You open your eyes. You don’t have a body anymore. Just eyes. At the end of a long, dark tunnel is the black night sky illuminated by countless twinkling stars. You try to get closer and closer to the sky but it is always out of reach. Then, the stars aren’t stars anymore. They are a dancing mess of dazzling white lights at the end of your tunnel. Your tunnel takes a sharp dive and suddenly there is cold wet grass and a cell phone screen laying next to a hand. The tunnel is gone. You have a body again. It’s your hand. Then, sound returns.
You hear deafening shrieks, crying, and screaming. You are shrieking, and crying, and screaming. You are so cold, wet, and there is a sensation of burning and dripping coming from your legs.
“Are you okay? Can you hear me?!?… She’s over here!! She’s bleeding everywhere.”
Whose voice is that? Who is coming? Where are you?
Suddenly arms hoist you up. You fail to resist the arms because while you feel everything, you control nothing. Your limbs and neck dangle freely as you are being carried somewhere. Why is it so cold? Where are you being carried to? There are stars everywhere in the sky on this cold night.
“Drink this. Drink this. You are going to be okay. We are here now. Who did this? Do you know what happened?”
Water makes its way to your cracked lips. The light flooding in the room reveals the faces of your two best friends. You go to open your mouth but nothing comes out and you blur out again. Arms wrap around you as you begin to loose your body completely. Something takes hold of you as your muscles begin to violently convulse. There’s a wall behind your head and you can’t control your neck as you slam your head into the wall. You scream out to regain control but you are merely a victim within your own body as it forcibly self-destructs. Arms, not yours, hold you tightly as you continue to scream and cry into the night.
A few hours later, you can feel yourself again, and you stop moving. You open your eyes into the face of your best friend, who looks back in pure fear and terror. You lie in bed. You close your eyes.
Two days later, you took a test. That Thursday night, you were drugged likely with a concoction of Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB). You ask friends who saw you that night about what had happened. Each time, you have to relive the memories that you have of the night, and tell another frightened face what it was like to lose control of your body, your recollection, and your confidence. They all tell you the same thing about the night that you don’t remember. Your friends told you that they had seen you with a series of guys, slumped against a wall, and not talking. One friend said that he had tried talking to you. He said that he had asked how you were and whether you needed help getting back to your dorm. He said that you did not respond to him, but instead looked at him, and stared as if you were looking at something distant. You wouldn’t talk back to him. You couldn’t talk. You no longer had a voice, or a conscious soul.
You had a crush and you see him later in the day between classes. He won’t say more than a few words to you, so you ask him if he had seen you the night you were roofied. He said that by the time he saw you, that you were having trouble walking by this point, and your body was collapsing in on itself. He and his friends had tried to take care of you, but they thought that you were just really drunk since you couldn’t move too well and wouldn’t talk. They sent you to walk back to your room. You somehow at some point lost your way. One friend said that he saw you slumped on the ground and asked if you were okay but you didn’t respond. The story was coming together. You had no mobility and wouldn’t talk to anyone. But you still don’t know how you cut up your legs so bad, or how you ended up collapsed on the field, or who owned the shirt that was two sizes too big that you were wearing over your clothes when you were found.
There will always be holes in the timeline of your night, of which no one will ever be able to fill. Maybe you weren’t the target. But maybe you weren’t the target, and she was. You will never know who took away your self-control, got into your head, and ruined your sense of security at CMC. But you ended up safe. Someone got to you. You are a lucky one.
Time passes. Your days get better, but not without their challenges. You are a lucky one. Of all of the permutations of possible outcomes of that night, you ended up bloody from falls and crawling, but untouched. It’s the other outcomes of what could have happened to you that haunts you. You can’t walk alone at night without looking over your shoulder, and doing double takes at forms of shadows. Your girl friends want to go out and dance, and you say you’re feeling sick and just want to stay in. One of your best friends can’t stop talking about this new guy, and they have started dating. You are happy for her, but can’t shake this feeling of hopelessness. You can’t help but look at the girls touring the campus with their parents, and say a small prayer. You were not the first girl, and you certainly won’t be the last. You ask yourself: what can be done?
What can you do?
What is the problem here?
Is it CMC’s party culture? Or something much bigger?
Is it CMC’s unwillingness to address the sexual assault and rape culture on campus beyond a few emails telling us to ‘watch out’? Or is it CMC’s blind obsession to combat its own social scene, thus failing to take action against the true forces of evil and violence on campus?
Is it our complacency as the students of CMC to turn a blind eye until you or someone you know is a victim?
Maybe someday you will feel safe again. Maybe some day Claremont McKenna College will care more about its fostered culture of sexual assault and rape over institution ranking and appealing to prospective students as being more competitive and thus worth the obnoxious price tag. Maybe someday you will trust again and be capable of growing.
Maybe someday this story, my story and now yours, will prompt victims to come forward and the community of CMC to take a stand together.
Maybe someday we can end this for someone else. Maybe some day, we will all open our eyes too.