I switched to a Padre Nuestro, a loud one to let him know I was not listening to him. And I was struck by a new thought: I pray to the Virgin Mary for help every day, why wasn't I praying to her for help for myself right now? I began another Salve Maria, this time imploring the Virgin to get this man out of my bed and out of my house. Amazingly, seconds later, the rapist said, "Okay, I'm going," kissed me on the cheek, and backed out of the bed. I continued to pray as he said, "Goodbye, you'll be okay. Don't call the police."

As soon as I heard the door slam shut, I ran down the steps and locked the front door. As I walked back up the stairs, a dribble of sperm leaked onto my inner thigh and I considered the night ahead. The interrogation, the medical exam, the humiliating details confessed to strangers could feel like as much of a violation as the rape. It was possible, I realized, not even to call the police. Did I really want the whole town to know? Did I want to cause my son pain? Did I want to go through the rest of my life being known as a woman who had been raped? A victim? How I've always hated that word.

But before two minutes had passed, I understood I had no choice. People needed to know that the rapist had struck again, that he had not left town. It was my duty to report the crime.

I called my friends a block away, Caren and David Cross. Caren reached the police, and an army of them—on horseback, motorcycles, piled into trucks—arrived at my house even before Caren and David did. They were courteous and concerned. I was taken to the Ministerio Público, where, flanked by David and Caren, I told a competent and compassionate woman, a lawyer, the whole story.

Outside the office, a plainclothes detective pulled up a chair and told me to tell him every detail of what had happened. I began; moments later, feeling intensely irritated at having to relive it all, especially because this man was leaning in entirely too closely, I said, "I'm not telling you. I'm not repeating the story again."

I began in that instant to take back my power.

At dawn, after the report had been typed and the medical examiner had taken digital photos of my vagina along with a DNA sample, Caren and I drove back to my house, where 20 men combed through the rooms and the grounds, collecting evidence. A rope ladder still hung from my balcony rail.

Two state detectives arrived. It was very important, they said, that I tell them everything I could remember. "Read the report!" I said, then explained more calmly that I'd been traumatized enough for one night.


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