“Two beers and I was out,” explained the college volleyball player with model good looks to her roommate Marlon. Nia woke up mid-act, after what she assumes she was drugged with began to wear off. “It was the most God awful disgusting feeling,” she said. “I just closed my eyes and thought ‘God, just let me wake up from this.’”
Two-thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Nia was on a second date. She reported the act soon afterwards — but like 97% of those who commit the assault, her offender didn’t spend a single day in jail. We recently sat down with Nia to discuss her scary experience and everything she learned from it. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month — we applaud and thank Nia for her bravery and willingness to shed some light on the issue.
MTV ACT: First off, thanks for letting us talk to you today. We know stuff like this can be difficult to talk about.
NIA: My pleasure. Sexual assault is hard to talk about, but the only way to make it better for those who’ve experienced it, and to prevent others from experiencing the same is to talk about it.
ACT: In as much detail as you’d like, can you describe what emotions you felt about the assault?
NIA: Shock. Pain. Fear. Betrayal. Denial. Anger…and then power, because I realized I could use my negative experiences to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.
ACT: How did you cope with being sexually assaulted, and what advice do you have for those with similar experiences?
NIA: Don’t ever want to pretend it didn’t happen, because it’s going to come back to haunt you. You’re going to dream about it. It’s going to affect you socially. Deal with the matter right then and there. It’s okay to grieve, and it’s okay to talk about it. Stay around people who you know will listen to you and be there for you. And therapy works! You have to do it.
ACT: In your opinion, do you think that some people — be it peers, celebrities, or the media in general — take the concept of rape too lightly?
NIA: Definitely. Like that whole Rick Ross lyric fiasco made me want to cry. Apology or no apology, this world has become so conditioned to think that having or rapping about sex with someone who is extremely intoxicated — either by choice or by force — is totally normal.
ACT: Why do you think some people have been conditioned to think this way?
NIA: Part of the reason why is because many people don’t know how to define sexual assault. Some people claim to have been taken advantage of, but weren’t, while many others are actually taken advantage of but don’t report it because they feel ashamed or blame themselves.
Learn what rape is and isn’t. Don’t falsely accuse someone of rape because you’re mad at them or they don’t call you back after sex. On the other hand, you should tell someone if you feel like you have been taken advantage of in any way. People think there’s only one standard of sexual assault. It doesn’t have to hurt. You don’t have to be unconscious. If someone is manipulating you into doing something you don’t want to, it’s assault!
ACT: What did you learn from your experience, and what advice do you have for young people to avoid having similar ones?
NIA: Before, I was drinking very haphazardly. I trusted everyone, partied with strangers, went to their homes, and assumed nothing bad could ever happen to me. Then it did. Don’t let something so extreme be what changes you for the better. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. A rapist doesn’t look a certain way. They don’t look like bad guys from the movies. Even when drinking around people you know, watch your cup and know your limits. And if, God forbid, you do find yourself in a situation similar to mine, tell somebody! Get help, and always remember that you are strong, you are beautiful, and life goes on.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there is help. If you’re not comfortable speaking to anyone you know, RAINN’s Sexual Assault Hotline offers 24/7 confidential help at 1-800-656-HOPE. Reduce your risk of assault by staying safe, smart, and always aware of your surroundings — online and in person! For more meaningful convos (and some silly ones too), watch “The Real World” on MTV every Wednesday at 10/9c.
Talk to Someone
If you or someone you know needs help needs help call this secure number at the Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network.
Volunteer for RAINN
Learn more about how you can volunteer for RAINN.