Indiana Daily Student

Matthew Bloom


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Award - Gray zone

Emily Smith, 22, remembers the night she woke up in her bed to a man on top of her. In the months after, she withdrew from classes at Indiana University Bloomington, slept in her roommates’ bed and searched for control of the life she remembered before everything changed.“It’s not stranger danger," she said. "It’s your neighbor, it’s your friend. It’s the cute guy you met at the party who you’re really hitting it off with. It went further than you were comfortable with. You feel taken advantage of. You feel like you didn’t have a say in the matter."

Emily Smith, 23, discusses the night she woke up to a stranger on top of her. She had been out that night with friends at the Dunkirk, a local bar. After one or two drinks, Emily said her memory went black.

Emily Smith, 23, discusses the night she woke up to a stranger on top of her. She had been out that night with friends at the Dunkirk, a local bar. After one or two drinks, Emily said her memory went black.

Darcie Fawcett, 40, sex crimes deputy prosecuting attorney for Monroe County, reads all reported sexual assault cases. She decides whether or not to bring the cases to court. In Emily’s case, Fawcett couldn’t prove that Emily was in fact too intoxicated to give consent. A former school teacher, Fawcett says she never saw herself prosecuting sex crimes until 4 years ago. Instead of “burying her head in the sand" in response to the issue, she said she feels she can now do something about it. Outside of work, she said she can no longer watch films with scenes of sexual violence. She can’t do anything to help them. “When we went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I looked online beforehand for when the rape scene took place,” she said. “I set a timer on my phone and when it went off, I left the theatre for that 15 minutes of the movie.” 

One Sunday afternoon in October, Emily prepares for her horseback riding lesson with Gracie (right) at the Majik Equine Rescue in Cloverdale, IN. Before reenrolling in classes this semester, she developed a self-care routine to stay focused on moving forward.

In her apartment, Emily reviews her social work class assignment. She plans to finish her undergraduate degree in the spring and start graduate school in the fall. “I want them to get a glance into my world," she said. "You probably don’t carry your keys with you as a weapon walking to your car.”

Emily sings “You and I” by Ingrid Michaelson at the School of Social Work’s talent show. After getting off stage, she said she hadn’t performed in front of people in years.

Students drink and socialize at a house party near the Indiana University Bloomington campus. Indiana law dictates that consent for sex cannot be given if one or more of the individuals is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“I just feel really trapped because no matter what I do even though this happened to me there’s no way to prove it," Emily said. "So I will always be questioned, and I will always question myself.”

Emily discusses a plan of action with fellow organizers of OASIS's candlelight vigil. In the spring, she plans to continue her work with the office, which educates students on drug and alcohol-related problems on campus.

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