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A Letter to the Nurse Who Validated Me After I Was Sexually Assaulted

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“I was sexually assaulted two nights ago. I want to get Plan B and have a blood panel ran.” That’s all I said. My tone was emotionless. I was on autopilot and in shock. It wasn’t real.

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I was a wreck, though not in the ways most would expect. I was numb and distant. I laughed inappropriately. I was detached from my emotions. You didn’t for one second question whether I was telling you the truth or not, despite the disbelief many might have had over my reaction.

I’d gone to the hospital with a friend (he for something completely unrelated), and I managed to talk to you very discreetly. You understood that my friend had no idea, and I didn’t want him to. You respected that. You didn’t push me to do anything. You listened about why I was there. I knew I needed Plan B and wanted to get checked for an array of things, but the gravity of what had happened had yet to hit me.

You offered up other resources and suggestions but never once pushed. You were kind. The thing that sits with me the most was your anger. It was a quiet anger, but I could see it on your face. I know many professionals are encouraged to hide this anger, but I’m happy you didn’t. It was comforting. I hadn’t fully connected with my emotions, but seeing your anger validated me. I didn’t have it in me to be angry, or to be anything really at that point, but you did it for me. And I thank you for that.

The most prevalent thing was your words. I was laughing in nervousness and you understood. You looked at me and told me, “I hope that bastard goes to hell.” A lot of people would be put off by that, but I wasn’t. I was relieved. I couldn’t find it in me to say it then, but thank you. I remember my eyes beginning to fill up with tears, so I pulled away from you and hid my face.

You never once questioned what happened or ever implied that maybe I’d done something. You never insinuated that I was lying or had brought it upon myself. That sentence. That one sentence helped me feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. You blamed him, while many others didn’t. Somehow, I ended up being at fault. You took me at my word and you blamed the person responsible.

I was just some girl, laughing about her assault and talking about it as if it was just another day. You understood. You didn’t doubt me. I know you’re probably trained about a “shock” response, but previous encounters with other individuals are why I admire you so much. There have been many times where I’ve been accused. “Really, you think this is funny?” and then dismissed. You understood that in no way did I find it funny, but perhaps it was just so unreal to me that all I could do was laugh.

You validated me. You were kind to me. Most importantly you believed me.

Thank you.

Photo credit: Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images

Originally published: September 11, 2018
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