CONWAY, WMBF - Shooting pain, blood, a flash of bare skin: These are the images Madison recalls from a night in April 2017.
“I clenched my eyes closed again because I just, I was in such shock. I didn’t know what was going on and I felt like my body was numb, like my arms and my legs were numb, like I couldn’t move or anything,” she said, clenching her eyes as she recalled the moment that haunted her nightmares for months.
It’s been two years since that moment, but Madison can still vividly recall the feeling.
“I was like crying and screaming and I said, ‘Why? Why am I bleeding? What did you do to me? Why am I bleeding?’ Like, I was just so in such a confusion about what was happening and what he did to me,” she said.
The door slammed and the reality hit.
“I was like, he raped me. He raped me,” Madison said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
The night had started like so many others.
Madison, a member of a Coastal Carolina University (CCU) sorority, went on a blind date to a fraternity function in Myrtle Beach.
Her date picked her up. He was cordial, a little awkward, but it was cute, Madison recalled.
However, after drinking before the event, the night didn’t feel like others.
“I was feeling really dizzy and just feeling kind of out of it, like I was disoriented. I didn’t really know what was happening,” Madison said.
She remembers going back to her apartment and then just the shooting pain, blood and bare skin. They are images that still haunt her today.
“This is an event that took place in the span of 30 minutes and it’s been almost two years and I still live with it every single day,” Madison said.
A year earlier, Anna was a freshman at CCU.
“That was right when Tinder became a huge thing for college students,” she recalled. “I decided to meet with someone.”
It was someone who drugged and raped her, and made her scared for her life, Anna said.
“During that event of it happening, I continued to say, ’No,’ to the point that I realized this was happening no matter what and he didn’t care,” Anna said.
In the moments following the assault, as victims attempt to make sense of what happened, crucial decisions are thrust upon them.
The first decision is choosing whether or not to get a rape kit.
On the outside, the kit resembles a simple cardboard box. What it represents, however, is much more.
During an invasive and extensive medical examine, the victim’s body becomes a crime scene and nurses spend two to six hours gathering evidence.
“I remember them swabbing every place possible that he could have even touched. And that was basically my entire body,” Anna said.
Saliva, pubic hair, fingernail scrapings, underwear and vaginal swabs were all collected and carefully stored in envelopes.
“Just to feel that, not to be vulgar or anything, but inside of you right after being raped is not pleasant by any means,” Beck said.
"When you’re talking about being vulnerable and being uncomfortable in that situation, that is pretty much everything that I felt in the hospital,” Madison said.
Victims recall pain and discomfort. They remember crying and screaming.
After experiencing one of the most violent crimes, they willingly choose to undergo another traumatizing experience as a step to protect themselves and others.
From the hospital, the kits are transferred to police departments that then send them to a lab for testing. Still, not all those kits lead to justice and many never leave a police department’s shelf.
The process lacks transparency in South Carolina because there are no laws that mandate testing or tracking of the evidence.
“I actually, to this day, do not know whether or not it got tested and whether or not his DNA will be anywhere in that kit or even in the database as someone associated with a possible sexual assault. And so that’s terrifying in itself,” Anna said.
This is the first part of a multi-part series called “Untested: The Rape Kit Crisis in the Carolinas." Click here to go to the official “Untested” page.