Semi-Conscious 19 y.o. Woman Assaulted on Spring Break

Random Spring Break picture, not of the woman mentioned in this post.

NOTE: For clarity: the blame for rape rests solely on the rapists. I am staunchly in the "men should not rape" crowd. However, hundreds of people witnessed this woman's assault, others watched and recorded it, and the woman likely was partying with friends prior to her assault.  Those people are not responsible for rape, but they still aint sh--.


Like many, I’ve been following the news story about a 19-year-old woman who was publicly gang-raped during spring break in Panama City, Fla. Dozens of people watched or recorded the incident, which is how it came to the attention of authorities who were investigating an unrelated crime in another state. The woman, who was semiconscious during the assault, alleges that she was drugged and has little recollection of the incident. So far, two men—both Troy University students—have been arrested.

Video of the assault, thankfully, isn’t publicly available—even though it’s only a matter of time before someone could post it online—but Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen described it as “the most disgusting, sickening thing I’ve ever seen.”

I’m horrified by this story, which is perhaps every woman’s worst nightmare, but I can’t say I’m surprised by most of it. The one thing that raises my (manicured) eyebrows is wondering, “How did this 19-year-old woman get left behind?” According to reports, she was found unconscious on a beach chair. Where were her friends? Surely she didn’t go to spring break alone, and that type of event usually isn’t a couples’ getaway. She had to have some girls. Where were they?

I’ve babysat my fair share of drunken friends (and to be fully transparent, in my early 20s, I also needed a babysitter on more occasions than I’m comfortable publicly admitting). It is beyond annoying to be with the friend who can’t hold her liquor and wants to act up or throw up or pass out. But two of the codes of womanhood and drinking are, “No woman left behind” and “We go together, we leave together.” Period.

No one likes to spend the night in the venue bathroom, leave early and head back to hold someone’s head over the toilet, but everyone with sense does it to avoid what happened to this 19-year-old girl here. Who in their right minds let the drunken—or drugged—friend wander off or, worse, knew that she was out of it and parked her on a beach chair because they didn’t want to turn down yet?

This part of the story is shocking to me, but everything else? I’m sickened, saddened but, as I said, not surprised that it happened—nor that there were so many bystanders who did nothing. This assault is a worst-case scenario, but women being assaulted at spring-break destinations and other large gatherings for partygoers isn’t uncommon or new. At the events I’ve been to or, better, used to go to—note the past tense—I always felt that there was an undercurrent of sexual violence, an assault waiting to happen. I never felt that the other attendees were going to have my back. And that’s why I stopped going.

I never went to spring break in Panama City, but I did go to the Black Greek Festival in Philadelphia in the late ’90s. To be fair, the vast majority of the attendees were well-behaved students who showed up to see the step shows and spot some cuties. But as I was walking through the park with my girls, I spotted two women dancing suggestively on top of a truck that was blaring whatever the hot song was at the time. A group of guys had gathered around the truck to watch and record the women, who were dressed in bikini tops and “batty riders.”

Even in my inexperienced youth, I knew that wasn’t going to end well. I looked over at a nearby officer who seemed exasperated watching the scene. When he caught me watching him (with a look that wondered, Why aren’t you doing anything?), he said something like, “I don’t know why these girls do that.”

Suddenly the group of guys began pushing the truck, shaking it and trying to knock the girls off and into the crowd, where only God knows what would have happened to them. The officer sighed and strolled—not ran—to break up the melee. I got the feeling that this sort of thing happened all the time.


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Gone Too Soon: Jordan Davis at 19


Jordan Davis would have been celebrating his 19th birthday today.

Instead, at 17, he was gunned down after a random white guy at a Florida gas station flipped his privileged lid when Davis and his friends refused to turn down their loud music.  Dunn claims Davis brandished a shotgun, so Dunn grabbed his pistol and fired 10 rounds into the car, killing Davis.

Police never found a shotgun, or any other weapon, in the boys’ car.

On Saturday night, Michael Dunn was found guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder, but not of first-degree premeditated murder, in the killing of Davis. Dunn faces more than 60 years in prison.

RIP Jordan Davis.


At 19 years old, I was a junior in college, studying for the GREs and begging my parents to either let me move off campus with my friends or study abroad in London. They said "no" to the move. "Yes" to London (which I wasn't expecting) so I was contemplating if that's what I actually wanted to do. All I really wanted was to get out of the dorms.

I'd decided I wanted to be "a writer" because at 19 I thought I could speak things into existence and that's all it really took. Poof! As a second semester junior, I took my first journalism class.

Everyone older kept telling me "these are the best days of your life" and I couldn't wait to graduate and get my life started. "Start" meant moving to NYC and attending NYU. I wanted to be grown. I had no idea how to make my dreams happen in the "real world" that loomed ahead.

I went to the club (a lot) on Thursday and Sunday nights (aka college night) and walked to the car sweaty-- and piled in with 5 other women-- because I was trying to keep up with the B-more girls dancing to house music. I had the moves, not the stamina. Then maybe I'd go home and write a 5 page essay with minimal typos.

I studied hard, I ki-ki'd with my roommates until the wee hours of the morning, nearly every night. I argued with my parents. I played my music loud, I drove my car too fast. I couldn't hold my liquor, which I was too young (and illegal) to be drinking anyway.

I didn't know it, but I was laying the foundation for everything I would accomplish professionally.

In my downtime, I daydreamed a lot-- about the next boy, the next party, the next exam/paper, the next Spring Break.... because I took it for granted there would always be a ... "next." The world was laid out as a canvas before me, I just had to figure out what I wanted to add to it.

Jordan Davis deserved to have afternoons of day dreams, nights of parties, an opportunity to leave his mark and a lifetime of "nexts" too.

It feels horrible to see RIP before a 19 year old's name. Geez. What did you do at 19?