The Statistics that Changed Me
A #SurvivorStory by Scattered Kat
2 sexual assaults and 1 rape… the statistics of my story.
I can’t promise that this story is pleasant, but I can tell you that power and growth comes with telling it. So sincerely, thank you for hearing me out.
I was in Chebut, Argentina (a part of the Patagonian region) on mid-semester break. Many of the other study abroad students in my program had chosen to go see the Salt flats in Northwestern Argentina. I, however, had much bigger plans… literally. I was finally going to see the whales I had read endlessly about and dreamed of. Okay, maybe normal people don’t dream of whales, but for me, this trip was EVERYTHING. I couldn’t wait to be splashed by the ocean’s waves as we boated out, to see their tails peak over the sea’s surface, and I craved to get a close enough view to see them below me in the water. Puerto Madryn
I never thought that shortly before my dreams came true, I would feel all the joy leave my body to be replaced by complete emptiness.
Incoming statistics 1 and 2
One evening, my friend and I walked the coast to a cute restaurant called Lizard Cafe. We talked about our excitement for what we would see and our disbelief that we had come this far. The sun set as we devoured our pizza.
We started back to our Airbnb chatting more when we were approached by two young males (around 18-20ish years old). One of them asked me for my Instagram. We laughed over having received the lamest pickup line ever. We continued on our way and the boys ran after us. They said that they had extra pizza and that we could watch TV with them. They were the least threatening people I had seen, so we went along.
Finding ourselves in a small apartment, we talked, danced, and got to know each other. There was another man there who gave me an ugly gut feeling. He was older than the others, maybe 25-28, cocky and ill-mannered. He chain smoked cigarettes and had arms covered with tattoos. As unappealing as he was, I was comforted by the fact he had a wedding ring on.
As it got late, I could tell the my friend was ready to leave. They convinced me to stay a bit longer. I made sure that my friend was okay with this. We agreed that she would text me right away when she got back to the Airbnb which and that I would return within the next hour.
My friend left and, with her, one of the younger males. I was left with my two assaulters; we’ll call them Mateo and Juan. They were drinking down fernet and coke like it was water. I think I had maybe two beers and a sip of fernet. I watched them as they got drunker and, put bluntly, moronic. At one point, I actually thought they were gay for one-another – they had made quite the show grinding to some American pop song.
Apparently my singing along to a Rihanna song had invited attention because once the song ended, Mateo came over and kissed me straight on the mouth, sloppy and tasting of alcohol. I was shocked and asked him not to do that again. He said that he was sorry and that we were friends.
That’s what friends do, right?
I said multiple times that I was ready to go home, but they convinced me again and again to stay. So I did. Every bizarre red flag I dismissed because they assured me that we were friends just having a good time.
Things changed after another round of drinks. Mateo now in the restroom, Juan grabbed my arm and pulled me to him on the couch. He grabbed the back of my neck, trying to make me kiss him. I restrained, telling him no. He was persistent, and grabbed my neck tighter, kissing me against my will. I counted the seconds, waiting for Mateo to come back to make it stop.
I was absolutely disgusted by this man.
I sat there, wondering how to leave in the best way. I had learned that the door to leave the apartment building was locked from the inside and needed a key to leave. My best bet was to convince Mateo to let me go home.
When Juan went to use the restroom next, I quickly informed Mateo what Juan had done to me. I said that I wanted to go home, asking if he could let me out? I hoped that he could see the urgency of this through his red brimmed eyes. Mateo heard my plea, saying that we would leave once he used the restroom once more.
*huge sigh of relief
I waited near the apartment door as Mateo and Juan exchanged places. With Juan back in the living area and Mateo out of site, Juan returned to his role of predator. He grabbed my wrist and began dragging me into the bedroom nearby. I told him that I didn’t want to, but he treated it like it was a game. He forced me to kiss him again as he pushed me towards the bedroom. I was scared. God I was scared.
I had never been so relieved to see someone when Mateo returned. I told Juan that I was leaving. Mateo acted as a protector and helped me get outside of the apartment building.
Having escaped, I told Mateo about everything that Juan had tried to do and how I had been frightened. He apologized on Juan’s behalf and said that he actually didn’t know him that well. Mateo said that since it was late, he would walk me back to make sure I was safe. I was grateful.
But first, he needed to grab a sweatshirt from where he was staying. He said that the place he was staying at was just around the corner. I believed that I would be fine to walk myself home, but he said that it would only take a few seconds to grab it. I said okay and walked with him around the corner to another apartment building.
I said that I would wait outside the door for him to run up and grab it. He said that it wasn’t safe to stand out there alone and I agreed since there was a small group of men nearby. I went with him inside the apartment building and stood at the bottom of the steps waiting. Mateo said that it still was not safe down there either and that I could come to his room while he grabbed his sweatshirt.
I hesitated, but agreed. Upon entering his room, he headed off to the bathroom right away. He came back into the bedroom area with less clothes on – bare from his waist up.
“Umm where is your sweatshirt”?
He ignored the question saying that we should hang out there for a little bit and talk before walking back.
For the umpteenth time I vocalized that I should really get going and that I could walk myself, but I was convinced, yet again, to stay. Annoyed, I sat down on the edge of his bed to wait.
When I did so, Mateo locked his apartment door. He came over to me forcing himself onto me, taking my clothes off, kissing me. I pushed him off, trying to get my shirt straightened out. He retreated, holding his head down and apologizing. It sounded as if he was about to cry.
I was so confused as to what the heck was going on. I saw what looked like a drunk and broken boy. I wondered about his mental health and what he had gone through in his life to make him react that way. His pathetic state pulled at my heart strings. I sat back down and assured him that it was okay, placing my hand on his back.
He was so sad, and begged me to stay just a little bit longer. When “okay” escaped my lips, the broken boy disappeared. The look in his eyes worried me deeply. Within an instant, they had gone from sad to obsessive and hungry.
He was far more aggressive this time, taking my clothes off before I even could process what was happening. My body was frozen and my mind was spinning circles. I didn’t know who this person was, if he was capable of hurting me, and what I should do.
I was frozen.
I remember feeling completely dissociated from my body, as if it did not belong to me at all. It was only me and the voice in my head, blocking out the reality that was taking place.
Forced kisses, primitive grunts, using his fingers and tongue in places I’d only ever allowed lovers to go, I laid there. My eyes fixated on the ceiling, tears spilled out as he assaulted me. I tried holding my hand over my pelvis, but he kept removing it to assault me more. As he was getting ready to rape me, I dug deep and decided that I was not going to let this be my fate.
My body went on autopilot as I burst back to life, getting him off of me. He instantly retreated to his earlier game of hanging his head in his hands, crying, and begging me to stay. I was sick to my stomach. I found my clothes and dressed myself as quickly as possible. Seeing that I was headed towards the door, he stood in front of it, still begging me to stay.
I stared straight into his pitiful eyes and said that if he didn’t get out of my way, I would scream as loud as I could. He stepped away slightly and I got the door open. He began spiraling out of control, crying more, begging, throwing his hands up and down with frustration. I ran.
I ran far enough and fast enough to know that he had not seen me and could not have caught up. I glanced back out of breath, confirming his absence.
I was alone and in a panic. I imagined men waiting in the shadows to capture me and was tortured by thoughts of what my parents would think of me. I missed them greatly in those moments. I looked out to the ocean and felt a sadness to match its depth.
Then, out came this beautiful stray dog, dark brown and with the most loving eyes. He came up to me like he had known me all of my life. I reached down with tears in my eyes to pet his head, his tail wagging wildly. This sweetheart walked me all the way back to the Airbnb. I cried at how the universe had gifted me with his presence. I smile now reflecting on this.
As traumatizing as that night was, I still got up a few days later to fulfill the dream I had came to Patagonia with ~ I was going to see those whales no matter what.
The day arrived and I saw whale tails everywhere around me! I felt the waves splash up to leave dried salt on my face and I was blessed with the moment I craved most: a mother and her newborn swimming below the surface in my full view.
I was shocked by the beauty of these creatures. I remember wiping tears from my eyes and feeling as though nothing would ever be able to take that moment away from me. My feelings towards that remain the same.
Like all days, my perfect day came to an end. Returning from my trip, I tried seeing a counselor to make sense of what happened to me, but the only good that seemed to come out of that was the numbing medication. The Clonazepam eased my full blown panic attacks into blank stares and a few escaping tears.
I swallowed the event, shoved it to the furthest corner of my mind, and pretended that I was fine. And I was fine, kind of. The events and their toll on me only surfaced after having a few too many drinks or when I couldn’t explain away my distant, avoidant, and sporadic behaviors any longer.
Life went on . . . until it didn’t again.
Statistic 3 coming at ya
Having made the move back to Minnesota, I landed a job as a case manager in the Twin Cities. I was proud of myself for how far I had come in the 8 months since my assaults. I had a well-paying job, loved the company I was working for, and was near all of my friends and family. And with the help of my optimistic view on life, I was moving on from my heartbreak and ready to just have fun again.
Being new to the cities, I had the desire to find the BEST place to dance. Only problem was that, on that particular weekend, all of my friends were busy or out of town. This was nothing that had stopped me before from seeking out a good time and making new friends before, so I decided to go out.
I remember spinning around my room, listening to music and sipping on a beer. I tried on about 5 outfits before settling on a metallic bodysuit, sparkling black pants, and my trusty combat boots. I wore orange lipstick and my favorite Dior Blackout mascara. One final touch: attaching my pepper spray to my bra strap. I felt beautiful, happy, excited, and free.
I called up an Uber, ending up with a kind woman with a 5-star rating. I was safely delivered to downtown Minneapolis’ Aqua night club.
The music was great, turns out, but my mood was dropping quickly as I hadn’t found anyone to talk with. As I was sipping on a drink, I overheard a Spanish accent that I did not recognize. I turned and saw a very short man with braces, bald head, and a big smile. He was next to a taller man, who I couldn’t get much of a read on besides that he was about 35ish years old.
I walked up and introduced myself, happy to be able to practice my Spanish.
“Alejandro y Diego, un placer de conocerles”(nice to meet you).
We hit it off, talking about our lives, cultures, travel experiences, etc. I learned that Alejandro was a permanent resident living in Minnesota and that himself and Diego had been friends since childhood. Diego was visiting Minnesota for the first time, having traveled from Columbia, his home. He would be staying for about a week and asked me everything that he should see before his trip ends.
We talked and talked and talked until deciding that we should go hang out in a quieter environment.
I think it was even my idea, actually, to go to Alejandro’s house. He mentioned that it was nearby and that we could play games, watch a movie, drink or even smoke weed. It had been quite some time since I had smoked and I was hoping to just laugh and have a good time.
We took a cab to his apartment. They offered me a beer, but I declined. We talked for probably over an hour as Diego showed me pictures of his daughter and videos of traditional events of Columbia. I was so happy to know the insider secrets of the country and to get a taste of their culture. Of course, one day I hoped to visit Colombia.
We listened next to music artists from Columbia and they were impressed that I already knew most of the songs. I was feeling grateful that I had made new friends and was genuinely enjoying myself.
I felt safe enough to smoke weed with them.
Only myself and Alejandro smoked. We laughed and passed the bowl back and forth sitting next to each other on the floor. I looked over at Diego and saw that he had moved to be laying on the bed. He was staring at me in a way that he hadn’t the entire night before.
A coy smile spread onto his face when I asked him why he was looking at me so strangely. That was when my intuition kicked in … something was off.
But it was too late. Whatever type of weed I smoked soon had me feeling sluggish. I tried to participate in conversation, but soon felt that I needed to lay down. I announced that I was going to go sleep on the couch in the living room, which is what I went to do.
I laid there on the couch, feeling so overcome with tiredness. I don’t know how much time passed, but the next time I opened up my eyes, Diego was standing above me.
I could not keep my eyes open as he kissed my motionless body, took my clothes off, and did as he pleased. I remember being somewhat aware of what was happening to me, but not being able to get my body to move.
During the events, I had slipped into a dream-like state, and remember envisioning that it was my previous boyfriend who was there with me(typing this sounds so bizarre and makes me feel sick knowing the disgusting reality of who it really was).
At one point, I had come into consciousness enough to open my eyes. I was confused as to what was happening, and for whatever reason, I invited Alejandro to come perform oral on me. And he did as I drifted out of consciousness again into my dream.
That was the only act that Alejandro performed and he listened the next time I came into consciousness and told him to stop. I finally got a grasp on what was actually happening and felt better seeing him disappear from the room.
But Diego was still there and he had no intention of stopping. I will never be able to wipe the image from my brain of him standing over me with no clothing on. I slipped out of consciousness again.
I was trapped in a nightmare. I didn’t wake up until I had been jerked to life by the physical pain that came with the rape. I rolled off the couch, crying with pain. I wanted my mom in that moment. I wanted my dad too, to take care of this horrible person. But I was alone.
In that realization came an extreme rush of adrenaline. I demanded that they bring me all of my belongings and rushed to put some of my clothes back on my body. Their eyes displayed shock and fear as I yelled at them. It bought me enough time to get my things together, but Diego still tried blocking the hallway off from me as I moved towards the door. I shoved him as hard as I could and ran out into the night.
Alejandro tried running after me, calling for me to return. I didn’t look back. I spotted a bush and dove into it until Alejandro turned back. I sat there staring across at the hospital afraid to walk there. I was so obviously high and out of sorts I feared that I would be the one in trouble. So I somehow managed to call an Uber to take me back.
I cried the entire way back, mad at myself for what had happened.
The next day, I was emotionally numb. I slept all day, did not eat, and did not talk with anyone. By the end of the day, I started to get the feeling that I needed to do something. I painstakingly looked up the definition of rape and sexual assault. My stomach dropped as I understood the reality of what happened to me.
My life had changed. Everything had changed.