Recovery, Relapse, Relationship

As I first gazed upon her, the blood rushed from my face, my fingers trembled, my lungs refused to breath, my heart refused to pump. Pity overwhelmed me, then disgust, then anger, then sadness. I could have sworn I smelled vinegar, although I don’t know where the smell would have come from. I closed my eyes, to give them a respite, but that only burned the image on the inside of my eyelids.

I had been familiar with cases of violent rape. Hell, they were why I volunteered as a victim’s advocate, because I needed to feel I was doing something to help. I saw women come into the hospital with bloody mouths, black eyes, missing teeth, fist-sized bruises, concussions, broken bones… I’d seen it all, or at least I thought I had. The worst case I had ever seen was a girl of 14 they had carried in on a stretcher. A clump of her hair had been torn out; two of her fingers had been broken; and her right hip had been forcibly dislocated. And I won’t even try to describe the sexual violence she had suffered, or the injury to her psyche. I had nightmares for a week. But somehow I got through it, stronger for the experience. After that, I thought I could handle anything. So when they asked me to talk to a Clydene Jackson, after her condition had stabilized, I had not sufficiently prepared myself for the shock.

They called me during breakfast, the day after Valentine’s Day, 2006, and asked if I could come down to the hospital for a special case. Once there, I met with the doctor and a police detective. We stood around the nurse’s station. Dr. Ilic, an athletic woman with medium-length, black hair and a sharply defined chin, reminded me a little of my mother. I missed my mother. But the doctor spoke in an exotic accent I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The police detective was a brusque, grizzled, old codger, who wore a suit and tie. It seemed like there were other things he’d rather be doing than talking to me, but such was his job. They filled me in on the situation.

When Clydene had come in late the previous night, she was in pretty bad shape. She had malignant hyperthermia from the anesthesia her attacker had used to knock her out. A friend of mine once almost died from MH, on the operating table, and she would have died if her anesthetist hadn’t known what he was doing. Clydene would have died, too, if they hadn’t gotten to her in time and if Dr. Ilic had not recognized the symptoms and known what to do.

The “perp” in this case, the detective explained, had gotten a hold of a stash of hospital anesthetic—they were still tracing the source. The guy claimed that he used it because it was safer than the street alternatives, and he didn’t want his victims to get hurt. I shook my head in wonder, not that I hadn’t heard similar stories in the past. The criminal mind will probably always puzzle me.

Anyways, this guy had done this before—no surprise, because they usually have. Apparently, his attacks had gotten gradually more brutal and more daring—also no surprise, because that also fits the profile of a serial rapist. He was also a bit narcissistic, as if he wanted to get caught. Until they finally did catch him, red-handed at the scene with a belt in one hand and his victim in the other. When they found her, she was in no condition to fight back, even if she had not been tied to that chair.

I swallowed, hard.

“Can you handle this?” the doctor asked.

I nodded casually at her. “Yeah,” I said. “No problem.” I lied, not because I needed her to believe me, but because I myself needed to believe I could handle it.

“So, we still need a rape kit and her statement,” the detective said.

“Okay.” I breathed. “Is there anything else I should know.”

“Just that her husband is in there with her now,” Dr. Ilic said. “His name’s Ted. And I don’t think he’s taking it very well. He’s been sitting in there all night.”

“Yeah,” agreed the detective, nodding. “He may be having regrets. Just get him to see that he didn’t do anything wrong.”

I had run across similar situations before, both as a victim’s advocate and in my practice as a mental health counselor. Loved ones can blame themselves for what happened, even if it was completely out of their control. After they get over the shock of the event itself, they go on an emotional roller coaster ride that can take them through nostalgia, regret, self-blame, and depression. The danger is that they’ll never get off the roller coaster. And while they’re on the roller coaster, they tend to make poor choices. That could really complicate the situation here, I knew, where Ted was going to have to do things for Clydene that he might not want to do. I also knew he might think me the bad guy, because my primary job was to stick up for Clydene. I hated to be the bad guy.

(To be continued…)

This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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Storyblogging Carnival XCIX…

Welcome to the ninety-ninth storyblogging carnival. Wow, that means the next one is number 100. I should probably do something special for it, huh?

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[…] King presents Recovery, Relapse, Relationship posted at J. Timothy King’s Stories, saying, “A sexual assault advocate faces a victim […]

Some truly excellent posts on this website, thank you for contribution. “Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” by Walt Whitman.

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