Friday, August 7, 2009

Aunty Christ has miles to go

Two calls, five patients. And I’m exhausted.

It’s funny—so far a pattern has emerged. I get the call. I am in action. I will go! I will help!

I drive to the hospital. I tear up. How can I help? What will be asked of me? What if I can’t handle it?

I think of me, at the hospital, waiting for my kit, and then seeing the lady-cop sitting in her chair by the rape table, and changing my mind and leaving. I think of me, calling the crisis line and being told dismissively that what I was describing was not rape.

At a certain point in my story, though, the evidence was gauged to have piled up to the correct height, and the crisis-line lady allowed that perhaps I had been raped. I didn’t know which reaction was worse, frankly: her disbelief, or her reluctant admission that I had finally met her standard of what rape is.

Once I’m at the hospital, all of that fades away. I am no longer important. I have a patient (or many patients) to help. That’s the important thing.

And then, driving home: Guilt that I didn’t do more. Anger that I didn’t do more. Confusion, because I wanted to do more, but—what happened? I am sad about the rapes I heard about. I am sad that the patients went home alone. I am even sad, sometimes, that I don’t 100% believe these patients. I am sad that these cases will not go to trial. I am sad that there isn’t a better process for these patients—one with someone who is here who actually knows what she’s doing, who doesn’t offend the doctor, or become shy (still!) when saying “pelvic exam.”

I’ve been reading blogs about rape lately. I think it helps. Helps what, I don’t know. Maybe it helps me think of things to say to my patients. That everyone gets through their experience differently, but they will get through it. That they are brave. That it may feel that no one understands or cares, but people do. Some people, anyway.

I have to write about this later, once I’ve had a few minutes to process. And sleep. I’m exhausted.


standing said...

I am responding to this post in the hope of lending some affirmation and support in the work you do. If I read correctly you have been through this process and I can openly say I have as well.
At the end of the day we need to grieve, feel anger, feel loss, and I don't know that there are words that can sooth so soon after. BUT there is presence. There is kindness through knowing eyes, there is a hand to hold, there is someone who cares enough to be there for that person with many or no words said. That is huge. Tender inaction is huge.
I can only imagine the struggle that you go through in this work....but I will say this.... what you have to give comes from such a space of genuine care and kindness or you would not be there. Trust me, that translates. What you have to give will always be enough simply in the way that it is honest. Believe that. The translation of pure intention is never lost. I commend your bravery.

Aunty Christ said...

Thank you, standing! I appreciate your kind words. It's a weird job ... you get the sense that you're not really making a difference, and you don't have any contact with the other advocates, and you never have contact with the patients, after that time. So thank you I need a little encouragement now and then.