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Archive for August, 2008

Ten years ago, I was the victim of sexual assault.  Adding insult to injury, the rapist was a “close” friend that I trusted.  I don’t believe that I am a “survivor,” as the women’s centers and other agencies are so fond of labeling it.  I say victim for a reason.  I didn’t choose for this to happen to me, nor did I choose to survive the incident.  After it happened, “surviving” was the last thing I wanted to do.

The night after the assault, I sat outside of my dorm with my RA trying to get me to talk about what was bothering me.  I wouldn’t, couldn’t.  A police cruiser pulled up a bit later; an officer got out and waved to my RA.  When he walked over to us and looked at me, I don’t know what happened–all I know is I knew in my heart that this officer was special, and I knew I could trust him with my story and would be safe.  I stood up, ran to him, threw my arms around his neck, and began to cry uncontrollably.  He ushered me into his car and drove around for the rest of the night.  I told him everything.  He listened with a compassion and sympathy that I didn’t know anyone could possess.  The one condition that I stipulated was that he was to tell no one, not to report it, just to keep it between us.  I had to go through the rest of the semester sitting next to this “friend,” my now rapist, assigned seating in two classes.  I was too ashamed and scared to do anything more than talk it out with my officer; no way did I feelcapable of handling filing charges and facing anyone else for fear of judgement.  My own feelings of disgrace, disgust, shame, fear, disappointment, lonliness, anxiety, mistrust….it was a lot to deal with.

Helping me, much to my surprise, was the kind officer.  He stood by me, there to listen at any time of day or night, always making sure that I was ok.  If I went out, he was there to pick me up.  If I was down, he was there to make me laugh.  If I was beating myself up and tearing myself down about what I could have/should have/would have done, he was there to make sure that I knew it was not my fault, and that despite what happened, I was alive and lived through a horrible ordeal.  It did take years for me to come to terms with that, and he was still there…and still is. 

People don’t know how to handle a rape victim.  It is hard to know what to say, how to act, even what jokes are appropriate around them.  Family members feel guilty for not being able to protect them.  Friends don’t know what to say to help ease the pain.  And the victim…feels alone, vulnerable, and has guilt of their own.  Most officers feel the same, and the victim is passed to doctors and counselors and victim services.  Again, there is no blame; they have a job, and once it is done the next professional steps in to pick up where they left off.  What happened with me was rare.  After 10 years, this officer, now a sergeant, is my best friend.  I also work for him at the police department in emergency management.

I owe so much to my sergeant.  Mostly, I owe him my life.  If I hadn’t had him there beside me, I don’t think I would have made it.  Through the years, he continued to be there for me.  My highs were his highs, my lows were his lows.  And vice versa.  I learned to trust again, and I learned that there is someone out there who cares about me.  I can never thank him enough.  How do you put a price on friendship?  On trust?  On life?  You can’t.  He gave me a reason for living.  I might not be able to pay him back for that, but I will spend the rest of my life trying.

So Robert, thank you for everything.  I wouldn’t be here without you.

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