New Years Eve.
We were bringing in 2016. I had just gotten out of a toxic 2 year relationship. The break up was messy, I was messy, but that’s another story for another day.
I hadn’t really done anything for New Years before this year, mostly because I wasn’t “allowed” to, but also because the guy i’d been dating shattered my self esteem. I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror and being happy with who was staring back.
This year in particular, one of my girlfriends convinced me to go with her to a house party her friend was hosting. “Come on, Kim! It’ll be so much fun! It’ll help you get your mind off him. It’ll just be a small house party, nothing crazy. We’ll get you dressed up, you’ll turn every head in the room.”
I remember getting ready – if you have a good group of friends this is usually the best part of going out. I did my hair and makeup for the first time in what felt like forever. I wore jeans so tight you could see every curve, paired with a belt to keep them in place. I don’t remember what I wore on top, probably a cropped top or something. I didn’t dress up because I wanted to look sexy for someone else, but because I wanted to feel sexy for myself.
I remember the feelings I got as we walked inside:
First, excitement. I hadn’t been out to have fun in a long time.
Second, nervous. As I looked around the room, I realized that almost all of the people there had gone to the same school as my ex-boyfriend and almost everyone knew what had happened a few weeks prior. Great. The nervous feeling turned into awkward real fast.
Over the next few hours, the mingling, drinking, karaoke and things started to feel a lot easier. People that i knew from my school had shown up, so I found myself hanging around them a bit more.
People were cheering and laughing and kissing. There was so much passion in the air, i couldn’t tell the difference between people who were just lovers for the night or the ones that had come together.
I didn’t feel the desire to start 2016 by kissing a stranger.
So I drank.
I remember looking down at my bottles and being amazed that they were almost empty. A part of me felt like a champ – liver of steel, if you will.
The night started to get really fuzzy after that, but i kind of liked it. I wasn’t sad anymore like I was before I arrived. I made some friends, took some cute pictures, even met a new dog friend. Time was going by so slowly. I was dancing and playing games and telling stories and had completely forgotten about what was making me question coming in the first place.
I was so happy.
I remember the party started to die down. I was talking to a boy I thought was really cute – let’s call him Z. We hit it off. Talked a lot about friends and family, bonded over music taste, favourite foods. It was really nice having the attention from a boy with good intentions. When I noticed the time, I panicked a bit. I grabbed the boy’s hand and told him he had to help me look for my friend that I arrived with. Everyone had told me she left a few hours ago. I didn’t want to believe them.
Z helped me down the stairs to the basement to try to find her. There were a few people down, none of them were her though. Z and I sat on the couch. I told him I needed to go home. I felt my eyes start to get heavy. Z left, I assumed maybe to go to the bathroom or to call a cab or something. My blinks became longer and eventually they closed completely, not sure if it was because I was tired or because I drank a little too much.
I don’t know how long I passed out for.
I was awake enough to hear everything around me, and to feel when people bumped into my legs, but I wasn’t able to say anything or move out of the way. It was almost like I was paralyzed – I was fully aware of what was going on around me, but my eyelids were too heavy to open.
I could feel what was happening to my body. I felt my skin being touched, I felt my body start to get stimulated, my toes started to curl. I couldn’t become sober enough to have it registered.
When I woke up, I was in the same position on the couch.
I looked around and everyone was gone, except one man sitting in a chair across from me.
He smiled – he was missing teeth. I didn’t recognize him from earlier on in the evening. He was wearing a wrinkly grey t-shirt and spongebob pajama pants. I started scanning the room again. My belt was on the couch beside me, I started to panic. My skin tight jeans, along with my underwear, were around my ankles. When I touched my bare thighs I felt them start to shake. I looked up at him, he smiled again.
I started panicking even more, I was stumbling to get dressed. I remember trying to get out as fast as i could but my legs were not responding to the signals my brain was trying to send.
All I knew was that I wasn’t safe, and something very bad happened to me.
I don’t know what happened – I don’t know if I want to know what happened.
When I was finally able to put the bottom half of my outfit back on and make my way upstairs, I found someone I knew from school – we’ll call him S – outside playing beer pong. I was close with him, we had a few classes together, he knew my past.
I remember falling into his arms and sobbing. He asked me what was wrong.
“We need to go, I’m not safe. He did something to me. Please don’t leave me”
S did not question anything. He held me until I stopped shaking. He found my bag behind the TV, gathered his friends, one of which was Z, and we left. We sat outside for a while. Z sat on the stairs with me while I cried. He apologized over and over for leaving me. I remember my other friends in front of me, all drunk and heated. They were pacing trying to figure out if they wanted to go back in to find the guy or not. S made the executive decision to bring me to a safe place before they did anything else.
I remember us all piling up into a cab, we had to take two because there were so many people. S and Z didn’t let me go in a cab without them. We went back to S’s house. I started to sober up when the boys gave me food and water and tucked me into bed. They kept apologizing for what had happened. I remembered a bit of the night, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to go to bed. The boys said they were going to go back to the house and that they’d be back later.
I fell asleep.
The next morning, I was able to get a hold of my friend that I went to the party with, she picked me up from S’s house. She apologized for leaving early and told me she went home with a boy and had a great night. She assumed because I stayed at a boys house that I had a great night as well – I didn’t tell her what happened.
The next day I left for a vacation with my family. The flight down to Mexico felt longer than usual. My family thought I was rockin a “2 day hangover”, which was definitely true, but they had no idea about the other things going through my mind. I had such a hard time enjoying myself. I didn’t want to do anything with my family. I wanted to stay in the hotel room every day. I wanted to physically isolate myself, the way it felt internally.
I remember waking up one morning while i was away with a Facebook message from Z;
“Hey! Are you the Kim i was chillin with on new years?? Haha, good times, except for the creep at the end. Sorry again. My friends went back and beat him up after that btw”
I remember my brain flooding with emotions – like I was trying to navigate my way through a maze that has no exit. I didn’t think I would hear from Z again. A part of me was upset that he reached out because I was trying everything in my power to forget that night and everyone in it, but another part of me felt a lot of comfort from him reaching out. All week, I was debating back and forth whether I wanted to do something about it or not. Whether i wanted to report or if I should leave it. Who should I talk to? Will anyone believe me?
I messaged S and apologized again for making them leave the party early;
“Kim don’t worry about it! What that guy did was terrible.”
I asked him his opinion on what i should do moving forward… I told him I had doubts in my story because I don’t remember everything. I don’t remember saying “no”. S encouraged me to report and told me that he would go with me because he remembers what he looked like. He helped comfort me and told me all my feelings were valid and apologized again for what had happened.
I was feeling confident enough that I wanted to make a report – 2 weeks after the incident.
When I came home from my trip, I didn’t hear from S. I reached out to try to see if he was still willing to go with me, but I got no response. I was absolutely terrified to go on my own.
So I left it.
I’m gonna be completely honest with you – I haven’t told this story to a lot of people. The first person I told was my very close friend Tj, who passed away 2 months later (RIP love, thank you for all the love from above). I told him more details than he probably wanted to know. Tj was one of the most encouraging people in my life at the time – when I told him what had happened, he didn’t skip a beat and knew all the right things to say, whether he tried to or not.
I was hesitating posting this today, I was explaining this to R earlier today – I’ve been waiting for the “perfect” time to share. I think mainly because this story is so different from my first and has a lot of room for “victim blaming”.
“How much did you have to drink?”
“What were you wearing?”
“Why did you go out in the first place?”
These are all real responses I’ve gotten.
Truth is, it took me YEARS to stop blaming myself for what had happened. I carried guilt for so long and spent hours making up scenarios in my head of what I “should” have done (maybe i’ll touch on how i got over this mindset in a later post).
Tonight, I was going back and forth a lot with the idea of sharing, until I saw the sunset. It was beautiful – the clouds were pink, the sky was a perfect ombre from blue to orange. Sounds cheesy, I know. I felt like Tj was reminding me that there is no “perfect” time, ever. I felt like he opened the sky and said “KIM!!! YOU WERE LOOKING FOR A SIGN, THIS IS IT. YOU GOT THIS, BEAUTIFUL. People deserve to hear your story, you deserve to share it. You are so powerful, so strong, and so worthy.”
Read that again;
You are so powerful,
All my love,
Xx – K