My story starts out as someone who moved almost 3,000 miles away from home to start their lives in Miami. I was very young and moved with my very best gay male friends. We found a great place right on the water. We were living the dream at 23. I got a job with a cruise line as receptionist. I did not really attempt to make new friends since my friends were with me. I started talking to a friend of a colleague. I was not interested in anything romantic, but it was nice to finally meet new people. His name was John. He was funny and the conversation was great. We talked mainly when I was at work since he would call my colleague daily. This was before texting was popular. It took a while before I agreed to go out with him for happy hour. I finally did.
What I found weird is that he wanted to meet up with me at one of those seedy places with private hot tub rooms. He says so we can bring our own bottle. I told him right away, I will not meet you there, not my kind of place. I will meet you after work, at a restaurant. I have no desire to go to a place like that. He said ok, and he told me where to meet him. We met at a Colombian restaurant after work. I brought my own car and had no desire to make it a late night. The conversation was flowing as usual. We were having a great time. I know I had a big lunch that day, and I was starting on my third (smaller than usual) apple martini when I started to feel a little weird. I have never been drugged before and before I knew it, I was in his truck going somewhere else. I had no idea what was going on. All I could remember was the smell of chlorine. He took me to that hot tub place I did not want to go to. I have no idea what was going on. I cannot tell you when the act of rape star ted or finished. I was on my period on one of my heavy days. Even if I was attracted to him, I would not want to have sex with anyone during that time. I can only assume I was screaming or doing something to make the attendant speak up. She started yelling in Spanish through the door, “You need to leave or I will call the cops”. We left and I was still had no idea what was going on. I can only speculate the horror of the attendant’s face when she saw my sky blue work pants stained with blood, or how we left the room.
John took me back to my car. I pleaded with him to not leave me since there was no way I could drive. He said he couldn’t, then he left. I could not make out the names or numbers on my phone to call my roommates or even a cab. All I could do was sleep in my car until the cops discovered me.
I had a Miami Police officer knock on my window. My eyes were shut as I laid in the back seat of my car, still not knowing what has happened. The Officer told me to step out of the car. He said was going to arrest me for DUI until he saw my pants. At this point, I have been without a tampon for a few hours and I have no idea how rough he was with me. Blood was all the way to my knees. I told him I think I have been drugged and something bad happened to me. The police officer had sympathy for me. The officer got my address from my registration information and took me home. I do not know how I made it in the house and up to my room after the police dropped me off. All I remember was finally feeling safe.
After the effects of the drug wore off, I could not help to feel like something died inside of me. I felt awful, dirty, like a whore. I did not feel safe in Miami anymore. I would only leave the house alone if I was going to work. I would not even go to the grocery store or the gym without one of my roommates. I lost all sense of joy and fell into a pit. I almost felt the universe confirmed all the things that horrible people said I was. I was only good for one thing and that I got what I deserved by getting raped. I was just some whore and would never amount to anything in this life. I was never smart enough because look what happened. I come from a strict family and could not tell them what happened. Looking back, I am sure they would have understood and not judged. I wish I knew that at 23. I was so scared to say anything to my grandparents or to my parents. The then denial stage set in for many years. I did not want to be that girl who got raped. I was not that girl that would fall for some line and end up in my car bleeding out when a cop discovered me. My roommates consoled me and did the best they knew how. I thought I was over it, but never really was since I pushed it down so far that I never thought about it much for almost 12 years.
Before I left Miami, my rapist found me at my second job one evening. I was like oh gosh…now what?! I was not sure how to react, whether to cry or scream. He was crying uncontrollably when he saw me, big tears down his face. I was so numb to it. I was numb period. John told me how sorry he was for what he did to me. I looked at him in the eye with a stone stare, did not say a word. While I had a rare opportunity to get an apology from my rapist, I never pressed charges. I felt sorry and was disgusted with him. I would leave Miami 4 months later to go back to California.
I later found out he got into an accident by hitting a police car on the night of my attack. John eventually got deported back to his country for getting into too much trouble stateside. While he would not be able to hurt anyone else in Miami, I can’t imagine what harm he would do in his home country. That was just the beginning of the hell and torment I put myself through for almost 12 years.
Most victims would have been pleased with the idea of their rapist apologized and eventually got deported. Yes…I was. The mental anguish that came with it though was a while other story. I was in denial for years, it affected my relationships. While some of these guys I was in a relationship with had to go, I kept accusing the right guy of thinking I was some whore and how I was only good for one thing. Of course, they never thought that. The good ones left me behind. Confirmation bias reassured itself time and time again. I could not figure out why. I felt I had my stuff in alignment (good job…world travel…great friends…greater family), made peace with any issues I had with my dad, etc. I was still repeating the same patterns with someone I loved so much. While we remained friends, I did not make it easy for him. I felt I was difficult to love, but why? Why was I so difficult?? Why was I the one who God chose to live this life? I swore I would never return to Miami, until I won an all-expense paid trip to Miami.
I was always a documentary film junkie. I watched a doc film about campus rape and how much of an epidemic it was here in the USA. This was about 2 weeks before I was set to go to Miami for the first time since 2004. I cried and realize I was a victim myself. It was the first step to my healing. Just thinking about going to Miami made me have flashbacks from that night. I told one of my girlfriends and started to tell others I trusted. I went even though my subconscious did not want to go. I went and made the best of it. I cried while I was there but really did not put the two together. How could I be so sad at a 5 star hotel and not wanting to go out with everyone else?? I would look over my balcony while talking to a guy I was seeing during that time. I really did not even want to leave my hotel room. I knew he was gone…but what if? I even got mad at my ex/best friend that couldn’t go with me. Looking back I wanted a guy I trusted to be with us in Miami. I could no t fathom the thought that this could happen to my very young best friend who is like a sister to me.
The second part of my healing was discovering Brave Miss World. I discovered this doc a few weeks after I came back. As if the universe was sending this my way to watch. I cried and I was no longer in denial. This rape did happen and it wasn’t my fault. I let out years of sobs during the movie, sometimes pausing it so I could cry. The third part of my healing was looking at the things I would accuse my ex-boyfriend of. It was the same thing over and over again. I read all the texts the next morning and sobbed. I love this man more than anything. He is the most generous and kindest person I know. I feel we could have made it work if I acknowledged this part of my journey many years back instead of being in denial. He has stuck around even when it was unbearable to be friends. I read those texts, and I knew that he did not think for a moment I was a whore or anything negative about me. I was just telling him what I thought of MYSELF. This was how my rapist made me feel. I was not worthy of love. I was just here for a man’s physical pleasure. I was not worthy of having a healthy relationship. What was crazy is that I never talked about other people as cruel as I talked about myself. That was when I knew I had to change. Even if I did not end up with my best friend and love of my life, I was not going to be restricted by this anymore. It took me 12 years…several failed relationships…many therapy sessions…and 1 trip to Miami to set myself free. I have acknowledged being “that girl” who got raped. While I have forgiven my rapist, I will never forget. I know it was hard to forgive him, but why should I allow him to act through Satan to keep sabotaging everything I ever wanted in this life?? I am not a religious person, but I don’t believe God wanted us to suffer like this. As my best friend who consoled me told me…I need to be patient with the process. I have already felt a big weight lifted. I will never be so me an to myself ever again because of what someone did to me. I hope everyone else can find that place within your journey.
— Danielle, age 35