Last night when I saw a tiny girl in a miniskirt and heels, slumped over in the arms of a guy, I had to stop and at least ask what was going on. At first, the guy had a startled look in his eyes, and was definitely sweating--maybe from the strain of carrying her, or because he was so damn suspicious. His first response to me was that her friends told him to take her home from an event, but I knoooow that gals travel in packs, especially when going o-u-t for real, and few friends would ditch their distressed miss into a strange man's arms.
I wasn't sure if this girl just drank too much, or was potentially drugged, so I treaded lightly at first. Roofies are fast acting and only take 10-20 minutes to reach full potency. They cause drowsiness, lowered blood pressure, muscle relaxation, dizziness, slurred speech, poor reaction time, confusion, and memory impairment. We live in a culture full of sexual violence and their is plenty of information about Date Rape Prevention...but that's the wrong language. Date Rape is almost impossible to prevent, so we have to combat it by watching out for suspicious behavior, and safely challenging potential perpetrators.
When I confronted him about this unconscious lady and asked if she had been drugged, he simply laughed and said, “Oh yeah, I’m sure this looks like something out of a movie."
One, roofies are not a joke. Two, you are a big dude dragging a tiny, dolled up girl into a car; you don’t get to make jokes. I felt suspicious and told him that if he knew her, he could call her roommate or friends to come meet us to bring her home. As we discussed Jane's night and how John ended up with her, it became clear to me that something was off and she would not be safe alone.
My instinct was to ask this dude as much info about Jane as I could until he either cracked and gave up, or his story didn’t add up and I could straight up report him for being a creep. Key questions:
- Where are you coming from?
- What are you doing here tonight?
- How much did she have to drink?
- Where are you headed?
- Where are her friends?
- Why aren’t you bringing her back to her own place?
- What is her name?
- Where does she go to school?
Most importantly, I didn’t give him the option of being alone with her. Confronting a suspicious person can be dangerous, so always exercise caution if you choose to intervene in a suspicious situation. Approach carefully, pay attention to body language and don’t be alone with this person.
The next step was getting Jane inside to a safe space, which was luckily an NYU building with security, who took one look at her and said that they had to call an ambulance to get her out of there. This policy is enacted because intoxicated people are a liability -- but after explaining my concerns about drugging, they cut me some slack to hang out and wait for back up from her friends. Many universities have rules about intoxication, but will also work with you to get necessary help for someone.
So with Jane's limp body now slumped into my lap, I tried to wake her, checked her breathing, kept reminding John to call her friends or any other person from the event who knew where she lived. At first he told me that they were "kinda dating" and then told me he was just doing her friends a favor by bringing her home (to his place, not hers?). John eventually left after the RA on duty showed up and started asking lots of questions. Buh-bye!
Jane’s night ended covered in sangria-vomit in the back of an ambulance, which was the best of the many other awful options that seemed possible that night. I am incredibly glad I trusted my gut, and questioned what didn't seem right. Now a bad hangover was all Jane had to nurse the next day.
The moral of this story is that a little questioning can go a long way, and suspicious behavior should be addressed. Don't just assume things are okay, or trust someone else to intervene. John made me feel like I was being a nuisance to him, but isn't it better safe than sorry for the sake of Jane? This event didn’t take place in a dingy bar or a quiet part of town, it was on a busy street corner, next to a full bus stop of onlookers, next to many college dorms, restaurants and bars. Security and the RA made jokes about how often stuff like this happens, so why aren’t we learning to protect and help one another? Although it was a long night and I ended up covered in someone else’s puke, I hope that others may follow my example and we can all get some positive karma out of this. Wouldn't you want someone else to do the same for you?
You can find lots more information about Rape and Violence Prevention here. Take the time to educate yourself on how to remain safe while keeping others safe.
Editor's note: this story shows how small acts of heroism can make a huge difference in the lives of others, and how you can work against the reality of sexual violence and assault. Keep being awesome, Kelsey!
Images Courtesy of CDC, NYU, and Save Edmonton