Wesleyan Rape Victim Returns To Her Alma Mater As A Dominatrix

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Karmenife Paulino was sexually abused in a fraternity house at her college — and now she has returned to her alma mater to spread a message against rape in a unique way.

Rape Victim

Karmenife Paulino, 22, was a victim of campus rape in her freshman year of college, but she decided not to stay a victim forever. She recently returned to the scene of her assault for a unique and empowering photo shoot.

Paulino, who ran away from an abusive household, sought asylum at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. But her safe haven quickly turned into her worst nightmare when she was sexually abused and spent most of her junior year hiding from her rapist or testifying in court.

Now, with the help of photographer Tess Altman, Paulino has created a series of images titled “Reclamation Project,” in which she is able to reclaim her power. The rape victim dressed as a dominatrix is seen holding on to leashed male models, wearing ball gags and tank tops emblazoned with the words “Frat Filth” outside the fraternity house where she was assaulted.

Rape Victim

Rape Victim

Rape Victim

"I've worn that outfit before many times," Paulino said. "It's what I feel the most powerful and the most vulnerable in and I wanted to wear it because women who are sexually confident are always demonized in these spaces and in society in general."

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Paulino found the models through a Facebook project and even though the models knew what to expect, the Wesleyan alum made sure they knew the appropriate safe words and hand signals before starting the shoot.

"Talking changes everything," she added. "The project would have been horrible if we didn't have that discussion. It took some extra time, but it wasn't hard to ask questions about what people were comfortable with." 

Paulino’s photo shoot doesn't only represent her own experience but is also a slap to the faces of college administration that disdains students’ call for “safe space” on campus.

During her last semester, Paulino started the Survivor Support Network for rape victims like her. She wanted to provide a space on a campus, which is severely lacking in such resources, but mentioned the people who showed up were mostly white. She believes it’s because non-white victims of assaults are faced with unique conflicts.

"When we speak we have to represent the entire community, which is horrible," she said further. "Because my rapist was black, it was really difficult for me to call my rapist a rapist. I felt like I had let my community down and like I was enforcing stereotypes."

Wesleyan University is not the only campus where rape culture runs rampant. Emma Sulkowicz started a “Carry the Weight” campaign against her rapist at Columbia University.

The universities of Tennessee, Chicago and James Madison have also seen a number of lawsuits and protests against the rape culture on campus.

Recommended: Another University Orders Its Fraternities To Admit Women

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