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“To this day I am not sure why the guy in the cowboy hat targeted me. I am not sure what lesson he wanted to teach me or why he felt he needed to teach me anything at all. “

It was a moment that forever changed my life. I woke up in a bed and for some reason, I immediately began checking myself over, making sure my clothes hadn’t been disturbed and I still had my underwear on. To my relief, everything was intact. I noticed a lump next to me and knew there was a person under it. I frantically ripped the blanket back to see who was under it. Again, to my relief, it was another girl whose clothes were also intact.

I sat up in bed trying to orient myself to my surroundings. I had a pounding headache and an intense mental fog. As I came to, he crawled into bed next to me and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away and said no. He was quite irritated. I remember thinking he must have thought I would still be incoherent.

I stumbled out of the bed. I was dizzy and had a hard time maintaining my balance. I searched for my friend. I found her in the bathroom with a guy I had never seen before. Something unexplainable came over me. I immediately told her to get away from him and would not leave the room until she did.

We went downstairs and gathered with the other partygoers in the kitchen. Everyone was clearly hungover and was talking about the party the night before. I strained to remember, but my mind was blank. All I could remember was him helping my friend and me with our togas and having two glasses of vodka and orange juice. Everything else was in bits and pieces. I remembered going over to a table to play beer pong. I remembered singing happy birthday to him with his dad. Everything else was missing.

My friend and I went to leave. I remember getting into my car and feeling extremely confused. My car seat was further back than I had left it. The gas tank was emptier than I had left it. I didn’t know why. I couldn’t remember. We got to a gas station and I got out to fill up. I told my friend that I couldn’t remember the night and asked her how much I had to drink.

She started to tear up as though her memories started to flood back. She told me she only saw me have two drinks, but as the night went on, despite not seeing me with any more drinks, I acted as though I was getting more and more drunk. She said the more time went on, the more clumsy and disoriented I was becoming. She told me that she had put me to bed and sat at the top of the stairs monitoring every person who attempted to get past her. She told me there was a guy in a cowboy hat that attempted to get past her. When she asked him what he was doing, he told her he was going to see me so that “She could learn from the mistakes she made when she got up in the morning.” She would not let him get near me. At one point she came to check on me and couldn’t find me. She searched all over and found me laying on the floor in the dark in the closet.

Bits and pieces of the night came flooding back. I remember taking the cowboy hat from his head in the middle of the crowded room and putting it on my head. I remembered searching the bedroom for a place to hide, opening the closet door, and falling inside. I looked down at the bruises I had from clumsily falling into the closet. To this day, those are the only fragments I can remember. I am not sure if something happened to me or not. I can’t imagine what would have happened to me had my friend not been there.

When we got back to my dorm room, I asked my friend if I could go see the guy I had been seeing while she slept. I remember walking up to his buzzer. We had gone out on dates, but I had never come to his place before. I pushed the buzzer. When he answered all I could do was muffle out can I come in? He knew I had gone to a party the night before. He immediately came out of his apartment and started walking toward me. I burst into tears and just started to sob. He held me in his arms and took me inside. I don’t remember what I told him or what he told me. I just remember laying in his arms for hours that day crying and sleeping on and off. My mom and my friend called me on and off all day, but I was numb. I couldn’t think. I could hardly talk. It felt like I was paralyzed.

I contacted the police in the city the party took place. I told the officer I believed I was given a date rape drug. He knew the house of the guy who crawled into bed with me that morning very well. He and his officers had been there several times before. He had seemed so nice. I never would have thought he would be involved in something like this. I could not give the officer the name of the guy in the cowboy hat. I hardly remembered anything about him. The officer said he would look into it. Ultimately, nothing came of my report because nothing could be proven.

I contacted him and told him the guy in the cowboy hat at his party gave me a date rape drug, expecting him to be furious with him. Instead, he was furious with me. He accused me of lying. He told me I had too much to drink – that I drank ¾ of the bottle of vodka myself. He hung up and I never talked to him again. I remember straining myself to see if I could recall whether I had too much to drink. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember anything beyond those two drinks. He made me feel like it was my fault. He made me doubt myself. If it wasn’t for my friend I would probably still think I just had too much drink. I was also pretty sure if I had drank ¾ of a bottle of vodka myself, I would have ended up with alcohol poisoning.

I was never the same after that. Certain things triggered me. I didn’t realize this at first. I only realized it as it was happening. I would be out in a bar and if a guy looked at a girl a certain way, I was sent into a tailspin of emotions and would need to leave. I would immediately start having a panic attack. It was as if my body was remembering things my mind could not.

To this day I am not sure why the guy in the cowboy hat targeted me. I am not sure what lesson he wanted to teach me or why he felt he needed to teach me anything at all. What I do know is that he had no right to me or to my body. It’s incredible and heartbreaking how another human being can change the rest of your life in a matter of moments. It is even more heartbreaking knowing he was never held accountable. He got to go on with his life, while mine would be forever altered.

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