By: Reina Reyes,2019
Beth Adubato has many things to add to her profile — college graduate, journalist, mother, professor. But she never anticipated that she would have to add sexual assault victim and survivor to that list.
Adubato is a professor at St. Peter’s University teaching criminal justice courses such as Gender, Crime, and Justice. She is also one of the school’s strongest advocate of women’s rights.
As a child, Adubato described her childhood as happy, surrounded by friends. She explains that it was at an early age that she became keenly aware of social injustice. She remembers with fury, finding out that women change their names to their husband’s last names. A discovery that would mark the start of her fight for women equality.
“I was like that is not fair and I was really young when I first heard that so I’ve just always been like that, I’ve always been keyed into women’s issues,” she said.
Growing up in West Orange, N.J., Adubato was excited to attend her dream college, William and Mary in Virginia.
“High school was really really easy for me, so I thought college, I was just going to tear it up and it was nothing like that,” Adubato said.“I thought all you had to do was be smart and work hard and you would make it in America, I didn’t know that there were barriers.”
During her second semester her freshman year in college, Adubato became the victim of sexual assault. Her attacker she said, was the star of the lacrosse team. She clears her throat, and sits up, as she prepares to tell the story she had told plenty of times before.
She recalls being at a party with friends, when a good-looking, “physical giant,” as she described, young man began to speak to her. Adubato felt it was weird that he knew her name being as they had never spoken before. She left the party having had a bad feeling.
She went across campus to a pub where she went with her friends, only to find him there too. Later in the night, he offered to take her back to her dorm and she kindly said no and left. An hour later, he broke into her dorm room where she was alone.
“ I remember what I was wearing, I remember him walking into my room, I remember what I said, “ said Adubato, “ I felt scared and I felt like he could kill me.”
The incident was not reported immediately and at the age of 19, she recalls telling her friend, “I think I was raped,” and even felt self-blame. As soon as the star athlete discovered her intentions to go to the police, he went to her dorm room a few times looking for her.
It was then that her roommate called campus police and he was arrested. The school investigated but then decided to end the investigation, as they believed he did not rape her. He claimed to have done nothing wrong and that it was consensual.
“I didn’t even know him, it was not date rape or even acquaintance rape, I didn’t even know he knew my name,” she said.
After the school dropped its investigation, she went to the police and pressed charges. But still nothing was done and instead, she dropped out of college, shortly before graduating. She did not return to school for seven years and in those years, she got married and welcomed her daughter, Allegra.
Many years since the night that she cradled herself on the floor, crying, Adubato admits, she does not know what became of him, and though she had thought of searching him up, she never came around to do it.
Her eyes become watery as she catches her breath, and thinks about what she would say to him now. “I guess I would say you know what, you took my education from me, and I don’t know what else I would say to him, because to me what he did was just so evil, it wasn’t like a mistake or he didn’t understand or he was just immature,” Adubato said. “ You should’ve served time, you took my time and you should’ve served time for what you did.”
According to The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men who are in college, are victims of sexual assault. Of these victims, more than 90% do not report the assault.
Today, Adubato is one of the many supporters of the MeToo movement, the Times Up Movement and organizes the annual Take Back the Night event at Saint Peter’s University. Take Back the Night is meant to raise awareness on campus sexual assault. For her, it is “women retaking power.”
Recently, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama era rule providing guidelines to colleges when investigating a sexual assault.
So, Adubato continues to fight the fight. As a mother, she is in awe of her daughter and feels better that there is more awareness of sexual assault now than ever before. She hopes nobody’s daughter has to face anything like that.
As an educator, Adubato is amazed by her students and she wants to inspire them. A current criminal justice student of Adubato’s, Kimberly Baez, 21, said that she has learned a lot from her and feels that she motivates her students to be the best versions of themselves.
“ She is definitely inspiring because she has essentially become a voice for the voiceless,” Baez said.
Adubato admits it’s still hard to talk about what happened to her, even though she has told the story many times. However, she does not regret telling it and has been able to see how telling her story has inspired many others to tell theirs.
“I didn’t intend to be the sexual assault person, but if I have to be that to help people, I can see that that’s an important part of my life, and what I have learned,” said Adubato.“ I really don’t like telling the story, but I can see that it helps, so I’ll do it, I’ll do it as long as I need to.”