Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You Don't Matter

There I sat in the counselor’s office. Knowing what I had to say next and saying it were two different things. Once you said it, it really happened. She stared back at me and I know she could see my face stained by tears, eyes red from crying, hair disheveled, and my nose running. Staring back into her eyes I knew I could either remain silent and carry my shame alone, or tell her and lay shame bare for all to see. The ramifications of what I was going to say would ruin peoples’ lives.
I took a breath and began telling her what happened that morning. The details were shaming and painful to disclose. At times I had a hard time not sobbing, but I would compose myself and keep going. Then she asked me the dreaded question: Why? Nothing is worse than having to answer that question. 
Because I was raped.
So the story of why my father hurt me became the story of what happened when I was raped. When I finished I held my head in shame.
It happened. Now I’ve told the world. There is no going back now.
After I had composed myself, the counselor told me to go back to class. That was it. As I sat in class dazed, I got called back to the office. For some reason I was actually surprised to see the police and Child Protective Services. They took pictures- the redness on my neck had been gone for hours. There were a few scratches on my arms from the wall as I was dragged by it. My father had punched me square in the nose, so I had no black eye. Instead there was a bruise from where the cartilage of my nose had bent. Armed with only a small bruise, some scratches, and a detailed story, CPS sat me down and told me that unless there were cigarette burns or broken bones, because I was over 13, it didn’t matter.
I don’t matter? So even though he choked me and I almost passed out a few times, it doesn’t matter?
So he can beat me all he wants as long as there aren’t any broken bones? That’s what youre saying?
They told me that if I went home and it happened again, I would not be safe. They could do it again. It was "a personal matter." 
The feelings of fear and dread were overwhelming. The police heard my story of the rape. Few questions were asked. Looking back I don’t even remember if they gave me their business cards. As the day went on a friend contacted me. She said I could go home with her. Given the alternative, it was the only reasonable thing to do.
We went to her house and she introduced me to her parents. After over an hour I finally felt comfortable enough to relax. At some point I called my middle brother to ask him to sneak me over some clothes. After I hung up the phone, I got in the shower. It had been a long day and washing off the tears was the best idea I had to start over. The bangs on the door I could hear even from the shower. Then talking. Next a knock on the bathroom door. My stomach turned because I knew. Hurriedly I replied I would be out shortly. Drying myself off quickly, I dressed into my clothes. Before I opened the door I stopped. With a big breath I put my chin up and opened the door. Cops.
In shame I grabbed my things and quietly made my way out the door. Before I left, I looked them all in the eye: my friend, her brother, and both of her parents.
Thank you.
And then I put my head down and silently got into the patrol car.
Please don’t leave me alone with my parents. They will hurt me.
While we are there they aren’t going to hurt you.
But you have to leave at some point, what happens then? What do I do?
Your parents aren’t going to hurt you.
Will you stay to make sure I will be ok?