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‘We thought we were being safe’

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‘We thought we were being safe’

GARRARD COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/Gray News) – What was supposed to be a dream vacation for two Kentucky mothers turned into a nightmare.

Lifelong best friends Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer say they were drugged and raped at a resort in the Bahamas while they were docked there from a Carnival cruise.

“It was like a dream vacation. Until it wasn’t,” Dobson said. “Now it’s like a nightmare we can’t wake up from.”

The best friends set sail on the Carnival cruise on Feb. 1, spending a great first day at sea and an even better two days in Nassau.

But it was when they docked in Freeport on the Grand Bahama Island on Sunday that both women say the trip took a horrific turn.

The friends said they were each given two drinks by staff members at a local resort – something that is commonplace at all-inclusive resorts.

They said they finished their first drink, then had a few sips of the second.

The next thing they knew, they were unconscious, and waking up to unknown men sexually assaulting them.

“I ran. I was screaming for Dongayla. I said, ‘We’ve got to get help,’” Shearer said.

Both women documented the bruising down their lower bodies and called Bahamian police.

However, the women said Bahamian police wouldn’t give them drug tests, rape kits, or proper medical care until they were back on the Carnival cruise ship.

Once back on the ship, Shearer and Dobson said their drug tests show positive results for many substances, including benzos and amphetamines. They said their rape kits came back positive, too.

Now, they’re working with American law enforcement, and their own legal teams, as they allege two men from the resort sexually assaulted them.

Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a news release on Friday that two men, ages 54 and 40, have been arrested in the case.

Police said in the news release that medical assistance was offered to the women at the scene, which they declined, but that officers went with the women back to the Carnival cruise ship.

“Recognizing the gravity of the incident, our officers boarded the cruise ship, providing a sexual assault kit and hospital form to the ship’s medical doctor and obtained signed statements from the victims,” the news release said.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force said they are working with the FBI on the investigation.

Dobson and Shearer, though, said they thought they were being safe while traveling and taking usual precautions.

“We thought we were being safe. We traveled in a pair, we didn’t talk to strangers. We didn’t take drinks from anyone, other than staff,” Dobson said.

Police have not confirmed if the two men arrested were staff members at the resort.

The women allege that Carnival never made them aware of the Level 2 travel advisory issued by the US Department of State, due to crime in the Bahamas, at any point before or during the trip.

Now, the women are back home, but they are dealing with lasting trauma from the horrific events.

They also are both taking thousands of dollars’ worth of prescribed medications, including HIV prevention.

According to a GoFundMe page set up to help the women with their medication costs, insurance is not covering the HIV prevention pills that cost more than $3,000.

“Now that we have them home safe, they are so traumatized that they can’t go back to work, they can’t even leave the house without an escort due to fear,” the GoFundMe page reads, in part. “These girls were just trying to enjoy a well deserved girls weekend which turned into a nightmare, leaving them with psychological trauma.”

Now, Dobson and Shearer are sharing their story to make others aware of the dangers while traveling and to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

“It’s not okay. I don’t want it to be someone else’s daughter, mother, or sister,” Shearer said. “These crimes, they don’t just affect the women themselves – the women like Dongayla and I who are raped. They affect everyone who loves us, because we can’t be loved the same after.”

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