Getting Scared by Imogen Heap

My name is April, and I am 22 years old.
Saturday, July 19, 2003…my nightmare. 

I have gone over and over inside my head what I possibly could’ve done wrong that night.  How could something like that happen to me? Me. A small-town girl.  This isn’t supposed to happen to me, these things are what happen to other people, and I read about them and feel sorry for them.
 But it happened.  It happened in my own home and in my own car…places that belong to me, where I’m supposed to be safe.
That was the night I was raped. 

It all started out so normal.  My best friend and I were spending the evening out seeing a local band play at a street dance one block from my apartment.  This is where I ran into him; my ex-boyfriend.  I hadn’t seen him for at least two years, and here he was, out of nowhere.  What was even stranger is that he started apologizing to me for the way he treated me while we were dating and about the way our relationship ended.  It didn’t occur to me at all to be suspicious of anything, and why should I be?  I knew him; he wasn’t a stranger, so why would he have a reason to hurt me?

 And then suddenly, he was gone and I was with my friends.  He only had those few things to say to me.  And I thought to myself “why shouldn’t he?  He was a dick when we were seeing each other…cheating on me like that.  I deserve that apology.”  It had been two years, and I stupidly thought he had grown up enough to admit his mistakes.

 After a couple of drinks and being a girl, I realized that I needed to pee.  It was a no-brainer to walk the one block to my apartment rather than use the smelly Port-O-Potties at the dance.  I told my friends where I was going, and reminded them that I was leaving my place unlocked in case anyone else voted for a clean bathroom instead of a portable toilet (that and so I didn’t have to carry my keys around all night).
I never returned to the dance that night.

I vaguely remember being in my apartment, and I vaguely remember him being there…but I do remember wondering why.  I remember him grabbing me in my bedroom and trying to take my clothes off.  I do remember that here is where I informed him that I had a boyfriend, and that I loved him.  This didn’t faze him…he had a girlfriend.  After all of this is when everything went black.

 I came to around 3 or 4 hours later…somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning.  To my shock and confusion, I was now located in the passenger seat of my Grand Am at a home in the country, apparently at a party, given all the people and cars that were around.  I knew none of the faces.  I looked around and realized I was alone in the car, and my keys were nowhere to be found.  I was somewhat calm, only because I had not yet realized what time it was, how long I’d been gone, and ultimately…what had happened to me.  I tried to wave someone over to my car, to at least find out where I was and why.  Someone came over, I think I just started babbling to them that I didn’t want to be there, where was my ex -- who I assumed was behind all this confusion -- and that I wanted to go home…please give me directions.  I was laughed at.  And I continued to be laughed at by every person I waved over.  Not one person would help me.  Now I was scared.

 Now for some reason, one that I honestly chalk up to Divine intervention, I discovered my cell phone underneath my seat.  I looked at the time, and gasped…what had happened in almost 4 hours?!?!  I immediately called my best friend who was supposed to be staying with me for the night at my apartment.  She answered her phone “where on Earth have you been? We’ve been looking for you, calling you…WHAT IS GOING ON???”  She wasn’t mad…just freaking out.  I was too.  All I could tell her is that I was certain my ex had taken me, I didn’t know where I was at or how I got there…and that no one would help me.  She told me to get one more person over there, and to give them the phone.  I did, and she immediately started screeching at the person to tell her where I was and how she could get there to help me.  Again, the only reaction I got was a laugh…and a hang-up on the phone call.  She called me back to tell me that she and her cousin (who was also out with us that night) were on the way…they had no clue where I was, but would keep driving around until I was found.
 Now, those who have actually heard this story from me asked “why didn’t you just call 911?”  The answer is simple to me…I still had no clue what had happened, did not know I was in danger, just simply thought this was my ex-boyfriend being an asshole.  He was being an asshole and I was afraid now…I wanted to go home.  I then called my mom.  She answered sleepily, and my dilemma shot right out of my mouth.  It took her a minute, she told me to calm down, and repeat myself.  I did, and she told me “I’m on my way. Keep calling my cell phone.”  She was going to her sister’s house next door to ask my cousin’s boyfriend if he knew of any parties around that night, hopefully he knew where I would be.  Brian didn’t know anything.  She then called a former co-worker of ours who lived in the area of the river bottom…where I thought I might be given my shitty phone signal.  She had a few ideas, and agreed to meet my mom so she could follow her.

 After all of this is when he showed back up at my car.  I immediately lit into him, demanding he tell me what went on, and demanding he bring me home…adding that I already had my mom and friends looking for me.  “What in the hell did you call your mom for??” was his reaction.  We fought; I kept up my demands that I wanted to be home NOW.  And then suddenly, without a word, he put my car in drive.  As I looked around, I realized we weren’t driving anywhere near a town…there were no lights whatsoever.  I started to panic.  I called my mom.  He grabbed my phone and hung it up.  I called again, yelling into the phone that he was driving me away, I didn’t see any signs or lights and we were on gravel.  My mom told me to get him to stop, he was obviously drunk and/or fucked up on drugs and could kill us behind the wheel.  I begged him to stop the car, to just leave me there and someone would pick me up…that if he did that I’d let it end there.  He only drove faster.
 Here is where I pulled out the “big guns.”  I informed him that if my car was not stopped, I would call my father.  He knew my father hated him with a passion, and would remove body parts given the chance at him.  He mocked me, thinking I was kidding.  I dialed my dad’s number and said “hello DAD?”  He grabbed the phone saying “you BITCH!” and hung it up.  I hit redial.  I punched him in the face so he wouldn’t grab my phone again and spit out the entire story to my dad.  He was awake immediately, and said the same thing my mom had said – “I’m on my way.”  My dad did not have a cell phone, and would be driving on pure instinct knowing his daughter was in danger.

 Now he was just pissed off that I’d hit him.  The car screeched to a halt, and he got out coming around to my side of the car.  Right before he tried opening my door, I hit the lock button and locked myself in.
 I feared for my life at this moment.  I looked at his face…and he was gone.  This was not the guy I’d known only a couple years before.  I don’t know how someone can change like that, but he did.  I honestly thought “This is it.  This is where I’m going to die.  My body will be found in a remote road ditch…if ever found.”  Silently, inside my head, I recited the Lord’s Prayer, and said goodbye to my friends and family…hoping that God would let them hear my voice before I died.  I sobbed and begged him to stop, that he could still leave…just leave me and I would find my way somewhere.

 It was at this time when I saw a car approaching us from behind…I was elated thinking it was someone coming to save me, but I was wrong.  Instead, it happened to be a car full of his friends from that party.  They picked him up, and without even looking at me, drove away, leaving me abandoned on the side of that gravel road in the middle of nowhere.  I will never forget his last words to me that night… “I can’t believe you’re acting like this…I loved you and you’re treating me like this.”  He couldn’t believe what I was doing to HIM?  Had he even thought for one second what he had been doing?  Still, even as I sat in my car alone, I did not know the full extent of what he had done.

 I don’t know if it was only a few minutes or if it was a lot longer than that, that I sat in my car…waiting.  I was frozen.  My phone signal had died at this point, so all I could do was wait.  I kept my car running so I could keep the lights on for someone to see me.
 Suddenly, another vehicle approached.  Thinking it was some more of his friends, or maybe even him returning, I refused to look over, and locked my doors once again.  “Are you April?” was all I heard.  I didn’t answer.  I didn’t even breathe.  “It’s her…I think she’s scared.”  Then I heard my mom’s voice and I flew out of the car and into her arms and cried.  She asked where he was, and all I could say was that he was gone now…he got into another car and they took off.  Not even two minutes after my mom found me is when my dad showed up.  I don’t even think he had his vehicle stopped completely before he came flying out, furious.  “Where is the little fucker…I’ll kill him!”  Again, all I could say was that he was gone now.  I stood there shaking for a few more minutes, and my dad asked me if I felt up to it, he would lead me home, I would follow him in my car, and my mom would follow me.  I agreed.  Until I reached the actual highway I hadn’t realized how far from home I really was.  I was about 15-20 miles away.  By the time we all reached my apartment, it was about 5 or 5:30 in the morning.  I realized then that my best friend was still out there looking for me, and I called her cell.  She was beyond relieved, and arrived at my apartment about 15 minutes later.  I sat there with her and my parents, telling them all I that I could remember from the night.  I got up to use the bathroom…and when I went to pee is when I saw that I had no underwear on.  I then realized that along with my underwear, my bra was also missing.  I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, and saw myself for the first time after all of it.  My hair was all over the place, my face was dirty and tear-streaked, and my shirt was ripped at the collar and was on inside-out and backwards.  I wouldn’t allow myself to say I’d been raped.
 I walked back into my living room and sat down.  I couldn’t look at anyone.  My mom asked me what was wrong.  After a few moments, I knew I had to say something.  I told her about my missing clothing, assuming she could also see how I looked.  “April, he probably raped you.  You need to go to the police.  You need to be taken to a hospital.”  I said no.  I wouldn’t go.  I was not ready to say I’d been raped.  There had been a mistake.  I used to date this guy and no way had this happened.  We had a fight, and that was it.  I was 21 at the time, and my mom told me that because I was an adult, she really couldn’t force me to do anything…but to please do this anyway.  I looked to my friend for help…she was on my mom’s side.  I just said “ok,” and looked down.  I could not yet look at my dad.

My mom got up and dialed the sheriff ’s office.  She reported that her daughter had been raped, and would be bringing her into the ER.  A deputy would meet me there.

My dad drove me the 25 minutes to the hospital.  Neither one of us said anything.  It was around 6 a.m. and a nurse met me at the door.  She had the “I’m so sorry” look, kept calling me “honey,” and led me to a room. She told me to stand on a drape and take off all my clothes and my shoes and to leave them carefully on the drape – this would preserve evidence on my clothing and they would be sent with my rape kit to the crime lab.  After I was in my gown, the deputy came in.  To my relief, it was a woman.  She came already loaded down with my information and my ex’s information – birthdates, ages, etc.  I told her all that I recalled, and she informed me that it was suspected that I had been drugged sometime that night.  He would later on accuse me of being drunk.  When I had given her all the information I knew, she brought in two representatives from the local crisis center.  They had all sorts of pamphlets and words for me.  I had the option of having them with me for my rape exam and any legal proceedings after.  I sent them away…that would’ve made the rape too real; I was still denying on the inside that I really had been raped.
 After that, it was time for the rape exam – the most humiliating time of my life.  I was put in stirrups and a (male) doctor proceeded to take all sorts of evidence while the deputy stood by and watched.  He suggested that photographs should be taken to record my physical appearance.  I detached and tried to go someplace else, but it’s hard when those things are happening to your body and you can’t make them stop.  I had to give blood and urine samples (for drug and alcohol testing – proving later what I had said all along, that I was NOT drunk).  Later on, it was over, and the deputy brought me over to the police station for my statement.  Before I left the hospital, they gave me a bag of donated clothes I could wear, since all of mine were considered evidence.  It was pouring rain outside, and all they gave me for my feet were hospital gripper-socks.  My dad carried me out to the car so my feet wouldn’t get soaked.

 At the station, I had to sit in this tiny room, just me and her, and answer questions she asked me into a tape recorder.  I felt like an idiot when I couldn’t answer some of the questions because I had blacked out.  I felt like crying.  When that part was over and the tape recorder was turned off, she asked if I had any questions for her.  I asked her what was going to happen to my ex-boyfriend.  She told me that, given what I had told her and what had more than likely gone on that night, that he was in “serious trouble.”  I liked that. 

 It was now around 8 or 8:30 a.m. – I think.  I was allowed to go home, but the deputy wanted to follow us there and get any physical evidence that might be in my car and apartment.  I fell asleep in the car because by then I’d been up for over 24 hours…when I woke up when we arrived at my apartment, I honestly thought it was all a dream, until I saw the police car pull up behind us.  We walked in, and she asked to see my bedroom.  I showed her, and she closed the door behind us.  She told me she needed one more photo of the bruising on the inside of my thighs, that she wasn’t able to get that at the hospital.  I had to pull my pants down, let a cop take a picture of my thighs, and my parents were in the next room.  I cried the whole time.  She took all of my bedding and put it in plastic garbage bags to be inspected for evidence.  Finally, she searched my car and got what she needed from there.  Before she left, she gave me her card and insisted I call anytime if I needed anything – no matter what.  She said before she left town, she was going to stop at my ex’s mother’s house to talk to her and get a location on him, and have him brought in to the police station.

I was beyond exhausted.  My mom wanted to take me home with her, but I wanted to stay home.  To me, he had already taken so much from me, done so much to me; I was not going to leave my home.  My best friend stayed.  She slept next to me.  I woke up when my cell phone rang.  It was him.  “What in the hell did you go to the cops for??”  I was still half asleep and asked who I was talking to.  He said his name.  I hung up.  He tried calling back, and I didn’t answer.  He tried calling my home phone, I didn’t answer.  Later on, his girlfriend called and left me a message asking me to tell her what was going on.  I called the deputy and told her that they’d been calling me.  She told me to come in and file for an OFP – Order For Protection.  With the OFP, any contact he tried to make, even through a third party, would send him directly to jail.  My mom brought me in to fill out the paperwork, it was faxed to the next county for a judge to put through, and a day later he was served with a restraining order.
 A few days after all of this, I told my (then) current boyfriend what had happened to me.  He didn’t know what to say – who would?  It all got to be a little too much for him to handle, and he stopped speaking to me.

 Not all of my family members know what happened to me that night.  I kept it from my grandparents – I couldn’t bear them having that image of their granddaughter.  I waited a whole month before telling my brother.  He lives across the country from me, and I knew he would just feel powerless and angry.

 I’ve seen him once, and only once, since that night.  I was at a restaurant with my dad, we were about to have lunch when I spotted him.  He was a waiter there, and I saw him across the dining room.  I stood up quickly, and told my dad we had to leave.  Naturally, he wanted to know why.  I told him who I had seen.  For a second, it seemed he would just follow me out and we would not draw attention to ourselves so he would never know we were there.  Instead my dad stood up, took one step and stopped.  He said to me “I just can’t be this close and not say anything to him.”  So my dad walked over to him calmly, said his name, and simply stated “Go to Hell…go to Hell for what you did to my daughter.”

I never saw justice.   My ex was never in handcuffs, never inside a jail cell, never arrested for what he did to me.  He was questioned, and that was it.  The officer that questioned him talked to me about it, and told me what he had to say.  He told the officer that I asked for it, that I wanted to have sex with him that night and was just pissed off that I was drunk and he had a girlfriend.  I wanted to puke when I heard that, and almost did.  I never did find out what he gave me that night, although it’s pretty obvious that since I wasn’t drunk that I was drugged heavily.  The hospital destroyed my bloodwork before all necessary tests could be run…so I’ll never know.  That evidence is gone.  About 3 months after the attack, he was brought in for DNA analysis (and they had to bring in the man who was my boyfriend at the time of the attack to prove that it wasn’t his DNA they found inside of me since we’d slept together a couple days before the attack.)  Now, over a year after the DNA swabbing…there has been no word.  I will never get my day in court.  I will never get my chance to see him punished for what he did to me.
 He lives the life that I want.  He stole everything from me.  He goes about his everyday life…goes to college, has fun; the bastard is a father now.  There is not one day that goes by that I do not think about what he did to me.  I hope he does burn in Hell.

 It has been almost a year and a half since that night.  I am not, nor will I ever be the same person I used to be before I was raped.  I survived.  Each day that goes by is one more day that I lived.  I will always hurt, and I will always remember.  You never get over anything like being raped, or abused.  You never forget the moment you feared for your very life.  You learn to make it a part of your life.  I’m a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, an aunt…I was all of these things before I was raped.  But now, and for the rest of my life, I am also a survivor.
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People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.
~ Ramona L. Anderson
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