One of the lessons we share in the trainings and programs we provide at The DATE SAFE Project is that “Human beings are wired to care for each other.”
Too frequently only the stories about lack of respect, degradation and abuses get airtime – making it feel like no one is out there making a positive impact in the lives of others. An example is when ALL of our military members get unfairly stereotyped for not being willing to intervene to stop sexual assault.
Then along comes a different kind of story. Meet Sarah. Sarah is one of our outstanding military services members. Recently Sarah contacted us after being in the audience of a training Mike conducted for the U.S. military. Sarah wanted to share her story – what happens when people do the right thing. Please know that in his presentation Mike had discussed the documentary “Audrie and Daisy.”
This is Sarah’s story
(Sarah changed the names of the people involved)
I want to share a good news story: After your class today, I went home and watched Audrie and Daisy. It’s been years since I thought about one of the nights I was almost raped (there were so many that in retrospect I’m honestly shocked it never happened). This night in particular, was initiation for an elite group within ROTC that I’d been working really hard to join. A female had never made the cut before, but I was determined to be “one of the guys.” I made it through all the hazing, excelled in stressful situations, passed all the physical tests ahead of many of the boys, and was peer evaluated as 2 out of about 15 in the group who had made it to the end. I later found out that every single peer had listed me as number 2.
During initiation at the leader’s house, everyone was blindfolded so we didn’t know who else had made it in. At the end, the active members went around one by one and asked “alcoholic or non-alcoholic?” Feeling invincible and like I still had something to prove, I opted for alcoholic. We did several toasts, and on the last one were instructed to finish the drink before removing the blindfold and being accepted into the group. I chugged it and was the first one finished. About 15 minutes later, I blacked out.
I woke up the next day in a strange apartment. I didn’t have my phone or my glasses, and nobody was there. I found some water and just sat on the sofa wondering what had gone on the night before. Despite the hangover, I was really proud of having made it into the group. I wasn’t alone too long before one of the older members (we’ll call him Rob) came home. I asked him if he knew where my phone and glasses were, and to tell me about the previous night.
According to Rob, not long after I blacked out, the guys noticed that I was in bad shape, so they moved me to a bedroom and rotated checking on me about every 15 minutes. At some point, Rob went in and saw that another older member (we’ll call him Jordan) was sitting on the bed, staring at me, seemingly wanting to make a move. Rob told him to get away from me and leave the party. Jordan was drunk and wouldn’t go, saying he wanted to hook up with me. Rob lost his cool and shouted for some of the other guys. Together, they called a cab, wrestled him out of the house, and kicked him out of the group for good. I didn’t have any marks, so there was nothing that led me to believe Jordan was able to make a move before Rob intervened.
Unlike what one of the female officers said today, those guys DID treat me like their sister. What could have been a devastating night instead became the night I felt more accepted for who I was than I ever had before. I had worked all semester to prove to these guys that I was an asset, not a liability. That night, they proved to me that I was worthy, that I mattered, and that I was one of them. Intervention matters.
Thank you for doing what you do. Because of you, I’m sure there are many more stories like mine, and that’s a huge deal.