That evening I called the police. I made notes of questions to ask them, one of them being if I report a rape is it possible to simply make a record and not move forward from there? If they said no, I have no control, I planned to call back later after considering that. I talked to myself as the phone rang and repeated, call back if they say no, call back if they say no. I told my boyfriend to make sure I do.
I had looked up the names of all of the officers in the police department in case any of them shared my rapist’s name or was somebody I knew. It is awkward calling the local police when you live in a small town, for the third time today having to use the phrase “report my rape” when I was deeply uncomfortable saying that word. It did get easier. It is a huge weight lifted that it is not so scary to use that word anymore, and that is something I ultimately got out of this.
The dispatcher answered. I was very awkward as I asked, “If I report a rape can you, like, just leave it as a record, or …” and then the dispatcher said he’d go get the some abbreviation I’ve never heard of, to which I panicked and asked what that meant. It just meant the officer who is on duty. This guy thinks I’m a freak. That’s fine. I was put on hold for too long and scribbled doodles all over the notes I had made. Then the dispatcher came back and said he’d call me back, can he get my name and number? I don’t know if he can……. in this situation, I was more inclined to remain anonymous. But I needed to talk to them, so I gave them my information.
It took so long for them to call back that I actually forgot I was waiting, my food delivery arrived, and I started eating. Then my phone rang. And I remembered. And I answered. And I grabbed my notes, and I asked my question. The answer was something like, “Well, I don’t know, we’d need to get the information first.” And then they started taking down my information. My name. My number. My address. Where it happened. When it happened. And the suspect’s name? “Wait, am I … am I, like, reporting it right now?” I finally asked. “We’re just taking a preliminary report. We’ll still need to sit with you and take a statement.” Uh, okay. I guess I’m doing this. I mentally nodded at my hour ago past self to acknowledge I was supposed to hang up before I do anything, but made a decision that it will be much easier to do this now. It felt right. I don’t regret it. So I told the police officer the name of the person who raped me, and I told him the street where he lives. The officer asked when I could come in to talk. I’m off on Tuesday for election day. I’ll come on Tuesday. I don’t want to wake up super early to get there. “How’s 9 am?” I’m two and a half hours away, but okay. I guess I am waking up super early on my day off.
It was a whirlwind, and the way I had prepared did not prepare me for the reality of the phone call, how quickly and smoothly information was given and plans were made, but somehow in hindsight, it was exactly what I needed that phone call to be. Even though I would have liked back then for my anxiety to be coddled by the officers, what I needed was confident people looking out for my ultimate goals. Everyone was professional. The next few days of anticipating the meeting with the detective were ridden with anxiety that made my stomach lurch. It was not easy in any sense of the word. It was, however, right.