Once upon a time in a land that doesn’t exist, a girl crawled into a police station and says four words that only the bravest of the brave could ever say: “I was just raped.”
The girl looks like she’s been roughed up: eyes swollen and filled with tears, her clothes dirty and disorganized and her hair a tangled mess. Her fingers are bloody and her knuckles are white as she clings to the front desk. Perhaps fearing that the girl is just a breath away from passing put, an officer emerges from behind the desk. He places one hand upon her shoulder. She is reassured. She feels safe. She finally lets out a shaky breath of relief as her chin quivers and fresh tears threaten. The officer leads her to an interview room and hands her a glass of water. Moments later, the girl relays her tragic story, sparing no detail. The officer is calming and compassionate; he leaves the girl in the care of her doting family, determined to find justice for her.
The officer and the other investigators are quick to gather evidence and nab the perpetrator. Soon after, the girl stands up in court, points to her attacker and tells her awful story, detail by painful detail. She’s nearly broken several times as the Defense council seeks to discredit her, but the Prosecutor acts as her valiant protector. The attacker is convicted of rape. The girl can finally rest easy.
She moves on with her life, finds love, happiness and fulfillment and never thinks about that awful time again. In other words, she lives happily ever after.
This is a fairy tale; it’s a non-existent best-case scenario. This might even be the way the sleeping world believes rape cases actually happen. But it’s not. Or, at least, that hasn’t been my experience.
… A girl crawled into a police station
When I was raped, I didn’t tell anyone. For months. It’s been a couple years and there are still only a handful of people who know. Going to the police station in the middle of the night didn’t even really cross my mind. I didn’t see that as an option.
…“I was just raped.”
I still haven’t admitted this to anyone. Not in these words. I have never said the words, “I was raped” out loud. I hate the word rape; I don’t want it to be a part of my being.
…The girl looks like she’s been roughed up
I had no plainly visible physical signs of having been jumped by two men while I was out running one night. I had spent an undetermined amount of time with two men taking turns (or not) restraining and having sex with me as I disappeared somewhere else… but you could not tell that by looking at me. They were sexually violent but not physically violent. They didn’t even have to get rough with me when I was fighting with all my might, because I was outnumbered.
…He places one hand upon her shoulder
Please… don’t touch me. Anyone. Not without my permission. Not without some indication that I want to be touched. Do not reach out and try to grab my hand when I am telling you something hard. Do not try to comfort me when I am crying unless I know you really well. Do not touch me. Please and thank you.
…She feels safe
I was scared. I was confused. I was alone. I wasn’t safe. I didn’t feel safe. And feeling alone and unsafe after something like this is not a treat. I cannot even describe how every part of my life has changed.
… She is led into an interview room where she relays her story
I haven’t been able to verbally tell my entire story even once. At first I didn’t want to. Sometimes now, I do want to and I still can’t seem to. Sometimes parts come out. Sometimes parts get stuck.
…Investigators are quick to gather evidence and nab the perpetrator
This does happen; I know it does. But I didn’t have any faith of this happening in my case; perhaps that was wrong of me to assume but I had no hope that I would ever be able to help put these men behind bars. They were strangers. It was the middle of the night; it was dark. There were no houses or people around. It just doesn’t seem feasible that in this populated of an area, the perpetrators are findable.
…The girl moves on with her life, finds love, happiness and fulfillment and never thinks about that awful time again. In other words, she lives happily ever after
I am standing firm on the idea that this happens.
It is still a bit hard for me to come to terms with the fact that our world really hasn’t changed that much over the last several decades. Women have not come as far as we think. When the issue of sexual assault, sexual harassment or any kind of sexual violence is on the table, it’s like we are back where we were when a man couldn’t even be charged with raping his wife.
Women barely report sexual assaults; I don’t think this is because after they’re raped, they’re thinking “our justice system is so broken, I’d just be wasting my time”. That statement is how I justify not reporting NOW. It has nothing to do with why I didn’t report then. There is just a stigma to being sexually assaulted, regardless of whether you report. But in reporting, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that people will know what happened.
I want to be normal. I don’t want to be a rape victim. I certainly don’t want to be a “survivor”. I do not want to be a label or a statistic. I do not want to be someone with a “history of trauma”. I do not want my behaviour to be explained or justified by this event. I don’t even really want to acknowledge that this thing even happened.
I just want to be that nice, normal, empowered, non-reactive, hug-loving, cuddly, snugly girl who did not lose her virginity (in more ways than one) to two douchebags who overpowered her.
That girl is so far from what I am today, and I really want her back.