November 5, 2016 — Calling the Rape Crisis Hotline

 

I didn’t write anything about waking up on November 5th after an extremely painful night that caught me off guard and changed my life, but I will never forget what that day was like. I woke up too early for a Saturday morning with my mind already deep into chaos. Without any question, I knew I did not know how to proceed with life, and despite my still lingering self-doubt, I called the local rape crisis hotline in the county where it happened. I couldn’t imagine what this call would be like. I imagined they would be too sensitive, very gentle, and very cautious of suicidal ideations. It struck me as much more business-like than that. They answered the phone, and they asked why I was calling. Why was I calling? I didn’t know how to say it, if I even knew. I had not said the word rape out loud regarding myself more than five times, and suddenly as if it were a simple question, my last resort asked me what I need. I was overwhelmed with an urge to scream “I don’t know what I want, isn’t that what you’re for?!” But ultimately, I’m grateful it was so to the point, because god knows I could have spent all day avoiding the word and the solution. So I found it in me to barely say, “I’m thinking about reporting my rape and I’m wondering if you can tell me about what that will be like.” From there I was further surprised when they said they would take down my name and number and they would call back within ten minutes. I wasn’t really concerned about anonymity at that point because I did plan on reporting it, but nonetheless I felt uncomfortable that so soon I was putting my name out there as someone who was raped.

They called back shortly after. The woman I spoke to was sensitive and helpful. She answered my questions which I was able to articulate better than I expected. When I had no more questions left, which she made sure of, we hung up. I felt extremely grateful for the resource. I felt they were honest and let me know when they weren’t able to provide me with the answers I was looking for. I felt calmer and better about reporting it, but still unsure. I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed to attempt to run, despite how profoundly I wanted to sleep.

I made it about two blocks from my house before my mind got the best of me. I decided to call (and wake up) a friend who I had spoken to about this recently, a friend who knew my rapist very well. I think I wanted someone who had considered my rapist a friend to give me the approval that he deserved to be punished. Even now, I struggled with accepting I may ruin this person’s life. That phone call went on a while and was helpful. I was left with a plan to find out if there was any better way to simply make a record that this happened in case anyone else ever reported him.

I had to turn around sooner than expected because my table was being delivered. As I was walking to stretch, my crazy mind fixated on calling a friend who cut himself off from me years ago, which I always suspected might have to do with something my rapist might have said to him. So, despite the fact that we’ve spoken one time in the past four years, I called (and woke) him. I was wrong about my rapist having anything to do with the end of our friendship, but this friend who I called gave me what I needed, and it wasn’t approval that my rapist deserved this; it was that I deserved this, and all of the other rape victims in the world deserve this. We need to speak up if we can, if it doesn’t kill us, because a huge part of the problem in this world is that we allow ourselves to be silenced by fear, among those fears that nothing will come of the criminal complaint or fear that it will. After getting off that phone call, I felt confident I needed to report it.

 

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