Sexual assault survivor shares her experience
Date rape drugs make rape or sexual assault easier for the perpetrator. Alcohol is often used this way. Date rape drugs can be placed into a drink without a person’s knowledge. Drugs or alcohol can make a person disoriented, unable to remember what happened and less able to defend themselves.
A young local woman, identified in this report by the fictitious name Indigo, knows firsthand as a victim. She was drugged and sexually assaulted at a night club while in her early 20s.
“That Saturday night – at least what of it I remember – felt absolutely safe,” Indigo said. “I’d gone out to a night club with family members and some of their co-workers. One of my cousins was doing a marketing promotion for the club and nearly everyone there was a friend or a friend of a friend. I had a drink with them, which was normal when we were hanging out. The drink tasted fine. I felt safe because I knew although they were strangers to me, my cousin knew them. So everything was relaxed and comfortable and normal.”
The club was a multi-level building with plenty of entertainment areas. Her cousin’s co-workers, Sean and Luke, wanted to go downstairs to hang out and everyone thought it was OK. Her cousin told her to go ahead. He needed to take care of something upstairs and would join them as soon as he was finished. She didn’t think twice about going to the other area with strangers. These men were friends of her cousin, co-workers, so it never occurred to her that she should be concerned.
Sean and Luke allowed Indigo to go downstairs first, citing chivalry as the reason. After all, a “true gentleman” always allows a lady through a door first. As the group went down the steps, Sean suddenly turned to her and whispered how sexy she looked. At this point, Indigo said she felt a bit of uncertainty about the situation but just shrugged it off. Once they were in the basement, things got quiet and Sean proceeded to push her into a small private bathroom and quickly closed the door. Luke stood outside the door to keep watch for her cousin.
Cramped inside the tiny bathroom with Sean, Indigo said things became shadowy for her. She felt as though she was having an out-of-body experience.
“I remember feeling safe, and then I remembered feeling nothing,” Indigo said. “Sean sat on the closed commode, started undressing me and pulled me onto his lap. Once he’d removed one of my legs from my pants he attempted to have sex with me. He kept talking to me. He had such a distinct voice. Even to this day, I can remember it, and it gives me chills. At first, I tried to fight him off. This didn’t work because he was much stronger. Then I began to tell him about the dangers of having unprotected sex. I kept saying, ‘there’s no way we should be doing this – you don’t even have a condom.’ This seemed to work because he finally stopped touching me, stood up and opened the door and called out to Luke for a condom. After Luke didn’t answer, he walked out the door. I knew this was my opportunity to get to safety. So I quickly put my pants back on and ran out of the bathroom. As I headed up the basement steps, Luke came towards me. I thought he was trying to stop me so I began to yell loudly. At that time, Sean came over to where we stood and tried to grab me. Luke told Sean ‘he couldn’t go through with this’ and amazingly, he took my arm to begin to help me up the stairs. Sean yelled at Luke and ran back into the bathroom and shut the door. That’s when my cousin finally opened the basement door.”
Seeing that she was very upset, Indigo said her cousin immediately demanded that his co-workers tell him was going on. Luke remained calm and silent and walked out of the door into the crowded club area upstairs. Her cousin just stood there confused, taking in all of their reactions. Sean remained in the bathroom for a few minutes. She thought he was probably trying to pull himself together.
“I was frazzled. I told my cousin I needed to get out of there. I felt sick. Once we were alone, I told him that his co-workers had put something in my drink and had just tried to rape me,” she said.
Shocked by her disclosure, he immediately found the men and confronted them. Both denied Indigo’s account of what happened in the basement. “The accusations went on for weeks until my cousin finally left the company where they all worked. He said he couldn’t work with persons who could do such a dreadful thing to a member of his own family,” Indigo said.
It took her a couple of days to get from under the influence of the drug. The morning after, she began to piece together what happened at the club. She said she was confused and didn’t feel like herself. She remembered more about the incident in the days to follow. By that Monday morning, she was sure she’d been drugged and sexually assaulted.
Indigo didn’t report the incident to the authorities. She never told anyone else from her family about being sexually assaulted. When she later found out from her cousin that Sean was also a married man, she said it made her feel embarrassed and she remained silent for fear of being ostracized or ignored.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “You always think this won’t happen to you, but it can. I didn’t go to the police or the doctor because I imagined there was no way for them to help me, and in some confused, existential way I felt unable to report something I was awake during but not present for. I couldn’t tell anyone else in my family about this because I knew they would take things in their own hands and I feared a violent outcome.”
Although her sexual assault incident happened 12 years ago, Indigo said the public understanding of nonconsensual drugging hasn’t changed much. Victims need to know that their experiences aren’t happening in a vacuum. She wants to help others.
“If you’ve been assaulted, it’s never your fault,” she said. “It feels good to talk about it. I’m glad I survived my experience; but it left me upset, hurt and disappointed. I have a daughter of my own now so this concerns me. I don’t want something like this to happen to her. I have some good advice for others who have gone through this: Report the incident. It’s never too late to come forward to tell your truth. No one else can determine the time and place where someone processes sexual assault. Victims suffer, survivors speak.”
Editor’s note: This is the first of a monthly series. Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention is an Armywide effort to change a culture; and training is a huge part of it. Redstone employees have an opportunity to sign up to receive the required mandatory annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training that is being offered from January through September at various locations on post. The SHARP 24/7 hotline is 924-0795.