Editor’s note: This is part two in an ongoing series investigating sexual violence on campus. The following story discusses suicide and rape.
She remembers walking along Stadium Road to the Homecoming football game with her friends.
She doesn’t recall how she got separated, but knows a man took her hand and led her away.
Kaitlin Lyttle, a 24-year-old UF master’s student studying early childhood special education, said she is the victim mentioned in the Oct. 7 University Police public safety alert about a sexual battery that happened before the game. She said a man forced her to perform oral sex on him.
The alert came after a string of sexual attack incidents publicly reported since August, when Ian Milaski, a 21-year-old UF resident assistant, was arreast and later charged with attempted sexual battery.
Lyttle posted about the incident and resultant suicide attempt on her personal Facebook and spoke to The Alligator. She provided The Alligator documents indicating she was a sexual battery victim in contact with campus police.
On the afternoon of Oct. 5, Lyttle said she was walking alongside the UF marching band to perform with them as an undergraduate alum during the halftime show. At some point, she was separated from her friends.
A man approached her and started walking away with her, she said. He either looked like someone she knew or said something to convince her to walk with him.
He then brought Lyttle in an area between the infirmary and the Florida Gym along Stadium Road. While there, the man forced her to perform oral sex on him, she said.
The alert said police are looking for a white male about 5 feet 8 inches tall and between 18 to 25 years old. He was described as having straight, dark blonde hair and wore khaki pants.
“He restrained me so I couldn’t fight,” Lyttle said. “I couldn’t help myself.”
Afterwards, Lyttle said he walked away. She sat there for a bit before leaving to find her friends.
When she arrived at the stadium, the noise and chaos were overstimulating. A friend took her to the first aid station after Lyttle told her something was wrong, but they returned to the game after the visit.
Lyttle thought she was fine at first. But her memory became clouded after she drove home that night.
She doesn’t remember exactly how it happened later that night, but knew she swallowed a bottle of pills. She woke up in UF Health Shands Hospital the following afternoon after trying to end her life.
She said she’s been back to her daily routine since, but owes her recovery to her friends and family. They realized something was wrong that night when she kept asking people to take care of her dogs after she died.
“When I woke up, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to die,” she said.
When a victim of sexual assault or battery recounts what happened immediately following an attack, they don’t always tell every detail, said Lt. Brandon Kutner of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. People’s bodies try to defend against being attacked and can block out parts of traumatic incidents.
“The mind tends to recall more of the incident when it’s given time to rest,” he said.
Law enforcement also uses special interview techniques to look for smaller details of what happened, he said. These could be as simple as what someone smelled, heard or even felt. For example, a victim remembering the scent of someone’s cologne can help narrow down a suspect in a case, he said.
Kutner said victims may be reluctant to report because of the stigma surrounding sexual assault and battery and the worry that law enforcement may not believe them.
“We don’t want to make that situation any more uncomfortable,” Kutner said.
It’s a word of advice Lyttle shares to others now: Make sure to ask for help in a time of need.
“Reach out for yourself because if people were willing to help me do that and care about me, you’re not alone,” she said.