Diamond in the Rough

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It was the end of my freshman year at San Diego Mesa College, I played softball for the Olympians and we were celebrating a successful season and the end of the semester by getting together and going to an SDSU theme party. At this time I never really enjoyed drinking, when I did it was mostly with family or a couple drinks with the girls on my team. I do not know why, but it just never caught my attention. Coming from a family of being well raised and parents I never wanted to disappoint, I just did not have any desire for it.

Getting back to that night. I volunteered to be a designated driver for some of the girls that night, so I packed the car with four girls and we headed to a friends house to get the party started before the actual party. By 8:30 pm, everyone was feeling pretty good and so we decided to walk just down the block towards the house where the party was taking place near campus. I brought my own personal water bottle to the party (no alcohol) just water in it because I knew walking into a party meant BOOZE and only BOOZE would be there. We walked in sixteen girls deep and not many people were there except the DJ, the host, and some people I knew from high school that have heard about the party as well. It was about 9:00 pm when we actually walked through the door, I remember checking my phone and getting a text message from my dad saying, “I know you are at a party, please be careful and no drink and drive”, I texted him back, “no worries, I love you”.

After that I did not check my phone, I put it in my purse and never looked at it again, at least I think I didn’t. I remember the house start packing up shortly after pretty quick, seeing so many familiar faces, and so many unfamiliar faces. I stuck by my girls for a while around the bar area as they continued drinking. One of my friends, not a softball girl, began to feel sick. I do not know the time it was but it was about 45 minutes after we had gone into the party. I told one of my teammates to not leave the area and I was going to take my friend to the bathroom. I took her, and left my water bottle with my teammate on the bar. We were gone for a good 10 minutes and headed right back to where the girls were.

I saw a guy I knew from high school look at me from a far and smiled. I smiled back and he just kept trying to hit on other girls as they passed by. I remember chatting it up and drinking out of my water bottle simultaneously. When I get nervous and surrounded by a lot of drunk people while I’m sober I tend to drink out of whatever I’m holding as a reaction to my nerves. ALL of a sudden it is 7:00 am and I am home. How did I get home? What happened last night? I woke up and first thing I notice was that I was not wearing the shirt I wore to the party. I frantically got up knowing that I had not had a drop of alcohol last night, and quickly knew SOMETHING was not right. I went into the bathroom and there I saw what I had always so dreaded. It was a girl staring at me with a bruised eye, open lip, and bite marks/scratches all over. That girl was not ME; it could not possibly be I thought. I looked down, and there it was… my panties ripped out of my pants. Did what I think happen really happen last night? This cannot possibly be true, I didn’t drink, I said to myself. Repeating it over and over as if that really changed the situation. I had no idea what to do or say at this point. So, I did what I usually do on Sunday mornings. I had work at 9 am so I hopped into the shower and got ready for a normal workday; only it was not just a normal Sunday morning. It was the first day of the rest of my life.

After getting ready, I hesitated into my parent’s room, where it looked like they had not slept all night. So I thought, I must have came home a mess. I didn’t really want to talk about it because I had no idea what was going to be said, and frankly I didn’t want to know. I was in denial. So I had my dad take me to work. It was the most silent car ride I have ever been in. He dropped me off, and first thing said to me was ‘Annalee what happened to your face, did you get into a fight?’ I broke into tears right there. My cousin took me into the back room and asked me why I was crying. I said I didn’t know what happened to me. She told me to call someone to come get me, and I did just that. I called my friend Mariah who I was with before the party, and she told me that she heard some stuff and was worried sick. She picked me up from work and took me to the hospital where they then had my blood tested, and there it was; I had what everyone refers to as the “date rape” drug also known as Rohypnol in my system. I soon contacted the police as advised by my nurse. I hesitated to call my parents, but I got the courage to call them and tell them where I was but I did not tell them why I was in the emergency room. I could not tell my parents when they got there; rather the police officer did that for me.

Now that I knew I was drugged at this party, the question was, ‘Do I want to go forward with an investigation?’ Of course I wanted to find out what happened to me and who had done this, but I was afraid of making it real. But I went ahead with the investigation. Step one in going towards the direction of justice being served is a process called a rape kit. What it is; is an examination that includes the “collection of clothing, collection of hair specimens, swabs and smears, fingernail scrapings and cuttings, and care and prevention”(Pandoras Project). Going through this process was a very vulnerable moment for me. I may not remember my rape, but I was shown what it could have been like, only less violent. I could just imagine how horrible it could be for a girl that remembers all the details, and having to go through this process. It can be just as traumatizing as the rape itself..

Sadly the detectives did not prioritize my case and treated it as if it was just another college rape at a party. I felt like my rape kit meant nothing to them and never got sent to the lab. I was just another statistic. A week later was my younger brother’s graduation where I saw one of the guys that was possibly involved in my rape according to witnesses from the party, as his younger sister was graduating as well with my brother; and I had an intense panic attack and had to leave his graduation.

After this had happened, knowing a lot of people in my hometown knew about it because they were there made me feel very vulnerable. I ended up leaving town and moved to Santa Monica, CA to start over. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to be with my family more than anything; instead I turned to alcohol to take the pain away. I felt disassociated, alone, and depressed; I put a front that I was doing just fine in front of everyone, but behind closed doors lived a very dark and angry person. Not many people know this, but I can say that this night has definitely affected not only me as a person, but the way I relate to people. I no longer felt like I had control of my sex life, and began to have more and more partners right after. I felt like it was a necessity so that the last sexual experience I had was not that dreadful night of random men inside me.

Fast-forward to only 3 years ago, I thought I was completely over my past. Truth is, it was only the beginning to me moving forward. I had just started a relationship with my current girlfriend and things were good, until they weren’t. I was blacking out, drinking too much and getting aggressive; something was not right. There was a reason for it. I was not okay. I decided to change my life. I decided that my rape was no longer going to defeat me. I was going to open up my closet full of demons and just letting them out. I stopped drinking until I learned how to control myself. I started working out regularly, which resulted in losing 45 pounds and becoming obsessed in being the best possible version of myself possible in order to help others in similar situations. Every day is a new day, and every day you work twice as hard as the day before. I want everyone to know that it is possible to grow and thrive even after such a horrific traumatizing experience.

Story submitted by Annalee