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It Doesn’t Matter What I Wore; A Story of the Night I Was Drugged

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July 25, 2013

 

*All names have been changed

As women and girls growing up in America, we have all heard the warnings to ‘keep ourselves safe.’ We are told not to drink too much, not to wear short skirts or revealing tops, and not to walk alone at night. People claim we live in a post-sexist society, yet women are still constantly blamed for the sexual assaults that happen to them and deemed at fault if they get drugged.

A few months ago, I went out with a friend of mine, Laurie* in downtown Sacramento. We stopped by a favorite bar of mine, then decided to move on since it was a slow night. As we arrived at the second bar, Tavern X*, we saw my friend Dane* who had coincidentally also been at the previous bar. I had been to Tavern X a couple times before, but it wasn’t somewhere I liked all that much. I saw a couple friends who were also out, and spent the majority of the night nursing a cocktail and hanging out with my friends. I eventually went to get a second drink about an hour after we got there and began having a conversation with a guy at the bar.

Now, I am someone who is always careful with my drinks and doesn’t let strangers buy me drinks. On this occasion, the man either bought me a shot, or I bought it for myself, but we ‘cheers’d’ and threw our drinks back. I have enough memory to know I got to the back room where my friends were. The next thing I can remember, I was on the ground, halfway home, with the fire department in front of me. After that I was on my couch, then I woke up in the morning. It was as my friends recounted what had happened the previous night that the reality had set in. I had been roofied.

I should preface this with the fact that I was very lucky. I was with friends who took care of me and got me home safe, and nothing bad happened to me. But hearing the next day what happened as my friends filled me in was terrifying. We got ready to leave; Laurie, Dane, and I went outside. There had been a group of 3 or 4 guys who were trying to convince me to come home with them. I had told them no and tried to leave, but it wasn’t until Dane stepped in that they backed off. Laurie had been drinking a fair amount, but Dane was sober. He refused to let either of us go with them and started working our way home. At some point I fell and hit my head, and when we were about halfway to my apartment, I had a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t walk. I fell to the ground hyperventilating; none of which I remember. The fire department came, along with an ambulance, but was able to calm me down enough to not have to take me to the hospital. They thought I had just had too much to drink. When we got home, my friend put me in bed, and I woke up the next morning not know what had happened to me.

That was the scary part. I had no idea where I had been or what had occurred. It is a horrible, sickening feeling. I cancelled the plans I had and barely spoke till the next day. The even scarier part was, as careful as I always am, this is the second time this has happened to me. Now before conclusions are jumped to, I was being cautious the first time too. It was my friend June’s* 21st birthday, but being a few years older I didn’t have interest in being part of that scene, so I had a few drinks but stayed mostly sober. One guy asked to buy me and my friend a shot, and with her encouragement, I said yes. All I remember is getting to the other side of the bar 30 feet away.

Now I’ve never been a shy person, and I believe stories need to be told so people know how easily they can happen. I have so many friends that are convinced it can’t happen to them, that they’re careful enough. But I watched the guy order. I watched the bartender pour the drink, the bartender hand it to the guy, and I watched the guy hand it to me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how careful you are. That’s the part that’s scariest.

The saddest part was talking to my friends, however. My friends who know me, who know who I am, who should know better. Yet my friends, my intelligent, often progressive friends, still asked the questions. “What were you wearing?” “Were you flirting with him?” “Well, what were you doing?” It’s a good thing I didn’t tell them I was wearing jeans and a tank top, otherwise it could have been Italy all over again. Instead I told them that what I was wearing was irrelevant and didn’t make a damn bit of difference in what had happened.

Still, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even fathom how I could be asked that. That was the moment I fully realized just how bad rape culture is in our society. It doesn’t matter who you are or how your friends know you, they still assume it’s your fault, even when you’re not a stranger. Now, a lot of my friends were very supportive. They backed me, and knew I hadn’t done anything to warrant what had happened. That no woman ever does anything to make being drugged or sexually assaulted her fault. But it’s so easy for some to take it there. And they get plenty of help. In October of 2012, Roger Rivard, a representative from Wisconsin was quoted as saying, “Some girls rape easy.”

It is sickening “opinions” such as this condemn women, shaming them that it is their fault. As if they put themselves on display, offering themselves to be assaulted, raped, disrespected, objectified. How America has yet to understand that sexual assault is always, ALWAYS, the perpetrators fault, I cannot understand. I am not saying women, and men, shouldn’t be careful. I won’t let strangers buy me drinks, and I don’t walk down dark alleys at night. But we have to start changing the conversation. We can no longer hold women accountable for not fighting off attackers. We can no longer blame women who have been assaulted, stating that they encouraged it or caused it. We can no longer worry about the assailants’ future and what damage this might do to them, as was done by the media in the Steubenville case. The conversation needs to be about respect, support, and learning what the fuck no means.

 

blog photoKatherine Sheldon is the Communications Intern at Choice USA.  She is a recent graduate of CSU Sacramento and has a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies.  She was formerly a member of the FMLA at Sierra College, Vice-President for her Choice USA chapter, and helped revamped Sac State’s Women’s Studies Student Association.  Aside from doing RJ work, she enjoys line dancing, watching Doctor Who, and telling people on the streets of DC how cute their dogs are. @KatherineWho

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One Response to “It Doesn’t Matter What I Wore; A Story of the Night I Was Drugged”

  1. Meredith

    As a little girl, I was always taught to dress so as not to “draw attention,” to stay in groups at night, and to not trust strange men. I’ve never heard of a boy being told not to dress provocatively, or to have nearly the same amount of paranoia my parents instilled in me. That says a lot about the power imbalance between the sexes. I also don’t hear much about boys being taught to respect boundaries, not objectify women for their bodies, and overall, not rape. In fact, male sexual conquest is glorified, and boys are taught early on that their worth is at least partially determined by their ability to win over girls. Our culture seems blind to the fact that it’s encouraging its sons to go after the “fragile, virginal” daughters it’s trying to protect.