I accidentally left my lights on in my car all night and it wouldn’t start in the morning. I walked back upstairs to ask Sam for a ride. I opened her bedroom door and called for her, but Flayla was alone on the bed.
I called her cell and could hear it ringing from her nightstand. OMG, my sister has been kidnapped!
Two minutes later, Sam walked out of the bathroom. “What are you swearing about?”
Good grief, I thought. Talk about over-reacting. “I need a ride.”
Once in the car, I told Sam the story. “I can totally relate to that article you posted on Facebook about 9 things people need to know about anxiety. When I couldn’t find you, I thought you’d been kidnapped.”
Sam laughed. “I posted that for you.”
“Yeah, except I don’t think I have GAD. Everything I’ve read about it doesn’t really describe how my anxiety works.”
“No, you have triggers,” Sam said. I am so glad she’s a fricking nurse.
“Exactly. Oh and by the way, I need you to take me to the police station before you drop me off at work.”
“Do you want me to come in with you for support?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I said.
We walked up to the security guard. “Hello, I’d like to report a crime.”
“What kind of crime?”
I looked at Sam. “An assault?”
“Ok, have a seat. They’ll call your number when they’re ready for you.”
Sam and I sat in the waiting area. Then the lady behind the desk called us over. “How can I help you?”
“I’d like to report a sexual assault.”
“Ok,” she said. “Let’s go over to this other room.”
I instantly knew she was going to be kind. She opened a private interview room and Sam and I walked in. We then sat across from each other at a desk.
“So can you tell me a little bit about the assault,” she asked gently.
“I wrote something down,” I said and handed her my flash drive.
She opened up the Word document on her computer and began to read. Sam and I waited in the silence while I groped around in my purse for my lip chap. I finally gave up. It took a long time for her to finish reading. I stared at the bare walls and my shoes. I spent a lot of time concentrating on what I was wearing and how I looked for some reason.
Finally, she finished. “Ok, the important things are that you say you didn’t initially tell him to stop. You did close to the end, but in the beginning you describe how you’re in a dreamy state; you’ve had a bit to drink. And you say that you kind of enjoyed it and went a long with it.”
I nodded my head.
“It might be difficult to prove. He could have thought he had consent.”
I nodded again.
“Do you know if he finished?”
I shook my head.
“You don’t know or he didn’t?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you know if your friend who heard you thought you needed help?”
“I don’t know. You would have to ask her. I didn’t really want to talk to her about it.”
She asked for his last name, his number, and his date of birth. Then asked for the same information for my friend and also her address where the incident took place.
“When did this happen?”
“Early Sunday morning May 4th.”
“Why are you coming forward with it now?”
I was anticipating this question, but it was a difficult one to answer. “I keep having nightmares,” I said. “And I keep seeing the face of the girl he’s with now. And I don’t want him to do it to someone else. If he does it to someone else, I will be responsible. I want him to know what he did was wrong.”
“Ok, well we have two options. You can make a formal complaint, which means we will do an investigation. We’ll talk to both these individuals and see if there is enough evidence to press charges. Or you can just report it and it will go into our system as information. What are you wanting to do?”
I looked at Sam. This was not a question I was anticipating. What did I want to do? I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want this to have happened to me.
“We also have a third option, I suppose, where we could just talk to him and give him a warning.”
“I like the third option,” I said after reflection.
“You’ll need to know, though, that if we go that route, he can’t be charged in the future.”
“I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. I don’t want him to go to jail. I just want him to know what he did was wrong. He dismissed me. When I confronted him, he didn’t listen. He thinks it’s all okay.”
I was conflicted about making yet another decision. First the decision to report it, now the decision to press charges or not. And all from an incident where I didn’t have a choice at all.
“I think we need to go all the way or nothing,” the officer said. “But I like to give people the choice – to know their options.”
It took me a long time to decide and she was patient.
“If you decide to go ahead, I’ll need to get a video statement.”
“Ok,” I said.
She brought me into another room I have only ever seen in the movies. I sat down at the table and she sat down across from me. She asked me to give my statement and then she went over each piece of it for clarification and more details. She made me say words of body parts I don’t like to say. She questioned how I knew what was happening when I was drunk. She asked me why I didn’t tell him to stop earlier. She asked me if I’d flirted with him. She asked me if he could have thought he had consent. And then she asked me again why I waited to come forward.
I repeated the fact about the nightmares and feeling a sense of responsibility for other girls. He knew I didn’t want to have sex, I told her, and he took advantage of a situation. And then in the morning, he tried to joke it off. He hurt me. It was physically painful. Now it’s emotionally painful. And I didn’t say no right away, but I didn’t say yes. And he didn’t ask me. He should have asked me. I was drunk and I couldn’t move my arms. I couldn’t get away from him. If he had asked me if I wanted what he was doing to me I wouldn’t have said yes. And that is assault.
The whole process took over two hours. When it was over, Sam and Flayla were eating Cheerios in the car, waiting for me. “Thanks for coming with me,” I said.