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Reporter’s Journal: From fun to terror at SA Fright Night

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Shocked, uneasy, and anxious. These are words that describe how I felt leaving the doors of the haunted house at Student Association’s fright night held in Dippikill earlier this month.

As I walked down the dark hallway zig-zagging room-to-room through various spaces of scares and challenges, I was enthralled by the commitment that the students had put into scaring us. Boy did they succeed. I was shaking, my adrenaline pumping through the roof. By the last room, I was shaking for a different reason.

As we moved through the hallway, I suddenly felt someone much larger than I wrap around me from behind. Before I could even process what was going on, I was pulled back into an open closet.

I stood there uncomfortably as someone hosting the haunted house stood behind me, the back of my body pressed against the front of his. His hand was sprawled over my face, covering parts of my cheek, mouth and nose. The other hand wrapped my body from the front, keeping my arms tight, making me unsuccessful as I tried to unfold his hand from my face. Throughout this episode his lips were inches from my ear, whispering, “Shh” over and over just made it worse.

I was so nervous, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. In my efforts to get away, he  made it clearer I had to stay, never going out of character, his voice deep and raspy as he told me I had to stay, not once telling me that this was part of the act.  Finally realizing I was gone, my boyfriend came back and peered into the opening of the closet, realizing what was going on, and yanked me out of the hold that I was stuck in.

As I stood there, in a moment that lasted over a minute, my mind was forced to flood with a memory that I had pushed and locked away into the deepest section of my mind. Although it did not go further than what I had described, I was forced to face feelings that I was not ready to let free of a moment with a similar beginning but a very different ending.

I have never publicly shared a secret that nine years later I have still not come to terms with. The event that occurred in the haunted house that night forced me to face feelings and facts that I was not ready to let free. I stood there, in that closet, barely breathing, having flashbacks to the moment that as  a young teen, I was sexually assaulted.

What occurred to me in the house did not go according to the way SA and the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. had planned the scene to go. SA president Langie Cadesca explained that the haunted house was supposed to end with a game. A member of the house planned to pull an unassuming guest away from the group in an attempt for the rest of them to realize later that someone was missing. In theory, it is an interesting plan. In reality, the plan resulted in a much darker fear than they could have imagined.

Not once did SA mention that there would be any human contact in the haunted house. There was not even a mention in the waiver.

In an effort to find out if anyone felt or experienced what I had gone through, I sent out emails to attendees of Fright Night. Of the five girls that answered back, four asked not to be named. Certain words jumped out at me as I read the emails: “Uncomfortable,” “shocked,” “disorganized.” None of them knew that they would even be touched, and all of them who experienced this type of contact were uneasy after leaving the house.

Cadesca confirmed to me that no training session had been held, no do’s and don’ts had been discussed. No one expected what happened to me to happen, but no one prevented it from happening in the first place. I was shocked that in today’s age where consent is discussed so widely, we would not be alerted that contact was allowed.

 

Michelle Mullen is a staff writer for the Albany Student Press.

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