I’ve been dreading this post. Why? Because Day 2 was the most intense, scary, surreal day of my life so far. Today is the day that I struggle with the ‘traumaversary’ because I actually remember what happened three years ago. This is a long read.
Dark room. Hazy mind. No clothes. Quilt over me.
Where am I?
I have no clue what time it is when I wake up, but it is dark and I am in an apartment that isn’t my own. I struggle to stay awake, but fall back asleep. Wake up again and am still out of it, but can at least get up and walk around. Was I scared at this point? No. Very confused though. I seriously remember nothing.
Fortunately, I was the only person at this random furnished, yet not lived in apartment.
Where are my clothes? Found them.
Where is my purse & phone? Found them in another room.
Phone is dead and I have no charger. No clue what time it is and can’t call for help.
My purse seems intact & thank goodness I still have my Indiana driver’s license. Now to figure out where I am. I walk to the windows and I can hear traffic, which in the DC area means nothing because there is always traffic, but I at least figure I am near a major road.
Still dark out. Do I start walking in the dark? No, bad idea.
I decided that once the sun started to rise that I would leave. In the meantime I would try to remember as much as I could of the place. This proved difficult because my phone was dead so I couldn’t take photos and I was still really, really hazy and not remembering much. But, I remembered a mattress with no sheets and un ugly quilt. I also remembered some red or pink religious hanging in the living room. Not sure what it was, but I distinctly remembered it.
Sun is rising. Time to leave. Am I scared? No. I’m thirsty and want a phone charger. I am confident that God will get me out of here.
I know I need to move. I’m told this was around 7am. There is video of me taking the elevator at that time. Where to go? I start walking with no idea where to go.
I need to find one of three things; the police, bus or metro stop, or somewhere that sells water & phone chargers. I kind of walked in circles for awhile because this apartment complex was set back from the main roads.
As I’m walking I’m wondering….where are the police? Do I go and knock on someone’s door randomly and ask for help? Who would believe me? Keep walking….
Somehow I find a bus stop. Not sure where it was going, but I didn’t care. Get me out of here. I get on the bus and feel like everyone is looking at me. They all know I was raped, or they think I’m a whore. That’s all that was going through my head. I curled up in my sweater and tried to figure out my next step.
Fortunately, the bus ended up at a metro station. I stopped and got some water and something to eat and decided that I needed to get back into the city to get my car & get to my doctor. Shit. I really was raped. Breathe…
Rode the Metro into the city and walked to my doctor’s office. I walk up to the front desk and it occurs to me I don’t know what to say. I have to actually say this out loud! I can’t. I’m at a loss for words. Fortunately, the very kind person at the front desk gave me a pad of paper to write down what I was there for. 4 simple letters. Rape. She looks at me and quickly finds a doctor to consult with. Well, they can’t do anything for me because they aren’t set up for it, so I need to go to an ER. I’m still new enough in town that I have no clue which hospital to go to.
Decide to go find my car. Where in the world is that church again? Found the church and found my car. Time to get home and rest and think about what to do next.
I remember on my drive home that I’m supposed to have a meeting at work right about then. So, I call in saying that I’m not able to make it today.
Work, “Are you okay?”
Me, “Yep, I’m fine.”
Work, “Are you sure?”
I start crying and telling them that I think that I was raped last night and I’m heading home.
Work, “PULL OVER NOW, I’m coming to get you”
Me, “No, I just want to get home. I’m almost home.”
Work, “I’m coming to get you.”
I make it back to my apartment and realize that I have no keys. Crap. Where are my keys? That guy must have them. What to do? I go to the front desk person at my apartment and tell them that I lost my keys and my spare set are in my apartment. Can you please let me in? Got let in and grabbed my spare set of keys and went to get picked up by my friend.
Believe it or not, it took going to two hospitals before I could be seen. The first hospital didn’t have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). They were very kind though and referred me to another hospital. Ended up at the next hospital and again wrote down what had happened. I swear they looked at me like I was an alien. Told me to go sit down and someone would be with me. Right. It took about three times asking and a new front desk person to finally take me seriously after over an hour and I got swept back to meet with a social worker.
I recounted what happened to the social worker. I had a rough idea of the address and knew the apartment number. They pulled up some maps and asked me if I could identify where I was. After awhile I figured it out, but guess what? The apartment complex is on the edge of the city/county line. Which police department to call? Kind of a big deal. Took a chance and called the county, and fortunately that was the right call.
From there I got sent back to see the SANE nurse. I honestly had no clue what was going on. You see these types of things on SVU or other TV shows, but I’m clueless. Get there and I find out that SANE nurses are angels on earth. So kind and nurturing. I was literally processed from head to toe. They get my basic info, take lots of blood and ask if I want to potentially press charges.
“Ummm….I think so? I don’t know who it was.”
They tell me I can always change my mind and it was at that clarifying moment that I realized, “I was raped! Oh my God!!! Yes, I’m pressing charges. Let’s get on with it.”
I will spare you the details of the exam because they are way too personal, but there are photos of parts of me that I never imagined. A couple hours of exams, treated for 7 STD’s, and having to give them all my clothes and I was at my wits end. I got to wear a drop-dead gorgeous jogging suit home. The nurse gave me this box with all sorts of toiletry items, the jogging suit, a journal, and other helpful information. Again, this hits me that this happened to me. I’m a victim. I can’t wrap my head around that.
In between parts of the exam I met with detectives. I can honestly tell you that the first officer I met with didn’t believe anything I said.
“Did you consent to having sex with this man?”
“I don’t think so…NO I wouldn’t consent to that.”
I knew from then on that I wouldn’t be believed.
The actual detective showed up along with my appointed advocate that would be with me through this whole crazy journey. Lots of questions. Going through every little detail that happened.
“Do you remember what he looks like?”
“Not really. Shorter than me and tan skin. Southeast Asian or Middle-Eastern maybe.”
“What else do you remember?”
I gave a description of the apartment and of the ugly carpet in the hallways of the complex. Guess what? Within an hour I was looking at a photo of that ugly carpet and confirming that that is where I was. They knew this apartment complex well as they are called there quite often. It’s nicknamed Taliban Towers because that is where some of the 9/11 terrorists were suspected of living.
Great. Just great. This is a really bad dream.
After all of this it was time to figure out next steps. I’m sitting in my drop-dead gorgeous jogging suit and ready to go home. Another social worker asked if I had eaten anything today and I realized that I had not. He informed me that all those vaccinations for STD’s would make me sick and got me a large bag of saltine crackers & 7-Up. That man is an angel as well. I ate those crackers like I hadn’t had food in a week.
The detective informs me that I can’t go home.
“What? Why? I want to take a shower & sleep in my own bed.”
He informed me that since we have no clue who this guy is and if he knows where I live that I need to find a safe house for at least the night, if not longer. I was at a loss again. A safe house? Me? I’m in danger? This is an even worse dream.
I was seriously surrounded by angels that day because my friend from work who stayed with me all day at the hospital called some other friends and figured out my safe house for the evening.
We did actually go back to my apartment so I could grab some clothes, toiletries, etc. The detective & advocate walked me into my apartment. The detective proceeded to do a sweep of my place looking for anybody or anything. Scary. Grabbed my things and we were on our way to my safe house.
I was in shock that whole day. I didn’t cry until I realized I had to call somebody to be a safe house. I kept on thinking to myself, “the nurses & detective aren’t going to believe you because you are so calm.” But, that is how I am. Cool, calm, collected (most of the time).
I’ve talked about being surrounded by angels on earth all day; from my friend who took me to the hospital, to the nurses, detectives, social workers, more friends providing support but I know that heavenly angels were watching over me as well. How do I know that? The guy showed back up at the apartment where my rape happened a half hour after I left. What would have happened if I hadn’t fled? I don’t care to know.
RAINN has been a wonderful resource for me through all of this. I didn’t utilize their resources until later on because I couldn’t wrap my head around what happened. Here is a link to learn about rape kits and what goes on. Please know that there is a severe rape kit backlog in many states. I’m lucky because my kit got tested quickly. https://www.rainn.org/articles/rape-kit