Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Nine hours...

Reading all of the musings and reminiscences of yesterday, September 11th, five years prior, I began thinking about how just one day – one random day – and one random moment has the ability to change the course of events in a person’s life or impact it significantly. One minute your life is in order…makes sense…and the next…

I was reluctant to post this entry as its subject is not one of levity and I know I am potentially opening the door to scrutiny. But I have found that since starting this blog, thinking things through and letting thoughts flow via my keypad has proven to be cathartic. Perhaps it is at times like these that a certain amount of anonymity comes in handy even though some friends of mine do read this blog. Besides, I've never exactly been one to hold back.

A friend of mine came to me and told me she had been the victim of an unconsensual sexual experience. You can imagine my shock. I do not feel the need to describe the circumstances, just that apparently over 80% of women who are sexually assaulted know their attacker.

When she woke up the next morning, sore and bruised, she tried to shake it off. It didn’t happen. She had had sex before…hooked up…sometimes regretted it, sometimes not…why was this any different? Well, because she hadn’t planned on doing it. Because she didn’t want to hook up. Because she had said "no".

So while attempting to shake it off she moped around the house, spent most the day on the couch, and avoided most human interaction. Unmotivated. Numb. Unhappy. Confused.

She called a friend and relayed the course of events. Of course she expected the outrage, she herself was very uncomfortable with what happened, obviously. She was still in disbelief. But what she didn’t expect was for her friend to say – “You were raped. You need to go to the hospital NOW”.

And go she did but just to make sure she was OK physically. She didn’t want to press charges. She didn’t want to over dramatize. She just wanted to be responsible and take care of her body. And move on with her life. But her spirit was another matter. To make sure she was OK mentally she called a counselor who met her at the hospital.

And they waited.

Nine hours they waited. Nine hours under fluorescent lights. Nine hours of scrub-clad men and women, limping patients and overworked nurses walking in and out of those swinging doors waiting for her name to be called. Nine hours of sitting there, thinking about why she was waiting and why she couldn't leave. Nine hours of talking with the counselor. Nine hours of making jokes to ease the tension, crying, feeling detached, feeling numb, feeling afraid, feeling ….sorry. She was so so sorry. She was not limping, or gushing blood, or pale with an illness as the other names on the sign-in sheet. Her pain was internal, it kept running through her mind and created bruises no one could see.

And after she was called, after the Dr.’s had come in, and come out, and said words like HIV, STDs, therapy, exam, lacerations, sample, bruising, shots, pills….she cried…and then cried some more. She ached inside and wanted to die. She wanted to crawl out of her skin and away from her head.

She wanted to feel like she did last week, when the world made more sense, when her life felt like her own, when the decisions she made were still hers.

I’ve been trying to think what I should do to help her make this as painless as possible, make her recovery as complete and as swift as I can. But guilt is a powerful thing and it seems to block out everything that is said. The thing I have kept telling her is….

It’s not your fault…
It’s not your fault…
It’s not your fault…

Maybe if I keep saying it…someday I’ll believe it.


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