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  • The Exam- If anyone wants to translate this or share it…by all means…please do…

    When I am stressed, the first thing that goes is my sleep. However, for some reason, on the night of the attack, I shut my eyes on the couch where I was staying and my eyes stayed shut until it was light.

    My eyes adjusted to the sun and for a moment, I forgot what had happened the night before. I threw off the blanket someone had thrown over me, put my bare feet on the floor and went to stand up. My body remembered and it quivered to the ground. My body remembered. I had been beaten, robbed, nearly killed and raped four hours before. My body went into the fetal position; I had no control of it. Then, the mother I hadn’t spoken to in several years pulled the tangled mess of blood, sweat and hair away from my bloody ear and whispered,

    “Don’t make this a thing. Just clean your face and get on with things.”

    I want to point out that I love my mother; she is a talented wonderful soul, but I am her daughter and sometimes this dynamic ruins things. The mother and/or daughter reflect things that the other does not want to see. It’s always been this way for us. I was born to fight while she will retreat for years before she finally retaliates. I have never understood this and she has never understood my willingness to climb in the ring. This was one of the things that has kept us away from each other for many years, but she is my mother, so she is always in me, whispering things such as what I should and should not do. I realized I had grown over the years as there have been times when I have actually taken her advice, but on a morning like this day with words such as,

    “Just pack your bags, don’t say a word and get on with things”

    From the depths of my soul came the word I have told her so many times before,

    “NO!”

    No, I would not be my mother; No, I wouldn’t act like this did not happen; No, I wouldn’t walk away; No, I wouldn’t be quiet about things…no, No, NO! I started to shout from the fetal position my body held me in.

    My roommate Jules came racing down the stairs. A poker virtuoso expat from England who ended up in Bolivia due to a divorce, a dart and a map, Jules now had a roommate who was a victim of the most heinous crime short of murder. He handed me a cigarette. I lit it up and somehow got back on the couch. Then, I began chain smoking while Jules made phone calls.

    Then, Mika came down stairs. Mika was our other roommate. He had only been staying in the house for a couple of days when this happened. I hardly knew him and yet, he was the one, who had opened the door the night before while I screamed and begged,

    “Open up! Open up! I have been,” I stammered for a minute at a loss of what I was about to say, “I…I…holy shit…have been brutally raped.”

    Mika had saved my life. He opened the door and while I ran up to my room to put some clothes on as they had left me virtually completely naked, the only clothes on my savagely torn, Mika ran out to the scene of the crime which was less than a block away. When he got to the spot, he turned and saw the three men coming back to the scene themselves, probably to finish me off. With one glance of him, the men ran off in the direction of their house, which was almost next-door. When he came down that morning, I could tell that the night tore him up as well. However, he managed to join Jules in their phone-calling spree and within an hour, Jules announced,
    “We’ve got everyone coming over in an hour.”

    While we waited, I managed to get to the bathroom. This was the first I had seen of my face, the face they punched, pushed and scratched. I looked like I had elephantitis with my nose and lips twice the size as they usually were. I couldn’t take my eyes of it; it was as if the face did not belong to me. However, the throbbing reminded me that this was the face I would have from now on, the face of rape.
    Then, the people came, at least ten. There were two translators, a girlfriend of a translator, a healer and four business owners. One of them carried a stack of papers.
    “We want you to look at these,” one said.
    The papers were several pictures from several Facebook profiles of local men that may be suspects. I sat down and lit another cigarette as they began to show me the pics. The first picture was clearly not a suspect, nor was the next or the next. My heart sank. I wanted this over; I wanted to know who did this to me. Then, the person slid another picture in front of me. The eyes, those eyes, those terrible, terrible eyes…terror again filled me, sweat came out of my pores. Before I could even say that he was one of them, the person showing me the picture already knew.

    My body gave it away.

    “Who is he?” I asked.

    “A real bad man,” someone said.

    Part of the group headed to the police station to show them the picture and begin the report. The healer had me say positive affirmations and tapped my face. A new therapy, she said, and I will say to this day that somehow this tapping helped. I could feel my body relax a bit. Once I did, the healer took me to the hospital for the procedural exam.

    The Samaipata hospital was never a place I ever wanted to be. Ill equipped and unsanitary, the hospital has been known to close when the mayor probably kept the money allotted to them for his own needs such as vacations and important things like that. Sick people? Dying people? People in need? What did the mayor care? He didn’t and it showed. The hospital painted in baby diarrhea green, the smells even worse, a doctor walked to the reception area where we sat.

    He looked worse than the smells. Morbidly obese with several chins and a million liver spots that covered his face and hands, if he hadn’t had on scrubs, I would have mistaken him for a dying man. He wanted to know why two gringas were there. The healer spoke Spanish; I didn’t; so, she was able to tell him the word for rape in Spanish, a word I hadn’t learned until today. Instead of a look of sympathy, the doctor gave me a look of inconvenience. He rolled his eyes and motioned us to the back. I thought he would lead us to an exam room, but instead he led us to his office. He wanted the details; I spoke while the healer translated. I showed him my legs and side that got tore up due to the thorn bushes where the rapists insisted to do this. I showed him the cuts above my eye and my swollen lips and nose. He looked completely unphased like a man who had heard this story too many times before. He looked bored. When I was done, he wrote on a prescription pad something and slid it across the desk.

    “What’s this?” I asked the healer.

    She looked at the slip and said, “It looks like he wants you to take these to help you calm down.”

    I hadn’t even shed a tear in his office, nor shown any trace of hysteria as I have long learned gets you nowhere in life and I was still being told to calm down?

    I wanted an exam; I wanted proof of what these monsters had done; I wanted lawyers; I wanted police; I wanted justice and all the doctor gave me was a prescription for something that would erase the injustice that had been done. I took the paper and threw it on the ground with all the other trash; the hospital couldn’t even provide a place to put one’s trash.

    The day zoomed by and there are plenty of little details that I will get into one day; however, the doctor is my focus for today.

    By the next day, everyone in Samaipata had caught wind of what had happened. Already the whispers had begun. She’s whore; she asked for it; she’s a liar. I had heard of this phenomenon before when I would accidently read something about rape, a subject that had never really interested me because I suffered from the disease of “that could never happen to me.” Yet, it had happened to me and yet, this little town in Bolivia instead of being concerned for the well being of all that came to enjoy its gifts turned and made a rape about the age old division between locals and the gringos.

    The rapist’s parents gathered with their friends outside the police station; my friends also gathered. Shouting took place; accusations flew; chaos was occurring and in the middle of this tornado, a man appeared and announced that he was my lawyer.

    “You are?” I said.

    “Yes,” he said in the most perfect English I had heard that day, “I’m Eric.”

    “Eric?” I said. I thought I had heard that my lawyer’s name was Carlos, but I couldn’t keep track of anything in the first few days.

    Trusting, I shook his hand and someone handed him my paperwork. He rifled through my paper work.

    “Where is your exam?”

    “The doctor didn’t give me one.”

    “He didn’t give you one?”

    I answered again. His eyes grew big,

    “We need to go back there and get one now.”
    We scurried to get one of the translator’s to drive us back to the hospital where the doctor was appeared sicker than the patients. It was late afternoon on a Sunday. It was a miracle the doctor was even there. Yet, he was, all several hundred pounds of him. He frowned when he saw me again; He frowned even more when the lawyer told him that he needed to do an exam. I frowned as one of my least favorite activities on this earth is this type of exam…most of the time, it took me several weeks to get into the mind frame to have one done even with a doctor I trusted and now I had to have an gynecological exam by Genghis the Hun?

    “Someone is going to go to jail for making me go through this,” I thought to myself.

    But it had to be done and it was. I cried this time in the hospital. I felt for the second time in my life completely violated.

    One the way out, the doctor said, “Cuantas?”

    Which I did know meant something like, “How much?”

    I looked at the lawyer to help translate because I wasn’t sure if I heard him right. The lawyer verified it,

    “He said, ‘How much?’”

    My eyes got big and then the lawyer said,

    “Forget he said this.”

    I didn’t but kept my mouth shut. We left the hospital and went back to the Samaipata downtown where the crowds grew and grew outside the police station doors. The police refused to give me my deunicia, the paperwork that states that an infraction of the law has occurred and is being investigated; they also released the one of the suspected rapists, JE Montenegro, from the broom closet turned into a makeshift cell where they had kept him for several hours. There were whispers that there had been a pay off and now the cops were working on the Montenegro side, a claim that I don’t know the truth of; I actually thought and still think the police did the best they could do but it is hard to do anything when the leaders of the town refuse to pay anything towards law enforcement and use it instead in having parties for thousands of their closest friends. I would eventually have to find a taxi for the cops in order for them to get the criminals once we had solved the crime ourselves. The mayor doesn’t even provide these cops with a car.

    One of the translators drove me down to Santa Cruz that night and gave me directions to go to a place called The Special Unit the next day. With the help of a German named Lena (they always learn the native tongue fast…za are Germans and za vill speak Spanish or velse), I found this illusive place. We were turned away once after not being able to answer the question of why I was raped (a question I still cannot answer) as well as not having the denuncia that the police had refused to give me.

    Lena and I were seen again at The Special Unit after we reported what happened at Casa de Mujer, a NGO that helps victims of gender based crime, a NGO that has sometimes up to 50 people waiting outside its door on any given day. Casa de Mujer took one look at the situation and called The Special Unit and threatened a lawsuit if they did not give me an exam and begin a denuncia right away.

    The Special Unit performed the exam and began the paperwork trail in Santa Cruz. Meanwhile in Samaipata, the doctor allegedly penned a false medical report stating that I was never raped. This report somehow made it to a copy machine where hundreds of copies were made and then passed out to many of the locals including the people in the campo, the Bolivian word for countryside. These locals stormed into a town meeting that was organized to discuss this matter. The reports I have heard is that these locals were waving around my falsified but still should be confidential medical exam and screaming that I was just crying wolf.

    I was a victim of a crime that will haunt me the rest of my life, in moments when I least expect it. I wish I was crying wolf. But I am not. JE Montenegro, Luis Flores and his little brother raped me on November 23rd 2015. I will wake up for the rest of life with this event being somewhere in my thoughts as well as the way in which the town of Samaipata handled the situation.

    I wish I crying wolf, but I am not.

    To Be Continued.
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