My Name is Lauren

My name is not Lauren

My Worst Moment: When the academic I considered a role model and a mentor brought me up to his room at a conference and took my virginity. I was an undergraduate, he was my lecturer, and while he didn’t use violence, I was afraid of what would happen if I said no. I was able to keep it together until I saw the blood on the sheets, at which point I had a panic attack and started sobbing uncontrollably.

What upset me the most was that I let him comfort me.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 10.08.58 PM
Lauren was 22 when her 50 year old advisor took advantage of her admiration of him and had sex with her at a conference. She says she was naive and is scarred deeply by the experience.  Lauren declined to provide a photo. Stock art by @Felixrussellsaw

He raped me many times after this. He knew where I lived and would come to my house when he had an evening off. But this is the incident that stands out as the most traumatic.

I Have Given Up On: Ever trusting male academics.

I’m Afraid: That he has turned important contacts against me. I was an undergraduate when this happened, and I know that he has told a twisted version of events to at least one person: my dissertation supervisor. While she has still provided me with a reference to go on for my masters, I have no idea what she thinks of me, and I am acutely aware that no matter how high I want to climb, he has the ability to sabotage my reputation and ruin my career. He is powerful and is a personal friend of all my academic contacts. I am a young woman in my twenties who hasn’t even started her second degree.

This Has Cost Me: I turned down a PhD with another supervisor for him (would have been worth 16,200/year had we won the funding bid), because he said he would be a better fit to supervise me, and that he would find me funding, but I had to wait until he had a supervision opportunity. I took a year out of academia and worked during this time to “wait” for him. I have now won a masters scholarship and will be going back to my studies in September, but no matter what, my path has changed irrevocably.
I also lost out on a promotion worth almost 2,000/year as a result of the PTSD I developed. Prior to the development of my symptoms, I had all but been promised this promotion, and it wasn’t until the trauma affected my performance that all discussion of it was dropped. As I am only just above living wage and live from paycheque to paycheque, this would have been a very significant amount of money for me.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 10.21.44 PMSomething You Should Know About Me: In hindsight, I can see that I was very naive, and made the wrong choices. But naivety isn’t a crime, and what you need to understand is that this man was nearing 50. I was 22. I had just come out of an abusive relationship, and was still being stalked by my ex. I had left my home country to go to uni, and was without family support. I was in love with my discipline and wanted to succeed. I desperate to have my ambitions validated. I deeply respected his academic work, and it meant the world to have him recognise potential in me.

I was in a very vulnerable position, while he was an established, powerful academic who should have known better than to exploit me.

Is There A Bright Side: I am able to appreciate my own strength. To give a cheesy Fall Out Boy quote “If I can live through this, I can do anything”.

My Fight Song: The March

Secret Weapon: My stubbornness, hard work and my ambition. I have achieved results far beyond what would be expected of someone as early on in their career as me. I have so much to offer and I refuse to let him break me.