Missing: Five Hours of My Life
I woke up in my car in a neighborhood I have never been to before in my entire life. I thought I was dreaming. Then I felt the handcuffs.
The last memory I had before being plucked from my car at 2 AM was being at the final social for All Things Open at Boxcar in Raleigh. I was hanging out with a group of amazing people who I got to know at the convention. Many of them complimented my black fedora and the green “geek” shirt I was wearing. We were talking shop, politics, and looking to the future, as all tech geeks tend to do. I recall having two beers on the house thanks to the courtesy drink tickets from the convention. I recall purchasing a third beer. I do not recall finishing it.
Because around 8:30 PM, everything went black.
I was taking it easy by only drinking beer and eating plenty of snacks because I knew I had to take my father in for an unexpected eye surgery the next day. My sister was up in New York taking care of my mother, who was also receiving surgery on the same day as well, so I was the only one around who could be responsible for my father’s care. If I didn’t show up, they would not do the procedure.
I was found by the police at 2 AM. I was booked at the detention center for DWI at 3 AM. I made it to my father’s apartment at 5 AM. At 6:30 AM, I rolled off my father’s futon and dragged myself into the bathroom. I discovered my bra was unhooked and was inverted. Some of my fingernails were missing. I had scrapes I did not remember getting My brain flagged that as weird, but it wasn’t until my father was getting checked into the hospital that the possibility of drug-assisted sexual assault clicked together and the pent-up fear and trauma exploded. The nurses in the operating wing wound up with two patients instead of one.
I checked into the Solace Center at Interact in Raleigh around 4 PM after getting my father home. I hadn’t eaten, bathed, or even washed my hands all day. I know the drill. I know the drill well enough that I knew the half-life of most of those drugs is mere hours, and I was already kicking myself for not collecting a urine sample earlier in the day or telling the cops about my underwear or making a police report as soon as I realized what might have happened. Because apparently I should not only have the capacity not just to put all the pieces together about a traumatic experience while under the mind-numbing influence of a date rape drug during a family emergency, but I should also have had the wherewithal to collect and preserve precious evidence as well.
Anyone who finds that last thought to be particularly insane is either 1) not female or 2) has never interacted with the criminal justice system. We as a society ask women to perform these feats all the time. I was supposed to preserve evidence, know my rights, and speak up about the five-hour hole in my head while caring for my family and facing the possibility that I was targeted because of being a woman in a majority-male field.
But all the person who drugged me had to do was flick their wrist.
THIS is why these crimes are under-reported. The bar for victims is VERY high. I may have taken all the right steps, but even with those steps, the likelihood evidence is uncovered to catch the person who did this to me is very small. And our system is not designed to give victims the benefit of the doubt. I’m acutely aware that my chances of convincing the justice system I’m a victim, not a criminal, are slim-to-none.
Let me be 100% clear about one thing: I am not sharing my story to disparage All Things Open or the bar where this happened. All Things Open is a convention that was built from day one to be inclusive, and I believe the many incredible talks I saw given by women is a testament to that effort. Everyone I met embodied the Open Source spirit. They were kind, curious, and generous with their time. They shared their experience and knowledge without hesitation. Such a community is precious thing is this competitive field.
Which is why it angers me TO NO END that a predator came into this community with the intention of hurting people I care about. The possibility that others in our community may have also been have been hurt through similar tactics INFURIATES me, and I’m determined to do as much as I can to make our community safer.
To the person who did this: You will not chase me away from this amazing community. You will not chase me away from this career path. You will NOT chase me away from tech. I will attend All Things Open again. I will attend the evening socials. I will drink beer and have a damn good time doing it no matter what outfit I’m wearing. Women deserve to participate in this community without fear and I REFUSE to cede any territory to you because we BELONG in Open Source. YOU ARE THE ONE WHO DOES NOT BELONG.
To the All Things Open Community: We are uniquely equipped to fight back against these crimes. Our values of open data and crowdsourcing to achieve our goals are powerful tools. Which is why I have decided to open source my case and determine whether our potential can be tapped to help victims reconstruct what happened to them and help others come forward with their stories.
If you have any pictures from the social at Boxcar, or recall seeing me wearing a black fedora and a green shirt that said “geek” on the front in white lettering at the bar on Tuesday October 24, I want to hear from you. If you have experience retrieving location data from smartphones, I want to hear from you. If you had a blackout experience similar to mine during the convention, I want to hear from you. If you are a Raleigh citizen who recently had a similar experience at Boxcar, I want to hear from you.
Please join me in shining light into the dark crevices where these vile people lurk. Help me recap my night.