only injustices are felt by men, not girls." Several posters question Bruen's credibility.
Melissa McEwan at Shakesville says that Bruen's story shows that teaching women self-defense alone is not going to fix the rape problem. "Addressing the issues of the men who assaulted her, and the larger culture that facilitates that kind of behavior and the attitudes underlying it, needs to be a part of comprehensive rape prevention," McEwan argues. "Self-defense doesn't stop rapists from being created in the first place."
The saddest part of this entire tale is this comment from another poster on the UConn Daily Campus, who read the attacks on Bruen's character and internalized them. "It's comments like these that assure me that I did the right thing at not reporting my sexual assault," the anonymous poster writes. "I never wanted to face the battery of verbal assault that melissa is facing right now after facing the sexual one that she faced the other weekend..and the emotional and physical one that she will torment her for the REST OF HER LIFE just like the one that will face me."