When I awoke on the bright spring morning of March 21st, 1986 in a pensione in Venice, Italy, I didn't expect the day to end on a dark, deserted beach with an Italian boy I'd just met pinning me to the ground hissing in my ear that he had "un coltello" (a knife) and that "ho intenzione di ucciderti" (he'd kill me) if I didn't "f--k" him.
Getting dressed that morning I didn't know I'd have an out-of-body experience where I seemed to float above the scene, looking down at the two bodies grappling on the sand below, feeling profoundly sad that my mom might never know what happened to me after I died on that beach so far from home.
After what seemed like half an hour of struggle, I managed to escape my attacker, but things could have taken a much darker turn. I'm a mother now. My daughters are 9 and 11. And the thought of them ever being in a similar situation is intolerable.
Bad things can happen no matter how prepared and careful we are. But when my girls are old enough I'm going to share my story with them and hope they'll be aware of the 7 Warning Signs For Date Rape that I missed.
1. Your Date Tries To Get You To Ignore Your Instincts.
When my friends and I were dining at a restaurant on vacation in Italy, a handsome Italian named Fabrizio approached our table and asked if he could join us for a drink. Ready for adventure and a little romance, we agreed.
Fabrizio was charming and funny, but as we left the restaurant with him, two of his friends seemed to magically appear out of nowhere and asked to join us.
My gut told me this was a bad idea and that this coincidence seemed premeditated, but after a lot of coaxing and cajoling we allowed all three boys to join us.
2. Your Date Wants To Take You To A Secluded Location.
My friends and I accompanied all three boys to a deserted beach, even though we didn't want to go. We were charmed and badgered into going. In retrospect I realize we didn't want to come across as unfriendly or uptight. Wanting to please is a fairly common, and in this situation, unwise feminine trait.
3. Appearances Lull You Into A Sense Of Safety.
The boy who attacked me was very handsome, and I must admit because of this I trusted him.
4. Your Date Encourages You To Drink Or Take Drugs.
My friends and I were plied with wine, when none of the boys would drink.
5. Your Date Tries To Separate You From Your Friends.
My date encouraged me to stay behind with him on the beach when my friends wanted to leave. I complied because the wine had relaxed me and I was looking for a kiss. Romance. Not rape. Unfortunately, my date had a different agenda.
6. Accomplices and Conspiracies: There may be multiple perpetrators who conspire to commit the crime.
I believe all three boys were in cahoots about separating my friends and I in order to get us to have sex with them.
7. Date Rapists Amp Up Their Attack Gradually So The Victim Doubts Herself.
My friends and I were with the boys for well over an hour before they managed to separate us. It is never wise to be separated from your friends with a man you don't know extremely well.
For my full story and step-by-step breakdown of the red flags I missed, go to: It Happened To Me: A Letter About Date Rape For My Daughters.