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The phone call comes in at 2:30ish in the morning.  The caller says that a woman is waiting for me at the local hospital.  I am given a name and no other details.

It's the weekend of Halloween so I am expecting a crazy ER room.  I walk in and see her.

Normally I would never share a confidential story, but this happened a long time ago and I will keep the details in general.

I am a volunteer Rape Crisis Counselor.  I volunteer for both a hot line and also for emergency room visits.  My job is to provide support and information.  I am not a doctor or a police officer or a social worker.  I am merely a presence to make sure that women and men understand their rights and options when reporting a sexual assault.  I don't make judgments and I sometimes stand between survivors and those who would like to judge and assume.  I don't second guess decisions and I don't push my own opinions.

Trigger warning for any sexual survivor.  Rape described below.

She was in her 20's and dressed in a short skirt and tube top.  It was Halloween and she was dressed as a sexy sailor.  She was attractive and a little drunk.  When I showed up, she was sitting on a bed behind some curtains crying.

I introduced myself and explained what my role was.  I also said that she could tell me nothing or anything.  Either option was fine.  And please ask if any questions or clarifications are needed.

She was quiet at first and then slowly and quietly begin to talk.  She had been at a party with friends.  She had been drinking and she meet a guy.  He keep bringing her drinks and seemed nice.   She got separated from her friends.  She agreed when he asked to go somewhere more private.  They went to a room and started kissing.  He pushed things a little further.  She realized that she was a little drunker than she thought and it was late. She started to break off the kissing.  He tried to convince her to stay, first nicely, than more aggressively.  She said no and tried to get away.  He grabbed her and pushed her down.  She resisted for awhile and then closed her eyes and hoped he would hurry up.  He left and she went and looked for her friends.  She confessed to a friend what had happened and they dragged her to the ER and here she was with me.

She wanted to know what happens next.  I said that she could have a medical exam.  She asked if that meant she had to press charges.  I said no.  She was adamant that she didn't want to.  I asked if she wanted to talk through why not.

This is what she said:

I am drunk.  I am dressed scantily.  I went willing to a room with a man I didn't know.  I actively kissed him.  I didn't fight the entire time.  It's my word against his.

I explained that maybe she wanted to get a rape case in case she changed her mind about pressing charges.  I was very upfront that this won't be fun.  

Nothing like the equivalent of a pap smear after being raped.  And then there is all the fun choices.  The morning after pill, various antibiotics to prevent STD's, HIV prophylactics...the worrying about being pregnant...All of the things that women with "buyer's remorse" go to a hospital and look forward to.

As she was being examined, I noticed the hand prints on her upper arms and thighs  where he had pinned her down...

If she had decided to report, she would have gotten to wait for a detective to arrive.  All these exams and tests and interviews take place over HOURS.  There is protocol in place to speed these visits up but an ER room has a pecking order and multiple gunshot wound victim takes precedent.

A detective (usually NOT friendly) would have come to take her statement.  The guys in my area (a very large metropolitan area) were shockingly hostile.  If you weren't a white beat up female that had gotten jumped by a boogie man from the bushes, they treated you with suspicion and hostility.  It was my job to try and deflect that but there were days that I really questioned humankind and the freaking police.  They often took photos (embarrassing photos) and took your clothes for evidence (we kept a supply of t-shirts and sweats to wear home).

If you made it that far, you had to make it over the hurdle of the prosecutor.  He said/she said case often got thrown to bottom of the pile IF you can even get them to take the case.

I recommend the local rape crisis center that I am associated with.  Very few follow up.  Most are appreciative that at least one person bore witness, saw, heard and validated them.  They go home and push that incident very far down...not forgetting...just not dealing with it.

She had buyer's remorse but not for some imagined good slutty time that seems to float around as alternative reality.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse every time she looked in the mirror and saw her bruises.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse when she went home in strange clothes.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse when she finally got to take a shower.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse when she wrongfully had no faith in her own judgement and decision making.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse when she had no trust in men.

I'm sure she felt buyer's remorse when she was haunted by the memories of that evening.

Originally posted to sideboth on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by This Week in the War on Women.

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