“i am so sorry this happened to you”. these eight little words brought me to tears today. i was reading an article about a high school student, who, unlike so many victims, received the absolute support of school administrators when he reported the awful criminal assault he had suffered there.
taught to counselors of sexual assault victims, crisis interventionists, and others, these eight little words should always be the first words offered to victims. they are the very words missing from the mouths of police officers, sexual assault specialists, physicians, friends, and even family when i was raped, two and a half years ago. not until now did u realize just how much pain missing those words had caused, especially considering that some of my dearest friends were counselors, therapists, and program directors for victims, trained, as i was, in the importance of making that very statement each and every time when meeting with a victim of sexual abuse and/or assault.
though i knew that the re-victimization felt by some who are not believed can be as bad as the assault itself, not until my own experience did i know the depth of the pain, the grief and the unbearable abandonment one can feel when no one says, “i am so sorry this happened to you.” the feeling of being absolutely alone in the world was more pervasive and more frightening than anything i had ever known. as the realization became ever more clear that there would be no help for me, no investigation into who was responsible, no support at all. the perpetrator would never be caught. my fear of recurrence soared through the roof and into the stratosphere. and my friends thought i was suffering from mental illness. could things get any worse? yes, they could and, in fact, would.the only show of supportive care came from my beloved daughter and was a lie. listening to friends and encouraged by her hateful husband, she filed a petition with the county to have me removed from my home and taken to a hospital for what she was told would be an “evaluation”. on moving day (my newfound fear meant that i could no longer live alone or in the house where i had been so violated), no less than four police vehicles arrived in front of my home to transport me, against my will, to a locked-down ward at the county hospital.after an embarrassing twenty minute ride in the back of a police cruiser (as if i were the criminal) and a mental health evaluation consisting of questions (none of which were about the assault) to which i was forced to answer only “yes” or “no”, i was taken to the fifth floor of the hospital.the peaceful, beautiful desert i had moved here for nearly twenty years before, now existed only far outside of a thick glass window at the end of a hall. my freedom and independence had been forcibly taken from me.i had no idea why i was there; was not asked about, nor allowed to explain what had happened to me. my belongings were taken from me, and locked away on another floor. i managed to hold off an attempt to force me to take a medication which would have had adverse effects on my ability to remain alert, among other things. and then informed that refusal to take the medication would result in adverse effects to my evaluation, even though it was my right to refuse.in the hall, one phone was designated as the patient phone for the entire ward, and was turned off during meals, meetings, for “overuse”, and whenever a dangerous patient acted dangerously. no one would tell me how long i would be held in this hell, only that i must await a hearing and a judge’s decision on whether or not i would be released. when would the hearing take place? no one could answer that question either. no one showed me the document that put me there, which had been signed by my own daughter. no one informed me that i had a right to attend the hearing, or that i could have witnesses appear. and no one, ever, said, “i am so sorry that this happened to you.”