I don't feel like talking about my shitty therapy session today. That is called avoidance.
I thought I might post a few memories that I have from my time working as a Rape Victim Advocate. I haven't thought of it for a while, but a few weeks ago I saw the CNN article about the rape victim in Florida that was denied treatment following her assault and then immediately arrested on an old, outstanding warrant. Since reading the article I've been thinking about victim advocacy, and remembering specific rape calls that I went on. I was going to say I've been remembering the worst calls, but every single one was the worst. I guess I've been remembering the ones that, for some reason or another, made the most impact on me. I'll post just a few memories here over the next week or so. I know it's a brutal topic, so skip them if you want. I think writing might help me get them out of my head, exorcism-style.
Today I'll mention a quick memory from before I even started the job. The year I joined the RVAs we had a big group of men and women taking part in the training, maybe 40 or 50 people, if I remember correctly. We met weekly for three-hour sessions to learn the specifics of the role. The training was very intense. I was young (21?) at the time, and I was in Bible college. I had taken a self-defense class and my teacher was an RVA, and as soon as she told me about the program I knew it would be a good fit for me. RVA responsibilities were basically to respond to emergency dispatch calls and meet the victims at the hospital right after an assault. The RVAs helped victims through the family notification, detective's interviews and medical evidence exams. Each RVA was on call at least once a month, and I got at least one call most nights. Each call lasted about four hours. The most calls I responded to in one night was four.
During the training we didn't have much time to interact with peers, it was lecture-style, so we didn't really have a chance to meet the other volunteers. I remember one night near the end of training the facilitator called on one of the trainees and asked if she wanted to share her story with the group. The woman, who was probably mid-30's, stood up to address everyone. I remember it was the first time I'd noticed her, and when she stood up it was easy to see that she was bruised around her face and looked very shaken. I also remember thinking that she had a very strong presence even though she was physically quite small.
She addressed the group and explained she had been walking through a popular park in Portland three days prior, and for some reason I think I remember it had been a Sunday afternoon when she was there, and a man came up behind her and pushed her face-first to the ground and started beating her. He was attacking her because she was a lesbian. She briefly told us the details of the attack and I specifically remember that she said that when she resisted him he got on top of her back and got a handful of her hair and used his grip to beat her head against the sidewalk. I remember that she said she was certain that he was going to kill her.
Listening to her story, I remember getting emotional and feeling very unsafe, but not physically unsafe. I remember having the sense that a major shift was beginning inside of me. I think it was one event in several that came together at that time to start breaking down my idealistic (and very religious) view of the world. In a way, I think it's strange that I started this type of work while in Bible college. I think I was seeking something "real" and wanting to open my mind, but not knowing exactly how to do it in that environment. Listening to the woman speak, I remember feeling like the curtain had been pulled back and I suddenly had lots of new information that I couldn't pretend to not know.
Enjoy it, because the story ends as very few do - the petite woman was an ex-marine and ended up getting out from under the man and pinning him to the ground. The man cried and cried (when she said that we all cheered) and begged to be let go, but she held on tight until the police arrived. I remember that when she finished the story she said something like, "He chose the wrong woman that day."
Eerie and disturbing, at best. How did she resist beating the hell out of him? That night started seven years working with the org for me, and that's the only story with a semi-positive ending in seven years that I can remember. Another way of saying it would be that it all went downhill from there. And since seeing the article on CNN, I can't seem to get it all out of my brain.