Twenty-two year old Kelly Kleber quietly sipped her coffee as she recalled the events from that night nearly a year ago. Her piercing blue eyes searched for the memories, reliving every moment as she tasted the words that flowed from her tongue.
On November 10, 2012, Kleber was date raped.
“I’d known this person since I was 15…I never suspected he would do this awful thing to me.”
She recalled the night with a sense of calm, still her voice gave hints of pain.
“He made me a rum and coke. I remember he didn’t want to have one. That was a typical drink we had together, but he was very adamant about not having a rum and coke, so he had a beer,” Kleber said. “He was just staring at me as I drank. And I just got this really off vibe.”
As soon as she finished her first drink, he quickly refilled it and simply stared at her, Kleber noticed.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “Why would I suspect someone I had known for 7 years?”
From there the story becomes like so many we have heard before.
“I felt extremely intoxicated. After having a drink and a half, I felt like I had 10,” she said.
She put her rum and coke down, she said her vision became blurry and she leaned back in her chair. That is the last thing she vividly remembers before she blacked out. As the night unfolded, things escalated over the course of the 3-4 hours she was in and out of consciousness. During this time, he proceeded to choke her, rape her, and give her over 40 bruises on her body.
“He had his hands around my neck so tightly that my vision went completely black [when she was conscious],” Kleber said. “I couldn’t see anything. I just felt him on top of me.”
When it was all done, she managed to put her pants on backwards, place her ripped shirt over her and get into her car, though she does not remember how.
“The next thing I remember were these flashing lights. I thought, ‘Am I in Heaven?’” she joked, though her eyes hid behind her coffee, knowing it could have been true. “We all think we’re invincible… [but] part of me thinks I should have died that night.”
The police found her in the middle of an intersection, unconscious, with her lights turned off. Arrested for a DUI, the police took her into the station and took a blood sample, as protocol. Despite her apparent state, with bruises around her neck, drag marks on her legs and thighs, and barely any clothes on, the police did not take her to the hospital for a checkup or a rape kit.
The police then told her she would be charged with a hit and run in addition to her DUI.
“My life was completely changed forever,” Kleber said. “You never think this is going to happen to you.”
The next day, the police told her she had traces of Rohypnol, commonly known as “roofies,” and an animal tranquilizer known as Ketamine in her blood system. Still, the police did not take her to the hospital. (Click here for a report on drugs of abuse from the DEA)
Nonetheless, the DUI and hit and run charges were dropped, an open sex case was pursued. She had solid evidence of drugs, flashbacks from the horrific events; to any victim she had an ideal case because she knew her attacker—but that was the problem.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,(RAINN)¸ approximately 2/3rds of all rape is committed by someone the victim knows and 38 percent of rapists are friends or acquaintances. Nevertheless, 97 percent of rapists will never serve a day in jail for their rape crime.
Nearly 100 percent of rapists will never serve a day in jail? This seems impossible and yet, the statistics remain. These criminals get to continue to infect the lives of others and not have to think twice about the woman or man they have destroyed.
“He’s in med-school, good grades, not the ‘man in the bush’ we all hear about,” she said. “He’ll get to go on with his life while I pick up the pieces to mine.” Her case was closed and her rapist walked free.
Thankfully for Kleber, this event has challenged her to change the way the justice system sees rape.
“I’m not going to let him win. I’m in control, not him,” she said. “It has become my mission to change how we prosecute acquaintance rape. The justice system failed me.”
She has only these few words, now, for her rapist:
“You’ll be caught one day.”
Some moments leave us asking, “Why?” We begin to second guess every choice we’ve made and reevaluate the decisions we’ve followed, wondering if there was some way to prevent a bad situation. That said; remember it is not your fault. Some moments seem to “happen for a reason,” and while we may not know the reason in the moment, we hope that one day their true purpose will reveal themselves. And while no one wants this to happen, it does, every day;
This is real life.
If you or someone you know is a victim of rape or sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).