I had just transferred colleges and moved two states away. It felt like it’d be a comfortable environment, just four hours away from the town that I grew up in, but it wasn’t going to stay that way for long. The school was a dream come true, as far as administration and student accommodations went. It was awesome, considering the fact that my last college hadn’t even had a cafeteria. They even had a police station on campus, which I didn’t expect to need, but, unfortunately, it came in handy for me later.
Well, actually, it wasn’t that much later.
I had been in school for a solid week, but I had met a small group of people in the area prior to school starting. We were quickly becoming friends. They seemed fun and welcoming, laid back, a tight-knit circle of people that I felt like I could really get close to. One of the first things that I do when I move somewhere is look for friends. Despite having an anxiety disorder for my entire life and enduring sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse as a child, I’ve always kept myself in the mindset of “most people are good.” Something that I had always wanted was a tight-knit group of friends. We had been hanging out for about a month and I really felt like we were going to be close.
One of the guys in the group liked me. I had turned him down and asked to just be friends, which I thought he respected. He knew that I had been abused as a child and that I am abstinent. This experience was very recent, so as I write this, I’m having a hard time deciding how much to share. This all builds up to one night – the night that he slipped something in my drink. It was a Saturday night and a few of us were hanging out. The previous Thursday, we had all hung out and things seemed as innocent as they could possibly be.
I blacked out entirely that night and do not remember much. I came to for a clear (yet quick) few seconds while vomiting and screaming for him to get off of me in the back of a car, then blacked out again. I do not remember how I got in that car, nor do I remember how I got out of it, but what I do know is that I had bruises and welts on my left side and that when I got picked up by a taxi that night, I was laying on the side of the road. I remember seeing the word “taxi” in a blur, knowing that I needed a ride home, and getting in the taxi. I don’t remember how the taxi was hailed. I only know that I was laying on the side of the road when they picked me up because the taxi company told me that via phone call when I was trying to piece together what happened.
I stayed in bed the day after everything. I was sick as hell, for one thing, but mainly I was just trying to process everything and figure out what to do. When I went back to school, I told my instructor. I didn’t know who else to go to since I was so new to the school and city. He was very kind and helpful. He told me to go to the police station on campus and file a police report, so I did. They brought in a female advocate from the school – she came with us when the police picked up my clothes from that night at my apartment and stayed with me through most of the time that I was at the hospital that day. I’m so thankful for that.
I can’t imagine going through that process alone. I was at the hospital for six hours waiting and getting checked over. The advocate from my school connected me to an organization that provided me with a cab voucher for the ride home from the hospital right before she left. The nurse said “that’s a good thing to know about, for the next person” when I got the cab voucher.
The next person. I couldn’t stop thinking about the next person – who, what, when? Will their predator be someone they know? A stranger? Why does anyone have to go through this? Why did it happen to me? When I filed the police report, they asked me if I wanted to press charges. I asked what that would entail. I was told that if I pressed charges, I’d have to face the person who did it in court. I couldn’t imagine having to see him again. I didn’t want to keep repeating and re-living what happened. I didn’t press charges.
What I did instead was drop out of school and leave. I tried to live normally for a few weeks, but the person knew where I lived. I lived alone and off campus. My apartment wasn’t the safest. I knew that he’d obviously find out that I filed a police report and I was terrified of what might happen when he did. It was the first time that anything really broke through my “most people are good” mentality. It has made me afraid to make new friends. It has made me afraid to get close to anyone. I ended up getting a greyhound ticket and scheduling a job interview near where my mom lives. I told myself that if I got the job, I’d leave school. I got the job. I quit school. Now, I’m just taking it one day at a time and trying to figure out how to move forward – how to finish my degree, how to feel safe, where to move, etc. Never leave your drink out of sight – not even with friends. I hope to see a world where every survivor gets justice. I hope to see a world where no one feels so helpless and ashamed upon coming forward.
Sparklle Rainne is a singer/songwriter that lives on the West Coast.