Oh, the trip of a lifetime, to enjoy the sea and the sunshine, to relax and reflect on the past year as well as on the future. That is what a group of around ten of my friends and I expected when we decided to do something a bit different and go on an eight-day cruise for our vacation. We booked the cruise and waited with great anticipation for the day to arrive to escape our busy lives and relax. When that day finally came, the sun was shining and the Auckland Harbor was a sight to behold. We were so excited that one could have mistaken us for school children.
Once on board the ship, we settled into our tiny rooms, unpacked, and went upstairs for our departure. The scene upstairs was similar to what one would see in a movie.
There were lots of happy people and smiling faces. Everyone was so excited to begin the journey that we had been anticipating for so long.
The first few days of the cruise were overcast and stormy, but we all had a great time despite that. We went to the gym, took naps, went to formal dinners every night, went to the casino, and enjoyed some good drinks and cheery company. By the third night, everyone was cruising along and the relaxation mode had clicked in. We all got dressed up that night, and before dinner we were able to meet the captain. After dinner, we went to the upper deck and sat with a group of people laughing. Everyone was in a very chirpy holiday mood. My girlfriend and I were having a great time. We were chatting and laughing with our newly acquired friends when a man brought me a drink. Little did I know, my relaxing holiday was about to end, and a horrible nightmare was about to begin.
After receiving and consuming the drink, the next thing I remember is fighting off the man who had bought it for me. My drink had been spiked, enabling the man to rape me. My holiday was over. I thought my life was over. I felt dirty, ashamed, and embarrassed. I was so scared and felt so alone, and the nightmare had only just begun.
I endured a seven-hour rape examination onboard. During this examination, I was not allowed to have a support person with me. My friends were not allowed to have any contact with me. After the examination, I disembarked the ship alone. I was then deposited into a taxi and sent to a resort in Vanautu to wait for a flight back to New Zealand the next day. I was left alone in a place where I did not know where I was, I could not speak the language, and I had no contact with my friends who were still onboard the ship.
I arrived in Auckland on what was to be day four of my supposed “holiday of a lifetime.
Because it was the New Year and I was home ahead of schedule, there was no one at the airport to pick me up. Once again I felt alone and taken advantage of. I can never get back the innocence I had before this experience. It has changed my thought patterns and my life forever. It has changed me forever.