VICTIM BLAMING – ALIVE AND WELL IN 2018
The following was submitted by one of our readers, and we present it here in her own words with a minimal amount of editing. As mothers and as women we are saddened by her experience but stand in awe of her courage and strength. Please be prepared for upsetting content, but do read her story & please share this with anyone who has a daughter!
VICTIM BLAMING – ALIVE AND WELL IN 2018
I woke up to my roommate slapping me and my two male friends picking me up of the ground. They put me back in my bed and held me up while encouraging me to breathe. I knew at that point that I had already thrown up, and I knew that something was wrong. I couldn’t physically do anything though. I was consciously aware of what was happening, I knew I needed to be breathing but couldn’t do it on my own: I had to be reminded. People started coming in. I don’t quite remember the order but I remember a swarm of different people. Now I know it was only five more people but at the time it felt like a huge audience. Each person had a new attempt to get me to breathe, or at least to try and keep me conscious. My talking ability was limited but I was able to tell my roommate to call my aunt. I don’t know why, but at the time she was the person I thought I should call. My roommate told me that she said to call 911, so I agreed because I figured she knew best. By the time the paramedics arrived I was able to get up and go to the bathroom. They came in and asked a few questions, I was able to tell them I felt fine and I didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital; that of course was a lie. They wheeled me out on a stretcher, put me in an ambulance, and took me to the ER. I like to think I remember the ambulance ride, but my roommate tells me that I was basically unconscious and probably dreaming. The good news was that once I got to the hospital there were police officers waiting for me. Exactly what I wanted. I felt horrible and loopy and confused, but I still got to give a statement, get poked with needles, and questioned by doctors.
You may be wondering at this point how I got here. I went to a party that night. I knew every single person in the party, except him. Once I said hi to everyone I knew, I immediately introduced myself to this guy and he seemed nice. Soon though he started taking any chance he got to talk to me, it was pretty clear he was interested but the feelings were not reciprocated. For the sake of showing him the decency he neglected to show me I’ll call him John Smith. John was about 6’4” and maybe 225lbs. Needless to say, to a 5’3” girl, he was a little intimidating, so I thought, ‘what’s the harm in a little flirting.’ The plan for the night was to go to this party for maybe an hour and then leave to go out to the bars. I figured I would talk to John, and eventually leave so there wouldn’t be any awkwardness. As most college kids do I was already drinking, pink moscato wine I believe, straight from the bottle. Cups at college parties can be complicated so a few of us just brought our own bottles. John periodically would ask me for a sip, again I figured this was harmless; I mean I was watching him, what could he do? Well, a bottle of wine later I wasn’t as focused on what John was doing. He handed me back my bottle of wine with a little bit left and chanted “Chug!” and got everyone else to join in. Let me just say that when you’re intoxicated, at a party and everyone is chanting chug, the last thought going through your head is ‘hey I’m just going to pretend I don’t hear them and continue to casually sip this.’ So yes I chugged the wine. Shortly after I decided to go back upstairs to my apartment (we were in the same apartment building for the party) and change shoes to go to the bars. I walked outside and I remember John stopping me. I vaguely remember him saying that he could accompany me upstairs, but I assured him I would be okay. He then leaned in to kiss me. Now again, think of the size difference, the intimidation, and my thought of ‘how harmless could a kiss be?’ The first few years of college, kissing becomes as common as cramming for a test or, well mono. I really did not think anything of this and then I hurried upstairs and quickly to my apartment where I flung the door open and sat down to change my shoes. So what I now know, thank you video surveillance, is that John waited about 20 seconds in the stairwell after I left. He then followed me upstairs at a very leisurely pace and tossed a football while walking about 30 feet behind me.
What I remember next is John walking into my room, saying hi and closing my door. At this point I was very confused and yet again told him I just needed to change my shoes and then I would be on my way to meet my friends. The next few minutes are a blur but quickly he pushed me onto my bed and laid on top of me. Again, 6’4” and 225lbs guy. I pushed him off but he pulled me back on top of him, all the while sticking his tongue down my throat. Somehow he got back on top of me and I vividly remember laying across my bed staring at my apartment door. Next I had a scary thought, but at the time it was the only thing that calmed me. In my head I thought ‘well at least it’ll be quick, my roommate will be here soon and she’ll walk in so it’ll stop,’ This thought was interrupted though with loud knocking and yelling. Someone was banging on my apartment door. Now I was really confused, ‘why wouldn’t they just walk in?’ I thought. I shoved John off of me and watched as he ran into my bathroom, turned off the lights, and closed the door. I got up and stumbled to my front door. The door was clearly locked but as it was my first week in this apartment I had not yet realized there was a deadbolt. After my roommate started yelling at me to unlock the deadbolt I clumsily got the door open. My roommate and another teammate walked into my apartment. I grabbed them and said ‘please, there’s a man in my bathroom, please get him out.’ I know now that at the time, my teammates thought I was crazy but that they were going to check it out anyways. My roommate took me into her room and my teammate went into my room to see what was going on. A few minutes went by, a few doors closed and then she walked in to where we were sitting. She said “oh my god you were right! There was some guy in your bathroom. I didn’t see him at first, I even checked in your shower behind the curtain, but then I saw his eyes in the mirror and he was hiding behind the door. I yelled at him to get out and he just left.” At this point I was just relieved, now I could go out to the bars with my friends.
This is the point where I blacked out. Everything after this is what I have been told, and now I can’t figure out if I am remembering things or if I am creating scenes in my head from what people have told me. Long story short is we go out to the bars and I last 30 minutes before I am unconscious and my friends decide to take me home. While out however, I did not consume any alcohol, and I have quite a few witness to attest to that. I made it halfway home in the Uber before I made them pull over so that I could vomit. I am a person who knows my limits in alcohol and up until this point in my life I was the only one of my friends who had never blacked out nor thrown up from alcohol, so this is when everyone knew something was wrong. I got home, ran to the room where the party was, yelled at a few of our guy friends that their friend had assaulted me and that I was not going back to my room, then passed out again. Eventually I did get back to my room, my roommate put me in bed and gave me a trashcan, and well we’re back to the beginning of my story.
I’ll spare the details of me giving my statements because they’re not very entertaining. I spent the night in the hospital and when I got home I had my mom meet me there. I slept for about four hours, before I woke up with a migraine and began to vomit again. I threw up so many times that I burst a ton of blood vessels in my eyes. Once I stopped vomiting though, my migraine went away and I instantly felt better. The next week or so was filled with more questions. I gave a statement to the head of my school’s athletic department, to my coaches, to the police officers, to my team, and to three different psychologists. None of which was helpful to me. All I wanted to do was start my sophomore year. The fun part about starting school is that I kept forgetting my now completely red eyes made me look like a vampire and I scared almost every person in my classes. People actually moved away from me and countless teachers asked what was wrong with me. My answer was always ‘I got food poisoning and throwing up I burst the blood vessels.’ That was a lot simpler then saying ‘I was given a hallucinogenic drug called Dextromethorphan which reacted with the alcohol I had consumed and another medication that I take to render me unconscious and make me vomit profusely.’ This is what I found out from my blood test I received from the hospital. I guess the good news about that was that I wasn’t uncontrollably drunk and since I didn’t intentionally ingest a drug, this wasn’t my fault.
Over the course of the next four months I had countless meetings with lawyers, police officers and the Title IX office at my university. It took a total of six months for the title IX office to find him guilty, and by this time he had actually graduated so there was nothing they could do. My police investigation is technically ongoing but my idiotic investigator decided that there was no probably cause to arrest John. He then ran my initial statement through a series of tests called the LSAT which determined my statement to be invalid. The reasons? My misuse of improper pronouns was the greatest offense on the list. I kid you not, that is what the investigators and prosecutors told me. I will also include the fact that the investigator insisted on getting video surveillance of me everywhere I went in the city that night, inside/outside of every bar, and called and interviewed not only every single person who was at the party, but also my Uber driver. Did he do this for John? No, he only followed me, only got evidence about me, and only invalidated my statement. Wasn’t I the victim here? Definitely didn’t feel like it at this point. The entire process was set up to make me feel like I did something wrong, like it was all my fault, like I was an inconvenience and that I asked for it.
It has officially been 10 months since the incident and nothing has happened. No repercussions for the guy that drugged and assaulted me, only for me, the victim. I am writing this to say that I AM OKAY. I survived and this is not going to break me, nor follow me into my future. A 10-month investigation where there were witnesses, video surveillance, and drug results, is 10 months too long. I am tired of fighting and tired of trying to find justice. My new goal is to prevent this. Obviously I can’t stop awful people from drugging people or doing awful things, but I can spread awareness and I can make people listen. To anyone entering college I have three messages. The first is to be aware, you can’t prevent but you can try and avoid. The second is that if something happens, it’s not your fault. And the third is don’t be scared. I don’t share me story to freak people out, I share it because I want young women to be stronger and more confident. You don’t have to talk to that guy at the party, you don’t have to kiss the guy at the bar, you don’t have to give anyone your number and you never have to bring anyone home with you if you don’t want to. I kept everything a secret for a while, acting as if I had something to be ashamed off, but in fact I feel the complete opposite. I am proud that I took a stand and at least tried to fight back, I am thankful that my friends called 911 that night, and I am angry that my story is just one of millions and nothing has been done about it.
After the assault I wrote down what I was thinking and feeling and it turned into a lengthy letter to my perpetrator. I share part of it with you in hope that you can feel my emotions and you can learn from my experience.
Every day when you wake up I want you to think how you almost killed me
I want you to know that I stopped breathing and loss consciousness
You need to realize that I remember everything you did and I know it was you
I have suffered so much more than you have, but now it’s your turn
You don’t get to say I was asking for it
You don’t get to say my outfit was consent
You don’t get to say you were embarrassed and that’s why you were hiding
You don’t get to say that when you convinced my drunken self to kiss your 6’4” 250-pound intimidating, powerful body in a secluded hallway, that it was me who invited you to my room
And you definitely don’t get to say that you, walking 30 feet behind me, was any form of an invitation
No it was not consensual
No I did not want to kiss you
No I did not what you in my bed or even near me
So yes, I will be pressing charges
And let me just say, you picked the wrong girl
*IMPORTANT additional notes in reference to this story & from my own personal experience, not from the author of the above story:
Sexual predators don't offend ONLY once!
You are not to blame and DON"T let anyone try and convince you otherwise!
You must self-advocate or if you are a friend of the victim, you must advocate for her.
Do not hesitate to take someone to the hospital if you suspect sexual assault, a drugging, an overdose (alcohol or drug), or for any unusual behavior. It is always better to be safe than sorry. With all of the HIPA laws, everything must stay private and there shouldn't be a concern that someone is going to find out.
This is not a time to worry about being too pushy and it is important to insist on having any and all testing available, especially a blood draw.
Insist that the blood work be tested immediately. There is a short window of time that the blood is testable and in most cases, the blood will not be tested in an effort to save money; therefore it will be left sitting on a shelf. This is critical!
By going forward, you may be able to prevent this abuse from happening to someone else!
There is NO SHAME in speaking out! You are a hero and a survivor!
Please share your story with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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