miércoles, 3 de junio de 2015

Hate crime

   Rose was now terrified to come out of her house. She just couldn’t even think about it without having a serious breakdown. That’s why she had moved with her parents, in order for her to be under their watch every day, at every time. Just after the attack, she had attempted to kill herself in the hospital but she had failed due to the attention of the nurses and that she wasn’t in any real danger. But at home, anything could happen. Her mother was scared the moment Rosa asked if she could help making dinner. At first she would only let her do silly things, like break the leaves out of a lettuce or open a can or a bottle of something. No knives or other pointy objects.

 But after a year, Rose’s state of mind had improved except for her fear of the outside world. Inside, in any day, she would laugh at TV shows, share stories with her dad, gossip with her mom and even talk on her computer with some old friends. Even her former boss was thinking of letting her into the company again, working remotely of course. Because she just couldn’t take a step outside. Instantly she would start screaming and fighting anyone who helped her try some more steps or pulled her back in.

 You see, Rose had been attacked a year ago and she had been left seriously affected by it. Not only was she raped, but she had also being kicked, punched and dragged into a dark corner of the world by two men. It was understandable the amount of fear she had inside and it was remarkable that she had been able to get better, as much as she had been, on her own on such a short amount of time. Other victims took much more time and some never recuperated from their attacks. Rose did because she had always been a fighter but somehow the outside world was now her most dreadful fear. She couldn’t even stare at the windows, day or night. She just thought of it all again, even felt it all again and she did not wanted that to happen ever.

 Her parents understood her situation; after all it had been them who had taken care of her since she was a baby. She had always been such a happy, free kid, the kind that would ask for money and then go alone to the nearby store and buy some candy. She would play with many of her friends in the park, even leading them in many of their games. She had always been the leader, the one people looked at for guidance. It had been like that in school and in college but now there was no trace of that Rose in her. Her fear had finished of that vivacious and strong women for another that was also strong but not so much compared to the past. She had been struck off many things that day and now she couldn’t even have a real life on her own because of her fear.

 She saw Victoria once a week. Victoria was a psychiatrist specialized in this sort of cases and she was very interested in Rose as she was the only patient of hers that had improve so much in some areas and so little in others. With special gadgets and experiments, they would try for Rose to be more acceptant of the exterior world but all of that always resulted in a huge failure. No matter if it was a blindfolded test or a session trying to confront her with the attack, it was always a traumatic experience. Rose trusted Veronica so she would often ask for forgiveness for her behavior but Veronica always hugged her and told Rose never to apologize for what happened or its results. None of that was her fault and she should only be thinking on getting better.

 And Rose did try. She started cooking cupcakes at home, as a therapy to get more and more relaxed. Her boss finally passed her proposal to work from home so she decided to change her life altogether and asked her parents if they would be with her on the creation of a small business selling her cupcakes and other desserts. They started selling for the neighborhood but soon expanded to have a proper store in their garage. This had made Rose very anxious because the store had been a success and many people came in, making her nervous. But her mother and her father helped so she would always be in control of herself, selling her delicious goods and making a life for herself.

 However, she wasn’t going to live alone or anything. Her parents and her had thought of several ways to move out to a small apartment but it was more problems than conveniences. For one, she wouldn’t be able to tend the store from a small apartment, she would be alone most of the time and, most importantly, there was no way to get there without her having a mental meltdown. The thought of blindfolding her or transport her asleep but it was all too complicated. She decided to stay at home and just be creative with her business. A friend from work decided to join her in the business, as the demand had risen dramatically. Her father was in charge of the numbers and her mother of the promotion. It was a truly good family business and that made her happy.

 Her happiness, however, didn’t last for a long time. A man arrived one day to the store and he said he was with the police. Rose and her parents talked to him in the living room and heard some news that left them without words: Rose’s attacker had finally been arrested and they needed for her to identify him. Trying not to panic, Rose started breathing slowly, obviously trying hard not to lose it right there. Her father explained to the men that she wasn’t going to be able to go to the precinct or to any courthouse for that matter. He explained his daughter’s situation and the men said nothing more. He just shook their hands and left. That was a very difficult night for Rose: she didn’t sleep, not even for a couple of minutes. She kept thinking about it and trying not to scream, trying to think about anything else other than the policeman’s visit.

But the police called again and even came back with a lawyer, the attacker’s lawyer. They said that if Rose was not going to be able to go to court and properly accuse him, then they could reach a settlement for compensation or at least bargain in some way. It was Rose’s mother who kicked them out of the house. She yelled at them that they were rats and that they had no shame in coming to a house to tell someone to shut up instead of helping the real victim. When the police called again, they told them they had done it all when she had been attacked, everything had been filed and properly done but the police explained they had to sue him, as they previously had not captured him.

 The family called for help, a brother of Rose’s father who was a lawyer. He helped Rose by making the police release a picture of the man they had in custody. That way, she got to confirm it was one of the men that had attacked her. Yes, because the police thought it had been only one but she knew the other one had stood there, watching, doing nothing at all. For now, Rose’s uncle did everything he could to avoid her the pain of seeing him face to face. The trial’s date was set and for Rose it was a torture to wait until then. Her uncle guaranteed her presence via webcam, having been authorized to do it like that. But Rose wasn’t even sure she could do it that way either. Just thinking about it made her tremble and have goose bumps. Her body ached everyday and she had no energy to make a single cupcake.

 The day of the trial, she cried and almost lost control as she told her story to the jury. The most difficult part of it all was answering the questions; especially those that questioned that things had happened as she said they had happened. Being doubted was the worst feeling, being treated like a crazy person or a liar. She repeated the words the man had said to her and had to be excused for a moment while she collected herself again and waited for the resolution, which didn’t happened until the next day. The trial wasn’t long as the evidence was all against the man. Everyone knew he had lied and had made family and friends lie for him.

 The judge stated that this crime was a hate crime. They had investigated the man further and discovered he had almost beaten her wife to death and had even attacked his own sister after finding out she was a lesbian. The man was sick, letting his hate for everyone that live a nice life driving him to make the most awful things. He was sentenced to life in prison and Rose heard that live, feeling confused. Because she knew that it hadn’t all finished there. Her fear, her panic at the exterior world was still there. What good was this all if was still as scared as before? The fact that her attacker was in jail didn’t make things suddenly better.

 But one thing Veronica and her parents agreed was that they were grateful she was there to live on, to make an effort and keep on living. Because many died and didn’t get the chance to try again, to transform their lives. She couldn’t really consider herself lucky but she had the opportunity of being someone again, in time. She reprised her business, which grew with time. She wanted to be better and knew that someday, she would be able to go the park and just sit there and breathe.

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