Nina Freeman's "Freshman Year" Game Shows What It Feels Like To Be Sexually Harassed

For many women, college marks a first breath of freedom, an important time for exploring their intellectual curiosities as well as shaping their identities as young adults. But so often the circumstances in which women and men explore their newfound independence can put them in the way of predatory behavior — as is explored in Nina Freeman’s Freshman Year , an interactive game that shows what sexual assault is like. Please be forewarned that there is information both in the game and this post that may be triggering or distressing to survivors.

When I first read of Freeman’s web-based program, I raised a wary eyebrow. There’s no part of sexual assault that should ever be regarded as a “game,” though after playing it, the word is apt. It’s educational, using relatable circumstances and dialogue to tackle misconceptions about events leading up to harassment or assault. What did you choose to wear that night? Had you texted your friends about wanting to get “wasted”? Does it matter?

No, it does not, the game proves. I tried every imaginable combination of options, and each one led to the same ending: A freshman girl ("Nina") being groped aggressively by the creepy asshole that lurks around every corner of our reality. For many of us, this game is an extension of our real experiences, and that seems to be the point that Freeman, herself a survivor of sexual assault, is making. We shouldn’t need things like this to help us combat sexual violence and predatory behaviors, but the fact remains that we do.

“I always wanted to make something that could help people understand that being harassed is indeed a big deal,” Freeman told the Huffington Post. “I know it's a big deal, because I experienced it, and it was scary and traumatic. Freshman Year is meant to help [the] player embody my lived experience, so that they may better understand the gravity of my experience with harassment.”

Freshman Year is free and available on Freeman's website.

Images: Freshman Year (4)