Ok, so this is different. A friend has kindly and bravely offered to share her experiences after a sexual assault. The event took place about 10 yrs ago in England.
This is someone’s real life. I do not normally moderate comments as I believe that if anyone wanting to make an asshole of themselves in public should have the opportunity to do so. However, bear in mind anything you write may be read by the victim. Have a care.
This is not an attack on the National Health Service or a demonstration of “rape culture” in action. The system is made of people. If those people are unprepared to deal with certain situations, they will fuck up whether or not they mean to.
Assault took place Sat night.
Spent Sunday thinking about going to police. Decided not to. Had family go through similar and was horrible; don’t want to deal with it. Don’t think I can. Also don’t have enough proof, my word against his, not enough to prosecute, so what is the point?
Mon went to work. Boss takes me aside and asks about marks on my face. I didn’t think so visible, but must be. I explain as he’s nice. He asks have I had tests medicine etc for pregnancy and disease. Hadn’t thought about it. He makes me ring doctor. Doctor says they don’t deal with this, I have to go to hospital. I ring hospital. They tell me to come in. Boss says to go now. (In all this, best source of support – all practical, no judgement, no emotional fallout. Bless him.)
I notice very hard to explain first time. Easier on the phone as I don’t see reaction, just hear shock but don’t care so much. Easier after a few times, repeat same sentence. But still say “I was assaulted” not the R-word, can’t get it out. So stupid, same meaning but word too hard.
Get to hospital. Front desk is in waiting room, no privacy line, no space. People sitting 3′ away, man standing right behind me so close I can touch. Lady at desks asks me why I am there. I say I will say but not there in front of everybody. She says if I don’t tell they can’t triage me. I say I will say in private. She says if I don’t tell her I can go home and see nobody, why am I being difficult. Lady comes out of office at back and asks if I’m the person who called, I say yes. She says to desk lady ok to book me in. Another lady comes out of office and shouts “you look like you were dragged through a hedge!” Everyone turns and stares. I say “actually I was pushed” and go sit down in furthest corner.
See nurse. She can’t make eye contact, very embarassed, very shaky. (All these people all the way through having meltdowns at me and I’m trying so hard to keep it together, makes it harder. Not helpful.) She says they don’t normally do this, done by police, but I don’t want police. She says only doctors on duty are male, is that ok. I can refuse to be seen but no women on staff so I’d have to go home. I say ok.
Doctor is same ethnicity haircut looks as attacker. Could be older brother. Nobody else in the room. I say to myself “I can do this I can do this” but still I think shouldn’t have to, this is fucked up.
Doctor asks many questions, what happened, what order. I don’t know. Memory all fucked up. He asks if condom was used, did he ejaculate inside, and I don’t know. Only answer I can think of is “I was too busy kicking him” but that seems stupid so don’t say it. So I stare. Doctor goes “Ha ha ha so alcohol was involved ha ha ha” and I know I wasn’t drunk, had a few drinks but wasn’t drunk, don’t know why memory so fucked up, don’t see how it’s funny. (2 days later brushing hair find big lump base of skull, really hurts, don’t remember getting it, guess explains it. Feel like going back and yelling at him but I don’t, no point.)
Doctor says I can’t have anti-AIDS medication as too late (over 24 hrs). Doctor takes blood test and samples but says these are for records not for testing. I have to do again at sex health clinic.
Ladies at desk say clinic open now, very lucky as otherwise more time off work, attract more notice.
I go to clinic, feel so dirty, never been before, thought only bad people have to go, guess this taught me.
People at desk have heard from other desk so don’t have to say again which is good. They are very busy but they say they make sure I will be seen today. Kind. Don’t want to come back.
See a lady doctor, very nice, explains I have to have swabs now for results next week but HIV test will be 6 months. 6 months not knowing.
Nurse comes in to do tests very angry, I ask if she is ok, she says people giving her hard time cos of waiting times, then says “I don’t know why you people get so uppity, it’s your own fault you’re here.” She looks at my chart after. I say nothing, don’t know what to say. Angry.
I explain need tests as don’t know medical history of attacker, don’t know if he does this all the time. She says “this is why you should report, now if he rapes someone again this is on you.”
This is fucked up. I want to go home. But need tests. Don’t want to cry in front of people. So hard.
They do tests and I go. Phone for results following week, simple, and all clear.
6 months have to go in for HIV test results, can’t do on the phone. See doctor (same doctor) and is all clear. She is so kind. I can breathe. Didn’t realise how scared I was till I was told all clear. Now life starts again.