“Help me,” was the last text message Cassidy White’s boss received. Concerned that she left work early after receiving texts from her ex-boyfriend, he wanted to be sure his employee was safe and sound. Cassidy had planned a night of blowing off steam in 5 Points by drinking. What he didn’t anticipate is that Cassidy would be drugged, and later raped by two men she had just met.
Cassidy was 20 years old, and used fake identification to enter bars in the downtown district. She had met up with a male friend, when she was introduced to two men who invited them to talk, and have drinks. They were foreigners, with elaborate stories of sports cars, and personal wealth overseas.
“Never take the shot, that’s just for you.”
“That’s when I knew it happened,” Cassidy recalls. She just returned from the bathroom, and the two men had a round of shots waiting. “Oh this one’s for you,” one of them said. Looking back Cassidy states, “never take the shot that’s just for you.” What occurs next is a rapid impairment. Cassidy had at this point, one beer and one shot. Her vision blurred, she felt sluggish and vomited on herself. She’s carried out of the bar by the men and taken home, where they took turns raping her in her bedroom. It is unclear where the friend, who escorted her to the bar ended up, but it is clear that he did not prevent these two men from taking her home.
The second rape would be interrupted by Cassidy’s roommate, who found the front door open upon her return. Inside, she would find a man sitting on the couch, and when questioned he stated that Cassidy was busy with a friend upstairs. Sensing something wasn’t right, the roommate announced she was calling 911, and both men fled the scene.
Cassidy would be examined at the hospital, and then questioned by police who immediately had doubts about her story as she admitted to lying about her age. Later she would be asked about the “matter of her dress” before the rapes occurred. “I do not have the shorts or my underwear as the cops kept them,” Cassidy recalls. “I had a pixie cut back then, and a baseball hat, I wasn’t sexual, I wasn’t asking for it.”
If you got drunk, how do you know you said no?
Police would later question why she was drinking, and her history of experimenting with weed and Molly, which was revealed after a search of text messages on her cell phone. Specifically, she was asked, “if you got drunk, how do you know you said no?” Cassidy would then be accused of wanting to be drugged, “So when you buy Molly, you don’t know what’s in that, and that’s the same as being drugged, so you admit that you like drugs.”
“Basically they made me feel that because I used drugs, that I deserved to be drugged, just because you like to alter your own state of mind, doesn’t mean that you want someone else to alter it.”
Cassidy feared she was not being taken seriously. She had a reputation, and was a “party girl.” “Basically they made me feel that because I used drugs, that I deserved to be drugged, just because you like to alter your own state of mind, doesn’t mean that you want someone else to alter it.” Police did investigate, and sent out a notice using a local news network asking the public to identify her attackers. When they were found, her attackers were in the progress of returning to their native country, citing a “pre-planned trip.” The timing was convenient, but authorities were unable to disprove that the trip was not pre-planned. Cassidy did not press charges, fearing that police questioning her drug use, and reputation would prevent successful conviction.
Cassidy would soon leave her employer, after her friend resurfaced and publicly humiliated her during her work shift, accusing her of lying. Cassidy’s boss had been the last person to receive a text from her that night, a chilling “help me,” which would later be looked into by police. Feeling shame that her co-workers were aware of her situation, she retreated to her grandmother’s house, and quit college. She would not work for one year.
During the second year of her recovery, she met CJ. “I owe most of my recovery to my husband,” she states. “I didn’t think I could trust a man again.” She felt invalidated by counselors and authority due to the series of questions they asked her and declined counseling. She found peace in spiritualism and the patience of her husband. Cassidy refuses to see herself as a victim though, and faces life as a “new person.” She admits that she’s not 100% comfortable in her own skin, but is getting there. Cassidy and CJ have a baby daughter, and she no longer experiments with Molly or runs with a “party crowd.”
You’re a victim, or you’re sexual. You can’t be both.
Reclaiming her sexuality as a woman was the hardest task for Cassidy to face. “It took away my power as a woman, to be sexual because once people hear you are a victim, they don’t give you the chance to be sexual anymore. You’re a victim or you’re sexual, you can’t be both,” Cassidy states. During her recovery, she noticed male friends treated her different, as if she was fragile and childlike. Her social connections were her co-workers and since she had left her job, she was isolated. The downtown bar community distanced themselves from her, leaving her only support to be her family. “They wanted to be here for me, but no one wanted to talk about it,” she recalls. “We love you but please don’t mention any specifics.”
RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization states that victims can experience flashbacks, depression, post-traumatic stress, and self-harm amongst a host of other trauma-related experiences. Allowing open communication when a victim comes forward is vital to recovery. Refusing discourse of the experience ultimately silences the victim. “I think people should understand about survivors, with everything going on right now (sexual assault claims on the news), people are saying, “How can a woman wait 20 years to come forward? How could a woman wait 50 years to come forward? Maybe she didn’t, but maybe the first time she came forward, she was silenced.”
“Once you throw up on someone, it’s not consensual sex anymore.”
Cassidy has some strong advice for women and men. She feels that 95% of all assaults could have been prevented if someone had simply said something. “Once you throw up on someone, it’s not consensual sex anymore,” referencing that she left the bar covered in vomit. “I honestly am disgusted that two men wanted to do anything to me with puke all over me, like that’s gross,” she states. “Take your female friends seriously when they say, I don’t feel safe, I don’t trust this guy, I don’t wanna walk to my car alone,” Cassidy warns.
“We’ve done this before.”
During Cassidy’s rape, the most chilling part was her attackers telling her that they had “done this before.” She regrets not pressing charges. “I’ve kept them free to hurt someone else,” she fears. She prays that they have “gotten help,” and that they have not attacked anyone else since her.
If you are a victim, or need assistance in providing support to a friend or loved one, please contact The Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands.
Note: documents for WIS News asking for public assistance regarding Cassidy’s case were unavailable on the Internet.