Rape. It’s what little girls’ nightmares are made of, a fear that every woman harbors, the ultimate loss of control, terror realized. But what if what happens after the rape, the offenses that are committed by the people that are supposed to protect you, what do you do if they are worse than the rape?
That is exactly what happened to me.
That night, the night the doorbell rang, and I opened the door. The night that stranger guy pushed his way into my house. The night I was raped. It all happened so fast and at the same time, it unfolded in sickening slow motion.
I wish I could say that was the worst part, but what happened after that takes violation to a whole new level.
On a very basic level, I get that rapists are bad and rape is bad. What I don’t get, what my brain and my heart simply cannot process, is what happened in the aftermath.
That night, my neighbors knew something was going on and came banging on my front door, but it was too late. By then, I was laying on my living room floor under a blanket. Dry heaving and crying, trying to wrap my brain around what had happened, pleading from the depths of my soul that this was just a nightmare, screaming that I would just wake up.
But I didn’t. I was mortified. So ashamed.
No one could know. I didn’t want anyone thinking of me like that. Vulnerable and afraid, crying while some stranger stuck himself inside of me. I hazily remember opening the door and yelling at my neighbor that I was fine, to go away, and slamming the front door. After what seemed like hours later, I looked outside and saw all of the police cars. I texted my neighbor and asked her to send them away.
When I realized they weren’t going anywhere, I opened the door for a third time that night. I was even less prepared for what happened this time then I was when I opened the door the first time.
A police officer came running over and forcibly yanked me out of the house, demanding to know where the perpetrator was hiding. I told him that no one was there, it was just me. Six times he yelled it at me before telling me that if I didn’t tell him where the perpetrator was, his officers would storm my house, weapons drawn, and that with my sleeping children inside, it would be a shame if one of them got hurt.
I burst into tears as I tried to explain that whoever had been there, was now gone. He didn’t believe me and placed me in custody. It was then that I realized I was nearly naked. I looked around to see all of my neighbors standing outside, witnessing the worst night of my life. I could feel their eyes on me, and I didn’t even have clothes on to hide my humiliation. If I could have run into traffic at that moment, I would have gladly done it just to end my public shame.
From outside I could hear my two-year-old screaming for me at the top of his lungs. When I was finally allowed back inside, I was shocked at the state of my house. The officers had entered with such force that they had broken the stairs. Cabinets and closets were opened, everything pulled out, it looked like a bomb had gone off.
I was ordered to sit down in a chair and tell them what happened. Through my shame and tears I looked up to realize there were six male officers standing around me in a circle. They kept demanding that I tell them what had happened, and literally, I could not speak. All I could do was shake, cry, and look at the floor. I was so humiliated. Every time I tried to look up, all I could see were guns and male genitalia.
Eventually five of the officers left, and I was left sitting there with just one. He came over and, in what I would assume to be the “good cop” routine, started rubbing my leg and thigh, telling me I could talk to him. I burst into the ugly cry. You know the one, right? Gut wrenching sobs, what little was left of my make-up running down my face like a bad episode of “Teen Mom.”
Wiping my nose on the back of my hand, the whole deal, a full on ugly cry. I can’t even remember what I said, but it involved something along the lines of “Don’t. Touch. Me. I’ve had enough strange men touching me tonight and I don’t need anymore.” He asked me if I had been raped, and through gritted teeth and gut wrenching sobs, I managed to squeak out a “Yes.” Out the door the officer went, and in came the other five.
“OK Ma’am, we know this is hard for you, but we all have wives so we know what you are going through.” (Am I the only one that still doesn’t understand that statement?) We are going to need you to remove the rest of your (tiny shreds of) clothing so that we can get some pictures.
You have some obvious injuries so we need you to take your clothes off so we can see the rest of your body. What position did he use? How many times did he penetrate you? Did you orgasm or just him? We are going to need to take you to the hospital to get some vaginal scrapings and collect semen.”
And even though I could hear him talking, all I was processing was my brain screaming “SHUT THE HELL UP ALL OF YOU.”
At some point I let them see my bare chest, and all five of them moved in for a closer look. After that, I was done. My brain knew that I needed a rape kit, but every fiber of my being could not imagine someone else leering at me, let alone touching me. After several hours, the officers left.
Every part of me was violated that night, my body, my home, the safety of my children, my pride, and my self-respect. How would I ever face my neighbors again? The next morning I woke up and literally just wanted to die. I went to the county’s rape crisis center, and asked for anyone who could help me. I was told I could fill out a form for a referral for counseling, and when a spot opened up, they would call me. That’s it.
The detective called me and asked if I would be willing to come down to the police station to look at some mug shots. The LAST thing I wanted to do was to see the police again, but this is what you are SUPPOSED to do, right? Cooperate and get the rapists off the street? Save the other women around you from being his next victim? I had already failed my womanly duty of getting a rape kit done, so this was the least I could do to redeem myself. So I went. And I would give anything to take that decision back.
I was put in an interrogation room and left with a book of suspects. Cinderblock walls, a small table bolted to the floor, my chair, and a camera pointing at me from the ceiling. The detective got up and walked out of the room, locking the door behind him, but not before HE TOOK HIS CHAIR WITH HIM. Like I might see my rapist’s photo, go crazy, and bust the lock open with his chair.
When he eventually came back in, another detective came with him. They immediately started asking me questions that would make nuns drop dead. I started crying again, and asked for a female officer. I was told there were none. I asked for a social worker and they told me they were all unavailable. I asked for a rape advocate and they told me they don’t work in the police stations.
I eventually asked if any woman in the entire building could come in and be with me because I really didn’t want to recount embarrassing details with two men. I was told “No.” So, I sucked it up and told the story over and over and over. When I finally left, I felt so defeated. So worthless. So humiliated.
A few days later I called the detective to follow up with him. I told him that I was afraid the man would come back, he obviously knows where I live. I asked if there was anything that could be done to assure my safety. He told me “no,” but since I was worried, he would suspend the case.
And that was it.
Rapists are evil, sick, twisted people. When I think of an awful person thinking nothing of me, I think I might be able to handle that. But when the police don’t care, the people paid to protect you and make you feel safe, I’m not sure if I will ever get over that.
If I could go back in time, I would never have reported my rape.