• Kat Ryan

Happy New Year

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

On the 1st of January 2017 at around 3 a.m. something happened which would change my life forever; I entered the year being sexually assaulted on a beach in Costa Rica.

Terrified and confused, I managed to get away from the man in question and started running away into the dark wooded area. This seems like a terrible idea; however, with me coming conscious just seconds before, my thought process was far from clear or logical. Desperate in any attempt to get out of this situation that I had no idea how I'd gotten into, I continued into the darkness, my legs barely holding me up. I could hear him several meters behind me, so kept staggering on. With it being so dark and there being no sign of anyone else, I had no idea where or what I was running into. Using my torch on my phone, I tried to look for a way out to a road or some sort of safety to run to. Eventually, completely lost I stopped running, totally discombobulated from the whole situation.

Double Trouble

Suddenly, in what felt like a flash, a man in a balaclava and a weapon came out from nowhere and mugged me. He pulled my bag off me so violently that I fell to the ground, smashing my knee on a tree stump. Luckily, my phone dropped to the floor with the flash facing upward so I could see a little. My shock quadrupled... my thoughts racing trying to find an answer… “what the hell is happening”…” where did he come from?”… ”where am I?!” I began to sob so hard that I couldn't even see through my tears. So afraid, weak, exposed, and defenceless. I had no idea what was happening or how to get out of it.

I could hear the first man shouting my name, he wasn’t far away, it was then I realised he was a guy from the hostel... “We were in a group before?” … “How did I end up here?” … “What did I do?”… “Why can't I remember anything?” He came closer to me and lifted me off the floor. I made a feeble attempt to get away from him again but he was strong. He promised me he would get me to safety. I had no choice but to trust him.

At this point, I had concluded that I may have just been too drunk to remember that actually, I was having consensual sex with him when I came out of unconsciousness. “But why can’t I remember anything before this?”… “Was I drugged?” I had no idea what was even happening and it was too much for me to comprehend with the mental and physical state I was in. We trekked through the wooded area, lost and unable to find the road. I was so paranoid and terrified that something more was going to happen to me. I couldn’t stop crying and shaking.

Trust no one

We eventually reached a very busy road where taxi drivers, party-goers and passers-by were staring at us. A few people tried to get him away from me. He shouted at them in Spanish saying that he was helping me and that we had just been mugged on the beach. They seemed unsure that he was telling the truth. As if he looked guilty, or maybe I looked like I wanted to be away from him?

I was still confused, my dress was torn, I had no shoes and my leg was covered in blood. I didn’t know who to trust. “Did the mugger and he plan this?”… “Were they in on this together?”… “Should I go with one of these strangers instead?”…  We made it back to the hostel. I was still in shock and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep. So I did.

The morning after the night before...

I woke up the next day feeling foggy, my leg was stinging and my chest was extremely heavy as if I’d smoked 50 cigarettes. Vivid flashbacks reminded me of coming conscious, with my face being vigorously pushed down into the sand; I remembered it being quite painful and remembered using all the strength I had to get his heavy weight off me and run, but I couldn’t place any memories before that.

My beautiful friend, an early-riser who decided to not come to the New Year’s Eve beach party that night, walked into the dorm room and asked me how the night was. I told her that I was mugged on the beach and that it was a horrific night, not mentioning anything else. Because not only was I embarrassed, but I still didn’t really understand or know what had happened.

I told myself that I had probably brought it on myself, that I must have been wasted and forgot that I had probably had a part to play in the whole thing. Thinking "I know I have a different side to me when I drink".

Secrets of a guilty man...

I mentioned to my friend that the guy from the hostel was with me just before and after the mugging happened – much to her surprise. She went on to tell me that she was shocked that he didn’t mention anything in the kitchen early that morning when they had a conversation and that he packed all of his stuff and left shortly after. Something didn’t seem right, but I just wanted to forget about the whole night, forever. I was embarrassed and still confused. I thought I'd just do what I always do after a bad situation, which is to brush it off and move on. "Oh well... It happens to the best of us" I would tell myself. 

I tried my very best to never replay the whole ordeal over in my head again and little did I know, it would bring me many long months of struggle and suffering, and bring forth a horrifying truth that would haunt me for months... this was not the first time in my life that I had been sexually assaulted, nor was it the second or third…


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