By Kelly Harrison
Amy attended her first Dragon Con Convention in Atlanta ten years ago, only a week prior to her 18th birthday. It was a Labor Day weekend that would change her view of herself and eventually change the way she viewed what it meant to her to be a survivor.
Amy was at the convention with her partner but they were not interested in seeing the same things and went their separate ways. After shopping for a bit, Amy returned to the hotel. That is where she met Michael.
Michael easily engaged Amy in conversation. He told Amy he was in his thirties. “He was sweet and he was funny and he didn’t hide he had a serious attraction to me,” she said. Because she had an abusive background and was in a relationship that wasn’t the healthiest at the time, she was flattered by the attention of an older man. After talking for about 30 minutes Michael asked Amy if she wanted to walk with him as he went to his room to get his computer. “I came from a very small town and hadn’t really learned about stranger danger and so, wanting to be nice, I said yes.”
On the way to his hotel room he stopped and got her a soda. The drink was in a styrofoam cup and in her thirst, she drank it quickly. Amy admits to being very naive about “date rape drugs” but does not recall the soda tasting any different than normal. By the time they stepped onto the elevator, her thoughts were becoming hazy. Once in his room, Michael sexually assaulted Amy.
“I remember it hurting, and I remember him trying to kiss me. I was having a hard time breathing”.
After several hours, Amy was finally able to sneak a call to her partner. Her partner eventually located her and Michael walking down a street in Atlanta. Michael ran away and her partner called 911.
Amy was only 17. Because she was a minor, her parents had to give consent for treatment, but they were not in Atlanta with her. It was several hours later before the hospital was finally able to speak with her parents.
Amy was told by her partner that the doctors were dismissive when listening to her story and the doctors told Amy it was too late to test for drugs in her system. They also inferred she had made a mistake by going with Michael and she didn’t want to own up to it.
Amy left the hospital with no treatment, little to no memories, and in denial. “If it didn’t happen then I didn’t have to deal with it.”
Amy became a different person that day. She felt she held little value and as if she owed something to others who had no actual claim on her life.
Although Amy has been on a journey to find herself and has been led to give back to her community these past 10 years, it wasn’t until the #metoo movement that she really hit a milestone in her healing process. She shared her story with a co-worker and that gave her the courage to post her story publicly on Facebook. She received messages from friends and even strangers telling her that she wasn’t alone.
After ten years, Amy’s experience has taken her to a place of strength and resilience. “I’m stubborn and there is no right way to heal or get through it. You just got to keep moving forward, keep living, so long as your feet keep moving one step at time, just keep living.
If I can survive this I can survive f***ing anything!” Amy wanted people to know one last thing about sexual assault and rape, “I know it seems trite, but it’s not your fault and people need to hear that.”