Today at 6pm I got a phone call from a close friend of mine who had recently been the victim of abusive homophobic comments and violent threats. He knew a bit about what had happened and how Tuesday I was convinced I was going to press charges then I wimped out because I wasn’t brave enough to go alone. He asked if I wanted to go to the police station and I said not particularly, but he said it to accompany him. He had the details to press charges against the person in our building who had made the comments and threats. I said I could and we ended up walking there, we spoke about what would happen with my charge. He reassured me that if I thought I could do it he would be there for me. I said I would try, it’s as good of a time as any. When we got to the doors we had to ring and explain why we were there, then wait at the desk for an officer to see if there is a valid case. We were still discussing my options, I could do it today and get it over with or try again another day. A male officer came out and took the details of my friend’s case saying someone would be out shortly to take a statement. Then my friend said that I had something to say too. I looked at the officer and tried to speak.
“I was raped two and a half years ago and I would like to press charges” I stammered as my words failed.
He asked if I’d rather speak to a woman and I nodded. A few minutes later a female officer came out and took me to a quiet corridor to get the basic details. I was almost crying from the stress and my voice was shaking. I had to explain what happened, and when I had done that she said someone would take my statement but that it would take a long time.
I went to sit back down with my friend and took to Facebook. At one point my attacker had been my friend on their although he had since been blocked. Somehow my blocked list was empty so I started looking for other ex-housemates in the messenger application, I found one but there was no prior conversation. I could remember my attacker’s first name and the first letter and pronunciation of his surname, and I really wanted to find that detail. On the off-chance he was still connected to my Facebook, I typed his first name into the Facebook Messenger search. I found him, I got a screenshot. He was using his real name so I’ve got it. Then I started looking for the landlady’s details, I remember her name but not how it is spelt and things in French can be deceptive. I started googling rooms to rent in the town this happened. She has two available and I know it’s her, I recognised the name and the photos. I had a screen capture of the landlady’s name, phone number and proof our bank details were at some point connect and my rapist name and Facebook account. My friend went in for his charges and I started to worry that I was going to have to go alone.
A while later another female police officer came out to see me saying she was going to take a provisional statement from me. On the way to her office, I saw my friend coming out and I grabbed his arm asking if he could come in with me. The officer said yes, we went into a bland office and she asked if we wanted the door closed or not. I figured with the extreme temperatures at the moment and because we were secure in the police station it was okay to leave open. I tried explaining the story but it was all coming out disjointed, a few times we actually laughed. Apparently, I’m still not broken enough, or I have fixed myself enough. I said something about not wanting to participate because my aggressor smelt really bad, he was known for his poor hygiene. I gave enough details for it to be accepted as a rape and I have been invited back to give a recorded statement on Tuesday morning.
I was very lucky though because we got there during closing time, normally only urgent things are recorded outside office hours and by the time a woman who could take my statement became available, it was no longer office hours. I even saw the officer who took my statement come into work while I was waiting. Thankfully they took a provisional statement and my friend was allowed to come in with me. I am very grateful for those two things even though they seem mundane, had I been told to come back another day it would have been much harder. Had it not been so long between my attack and the report they would have taken it that evening but as it isn’t urgent because no evidence is decaying it can wait. Also because it is my word against my attackers I need to give contact names for people involved and I need to get friends or professionals who were aware of what happened around the time it happened. I have two who have already agreed, I can probably find another three so Monday I will be making phone calls.
I think this will be okay. I have to go in for the interview alone but my friend will be waiting for me after. Also, it’s going to be bounced around from the station for where I live, where I was attacked and where my aggressor lives if he has since moved. After getting out we went to the supermarket, we bought apple juice and vodka. Coming out of the station I felt lighter but strangely numb. My friend and I went back to his and played Ticket to Ride while enjoying our vodka apple juice. However, I have just noticed that I have been eating my lips since earlier.
While I was there I was asked why I hadn’t come in earlier. I said I was ashamed, I felt guilty and I had tried to brush it off as my fault. I said I have been through hell and the aftermath has taken a lot out of me, I have probably pushed my liver towards failure a few times too many. I didn’t want to cause any problems in the house because I wanted to get on with my studies and with all the work that I had I didn’t think I could handle moving as well. I also explained how my landlady menaced me with homelessness when she found out, she said either I could leave and involve the police or I could stay and keep quiet. How I had been accused of bringing it on myself too because victim blaming is a large part of modern society.