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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No one should go through this alone!

It’s 7:30 a.m., and Taylor is in a strange town, laying on a hospital exam table, totally exposed and vulnerable, with a medical professional conducting a very invasive examination, and a policeman waiting outside the room wanting to ask some questions about an “alleged” sexual assault…Taylor is feeling scared, embarrassed, ashamed and hoping that family and friends will never find out. How did Taylor end up here?

Taylor came to Kansas City on business, staying overnight at a downtown hotel. After a day of meetings, Tayor decided to accept an invitation to join some colleagues for drinks at a bar in a popular, local entertainment district. These are co-workers that Taylor just met that day; and after a long day of meetings, having a drink or two and unwinding seemed like a good idea. After only a couple of drinks, Taylor started feeling light-headed, and the colleagues showed genuine concern and offered to help Taylor back to the hotel room, which was greatly appreciated. When they reached the hotel, Taylor blacked out. Upon awakening at 5:30 a.m., alone and naked in the hotel room (which was trashed with some personal items missing), Taylor’s body is aching and the friendly colleagues are nowhere to be found. Taylor is married, has never experienced anything like this before, and is scheduled to fly home the next day. While tempted to let it go and save the embarrassment of uncomfortable questions and possible disclosures to family, friends and employer, Taylor knows the best chance of seeing justice served for the suspected crime committed is to be examined immediately by a medical professional and by filing a police report. Dazed and confused, Taylor drives to the nearest hospital, where police are notified. Within the space of half an hour, Taylor is on the hospital table being examined, with the police waiting outside.

Did I mention that Taylor (not the victim’s real name) is a guy? Everything described above actually happened, except Taylor didn’t know what resources were available to him in Kansas City, and he didn’t want anyone to find out, so he didn’t seek a medical exam or file a police report that night; no, instead, Taylor caught his flight home the next day, vowing never to discuss it with anyone. Weeks went by and Taylor was haunted by what had happened to him and felt violated and wronged – he called a local agency in his hometown for help. They, in turn, called MOCSA here in Kansas City to provide Taylor with advocacy services and morale support when he returned to file a police report.

Had Taylor gone to the hospital or notified the police, chances are very good that MOCSA would have been notified immediately and a volunteer Hospital Advocate would have been dispatched to the hospital to meet with Taylor, to figuratively (and literally) “hold his hand” throughout the process - from the medical exam, interview with the police officer and filing the police report, should that be Taylor’s decision.

In the past, the MOCSA Hospital Advocate would have been a woman, and don’t get me wrong – any friendly face at a time like this is welcome; however, MOCSA has recently decided to allow men to act as Hospital Advocates for other male victims. There have been instances where male victims have expressed some hesitation to share the details of their sexual assault with a female advocate, out of concern for the advocate’s discomfort and their own embarrassment. Hopefully, by providing male advocates to victims, it will encourage these men who have been assaulted to get the help they need following such a horrible event. To simply “be there” for the Taylor’s in this world, during one of the scariest, most embarrassing and uncomfortable experiences of their life is a good and noble endeavor. In order to act as a MOCSA Hospital Advocate, you must complete the in-depth, 40 hours of volunteer training and become accepted, but what a small price to pay since I think we can all agree…

NO ONE should go through this alone!

by Mike Eggleston

1 comment:

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