Trigger Warning: Date Rape, Teen Drinking, Drug Use
The actions I took one night caused me damage that I did not think I could ever heal from. On December 19, 1999, I was spending time with my best friend, Ariana, and her sister, Maria — who was going to be celebrating her 20th birthday that evening. Ariana was 13 at the time, and I just turned 14 on the 5th of October. Maria suggested we all should spend the night at a local hotel and have a party. I lied to my parents telling them I would be staying at Ariana’s house, and Ariana lied to her father telling him she would be staying at my house. Maria, Ariana and I piled into a car with Maria’s boyfriend, Ivan, and his friend, Cai. Ivan and Cai purchased beer and liquor then dropped us off with it at the hotel, while they went to do other things. They would return later in the evening.
Maria purchased a room, and we all went up the elevator to the level it was on. When we entered the room, we started to drink and Maria pulled out a rolled-up joint of marijuana in which we all smoked. I remember feeling so “cool” being a part of their group. At that age, I believe spending time with an older crowd, one can develop a false sense of security in their decision-making skills. Ariana and I thought nothing of drinking under the legal age limit of 21 or inhaling an illegal substance for recreational purposes. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is by people aged 12-20 years. Also, according to the CDC, excessive drinking causes 4,300 deaths of underage people per year. No one from this night died, but I left that night forever affected by what happened.
Ariana and Maria had fallen asleep. I do not remember the time, but it had to have been late. Ivan and Cai had not shown up and we had suspected that they would not. I took Ariana’s unfinished beer and walked out onto the balcony. I sat in one of the two green chairs and stared at the Publix that was across the street. The one thought I remember having was wondering how Publix came up with its name. Then the movement of a white shoe stepping out onto the balcony had my attention, and my stomach dropped. Ivan appeared and I smiled tentatively, as I had never been comfortable around him, and this was my first time alone with him. Ivan offered me a Heineken, and I told him I already had a beer, but he insisted that his brand was better so I politely obliged. I do not remember much between that moment and blacking out. I came to and realized I was cradled by him in his lap while his hand was up and under my shirt. I wanted to scream, “No!” but I could not speak. This was just the beginning of what was to come that night with Ivan.
According to the website Teen Help, “teen date rape is nonconsensual sexual activity between two or more people who know each other” … “it can be an acquaintance, a friend, a study buddy or a person one meets at a party.” After Ivan left the hotel room that morning, I woke up and ran to the bathroom. I was in the shower for a long time until Maria knocked on the bathroom door. I left the bathroom so she could use it and went to Ariana and told her we needed to talk. Ariana and I went to the gym and then dipped our legs in the pool while I told her everything I could remember about the previous night. She decided we needed to tell Maria. Unfortunately, Maria did not believe me. Then, when I tried to tell my mother after she came and picked me up, she was so angry that I lied and worried her all night that I shut down and gave up. I did not completely tell my story until years later when I was well into adulthood.
Had Ariana and I not felt the need to fit in and be “cool,” I could have saved myself from that frightening and awful night. Peer pressure and underage drinking are not only dangerous, but can have lifelong repercussions if not death. For the longest time in my life, I was isolated because no one believed me and no one stepped in to say, “I’m here.” Also, Ivan was 21-years-old at the time so he could have faced charges for violating a minor, but the one person who knew everything I knew, was too young herself to step in. I still deal with the repercussions of that night. I would not wish my story on anyone. The party, the drinking, the marijuana, the friends; nothing was worth what I went through that night, nothing at all.
“Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm/
“Teen Date Rape.” Teen Help. N.p., 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.