One of the worst five hours of my life started after matching with this boy on Tinder. In the beginning, we talked for hours on the phone and texted all day every day. He was very nice and actually showed interest in the things I said, unlike a lot of people I come across on Tinder. After a few days we both agreed we should meet up in person since we really enjoyed talking to one another. We planned to go to a drive-in movie since he worked there. It sounded like the perfect place because I LOVE movies and it was in public but still private enough to have our own time to talk to one another. When the day finally came to go on our date, I was really excited and extremely nervous because I was so afraid he wouldn’t like me. I waited by my phone to get the text that he finished work and was on his way to pick me up, but instead I got a text that said he was really tired from work and didn’t want to go back to the drive-in. Instead, he said we should just watch a movie at his place. He said I could drive myself to his place and then sent his address.
I didn’t know what to say because he knew I clearly blocked out the time to hang out with him that night and I had no excuse to not go. Along with that I was desperate to make sure he liked me. I thought his text was kind of rude, but everyone is grumpy after work, and he was usually really nice. I also knew one of his roommates, so I thought, what could possibly happen? When I got to his place, he opened the door and greeted me with a hug. I was shortly introduced to his other roommates before he ushered me downstairs in the basement to his room. I was still really nervous, but excited to have a really good time talking with this boy again. When we got to his room, he closed the door and his demeanor changed drastically. He stopped interacting with me, laughing at my jokes, and even acknowledging I was there. I began panicking thinking I wasn’t being funny enough, entertaining enough, cool enough. However, I began to feel gross because when he did look at me because he was looking at my chest or my stomach. I was wearing a t-shirt and flare pants, neither of which warranted the continual stares.
I sat on his bed and began to fall silent since he wouldn’t talk to me other than tell me I look nice or stare too long. He began fumbling with his ps4 to try and start a movie and he eventually asked me what I wanted to watch. I said we could watch one of his favorites since I figured he had a long day. Black Panther had been put on Netflix, so I asked him if he wanted to watch that movie since he mentioned over the phone that it was his favorite. He said ya and pressed play.
I felt weird cuddling up to a person that I had only just started talking to five days ago, so I laid back in his bed but sat up. He laid all the way down and said, “You don’t want to get comfortable?” I immediately felt like he thought I was a prude and I was boring him, so I laid back down with him but kept both my hands between my legs while he put his arm around me. I got a neck cramp after only 2 minutes because I was so tense and uncomfortable, but I thought maybe I could get more comfortable if we could talk the way we did over the phone. I commented on the movie and even asked questions directly to him, but he wouldn’t say a word. I thought okay this is going terribly, so I’ll just finish this movie in silence and go home. After 30 minutes of not talking and him just rubbing my arm, he finally spoke. He told me he had some action figures from the movie on his shelf to the left of me, so I looked over to see what geeky thing I could use to finally start talking to him.
When I turned back to talk to him, he started kissing me. I was really surprised but didn’t know how to stop without coming off as rude, so I thought kissing isn’t that bad. It kept going on and on and on, so I finally stopped and said that I don’t do things like this and I was uncomfortable. He just kept listening for when I would stop talking so he could go back to kissing me. Eventually I got so uncomfortable I kept laughing. He said, “Why are you laughing at me?” I panicked I said it’s not you, I just never do things like this. He didn’t care and just kept kissing me.
After what felt like hours, he started touching me down there over my pants. He began rubbing very hard over my pants which was clearly extremely painful. He stopped kissing me and I couldn’t talk because the pain he was causing. It felt like falling on your back and knocking the wind out of you. I couldn’t get out a word before he was pulling my pants off. I was so relieved I wasn’t in so much pain that I forgot where I was and what was happening. When he began going down on me, it was back to unimaginable pain. I was so scared his roommates would hear if I screamed and I would embarrass him in front of his friends, so I just kept gritting my teeth and letting him push me further and further underneath his pillows. Finally, my face was hidden, and I imagined being back home in my bed with my dog watching a movie because that was where I wanted to be.
After reaching a point of believing I was bleeding from the pain, he spoke up and said, “It’s only fair if I take my pants off too.” I was struggling to come out from under the pillows and move my legs, but thought I’d have the opportunity to say stop when he reached for a condom. But he never got one. Before I knew it, he was inside me and all I thought about was the pregnancy test I was going to have to buy tomorrow, or the 50-dollar Plan-B despite the 14 dollars in my bank account. I thought about the STD test I was going to have to schedule the next morning. All while I was thinking about this, I was watching myself being treated like a rag doll and felt like nothing more than the floor he walks on.
At this thought and the searing pain I was feeling, I began to cry. He flipped me over like ripping the cord on a lawn mower and pushed my head into the mattress. I remember staring at my fist balled up and white while this boy – one I thought had been so nice – violated me. I started trying to speak, to say no, or stop. But not even I could hear my voice. I eventually repeated “Can we take a break?” over and over louder and louder until he stopped and I moved out from under him. I immediately began to bawl my eyes out. I hurriedly put on my clothes and just sat on the edge of the bed trying to collect myself, but I couldn’t stop crying. He just asked me once if I was okay and then tried to rub my back, but I moved away. He stopped and watched me cry until he pulled me back to him and said don’t cry. To my surprise as tears streamed down my face, he started kissing me again. I stopped him and said I felt uncomfortable and asked if he did too? He said no and just kept kissing. I stopped him again and said I’m sorry, but I have to talk to you. I told him how I felt that he took advantage of me and did things without asking when I clearly didn’t want to. He apologized and said that he did agree he was doing all those things. I finally felt like I got him to stop after he said we should just be friends before trying to date again since I seemed scared of a relationship… I didn’t care what he said as long as we could be friends, that meant sexual things could stop. He said, “How bout we kiss one last time before going back to being friends?”
I agreed because I thought I could quickly get this over with and then go home and never speak to this creep again. But when I went in for a quick peck, he pushed me down again. He began kissing me again and again. I stopped him and said that I was tired and wanted to go home. He ignored me and so I asked for the time. He said it was 1am and I said I really needed to go home. To my surprise his response was, “Well to be honest, I almost finished.”
As he said this, he rolled over me and put himself between the door and my keys. This meant that my ticket out was him finishing. I was so angry and exhausted I just sat there with my mouth open. He kept tugging at my side to put me on-top of him, but I kept pushing back. He got annoyed I wasn’t participating and pulled my hand down to his penis. I yanked it away and I could tell he got mad. So, he flipped me up on top of him to where I was straddling him and he said, “You know what could help me out?” to which he eyed towards his penis implying I should give him a blowjob. I sat there annoyed as he slid me down his legs. He began pushing me down and I thought this was my only way to get home. So, I went down on him, but had to stop because I was so stressed that I got lockjaw.
When I came back up to say that was it, I was going home, he grabbed me by the throat and squeezed it like a tube of toothpaste. I immediately couldn’t breathe and stabilized myself so I could grab his arm. I squeezed and pushed his arm away as I felt the corners of my vision go black. He said, “You like that baby?” through gritted teeth and finished himself off to the sight of me gasping for breath. He finished after five brutal hours and then let go of me. I cleared my throat and laid on the bed catching my breath. He told me to get the towel from his closet to clean him up and, like a shell of myself, I did what he asked.
When I got up, I was in pain and on the brink of passing out, so I panicked because the last thing I wanted was to be unconscious in that room. All I wanted was to go home to my dog. So, I rested on the bed and finally caught my breath enough to get to my car. I got all my things and began charging to the door. As I was halfway down the steps, hitting the unlock button on my keys, he said it was nice to meet me and he would text me tomorrow. I got in my car and began crying. I drove the rest of the way home through blurry lights and panicked thoughts.
When I got home, I cried to my dog and immediately texted my friends letting them know I needed to talk. I thought about the girls that got laughed at by police when things like this happened, so I immediately pulled out my notebook and began writing down everything I remembered. I knew I wanted to report it and I knew I needed to get every single detail I could so I didn’t have any holes in my story or any second guesses. It’s been eight months since that night and, since then, the Fort Collins Police Department dropped my case despite me not being under the influence, having multiple tears and abrasions in my rape kit, and a solid story that is word for word identical the four separate times I had to relive that night to a cop, a nurse, a FCPD detective, and a Title IX investigator. Along with that I have a recorded phone call with my rapist admitting he knew I was uncomfortable and “didn’t know what went through his head to make him do that.” Despite all this, law enforcement dropped my case because I didn’t have enough evidence.
After the night of August 31st, my life has been altered in ways that will forever leave scars. My physical injuries may have healed, but I am still trying to heal my emotional damage. Every night since the crime against me occurred, I lay awake waiting for my body to become so tired that it has no choice but to fall asleep. Until that time, my mind keeps me awake thinking about the room that I spent the worst 5 hours of my life in. When I think about that room, I am again experiencing everything that happened that night. In that room I felt like an object. Nothing more than a floor to walk all over. In that room, I felt pain, not passion. I felt voiceless because I spent most of the time closing my eyes and gritting my teeth. In that room, I watched myself lose every bit of Erin that I love and cherish. I spend every night back in that room. Even when I’m not alone in the dark, that room follows me around ready to trap me back in if I see boxes of shoes or even my rapist’s hairstyle on anyone else. I rarely leave my house because of this. When I go grocery shopping, I try to always go with someone in case I have a panic attack and need to leave. I live my life trying to avoid ever being back in that room.
My rapist’s actions left me with constant physical repercussions. When I told the SANE nurse and the police officer about how he choked me, they continually warned me that if my brain spent even a few seconds without oxygen it could lead to lasting damage and even death. They told me that if I were to get any type of headaches in the few weeks after, that I needed to get myself to the hospital in 5-10 minutes because that’s how long I had before having a stroke. I had multiple panic attacks feeling like I was going to die any minute. I spent another week having panic attacks about my STD/STI testing results. The following week, I spent ample amounts of time in the police station. Before I had to go in, I would spend an hour in the bathroom trying to make myself throw-up because my panic attacks were so bad. When I finally weighed myself, I had lost 15 lbs. in the span of three days. My fingers would constantly bleed because I would pick at them due to unrelenting anxiety. My stress had gotten so bad that I had chunks of hair fall out. Panic attacks and constant anxiety have become normal for me when they weren’t before.
Along with mental and physical stress that this has caused me, it put immense pressure on me financially. Because of the SANE exam, I owe UCHealth $787.22 after insurance. All the money I have went towards either food, rent, or tuition and now it all goes towards a SANE exam I never wanted. Every time I clock in for work, I’m reminded that I’m working to pay for someone to take naked pictures of me, swab all over my body, and give me shots and pills to prevent getting an STD. Seven hundred dollars may not sound like a lot, but I only make $120 a week. Along with that I owe $575 every month for rent and another $100 for utilities. I owe CSU $11,000 a year and this is all not including food and gas. I have often been forced to forfeit food because I didn’t have enough money in my bank account to go grocery shopping. Money has always been tight, but because I wanted justice for a crime that was committed against me, I am constantly trying to dig myself out of a financial hole.
Throughout this whole journey I have felt guilty, sad, anxious, broken, angry, betrayed, and lost. But I have felt something stronger than all of these feelings combined. I feel proud of myself for finding my own path and gaining the courage to stand up for myself. I have been able to work through my own healing journey and commit to working as a hotline volunteer through SAVA. No one deserves to feel the way I feel, and I learned throughout this experience that our legal system demands reform if we are ever going to live in a society that rids people from having a room that will follow them around for the rest of their lives.