So, while you probably spent your Friday night eating takeout and streaming Netflix (OK, maybe you did something interesting with your life, but that’s what I was doing), three women were sharing a now viral story of something decidedly awesome they did on Thursday. For those of you who have, by some great miracle, yet to come across the incredible tale on your social media feeds, three women prevented a date rape at the Fig restaurant in Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, California the other night.
“GUESS WHO STOPPED A RAPE LAST NIGHT?! THESE GALS!” the story begins, shared in a Facebook post by Sonia Ulrich in which she tagged her two friends Marla Saltzer and Monica Kenyon. The post continues:
I was going on about something and saw Monica staring behind and making a funny face. I stopped. “What’s going on?” After a few second she said “That guy just put something in her drink.”
Now, Fig is a nice restaurant. We were enjoying our charcuterie platter and some fancy cheeses. That type of place. They had a bottle of wine they were splitting. It seemed like a first or second or third date. After a few “Oh god. What do we do”s, I got up to find her in the bathroom to tell her. Warn her. Tell her to get up and leave this creep. Make him drink it. Something.
So, after feeling awkward hanging out by the sinks in the bathroom til she was done, I approached. “Hey! Um, this is kind of weird, but, uh, we saw the guy you were with put something in your drink.”
“Oh My God.” She said. Shocked, kind of numb, so I babbled “Yeah, my girlfriend said she saw him put something in your drink and we had to say something. Woman to woman…you know. We had to say something. How well do you know that guy?” I was expecting to hear “We just met,” but I got: “He’s one of my best friends.”
To make a long story short (although you really should read the whole post), Ulrich and her friends next told the woman’s server and the Fig’s manager what they’d seen. After 40 cringe-inducing minutes of the attempted rapist subtly trying to get her to drink by “chinking his glass to hers,” the two finished their dinner, the Fig staff checked security cameras to confirm that the man had, indeed, poured an unknown substance into the woman’s wine, and the Santa Monica police arrived.
“They say ‘come with us’ and he doesn’t protest. Doesn’t ask why. Doesn’t seem surprised,” Ulrich recounts in her post. He knew what he did.
As it turns out, his actions were all part of a premeditated plan:
We asked the girl if she had a ride home. “My car is at his place. In his building. We came together.” Part of a plan. We were blown away. She was still in shock.
Now, despite its delightfully happy ending, the whole story ends on a relatively dark and eerie note, as a handful of other women at the Fig came up to Ulrich and her friends and personally thanked the three women for their actions, as they had previously had similar experiences:
“It happened to my sister…I’m glad I was there to take her home.”
“It happened to my roommate at a producer’s party. He’s still messed up from it.”
“It happened to me. At a backyard barbecue.”
“It happened to me. At a bar I worked at.”
“Some Heroes don’t wear capes. Thank you. It happened to me. Thank you.”
Research by the Florida Institute of Technology reveals one in four women on college campuses across the country are victims of rape or attempted rape, and like the woman Ulrich, Saltzer, and Kenyon reached out to, in 84 percent of these cases the woman is targeted by a man she knows, and 57 percent of cases of rape and attempted rape take place on dates.
And as if these statistics weren’t frankly terrifying enough, from the National Studies of College Women:
25% of men surveyed believed that rape was acceptable if: the women asks the man out; if the man pays for the date, or the woman goes back to the man’s room after the date.
33% of males surveyed said they would commit rape if they definitely could escape detection.
Only a quarter to a third of women whose sexual assaults met the legal definition of rape considered themselves rape victims … for reasons such as embarrassment, because they do not want to define someone who assaulted them as a rapist, or because they do not know the legal definition of rape. Many women blame themselves.
So there it is. Statistics reveal that not only is rape relatively common, but given how many women do not report their experiences, it’s could be even more common than these statistics let on.
Yet altogether we still live in a society bent on discrediting women who have the courage to come out as victims of rape despite a pervasive culture that ostracizes victims, either by blaming or portraying them as liars. There’s the obvious fact that under the American justice system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and however small this percentage might be, 2-8 percent of the time, it turns out alleged rape victims were being dishonest about their experiences.
However, when one considers statistics indicating just how many women have been victimized, it has to be conceded that the hoops and psychological, emotional torment victims are forced to endure to “prove” they aren’t lying is frankly outrageous.
Returning to what went down in Santa Monica, Ulrich’s story proves rape isn’t at all some sort of rarity. And, yes, as Ulrich points out, we all need to speak up if we see anything suspicious, but at the end of the day, among also being blamed for their own experiences whether it’s harassment or assault, I’d also hate for women to feel as if the burden to prevent rape everywhere must fall solely on their shoulders.