A victim speaks out

In order to cover the issue of date rape, date-rape drugs and sexual assault with the utmost respect and care, The Simpsonian feels that students need to understand what a victim of these offenses feels.

While finding victims of sexual assault that are willing to speak publicly about their experiences is extremely difficult, The Simpsonian approached a recent graduate of Simpson College who could offer insight into her experience of testing positive for the date rape drug, GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate.

The Simpsonian has granted her anonymity in order to provide the college community with something much more helpful, her story. By allowing this woman to respond through a question and answer form, The Simpsonian makes no judgments, declarations, or accusations by publishing the feelings and reactions that accompany this young woman’s account.

Q: What were the events leading up to your encounter with GHB?

A: I was at a campus-related event in the late afternoon and early evening. The event took place off campus almost 18 months ago and was an alcohol-free activity. After the event, I went to an apartment on campus and hung out with friends and other students, many of whom I did not know. It was the beginning of a new school year and there were many new faces on campus.

Q: Were you consuming alcohol or any substances that evening?

A: No, all that I had to drink was pop and water that afternoon and evening.

Q: What happened next?

A: The next thing that I remember, other than hanging out and talking, was waking up the next morning. I was extremely sweaty and had no idea where I was and no recollection of what had happened the previous night.

Q: What was your reaction?

A: I got up and realized that I was still in the apartment where I had been the night before and I got myself together and went home.

Q: Were you aware yet that something had happened to you?

A: I knew that something was wrong. I knew that I must have passed out or fainted or something, because I would not have just fallen asleep there at 7 pm at night.

Q: What did you do next?

A: I talked to some of my friends and went to the hospital to get tested immediately. I tested positive for GHB, but thankfully tested negative for any signs of sexual assault.

Q: What was your next step of action?

A: I went to the Indianola Police Department and talked with a couple of officers there. I told them my story and they were very helpful and reassuring. There was a female officer that I spoke to and also a male officer who had teenage daughters. They were both very comforting.

Q: How did you go about discussing the situation when you knew so little about what had happened?

A: I told them where I had been and the names of the people who had been present that I knew. They told me that since I had been off campus earlier, it could have been anyone who put the GHB in my drinks. It was not limited only to Simpson students. They questioned the people that had been present, but it seemed that no one was willing to talk. They could not even get an accurate account of who all had been present in the apartment. They never found out enough to begin to press charges.

Q: Were you scared about your story getting out?

A: I was really embarrassed and scared. I didn’t want anyone to know, not even my parents. However, when the Indianola Police Department tried to contact me, they called the home phone number on my state records. They talked to my parents and my dad drove to Indianola that same day. I hadn’t told them and he was so worried and confused that he couldn’t understand why I hadn’t called them. It was really hard.

Q: What was the most difficult part about telling people?

A: Like any other average college student, I had consumed alcohol before. Sometimes, I had even consumed too much alcohol to be in total control of myself. I thought that this would make people less likely to believe what had happened. I thought that they would doubt my story and think that I had really brought this all on myself.

Q: How did this experience change you?

A: It made me so much more aware. We all think that this is a small campus and that we know everyone. We assume that everyone here is just as caring, friendly, and considerate as ourselves. I realized that I was too trusting. I became much more withdrawn and removed myself from the social scene on campus. In ways it was a good learning lesson. It made me realize how lucky I had been that nothing extremely serious had happened. I understood why putting yourself in social situations that involve alcohol or large groups of people can be so dangerous.

Q: What did you learn that you would like others to know?

A: I found out that date-rape drugs couldn’t be traced after 12 hours, so I was really lucky that I went to the hospital within that time span. Most victims do not go to the hospital promptly and they may never find out whether they were drugged or not. I also realize how important it is to go out with groups of trustworthy friends, even on campus. You should always stay with a good friend, so that you are never in a vulnerable situation like the one that I was in. I also found out that there are some really helpful people out there for situations like this.