Hometown: West Haven, Connecticut
Samantha is an honor roll student, a star athlete, and liked by everyone. At age 16 and in her junior year, she attends a private, high school in Connecticut on scholarship. Her dream is to get into Brown University and become the first in her large African-American family to be accepted to an Ivy League school.
When “Sam” is not studying, on the soccer field, or taking dance class, she is volunteering at the YWCA or hanging out with Erin—her best friend. Sam doesn’t have a boyfriend, even though guys always ask her out. She never says “yes,” because her parents are strict about dating and don’t want her to lose focus of her college dreams. She takes that to heart, so all the guys at school are “just friends.”
Going to a predominantly white school is not always the easiest thing for Sam. As one of the few girls of color, there are students who have spread stories that she was only accepted because of her skin color and affirmative action. Because of this, she often finds herself holding back socially, not wanting to create waves or draw extra attention to herself.
At the end of her junior year, after taking a very difficult AP chemistry exam and "acing" it, Erin convinces Sam to go with her to an unchaperoned summer kickoff party at Jack’s house — a senior who has secretively always liked Sam. She agrees, and is thinking she wants to finally let loose for one night and both girls pledge to “have a crazy good time!” The girls spend all afternoon getting dressed up!
Feeling adventurous at the party, Sam plays a drinking game with Erin, Jack, and a handful of other students. When one vodka shot turns into four, five and six, her head begins to spin. Sam gets up and tries to find the bathroom, but ends up passing out in one of the bedrooms.
At the same time, three of Jack’s friends, who are very drunk at this point, stumble into the room and find Sam lying on the bed, completely passed out. Then, they do the unthinkable. Removing her clothes, they take turns sexually assaulting her while she is passed out.
When Samantha is finally found by Erin and Jack and still unconscious, 911 is immediately called and Sam is taken to the hospital. She has gone into shock. Then, after being released and back at home for the next week, she can’t seem to move much or speak at all. Following the doctor’s strong recommendations, her parents find a therapist to help Sam cope with the trauma.
What no one knows, is that since the incident, Sam starts cutting herself. She doesn’t even recognize herself anymore, and her parents don’t seem to look at her in the same way. She spends endless hours thinking about that party: How did people perceive her when she was drunk? What actually went on with those guys? How was she actually violated?
During her first therapy session with Dr. Ernestine, Sam barely talks and starts rocking herself. This quickly turns to self-scratching, which escalates into using a pen to stab herself in front of the therapist. These mannerisms seem to be the only way that Sam is able to speak about the incident. Focus on the pain at hand... to numb the pain from the past. With the help of Dr. Ernestine, and by keeping a “digital diary” — Sam starts to gradually talk about herself and what she’s been experiencing since the night of the party.