Imagine a dream in which you went out with your friends for a fun night on the town, being slipped a drug, raped and never remembering a thing.
For Rachel Drechsler this is no dream. Itâ€™s reality.
Drechsler was sexually assaulted her sophomore year while attending the University of Arizona when she and fellow Chi Omega sorority sisters attended a party at one of the fraternity houses on campus.
She took two shots of vodka and chased them with a can of coke handed to her by one of the fraternity brothers, never knowing that he had drugged it. She was taken to one of their residences where she was sexually assaulted and left to find her way home through some of the most dangerous streets in the city.
It was during this walk home that she met the person whom she claims saved her life.
â€œThis woman stopped and gave me a ride back to my house that was over three miles away,â€ Drechsler said. â€œI truly believe she saved my life that night.â€
Drechsler was eventually able to piece together the night thanks to help from her sisters, other witnesses and medical tests. She went to the university police with her case shortly thereafter.
After Drechsler went to the police, three other sorority members came forward claiming to be raped by members of the same fraternity, leading to them being kicked off campus and forever banned by its national board. Drechslerâ€™s perpetrator was suspended from the university for two years, supposedly giving her enough time to graduate before he came back.
But Drechsler chose to come to CSU instead for a fresh start, and while many might think sheâ€™d want to take back the whole night, that is not the case.
â€œI will never be the same person I was before I was raped, but through the negative, I hope to bring light and inspire all survivors to make the change that they truly wish to see in the world,â€ she said.
It is this hope that brought Drechsler out for CSUâ€™s Take Back the Night, an annual event put on by Campus Feminist Alliance to raise awareness about sexual assault and give survivors an opportunity to speak out and share their stories.
The evening started in the LSC Sculpture Garden last night with an open microphone for survivors to share their stories. Many spoke up and gave participants a glimpse of their journey.
â€œThis is me taking my life back,â€ said one survivor. â€œ I am no longer a victim, and he canâ€™t control me because Iâ€™m taking my life back.â€
Shirts made by survivors surrounded the Sculpture Garden with sayings written on them like, â€œJust because I couldnâ€™t say no doesnâ€™t mean I said yes.â€
This was a common theme among survivors, many having similar stories to Drechslerâ€™s of being drugged or simply handed too many drinks.
Such was the case for Rachel Kimray, one of the advocates available for victims, should they choose to come forward.
Kimray said she was sexually assaulted her freshman year at CSU by a guy she had known and had class with after going to a party and drinking too much.
It was this life-changing event that made Kimray dedicate the rest of her life to being a victimsâ€™ advocate, a sentiment shared by other participants who marched to Old Town Square chanting in the street sayings such as, â€œOut of the halls â€¦ into the streets we wonâ€™t be raped â€¦ we wonâ€™t be beat.â€
Take Back the Night continued with presentations from keynote speaker Roe Bubar about indigenous people and their plight from sexual violence and slam poet Rebecca Preston.
The night ended with a march back to campus and a candlelight vigil for all survivors and advocates to gather and support one another.
For Drechsler, this support is the most important part of her journey and why she came out to share her story.
â€œIâ€™m part of Campus Feminist Alliance and thought it would be a crucial part of my healing process,â€ she said.
But donâ€™t expect her to feel sympathy for herself. Drechsler said she lives her life in a positive, upbeat manner simply wanting to make a difference for future victims.
â€œI am not a victim but rather a triumphant survivor,â€ she said.
Staff writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.