… and then I woke up in an alley.
You are curious, so let’s just get this out of the way. I am 53.
I tell my family I am 48, and they pretend to go along with it, but the truth is… over 50. I guess I subconsciously believed that after 50 I would become more invisible and less of a target.
I was wrong.
It’s not unusual for me to drink alone.
I consider myself to be an independent woman. I love to spend time alone and actually enjoy my own company.
Just last year, I treated myself to a solo weekend in New York City for my birthday. I know it sounds selfish, but when you are by yourself, you can do whatever you want. You don’t have to worry about what other people want to see, visit, eat, etc. You just get to do you.
I visited museums, rented a Citi-Bike, took the subway, shopped, walked (and biked) the Park, ate at expensive restaurants and sidewalk vendors, had coffee, and also quietly sat in a few bars, enjoying a glass of wine while I read or did some writing. Occasionally I met a few nice people, but most of the time I enjoyed my solitude. It was amazing.
I know there can be lurking dangers everywhere, and I am always keenly aware of my surroundings. But still, I have refused to live a life of fear.
Even after this harrowing experience, I will continue to live life unafraid. But I will also be more careful.
I let my guard down.
I guess it was because I was close to home. I was in tennis shoes. I felt safe. I let my guard down.
My husband had retreated early to his book and I was watching Netflix with a glass of wine. I wasn’t quite ready to call it a night, and so I decided to close the activity rings on my Apple watch and go for a quick walk. We live near a beach boardwalk, so there were plenty of people out and about, and I headed down the path. It was about 7:45 pm and still light out.
I walked for about 15 minutes and then turned to come home. On my way back I stopped at a tiny local bar to have another glass of wine. It was 8:13 pm.
I ordered the glass directly from the bartender, closed the tab, and took the glass to the rear area of the bar because it was completely empty. I sat down, checked emails, planned my week, and enjoyed my quiet glass of wine. A man walked up to me at some point, but I held up my phone to show him I was in the middle of a conversation, and he quickly turned away and left.
The conversation was a text discussion with my niece about current protests that had been happening. Later, I was very grateful for this conversation because it confirmed to me that at 10:00 pm I was completely sober.
I accepted a drink from a stranger.
Shortly after that, I remember the bartender bringing me another glass of wine that someone had bought for me. (At this point, you are probably thinking — you idiot — never drink something from a stranger — and you would be right).
Incredibly, I never gave it a thought. I just thanked him and took it.
… and that is almost the last thing I remember.
I don’t even remember taking a sip of the drink, but I do recall feeling very drunk. There was a man standing in front of me asking if I was okay. He offered to get me home. He leaned in close to my neck and told me I was pretty.
After that, I woke up in a dark alley.
Like, on the ground, in an alley.
My husband was the one who found me.
My husband had fallen asleep, and then woke up around 11:30 pm and realized I wasn’t home. He tracked me and saw that my phone was a few blocks away in the alley. He thought I had dropped my phone, so initially that is what he was looking for.
The first few times he checked the alley, he couldn’t find it.
He walked back home empty-handed, but then reconsidered and decided to circle back and try again. Instead of finding my phone, he found me.
I was curled up in a fetal position against a garage in the darkest part of the alley. His worst nightmare.
It was 12:20 am. Thank God he found me.
The first thing I told him was “I think I’ve been drugged.”
I remember him finding me, but nothing else until I woke up the next morning, surprised to be alive.
I am still here.
The first thought I had the following morning was “I’m still here.” I think subconsciously I did not believe I would survive the experience. I don’t know how much of the drug I was given, but I do know that my entire body slowed down and my brain gave in to the darkness. I was genuinely surprised to wake up alive.
I was not sexually assaulted, and other than some random bruises and soreness, I came out of the experience physically whole. I know the same cannot be said for most other women that are drugged like this. I don’t know why I was spared that pain, but I am overwhelmingly grateful that I was.
Of course, I had heard about date-rape drugs before. But I didn’t realize how quickly a person can become utterly incapacitated after ingesting one. If whoever drugged me had harbored evil intentions, there would have been nothing I could do to stop them. Nothing.
I will not ever know exactly what happened. Was I a target that didn’t go quite as planned? Was someone just playing a cruel joke? Did God intervene and help me hide? I will have to ask Him someday.
But for now, I am here, and alive. For that I am grateful.
Although I feel anger and embarrassment for my stupidity in accepting that drink, I need to share this story. If it helps only one other woman, it will be worth it.
All of the circumstances that made me feel safe: my age, being close to home and in a familiar place, not dressed up, sitting by myself, and minding my own business all combined to give me a false sense of security. I let my guard down for a moment, and it was very easy to drug me. I will never let that happen again.
Gina Kershaw is a former criminal defense attorney turned online business strategist. She coaches women and helps them find opportunities to work from anywhere so that they can ditch their soul-sucking corporate jobs. She has authored two best-selling books and has been a featured speaker at several business conferences including the always sold-out Alt Summit. She can be found at https://www.ginakershaw.com.