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17 February 2011

You ever have a lot of thoughts you can't articulate and don't know what to do with? That's what I got right now. Just at a loss.[More:]

My 15 year old niece was attacked, suffocated and beaten. The blows to her head and/or the suffocation were enough that she has no memory of what happened between going to lunch at school Monday morning and waking up in the hospital that afternoon. The classmate who attacked her is in custody and has so far been charged with sexual assault but police are holding off on more charges as they hope to be able to bring an attempted murder charge.

My niece has severe swelling of the face and head and a number of puncture wounds to her face (they still don't know what made those wounds). She is off to a battery of neurological tests in the morning.

On the bright side she said she wishes he could be released so she could "beat his ass" and she is referring to it as "the worst valentine ever". She is tiny but tough. Also, the school has arranged things so she will not have to go back for 3 weeks.

Me, I'm full of stuff churning around. I can't imagine what her dad is feeling.
That "Checking cuteness coefficient... succeeded." upon posting is often cute. Sometimes...
Not so much.
posted by arse_hat 17 February | 01:08
Honestly? Write. Stream of consciousness, don't edit, just purge.

You can come back to it and make it articulate later, if you like.
posted by Eideteker 17 February | 01:28
Good lord, arse_hat, I'm so sorry that she and your family are going through that. Healing energy being sent your way, and I demand (demand!) that you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, because that's a lot to be carrying around.
posted by occhiblu 17 February | 01:29
It might be worth knowing, too, that most rape crisis lines are happy to talk to friends & family members of survivors. Sometimes it's helpful to have a kind stranger to rant and rave at. RAINN has a list of international centers.
posted by occhiblu 17 February | 01:33
And RAINN actually has an online IM-ish crisis service, too.
posted by occhiblu 17 February | 01:35
I'm very sorry, arsey. Your anger is justified. Do whatever you want with it.

Your niece sounds like a strong kid. I'm sorry this happened to her. It shouldn't have.

I know this isn't right, but I'm wishing very bad things on the kid who did it.

posted by mudpuppie 17 February | 01:43
oh unbelievable. so sorry to hear that.
posted by Firas 17 February | 02:40
oh my god, man. I've got a giant lump in my throat after reading that., please do take care of yourself. I'm so sorry your niece is having to deal with this.
posted by richat 17 February | 05:29

that is so so horrible. I'm so so sorry that you're all going through that. That's devastating. I wish I could help.
posted by jonathanstrange 17 February | 06:11
Damn dude, that is beyond awful.

I have no advice, but I'm glad your niece sounds like she's made of very strong stuff; much love to you and your family as all of you start the process of healing from this.
posted by BoringPostcards 17 February | 07:54
Oh god, I'm so sorry. There really aren't words but I know what you're going through.

I've been going through something similar in my family but actually worse and I have been cycling through rage, despair and catatonia in equal measures. I would have talked about it here but I just can't
posted by octothorpe 17 February | 08:01
Horrible to hear this.
posted by Obscure Reference 17 February | 08:29
Ugh, that is terrible. So sorry to hear it. ::hugs::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 17 February | 09:14
Shocking, disgusting. I am truly sorry for anyone who has to face the uncontrolled violence and rage of others. I'm happy to hear she survived the attack and is battling through. Hope she has abundant support and that you do, too. It can be incredibly frustrating to have all that adrenaline and justified anger and nowhere exactly to put it. Take it easy on yourself as well.

Sorry to hear of your family crisis too, octothorpe.
posted by Miko 17 February | 09:15
eesh. What a horrible thing to happen. So sorry arsey.

Yeah, brain dump sound good about now.
posted by gaspode 17 February | 09:16
Very sorry. Brrrr.
posted by rainbaby 17 February | 10:48
I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope that your niece's tests come back ok. And I really hope that justice is served.

A brain dump is the way to go. Even just "I don't know what to do" is fine.
posted by halonine 17 February | 11:00
Gah, arsey! I'm sorry. Hope the kid gets exactly what he deserves.
posted by brujita 17 February | 11:14
OH, how awful --- "awful" doesn't begin to say it.

Your niece sounds like she's putting on a brave face, which is encouraging. I'm so sorry she had to go through that, and for all the anxiety and rage and horror that you and your family must be feeling. Take good care of yourself as you work through those feelings.

octothorpe, I'm so sorry your family is going through something so appalling. I respect your decision not to discuss it here, so I'll just say that my heart goes out to you and that there will always be support here if you wish it.
posted by Elsa 17 February | 11:43
:( Oh no. I hope she recovers and the dickweed gets the book thrown at him.
posted by sperose 17 February | 12:10
How horrible. I am so sorry it happened to your niece - I hope she gets justice and I hope she pulls through. Hugs to you both, take care of yourself however you need to get through this too.
posted by casarkos 17 February | 12:47
Oh God. So, so sorry.

Used to do sexual assault victim advocacy and spent a lot of years prosecuting these sorts of offenses, so let me just add a few more ideas:

1. Your anger is absolutely understandable. People who love a victim suffer a sort of secondary PTSD, and anger is one of the ways our brain tries to help us regain control when we're traumatized by the loss of it. (Here, the loss of your ability to protect a beloved niece.) Do whatever you need to do to vent it but take care not to share it with her or, of course, to express any anger or blaming toward her. (I am sure you would never do that, just saw it happen sometimes when people's emotions ran away with them.)

2. It is very therapeutic to be helpful. I.e., listen to her, laugh with her about revenge fantasies, and support her in any decisions she makes about what happens next. It is very healing for victims to get to Make Decisions after their autonomy has been stripped away in this fashion. Ask her if she wants you to come along for stuff like interviews with prosecutors and police, and court dates. Do as she wishes. Let the memories and fears emerge at their own pace.

3. Be aware that although physical injuries tend to heal fast in someone so young, the legal process itself can really drag out the process of recovering psychologically. It takes so long for things to resolve in court. Be ready for that and patient about it.

4. Keep treating her as someone you love, admire, and think of as attractive. It is great when victims' families remember not to wound their self esteem further by treating them as damaged. In fact, you may want to communicate gently that you know she made the right decisions because she survived.

Very best wishes, here. I am so glad she is alive. Stay strong.
posted by bearwife 17 February | 13:13
I am SO sorry to read this, arse_hat. Nothing I can write here could adequately convey my sadness at what your niece has gone through or my good wishes to you.
posted by Senyar 17 February | 13:32
That is so messed up. I am sorry for what happened to your niece. I am glad she's a strong person and wants to pursue justice. Big hugs to you and your niece.
posted by deborah 17 February | 13:58
What a terrible thing to have happen to someone you love. I wish healing and strength for her and for you and the rest of her family and friends.
posted by fancyoats 17 February | 14:10
Oh arse, and octothorpe too, I'm so sorry your families are going through these things. Beaming out all the strength and energy I can.
posted by tangerine 17 February | 14:13
I missed octothorpe's comment in this thread. I am SO sorry, so very sorry for what you're going through.
posted by Senyar 17 February | 16:52
I too missed octothorpe's quiet comment. Big hugs to you.
posted by bearwife 17 February | 16:56
That is just awful. I wish you and your families all the best, arse_hat and octothorpe.
posted by Specklet 17 February | 17:29
To both of you... wow. You're in my thoughts.

arse_hat, I'm glad they have the person responsible, and even more glad that your niece clearly has a fighting spirit. It'll serve her well.

Octo, when you feel up to it, you know we'll be here with anything we can offer.
posted by Madamina 17 February | 17:34
Sorry arse didn't mean to derail your thread. I wish your niece a full recovery, both physical and spiritual. Young folks are so strong, I'm sure that she'll come back faster than you expect.

I may talk about things at some point in the future, still pretty raw right now.
posted by octothorpe 17 February | 18:14
This is just awful. I wish your niece and all those who care about her the best. If you are the kind of person who runs (or uses other forms of physical self-punishment), physically expending all the energy you can muster can be useful in turning that emotional rage into a physical thing, but it's not for everyone.

Please remember, octothorpe and arse_hat, we are here for you if you need to talk about this or just to rant wildly. Whatever you need.
posted by dg 17 February | 18:30
Thank you all for the response and the emails. Just dumping this out here helped a lot.

As Eid suggested I wrote some more and then deleted it. I do that with people who piss me off. I write a long nasty email then delete it. The act of putting things into words seems to calm things down a little or a lot.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day and I went for a walk along the river and had a cigar. Later I talked to a friend. She works with at risk youth so she has heard all kinds of stuff so she was comfortable with it.

Now it's mostly about my niece's long term outlook.

octo, no need to apologise! We are all just muddling through the best we can. I do hope you find an outlet(s) for the turmoil.
posted by arse_hat 17 February | 18:39
Echoing Madamina - please let us know if we can help. You have an online support posse.
posted by Miko 17 February | 19:17
arsey & octo, I'm keeping you both in my thoughts& sending wishes for peace & healing as soon as possible.
posted by chewatadistance 17 February | 20:40
So sorry to hear that two bunnies are going through such tough times. Sending healing thoughts to you and your families.
posted by Twiggy 17 February | 21:47
Thinking of you all.
posted by faineant 18 February | 06:53
Hugs all around.
posted by JanetLand 18 February | 07:32
Oh God, what the hell is happening to people today? I'm so sorry for this and words just can't express how... gobsmacked I am for you.
posted by eatdonuts 18 February | 20:04
Sorry to be so late. Reading this left me rather speechless and I didn't know what to say. But arse_hat, octothorpe, I'm so sorry that your family members went through horrible things.
posted by galadriel 20 February | 14:21
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