Fact Check

Scream Session Rape

Woman raped during a campus's midnight scream session, but her cries for help go unnoticed amidst the tumult?

Published Jul 29, 1999


Claim:   A woman is raped during a campus's midnight scream session the day before finals, but her cries for help go unnoticed amidst the tumult.


Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 1995]

Here's a true dorm story from UCLA. My ex was going there at the time, and told it to me.

During finals week UCLA students would wait until about midnight. Then, one by one, they would each open their windows and start to scream. It was a great stress reliever, from all the quiet time during the day. The entire campus was to have silent time for a week during the finals period, except for a two hour reprieve.

One morning during the winter final period, in 1991, the student newspaper read: "Co-ed raped during midnight yell." It told of how one of the ladies was viciously raped during the midnight scream two nights before, and no one cared about her screams for help because everyone thought she was just fooling around, letting off stress, like everyone else. To this day, anyone screaming unnecessarily during finals week at UCLA is subject to explusion from campus.


Origins:  Students at many campuses have


adopted the custom of "primal screams" or "door slams" during the dead period — anywhere from a day to a week in length — between the last class sessions and the start of final examinations. At a designated time, students all slam their dormitory room doors or scream through opened windows or join a crowd of cacophony-producing students outside the residence halls. This practice is a generally harmless way of blowing off some steam during the pressure-filled days before final exams.

The claim that a woman's cries for help while she was being raped went unnoticed amidst all the frenzy of a "scream session" does not appear to have been based on any actual incident. The tale may have arisen out of a combination of elements: students' general feelings of insecurity about living away from home, heightened campus awareness of "date rape" and other assaults on women, and some students' disapproval of the "primal scream" phenomenon.

(The case of Kitty Genovese — a 28-year-old woman who was murdered outside her apartment in Queens, New York in 1964 — is oft mentioned as being similar to this legend. According to the legendary form of that case, Ms. Genovese was stabbed by her assailant three times over the course of half hour while 38 nearby residents heard her screams for help but took no action to help. In the "Scream Session Rape" legend, however, the persons in the vicinity do not realize that the screams they are hearing are the cries of a woman being assaulted.)

Last updated:   30 June 2011


    Bronner, Simon J.   Piled Higher and Deeper.

    Little Rock: August House, 1990.   ISBN 0-87483-154-7   (pp. 37-38).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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