After all of the build-up,personal obsession social media and physical work- devoted to Burning Man here, then you may be wondering why I’ve posted nothing until now.
This is the first post. It isn’t pretty. No pictures, wonderful stories, or even the hilarious drunken antics of our citizens. Those will come later.
For now, this is about my daughter.
It is an Urban Myth come true.
Sexual Assault on the Playa
As an 8 year Burner I feel safe, kept sane and amazed every year by the experience of fifty thousand people (this year 58,000+) coming together from all over the world. Sharing cultures, fun, food, ethnic differences and ability to integrate all of them. Best part: we all watch out for each other.
For years I’ve told the Demon Seed that I would not allow her to attend until she was 18. She was 19 this year. It is truly an adult event, despite ‘Kidsville.’ and the past 5 years of the BORG (sorry, should be ORG but hell) encouraging people to bring their children.
This is cretinous. If an adult’s lungs can barely take the dust and heat how is a small child supposed to survive. Sorry. Digressed.
One beautiful evening my daughter and I took our bikes out to see a few art installation on deep playa. Deep Playa refers to the area outside of the miles of camps surrounding The Man and where the biggest, most amazing structures are.
She wanted to see Burn Wall Street, before it burned.
We had climbed Mal Mart, been to the head of Anubis, and met new friends already.
I was tired and told her to be careful, it was beginning to rain.
Next time I saw the Demon seed was 15 hours later. Hallucinating, and with an IV bandage on her arm from the med tent. She remembered nothing. A camper from Emerald City had apparently found her face down behind their camp. Overdosing.
Now, I may be brilliant, a total fucker, live too fast, try anything once (twice to make sure), and a fabulously crazy biatch –as is my daughter. We do NOT do heavy drugs or take insane risks though.
When she got back to camp I noticed something wrong with her, and the fact that she was hallucinating was scary. Sent her back with two of her friends to find a camp Ranger (the Burning Man ‘police’, as opposed to the Pershing county police who also have a presence on the playa).
Another 8 hours and she had not returned. I’m waiting by our camper and losing my mind with worry. Left camp in a dust storm white-out to find a ranger and my daughter. Finally learned that she was being returned by the sheriff’s department to our camp.
What happened? She had been dosed (taken a glass of ‘water’) at a camp called ‘Want It.’ She was then raped and dumped on a side street.
The rangers originally believed she had over-indulged, as did I originally.
She identified her attacker –a DJ with the aforementioned camp- but no charges can be brought because:
1. There is no Rape Kit on the playa
2. There are no Forensic Nurses on the playa
3. Her only choice (while under the influence of Ketamine and PC-2 which the cops believe was the dose) was going to Reno, being stripped, examined then released with no clothing, money or possessions.
Two other women besides my daughter were attacked that night: the others also dosed and showing signs of strangulation marks.
One of the rapists was arrested by the police. He had kept a ‘trophy’ of his rape and it was found in his car. Pershing county police (and everyone else I know) are hoping he will roll over on his accomplice.
There is more of course.
How can I ever let this go? I had promised her a safe, fun, eye-opening and life changing week. This was not what I promised. I have NEVER heard of such a thing happening on the playa.
I have to thank camps and random wonderful strangers from all over the playa for their help. We had people, with no idea of my daughter’s identity, come by Spanky’s to leave gifts, smudge the camp with sage, give offerings of love (baseball bats, dull steak knives, hefty bags….), and the tireless help of the Rangers.
Burners came to give their support and love from literally miles around. People we did not know, but the word had spread through the city.
Mercifully my daughter does not remember the exact details.
In college I was raped by two men, and also blocked out the details. Only remember climbing from the mud in my white outfit.
I never reported the attack. Believed it was my fault as I was drunk (and looking back probably dosed) at a frat party. This was the late 70’s as well with a small town backwards police department.
For this to happen to my beautiful loving daughter is far worse than my experience. The tears will not stop.
The Demon Seed will be staying with me until next semester. She is in SF right now gathering her belongings and tying up loose ends. Hopefully she returns to SF State next year, and I’m sure she will.
She’s a strong gal. I love her. She is my life. Please send her your positive thoughts.
Oh, she can hardly wait to go back next year to Burning Man. In her words ‘I will not let that fucking experience be my memory of the happiness I’ve found here!’