By Cedric Lundy
She was clearly high. I don’t know if she had too much to drink as well, but she had definitely been smoking marijuana.
I had come to the party with a friend from church. We didn’t go to the same high school so I didn’t know anyone at the party aside from him. Including her. I was never much of one for these type of parties. You know the ones. Someone’s parents out of town. Someone either had a fake ID or knew someone who would buy alcohol. Open invitation so you never knew who could come rolling through. Underage drinking, marijuana smoking, and not much else, at least from the standpoint of someone whom almost 20 years later has still never been drunk nor smoked weed. But that’s not what this is about, because as I said ‘she was clearly high’.
So high in fact that everyone there knew it. Especially the guys who were trying to flirt with her. It became apparent real quick that this wasn’t harmless flirting. They were trying to get her upstairs. Physically trying to guide her upstairs with them.
Her girlfriends were trying to intervene. Caught in this virtual tug of war she went and sat down because she was a little dizzy. The guys left the living room to go get another drink I suppose, I don’t know. I saw my opening and I immediately went over, and had a seat on the couch. Right next to her.
I introduced myself. We chatted a bit. I can’t remember what about. It was fairly generic I imagine. I put my arm over her shoulders. The guys who had been after her returned. They saw us sitting there on the couch my arm over her shoulders, the two of us talking and they turned back around out of the room. Mission accomplished. I stuck around and chatted with her for a good 20 to 30 minutes to the point that most everyone else had gone to other parts of the house. When my friend got bored and declared he was ready to go I found her friends and told them to keep an eye on her. Her friends thanked me, she gave me her phone number, and I went on my way.
I hadn’t thought of this incident from my youth in years. Not until recently when the national outcry over the grossly unjust sentencing of Brock Turner for his rape and sexual assault conviction. That incident really got under my skin as it did for many us. You don't have to be a father of a daughter for it to incense you. You just need a finely tuned moral compass. In the proceeding days and weeks I thought a lot about and discussed with friends what are the kind of things we can be doing to help curb the rape culture running rampant in our society especially amongst late adolescents and young adults.
I don’t think I truly recognized how potentially significant of an intervention I made in Sarah’s life until I read the unnamed victim of Brock Turner’s letter, and internally wrestled with how messed up it is that he is going to be home in time for Halloween after he serves his 3 months in the county jail after doing that to her. I had an idea, but I don’t think I really truly understood.
For what it’s worth Sarah tracked me down and got my phone number from my friend and called to thank me herself. She had no recollection of the incident or meeting me. All she knew was what her friends told her after she had sobered up, “Some guy who came with Mike was looking after you, and wouldn’t let them other dudes get to you. And he was cute too!”
I’m not bringing up this story from nearly two decades ago to stroke my ego. I bring it up to encourage everyone especially when you’re at a party where substances are being used and abused to be aware of the vulnerable. If you see the vulnerable be willing and ready to intervene.
My physical presence is the opposite of intimidating and imposing. Even less so when I was carrying 25 pounds less on my body than I do now. If those guys were determined they were going to get Sarah to themselves there’s not a whole lot I would've been able to do to stop them. But they had enough of a moral compass to know what they were attempting to do wasn’t right, and when met with a little bit of resistance from someone else they backed off.
No one likes to have to babysit a drunk person at a party. I still wonder why her girlfriends let it get to a point that it required a complete stranger to step up. That being said we need more people who are willing to inconvenience themselves to protect the vulnerable at parties. Having spent so many years in student ministry I can’t help but wonder how many of my former students whether from Sarah’s vantage point or my own will find themselves in that scenario. I would hope there are none in it from Sarah’s vantage point. I would hope the ones in it from mine would choose to intervene so they too can only wonder what would have happened if they had not stepped up.