Taking the fear out of reporting a sex crime
Reporting any sort of sex crime to the police can be intimidating, embarrassing, and potentially even prolong the initial trauma.
Fortunately for me, my local police department could not have handled my incident report more professionally and compassionately.
After being sexually harassed in my house by a repairman, which I told you about on Saturday, the last thing that I wanted was to invite three more male strangers into my home.
Especially, to talk about anything of a sexual nature.
But I felt that it was important to do what I could to try to stop this repairman from traumatizing anyone else.
You can read all about my incident with the grandfatherly repairman who requested that I perform a sex act with an animal for him to watch—yes, you read that right.
I love my police department - Raleigh, North Carolina
The police arrived very quickly.
So fast that I was startled by the knock at the door. The lead officer, a young man who was clearly being evaluated, carried himself with confidence.
The two other officers seemed highly experienced.
The officers listened attentively, seemed to take my report seriously, and made me feel at ease.
The lead officer shared that he was an Army veteran too. I made a tearful report, forgetting words and getting tongue tied in my panicked and upset state.
They were patient when I kept losing my train of thought as I explained the incident with the repairman. What made this difficult task of reporting sexual harassment is that the officers didn’t make me feel as though I had done anything wrong.
I felt reassured that reporting was the right thing to do. They gave me the impression that they would follow up on this incident and weren’t just taking a report for reporting sake.
One officer even told me about several free services offered to people in emotional crisis—I don’t remember if these are veteran specific services or not.
Having the police officers treat me like "a real veteran" was a hugely comforting act.
As a woman veteran, men are sometimes dismissive of our service, as if the female military experience is somehow less valuable than her male counterparts—but these officers did not devalue or diminish my service.
I learned that my police department will come if I call, even when it’s because I just need someone to talk to.
That’s right, the officer said if I’m at home alone, find myself in crisis, and need someone to talk to—even if there is no crime to report, the Raleigh, North Carolina Police department will come to my aid.
He said there was a mobile mental health center that will show up at my door if I needed it, as well as other services.
In my book—4Hours to Live: Memoir of a Female Soldier, I talk about how I’ve been supported by my local law enforcement in the most caring and compassionate ways imaginable—Have you ever been bear-hugged by a State Trooper while you’re having an ugly cry?
I have, more than once.
Strategies for overcoming trauma
I wish I could have been spared this experience altogether, but since recovering from PTSD, I’ve developed a mantra in the face of handling an obstacle, “thank you for the challenge,” universe.
You’ve given me an opportunity to prove to myself just how resilient I can be.
My experience with trauma is unique to me. Not everyone will be triggered in the same way or react as I have in similar situations, but my hope is that it will help people to understand what it is like to have a mood disorder, how my trauma occurred, and what efforts I have taken, along with my health care team, family, and a small group of friends to save my life and to create my new normal.
I want to hear from you caregivers and loved ones of a person struggling with mental illness, PTSD, or recovering from a physical or emotional trauma. I especially want to hear from anyone who has found their way to their own recovery—and new normal. This is a safe community in which to share your story so leave a comment.