People Say She Wasn't Raped Because She Texted Back Her Rapist. Here's Why They're Wrong.

Emma Sulkowicz is a Columbia University student. She has also become the face of the movement to stop sexual assault.

Since September 2014, Emma has carried around a mattress in protest of her alleged rapist still being on campus.


Months after Emma started carrying her mattress, Jean-Paul Nungesser, her alleged rapist, finally spoke out, saying he felt bullied by her project.

In the two interviews that Nungesser granted — one to the New York Times and one to the Daily Beast — he explained:

  1. He was found "not responsible" by Columbia's sexual assault adjudication process.
  2. Emma texted him after the alleged rape.
  3. He was a feminist, but then he implied that intimate partner violence isn't a thing.

For many people, those text messages were "proof" that Emma was a liar.

Fortunately, many pointed out that those texts don't prove or disprove anything.

On Feb. 3, 2015, Mic fellow Julie Zeilinger published an article in response to the Daily Beast article.

Here is one poignant excerpt:

After her assault, Sulkowicz's reaction was to seek a conversation with her rapist. "I was upset and confused. ... I wanted to have a talk with him to try to understand why he would hit me, strangle me and anally penetrate me without my consent," she says. Sulkowicz's response may not align with the perfect victim narrative, but it's reflective of the fact that there is no one way to react to trauma.

This is why so many survivors stay with their abusers; the cycle of abuse is complex, personal and ultimately unknowable to anyone aside from the survivors themselves. Meanwhile, the idea that emotional intimacy prevents violation is patently false. Every state has criminalized marital rape, and yet we still seem to struggle to grasp this truth.

The next day, Julie and Wagatwe Wanjuki began a Twitter hashtag about sexual assault survivors, which took off.

Here are just 13 of those powerful tweets.

In case you missed it, here is Emma Sulkowicz's explanation of her powerful mattress performance art.

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