Looking back on when I had to decide if I was going to press criminal charges against my rapist. Yes, I use that word because that is what he is- convicted or not. I couldn’t find anyone who could relate to the journey that I was on. There were no women saying, “This happened to me. I’m outraged at the insensitivity, victim blaming, and bureaucracy of our justice system. I’m disappointed in a society that doesn’t stand up for the rights of victims.” No one was standing up and saying, “What’s wrong here?!”
There was essentially no need because there wasn’t really an “issue” to discuss. Victims were afraid to even come forward let alone begin to speak about the pervasive oppression and re-victimization placed upon them by society. We were being punished for speaking out.
I remember being interrogated by three police officers. That day was a complete blur. I blocked most of it out due to the trauma that day caused me. I was brave enough to tell the truth, but unfortunately they were not well trained in victim sensitization. I was not told that I could have an advocate present when they questioned me, so I was alone. I got asked questions about my sexual history, which is not admissible in a court of law; they asked anyway. I got asked what I was wearing, but not professional manner, more like a sarcastic insinuation. I was told out right that I was lying. They questioned everything that I said- multiple times. Many more interrogations were to come…
Here is the HARD TRUTH: If I was a prostitute or drug addict would that make my rape any less valid? NO. There is NOTHING that justifies rape. It wouldn’t make me any less of a person, either.
Needless to say, by the time that interview was over they might as well have placed me in the back of the police car and put me in jail. That was how much shame they placed on me. I thought to myself that this must be a unique situation. Someone would have made this an issue by now… This is important for others to know. I only found out later that there are SO many stories like mine and unfortunately SO many stories worse than mine.
It’s only recently that Rape cases have been made a priority in the news. These cases highlight the devastation caused by Rape Culture, but they are only small pieces of a much bigger puzzle.
My rapist was arrested and I await my day in court. I was very persistent, but many victims will give up before they even get this far. Can you blame them? I have come to the understanding that we need systemic change.
I guess I should be grateful that I have even gotten this far, but I’m not.
I’m sad for the survivors that have gone before me and I fear for the ones that will come after.
I will continue to fight for this cause long after my case is won or lost. I will not remain complacently silent to a system that shouts justice but serves oppression.
Statistics provided by: http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates