A former college student who was raped following a party has told how she was left feeling suicidal after her attacker filed a case against her, accusing her of lying.
Like any student about to start their freshman year, Laurie Katz, now 26, from Boston, was excited to see what her first year in Chicago would bring. But little did she know that just three weeks into her first semester, aged 18, her life would come crashing down.
During what was supposed to be a fun night out with her friend Sarah, Laurie was raped at a party.
Traumatized and confused, she set out to get justice against her attacker Noah, but when the authorities at her university dismissed her case, and warned her that she could be expelled, she was left feeling ‘trapped’ and isolated with nowhere to turn.
While it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, Laurie, who used pseudonyms for Noah and Sarah and did not name her Chicago college, then revealed that her attacker then filed his own case against her through their school, accusing her of lying about the attack in an attempt to get her expelled.
‘Therapy helped me accept what happened and that it was not my fault,’ Laurie, who is set to release a memoir about the ordeal – ‘
Laurie Katz, 26, from Boston, has waived her right to anonymity and spoken out about the night she was raped following a party she attended while at university, aged 18
‘I was suicidal when I started and having someone to listen and believe me helped to keep me going.’
‘I learned coping skills for anxiety and depression and just talking about the whole thing helped me to come to terms with it. I still go and it continues to help me.’
In September 2011, Laurie, then 18, was in her third weekend of her first term at college when she headed out to a party.
‘It was my first time away from home and I didn’t have a lot of partying or drinking experience,’ she explained. ‘I had gone to school with my best friend from home, Sarah*, and she had quickly made new friends, so I was excited when she invited me to go out with her.’
‘Sarah and I had gone shopping for new outfits to wear that night and I had gotten ready by doing my makeup and putting on my new clothes. We had gone to the party and I got very drunk.’
With her school very strict about drinking, Laurie says she didn’t want to risk returning to her dorm drunk in case she got kicked out. Instead, she and Sarah went to the apartment of an acquaintance.
‘Sarah and I were with two guys she knew, so the four of us went to the apartment,’ explained Laurie, who is now an elementary teacher. ‘I was very tired and felt pretty sick.
‘When we got in I used the bathroom and when I got out everyone was sitting on chairs or the couch, so with no where to sit I leaned on the wall. I could barely keep my eyes open.’
Laurie went on to explain how her attacker Noah then came out of his bedroom, and started being ‘very kind’ to her.
‘He started talking to me and it made me feel seen and special,’ she explained. ‘He saw that I was swaying and not doing too well from the alcohol and asked if I wanted to lay down.’
‘I was so grateful and just wanted to sleep. I laid down and we spoke for a little and then I passed out.’
The former university student revealed she was ‘suicidal’ – and has praised therapy for helping her take back her ‘self image and self-confidence’
Unaware the others in the apartment had left to go to a park for a smoke, Laurie was alone with her attacker.
‘I woke up to him kissing me and then everything else,’ she said. ‘When they were out, he raped me. They came back just as it ended.’
‘I begged my friend to leave with me. I was in shock and in so much pain.’
‘Noah told them that while they were out he had taken care of me, and Sarah thanked him.’
Afterwards, Laurie headed back to her dorm in ‘total shock,’ where she sat on her bed and ‘couldn’t move.’
‘My roommate came back and this kind of snapped me out of it, so I went and took a very long shower,’ she explained.
‘The next day I told Sarah that something had happened with Noah.’
Laurie is set to release memoir Liar Liar: Breaking the silence on sexual assault
‘She said it sounded like I had sex and then regretted it. As my mental health deteriorated in the coming weeks, Sarah got fed up and for a time I was left friendless and alone.’
Two weeks later, after confiding in a senior trained peer leader, Laurie was contacted by housing services, who she claimed ‘persuaded’ her the best thing to do would be a judicial case through the college’s hearing process.
‘I have since learned through the stories of others that universities don’t want to have rapes tarnish their image,’ explained Laurie.
‘It’s disturbingly common for these attacks to be covered up and for people to be pressured into not going to the police and to do hearings through the school instead.’
In 2012, Laurie brought a case against Noah for sexual misconduct to the dean of students through her university’s hearing process.
Noah was suspended for two terms, but he appealed the decision and was back at school after a week.
But at the end of the school year, Laurie was horrified to hear that Noah had launched a case against her – accusing her of making the whole thing up.
‘The case against me was through the school so I could have been expelled, but instead I was given a warning and a letter put in my school file that I had made the story up, so that if it happened again they would know I was lying,’ explained Laurie. ‘They said if it happens again we’ll know it’s, “Liar Laurie.”‘
Laurie told that after Noah launched the case against her, she was left feeling ‘worthless’ and ‘responsible’
Laurie said she hopes her book will help others, as it’s the type of thing she wished had existed when she was 18
She continued: ‘It was devastating. I then struggled in silence for about four years. I was so depressed and alone. I felt worthless and like what happened didn’t matter. I felt responsible.’
She continued: ‘When I found out about the case against me, I came very close to suicide and had a plan. That night I couldn’t stop crying and I literally felt trapped with no way out.’
‘The idea of ending it all felt like my only solution and the only anchor that made sense. Getting out and seeing people that night helped me to get a little bit of space from what was happening and to not be so trapped in that head space.’
While no conviction was ever made against Noah, in March 2015, a professor realized that Laurie was struggling after reading a story she had written for a creative writing class.
‘It was pretty much an account of the night of the rape,’ she explained. ‘He checked in with me about it and I finally confided in him what happened and he pushed me to seek therapy.’
‘I had been holding it in for so long it all spilled out. The rape. The cases. Everything. I was so tired of carrying it all by myself. It was amazing to be believed and to have what happened taken seriously.’
While Laurie admits therapy was very hard at first, she says she’s so happy she started and stuck with it.
‘It has given me the tools to take my life back,’ she said. ‘My view of the world was changed by what happened. How could it not be?’
‘But in most of my days I lead a very typical life as a teacher. It took me a while to feel safe dating, but in the spring of 2016 I met my now fiancé.’
‘Therapy helped tremendously for me to start dating. I hope that my book will help others. It’s the type of thing I wish existed when I was 18, just to know that what I experienced in the aftermath is normal and valid.’
Chicago has more than 50 colleges and universities.
Laurie Katz’s memoir