“What Were You Wearing?”

Bodies move and shake on the dance floor. There are laughs and screams, all effects of joy. But not the screams from outside the club. Not the screams from the young girl backed in the corner of a dirty alleyway across the road.

She tucks her shaky knees under her chin; pressing them to her the tightest she can, while the man scurries away. She feels angry, confused, and scared. She feels touched, violated. She buries her head in her knees and begins to cry.

Minutes later she looks up to see two figures fumble out of the doors of the club. She hears them giggling, but can’t see their faces. They’re nothing but silhouettes in the subtly lit darkness. She puts her head back to her knees and sobs some more, until she hears footsteps coming closer.

“Are you okay?” they ask. It was the people who came from the club, two girls.

She attempts to squeeze herself even further into the dark corner; she doesn’t want to be seen. She wants to disappear. But it’s no use, she’s backed up far enough.

The girls continue to stare with matching worried expressions. She slightly untucks her legs and slowly wipes the smeared mascara from her cheeks. Her face feels like fire. She begins to stutter out a sentence but doesn’t know what to say. Will these girls believe her? Can she trust them?

She doesn’t ponder these questions for too long, she knows she has to say something. She opens her mouth, but nothing comes out. She just sits there gaping for a few seconds before whispering: “Raped.”

~

A light shines at her. She raises her hand to block it from striking her eyes. “Sorry.” The officer says. He reaches forward to adjust the lamp. “Better?” She looks at him and quickly nods before returning her gaze to the tile floor.

The officer readjusts himself in the chair across the steel table from her. “Okay,” he begins. “What happened?”

She glances up at him again. “I told you,” she says in a tone louder than a whisper but quieter than normal, “I was raped.” You could here the uneasiness in her voice.

He nods and jots down what she said onto a small notebook he had pulled from his pocket. “What location?”

“That club a few blocks from here.”

“Ah, I know that one. What were you wearing?”

She stops breathing, becoming as still as a statue. This is every nightmare come to life. Every rape story she’s ever heard comes rushing back to her. She closes her eyes, trying to focus on how to reply.

“Ma’am?” he questions.

Suddenly, her head snaps up and she’s staring him in the eye. She begins to speak louder than before; you can hear the anger in her voice. “Seriously? What was I wearing? I walked in here telling you I was raped half an hour ago, clearly I was wearing what I’m wearing now.”

“Sorry ma’am I was not aware-” He begins, but she’s too mad to let him finish.

“Are you blaming this on me? Are you saying what happened was my fault? That this was caused by what I was wearing and not by someone so immature that they can’t even contain themselves?” She rises, slamming her hands on the table as she does so. She paces the width of the table before continuing, her speech steadily quickening. “This,” she backs away from the table to allow the officer to be able to fully see her outfit. “was what I was wearing, sir. And if you’d be so kind, you should see that what I am wearing covers me fully. Not one bit of me is exposed. Now, you tell me why or how this is provocative? How this would cause someone to take control of and violate a person?”

With a grunt she drops back down into the uncomfortable chair and rubs her eyes out of the overwhelming burst of frustration. She can feel that her face is hot again, but hotter than it was before.

“Ma’am,” his voice is stern, “you are not allowed to talk to an officer like that.”

“You shouldn’t be allowed to ask me a question like that in this situation! You shouldn’t be allowed to blame this incident on me! Do you know what this does to a person?”

He remains silent.

“I’m guessing that’s a no. As if what happened isn’t enough to make you hate yourself, to make yourself not want to ever leave you home. Being asked something like that causes you to ask ‘was it really me? Was it my fault?’ Which then causes you to overthink and over check every single action you ever take!”

She stares at him in silence; all that could be heard was her heavy breathing. The officer continued to contain eye contact with his hands, which were folded together in a strained knot. He looked up at her, you could see the flames in her eyes. “My apologies.” He says calmly.

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