Pausing To Reflect with Lisa Foster
May 9, 2023

If You See Something Do Something

If You See Something Do Something
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Join me this week as we discuss a vital woman's safety issue. We talk about the harrowing and increasing incidence of drink spiking and the awareness needed for women to protect themselves. My guest Ashley shares a personal story about her 21-year-old daughter and how the kindness of a stranger who noticed something wasn't right - decided to step up and do something about it. We discuss how a random act of kindness may have changed "what could have been" for Ashley’s daughter that evening. Ways to support Real Life Momz - Tell a friend about the Real Life Momz Podcast⁠⁠⁠⁠ ⁠⁠⁠ ⁠ - Do you love the Real Life Momz Podcast and want more? Subscribe to  Real Life Momz, and for just $1.99 a month, you will receive access to all archived ad-free episodes from past seasons, early access to new episodes, and monthly bonus content. And subscribers-only will have access to upcoming topics and the ability to ask upcoming guests questions. When you subscribe and opt-in to receive emails, your questions can be answered on the podcast. So click here and subscribe today⁠.⁠ ⁠h⁠ttps:// ⁠⁠⁠⁠ -One-time donation: If you would like to support the Real Life Momz Podcast, make a one-time donation at ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

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--- Send in a voice message:


Hi, Ashley; welcome to Real Life Momz. Um, I know you have a very personal story to share with us today.

That's just pretty terrifying as a parent where you received a call in the middle of the night because your daughter needed help and you were far away. You were miles away, and you had to rely on really the kindness of strangers to help create a safer situation for her. So thank you for coming on today and just sharing the story with us.

Thank you for having me. Yeah, and maybe we can just start by telling the listeners a little bit of background about you and a little bit about your daughter. Sure. First and foremost, I'm a mother of a 21-year-old daughter who is in college. And also as, um, a professional in the field of, uh, human services specifically, um, working for about 30 years in child-serving systems.

And so I have an unfortunately large amount of experience with, um, those who've been victimized and also those who have perpetrated, um, violence and. Um, against others. And you had, uh, an experience that I think unfortunately some of this experience of yours may have helped that night and helped your daughter, but can, can you share with us what happened when you received that call that night?

Yes. A little bit of time has passed, so approximately, um, four to six weeks ago at. 2:09 AM on a Sunday morning. I received a call. I was awakened by the faintness of the ring, um, on my cell phone. I don't have a landline like many people. Um, and, I did hear the ring and woke up in time after a few rings to look over and to see a number.

That was unknown to me. And fortunately, even though. I have a habit of not answering phone calls from numbers that don't recognize, uh, initially this one I recognized by way of the area code and I picked up, and what the person said to me was, Your daughter needs help. That's frightening. That's frightening.

So, yeah. What were you even thinking at that moment? Well, it woke me up rather quickly. There's nothing like a statement such as that that will get you, um, thinking a lot more clearly than the slumber state I was in when I looked over at the phone. So, mm-hmm. I, I popped up. Very quickly ready, ready for action, and ask who the person was and if I might ask the, um, affiliation or how she knew my daughter.

And as it turns out, she, she, um, offered her name as Daisy and she said that she did not know my daughter, but that she had noticed that she appeared to. Be having trouble and, um, thought that she might need help and that she also appeared to be alone at that point. And so she did approach her and ask her what was happening and if she needed help and she quickly ascertained that yes, somehow, one, she was alone and was uncertain exactly.

How that was true? Um, two could not locate her phone. And the reason that she got my number or had my number is that what became clear is that whatever was happening with her and at that time, I didn't know. You know, she is at that age where certainly as you're emerging into. Adulthood in that level of independence, and then you certainly are, have your social life.

I did not know whether this was a circumstance that involved too much alcohol or what was going on, so I was completely, um, ignorant of what the facts were at the moment, but it, it, it didn't matter. All I needed to know was that she needed help. Mm-hmm. That she appeared to be alone and to not have access to her phone.

However, she did remember my phone number, which was as you hear the rest of the story, um, amazing that dates back to when I think she was in first grade. One of the things that I would do with her is ask her, what is my phone number? And then throughout the years, just randomly out of nowhere, I'd ask her the same thing and it was, Sometimes met with that Mom, I know your number.

Mm-hmm. And she would say it out loud. And so I was very grateful that night that in the absence of her smartphone, um, which of course serves us well in so many ways, it did nothing for her when she was out, needed help, and couldn't find it. Yeah. The importance, of actually knowing. An emergency contact number without your phone is something that I think we forget a lot.

You know, I, I don't know everybody's number at all. Well, I do not, either. I think that it's a lesson for [all of us. And, and one of the reasons I was interested in that, uh, in coming here, talking with you is there are a few lessons out of this and I'll proceed a little bit, let you know. Uh, uh, The details about where did we lead, what did we learn about what was really going on?

And so after, after talking with Daisy, I did ask to speak, uh, with my daughter for a few moments just so I could hear her voice. I wanted to know that she was actually standing right there and there wasn't. Uh, it's unfortunate, but we also, at least in the field in which I work, have a healthy suspicion.

Of, you know, when, when others are approaching us about different things, and so I wanted to hear her voice, and she did get on the phone and she, she sounded nervous, but also sounded like she didn't want, even in what I learned later was I. A drugged state because someone had put something in her drink.

She remembered my phone number. But two, there's something about that connection and just hearing your mother's voice mm-hmm. That leads you, you know, leads a child, I think, to want to make sure that, you know, they're okay. And so she spent about 10 seconds telling me, Mom, I, I'm going to be okay. And I, I think what I'll be able to do is walk home.

And so, to which I replied, Even in her situation, no. Let me talk to Daisy, please. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Can I ask you how, how, how did you trust Daisy? Like she's a total stranger also, how did you? Know that it was okay to trust her in some ways; in that moment you have no choice but to go on your best instinct.

Mm-hmm. Because I didn't have enough time to completely, I didn't have, you know, enough time to investigate, so to speak, whether Daisy was someone who was trustworthy, but, but I did have some indicators.  Mm-hmm. One, I had this person who was willing to call me. Another I had an indicator that at the moment when I asked to speak with my daughter, she put my daughter on the phone when she heard my daughter.

Effectively try to care, take me Right. Being worried that, as a child, her mother's on the phone and somehow something must be going on because I should not be talking to my mother right now. And Daisy immediately interjected and told her, you are not O okay. And that's why we called her. Oh wow.

Effectively. And it's, there's been enough distance and time. Those may not have been her exact words, but they were something similar. And I had to make a choice at that moment. And my choice was, this is a person who is keeping me connected to my daughter. I'm a thousand miles away from her. If not for her, if this phone call disconnects, I have no way to be in contact with my daughter.

It is a lost connection. Hmm. So I decided that the focus at that moment should not be on whether Daisy was a trustworthy person, but to go ahead and accept the indicators that I had, because that's the only opportunity I had to help. Get my daughter to safety. And again, at that time I did not have all the information and so what we did is while Daisy stayed on the phone and agreed to me, another thing that I asked for was an oral agreement from her.

I didn't call it that at the moment, but mm-hmm. I asked her, Daisy, are you willing to stay with my daughter until from me that it is safe to leave her? And she said yes. Wow. What happened from there? Is that someone who was an employee at this particular, um, Bar slash restaurant, um, did, we brought into the picture. It was that person in, in partnership with Daisy and me, got her home to safety, and that was done by way of the other person while Daisy was on the phone with me and standing with my daughter.

Got an Uber disgusted. With the Uber driver, how important it was for the Uber driver to go immediately from this place to the residence that we would be tracking the ride, that the person would see her go into the door and see the door close behind her before driving off that the person would call back, um, the woman who arranged.

The Uber ride and let her know that the trip had completed and that the person had in fact seen her walk in and close the door. Hmm. And of course nowadays you can't track rides. You can share rides. Um, so that she was able to see exactly where the car was at all times. She knew the license plate and everything of who had picked her up because she was still in a vulnerable place.

And although we didn't, I didn't have the information, nor did Daisy. What we did know is that what was happening was not safe for her. And so it really took the three of us. And you know, at that moment you, you mentioned how terrifying. Yes, it was terrifying. Now, in the moment, all I was focused on was not the feeling of being terrified but was the feeling of keeping the cooperation of those who were keeping me connected.

And it wasn't until, I mean, I did not sleep the rest of the night. Um, I did. Get up very, you know, out of bed pretty early couple [00:12:00] hours. I tried to sleep, couldn't, and then my daughter called me, um, as soon as she woke up that morning and, actually it was, um, a FaceTime and she just immediately fell to tears telling me that she believed she had been drugged.

So did she even remember Daisy or talking to you or calling you from this restaurant bar? No, she had a very distinct memory up to a certain point in the evening. Mm-hmm. Beyond which she could remember nothing. And the reason that she felt as if she. Um, were drugged is because of that very detail that everything was, um, very clear in her mind and then it wasn't.

And so we discussed, uh, what might make that true. And of course, my first and foremost assertion to her is that you have done absolutely nothing wrong. Hmm. This is not your [00:13:00] fault. It does not matter how much you did or did not drink. Um, beforehand, it matters that what happened to you should not have happened.

And as it turns out, in this instance, you never want in these situations the first question out of your mouth to be something that puts blame upon the person who's been victimized. And my first question was not. Well, how much had you been drinking? Hmm. My question was, how important is it right now in this moment to.

Understand the details of the evening. She did start talking, and she did have a real interest in the midst of her tears of understanding what had happened. It was also quite terrifying to her because she knew, again, she remembered dinner. She remembered be the person's 21st birthday in and around, um, that time.

And so the three, the, she had [been with two other friends. And she really did not know how the separation had occurred, and she quite frankly, I think was terrified to learn what might have happened after her memory went blank. And I was able to help her a little bit with that because I was able to tell her when the call came in the person's name, you know, Everything that I knew I was able to offer her.

I had also talked to her earlier that afternoon where she had reported to me that she would be going out to dinner. With two friends and to celebrate the person's, um, 21st birthday. And I had some context to offer her, but not much. She had no memory of that, uh, of Daisy humping her and, uh, of the Uber ride.

And quite frankly, the terrifying part of it. Well, all of it's terrifying, but one of the things that to this day blows my mind and terrifies me all at the same time, is, That had Daisy kept walking, whoever had drugged her drink was cognizant enough to understand that she had been with two friends, and that suddenly there were no there.

Mm-hmm. Somehow she was then not with these friends. They knew she was alone. They had to have been watching that, and this could have been a, a much more tragic outcome. As terrible as it is. To, um, experience what she experienced in under those circumstances. In my experience, had Daisy not walked up and chosen to intervene as a bystander of someone who was perceived to need help, this story could be much different.

Yeah. I mean, it's so, I mean, just listening to that is so just terrifying. I can't even imagine. You know, being the victim of it. And I'm here because, um, my daughter and I have talked, you know, about this in general, just how important it is to be able to speak about what, at least, I perceive to be a lost sense of community more broadly.

Our society and how often we walk right by things. They maybe look weird, but we don't ask or we don't extend ourselves in an open way, or we may be fearful of doing so where, how many people walked. By my daughter that night before, how long was she feeling unstable on her feet or seemingly disoriented or without her friends?

Just kind of looking maybe potentially confused. And how many people would've thought, how many would I have thought this had? I saw some person I didn't know. Oh, that must be a person of college age who's had way too much string and, even if it is, Mm-hmm. Even if they did have too much to drink, but were alone.

Yes. And were not in a good frame of mind. Mm-hmm. You know, they still would've needed help. Yes. And I encourage every single one of us, especially those we know, who might be most vulnerable. Not that anyone you know is immune from, uh, being victimized. We know that about 8% of college students, um, who are surveyed, a high percentage of them being female identified, have reported that they've had drugs put in their drinks.

And it's known as drink spiking. And, uh, I'm sure that there are a lot of [00:18:00] surveys and research out there that might have varying statistics, but it does seem to be true that about eight and 10 of them, um, do identify female, those who have been victimized in this way, and they're more likely, um, to, to say that, um, say that sexual assault is a motive for that drink sping.

Mm-hmm. And again, If a person is in a public setting and something has been put in their drink and someone is watching another person, those motives are not, that's not good. Mm-hmm. M that's, that's not, there's nothing, there's nothing good that could come of the next step, had Daisy not intervened, and so I'll be forever grateful to a stranger who had the wisdom and the kind heart.

To notice that she needed help and that she went up to her and did what she could. It delayed her evening it, all of those things. Mm-hmm. We're all so busy. Mm-hmm. Right. Or we're all fill in the blank of what might keep us from doing something. But the main thing I think, if I had to sum it up is if you see something, do something.

Mm-hmm. The reaction from the other person is not important. Meaning if you walk up to someone and say, I'm wondering if you might need some assistance. If they're defensive, if they yell at you, who cares? Okay. Then watch from afar and if you really see something else and you're going to, you know, be around, watch from afar and see if, if maybe they do in fact need assistance and you can get assistance to them in some other way, such as notifying the owner of a restaurant or a bar and allowing others to, you don't have to be the one mm-hmm.

To do something, but you can be the one who connects. To others who might be in a position to watch out for or to do something like even, right, even like an ambulance or a police or, you know, just saying, this person looks like they need help. You know? Um, so it doesn't have to be you, because I do think, especially if you're another young woman, Right.

Mm-hmm. Getting yourself sometimes involved in certain situations is scary. Yeah. You know, and you don't wanna necessarily intervene, but Right. Walking away isn't the answer either. Mm-hmm. Right. It's not an easy thing to assess or to know what to do about, and yet it is another struggle whereby all of the remedies are put upon those identifying female and other vulnerable.

Members of our society whereby we're most, you know, at risk for victimization. And if you look up Google, I can encourage you to Google, um, preventing drug spiking, guess what? All of the remedies. That you, you see are about something that you can purchase to put on your drink in a club or something that the victims can do.

Hmm? You can go out, you can always be with friends, and yes, there are reasonable things that we want to do to keep ourselves safe, but have you ever noticed that in these sorts of situations, We're not talking about the education needed potentially as early in, you know, middle school. I don't know when it would need to start from a prevention standpoint, but the remedies are all about what victims can do to keep them from this happening to them.

Don't go into a, don't go into a bar alone. Don't do this, don't do that. Go buy this thing that covers your drink. Well, I wonder about that. What, what do you think should be taught? Is it more like being more observant, reading the rooms? Like what? What do you think should be taught that wouldn't be placed on the victim?

What I would love to see at a minimum. Is a lot more, uh, upstream prevention and education. Um, in the realm of bystander intervention, what options we have. We could be looking at potentially different prevention oriented programs that do not put. The onus on the individual who may be victimized, but rather look at this a little more broadly as a community problem.

And a community problem. That is one whereby if we were watching out for each other a bit more, perhaps this could happen less. And I understand there may be people listening that think that that's absolutely ridiculous. And I'm not comfortable with the fact that right now our solution is to, um, just tell, uh, females what they shouldn't be doing.

Yeah. And it, it doesn't really sound ridiculous cuz if you think about it, like, you know, if you see something tell, right? Like there are those safe to tell things and there, there are a lot of programs out there. Yes. You know, it's even like you go to the airport, right? And what are, what are the announcements?

What are the signs saying? They're saying if you see a bag that's not with somebody, tell somebody, right? And they're gonna go check out the bag. Like, why couldn't it just be as simple as that? Is that if you see. Somebody alone who doesn't seem, you know, okay, like, check on them. You know? Or, or tell the owner or, you know what I'm saying?

Or if you see somebody putting something in a drink, tell someone, I don't know. That sounds silly, right? But like why couldn't it be as simple? Like, why does it have to be so complex? Yes, I agree. I think that the wisdom of all of us as members of our community should be sufficient to come up with solutions.

We need to be talking about it. There are, you know, public education campaigns, there are things that can be done. And in my experience, if you just ask enough people, someone has got the idea that might make the difference. And so I just think it's important to also talk about it because [00:24:00] this type of victimization can feel like an isolating experience.

Mm-hmm. That like somehow you've done something. That you shouldn't have done, and it's just not the case. Right. As I've said to my, to my daughter, and as it turns out, in her case, she had had no more in terms of going out and over a six, seven hour period of, um, a cocktail than she might normally have, you know?

Mm-hmm. Two or three drinks over that period. And so that again, is not the focus. Even if she had had 10. Mm-hmm. I don't care if she was, you know, doing something that was loud and free spirited and, you know, causing dry attention to herself. There was nothing that she could have told me. That she had done that would've caused me to think that one [00:25:00] ounce of this was her responsibility.

The only person who shoulders the burden of the responsibility of this happening is the person who chose to put something in her drink. Yeah. And that's such a strong point because I do think, and I don't think we mean to, but I, I'm gonna speak for myself. I can see myself, not that I would want to, but I can see myself saying like, I.

Well, were you drunk? You know, just something bad like that coming outta my mouth as a reaction more because I would want to know more of this story. Mm-hmm. To see what happened and you know, if we could fix or prevent or do something differently, I think that's what I would be coming from. But in the same moment, I would be telling my daughter, That it's her fault.

And that's awful. That is the unfortunate, unintended message we can give our daughters, uh, when we do come out questioning from a place of caring, but questioning nonetheless. Mm-hmm. And. The only thing I have attempted to do and really learned to do over the years is the moment something is spoken that is hard for me to hear.

Certainly a phone call indicating my daughter needed help was really hard to hear. Mm-hmm. Having her on the phone with me. Yes. The inclination as a mother, as just a human, uh, you know, is to, to ask questions. I really encourage all of us. To remind ourselves and to practice. And when I say practice, I mean mental rehearsal because, and when you do mental rehearsal such as, what will I say the first time my child says something to me that I would really wanna know because I want them to be open with me, for example.

But when I hear it, Everything in my body is gonna start screaming, oh my goodness, how could this be true? Or that in that moment you rehearse taking a pause, not opening your mouth to ask a question, but rather to state something that's affirming to them. And the first thing out of, you know, my mouth was not a question about what she had or had not done.

Because it didn't matter. Do you mind sharing what was your first, what was the first thing out of your mouth to tell her? Because Yeah, I don't, I don't think that always comes so natural. Like, yes, I can pause, but still not knowing what to say. In a moment like that where I wouldn't want to make her feel like it was her fault.

You know, what are those type of words or ways we can express? Mm-hmm. Because I don't think it comes natural like you do this for a living, but I don't think, but I don't think it comes natural for all of us. You know, here are some options, and I'm just, this is off the cuff, so forgive me if they're imperfect.

And, and anybody, anybody can take this and make it their own. Because we all have our, our own style, our own way of sounding art, like our authentic selves and my authentic self is to say things like, whatever it is you need me to know. No, I'm here. Oh, that's, that's so amazing. I'm gonna write that down. I love that.

Other options, because you need a lot, you gotta have a lot in your, in your bag. Yeah. Because you just don't know. And if you don't, I mentally at risk of sounding strange. I, I mean, I will actually occasionally just sort of mentally rehearse some of these things like, I imagine picking up the phone and being anybody.

It could be. It doesn't have to be my daughter. It could be a really good friend of mine. It could be a coworker who's telling me something or someone I supervise telling me something. That's hard to hear. Mm-hmm. And another thing is that you could say in a way that makes sense for you and sounds like you, things like, I want to do what's right for you.

I would like to be here for you in the way that you need me to be. What can I do in this moment to support you? What do you most need in this moment? Let them tell you. Mm-hmm. Because we also start asking questions sometimes. That is really a backwards way of giving advice. So a kind of a backdoor way is, I think what I wanted to say is, and that is, well, did you think about doing this?

Mm-hmm. Trust me, it's in the form of a question, but what it is, is I'm giving you advice in this moment. Well, have you thought about this? Right? These statements that let people know you're connected to them, you're there to support them, and you're there for what they need. Mm-hmm. And if there's anything about a situation that you're facing where someone may have been victimized them, understanding, and I had to say multiple things.

I didn't just say it once and it, I didn't just make a statement and that was it. I really, over several conversations, occasionally reiterated. I know this is hard to talk about and there is nothing you can tell me that will change my mind about the fact that the only person responsible for this. And what happened is the person who did this to you, was she able to hear that?

Was that something she could accept? Okay. The other thing, and this is incredibly difficult, people need in the moment to be able to retain some level of choice and autonomy. We think we know what's best for people when they've been harmed, when they've been injured or victimized. What I mean by that is what immediate help do they need?

What intervention do they need from him? But when something traumatic has happened to you, what you most need is, yes, you might. Need some nudging around if there's obvious medical care that's needed. Also need to help a person feel like they have some level of choice and control. Hmm. Because what victimization does is it takes that control from you.

Yeah. And how do we do this? How do we get, how do we do that in the moment? I mean, It's so hard because you are under the pressure and I think what happens a lot, probably like just thinking from a parent point of view, is that we almost give ourselves what we need. You know, what's gonna make us feel better in the moment, not on purpose, you know, just by helping or doing or taking care of.

Right. That makes us feel better cuz we're helping our child hope what we think feel better. Mm-hmm. So how do we give them that control? Well, I think it looks different at different ages. Mm-hmm. Clearly. Mm-hmm. Um, I think that level of development and level of maturity within the context of what we know to be, um, true about child and adolescent development.

In my daughter's case, um, being 21, what that looked like was she got to make her decisions about next step, irrespective of any advice or desire I had for what the next step might be. Mm-hmm. It was up, it was up to her to say yes or no. And it didn't matter whether I agreed with it or not, whether I would have wanted something different or not.

She had had to make her decisions about any next steps that she was comfortable taking. Yeah, that's great. That's great. Uh, so many lessons, and I mean, Terrible situation, but I mean, the amount of lessons that are coming out of this that you are actually teaching all of us right now is just priceless.

And I know I sound probably, uh, a little bit more rational than not. Mm-hmm. But make no mistake, the most terrifying call I've ever gotten. Uh, I, yeah. There was no mistake in my head that I was thinking that this wasn't traumatic. Mm-hmm. I have to ask, and I bet the listeners wanna know this too. Did your daughter ever reach back out to Daisy?

Yes, she did. Ooh. And yeah. What was that like? She thanked her that I had told her that, that she had stepped in and that I had told her about the conversation and her help and how she helped her, and she thanked her and she shared with her that she had been drugged and that, um, she really was most grateful for her stepping in like she did, and that she wanted her to know that she, you know, had made a difference.

Wow, that's amazing. Yeah. Uh, okay. So we just do a little shout-out to Daisy and people like Daisy who step in when others walk past. So we just wanna thank all those people. Yes. Thank you Daisy. Thank. And is there anything else you feel like the listeners should know about just either this situation or just in general with all your experience and background?

You know, at the level I am right now with all of the sort of lived experience and integrated knowledge, and you can read all the textbooks in the world, but it really comes down to the basics of human caring and caring for each other. Mm-hmm. You know, you don't need a degree to know how to watch out for other people.

So true. Mm-hmm. So true. And if we all did more of that, we'd be modeling it for the next generation and the next generation. Yes. Well, thank you, Ashley, for just sharing. I know this story's personal. Your daughter, please tell her that we all wish her the best and to thank her for sharing the story with us because I mean, I know I had so many takeaways from this, and I'm sure the listeners got so much out of this as well.

All right. Thank you for having me. Thank you for listening to this episode. I'm so touched by Ashley's story and for the true kindness of a stranger that made all the difference that night. If we could take one thing away from this story, it is that if you see someone in need, stop and get help. And if you don't feel comfortable, connect them with someone who can.