The last 8 months have been a purging of past pain. At times it has felt excruciating. Regardless, my willingness to engage in my story has allowed me the words and the knowledge to not only recover from the trauma but help other survivors of trauma & abuse as well.
Do I have battle scars? Yes.
Will they heal? Yes.
Will it take time? Yes.
I am learning that it’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to feel scared or angry. There is no judgement for how we breakthrough. The road is different for all of us. One of the biggest obstacles that I have yet to learn how to navigate is accepting that now so many people hate me. It’s a portion of myself that valued being liked. I am a people pleaser and taking care of myself and putting myself first and receiving so much blow back has been a challenge.
Yet I am growing, I am changing and I am learning just how resilient I am.
How will I cope? I am still figuring that out, and I plan on my future posts being focused on the steps I am taking for self-care & other ways I am pursuing healing and wholeness. Some days are going to be harder than others but I know soon enough that my shadow days will be over.
Now let’s take a moment to pause. Be slow to celebrate when a sexual assault charge is dropped. The general public is in unprepared to understand that prosecuting a sexual assault charge can be, in many cases, very difficult to prosecute for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was the statute of limitations.
Take a look at the statistics. Did you know that even if a case leads to an arrest, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated out of 1000 cases? Should we celebrate this? Because this is the sobering reality.
Now I will disclose that I am not an expert in the field of criminal prosecution for sexual crimes cases, however, I wanted to pass down what I have learned in my own experience. Anybody who chooses to file a sexual assault case should know the uphill battle but this shouldn’t deter us from filing anyway.
1.) Potential obstacle. There isn’t enough “physical evidence”. Not all sexual assaults are physically violent and yes a rape kit can, at the very least, confirm that penetration by the perpetrator happened & collect the DNA. However, the “he said she said argument” isn’t eliminated unless there is additional proof of physical force or harm. For example bruises, tearing, injury etc…
2.) The suspect declines giving a statement. A grievance I can relate to. The suspect has a right to remain silent, by giving a statement could self incriminate. The suspect not giving the investigation team a statement further makes it difficult to prosecute him/her in a court of law as the jury needs to be unanimous in a criminal trial. This is not the same in a civil trial.
3.) Jury selection. This to me, is one of the most problematic issues in our judicial system when it comes to sexual assault cases. In most cases, you want a neutral jury. However, this makes it harder for a victim of sexual assault. The reason because there does need to be a certain amount of public education on trauma response and the brain and how it affects victims of abuse. It affects how we respond. It’s fair to say that trauma changes the brain in its entirety. The public has a responsibility to educate themselves on the truth about trauma, the brain and abuse. It is in my opinion that anyone without this knowledge shouldn’t serve on a jury for a sexual assault case.
For one, people who are not properly educated usually believe a myriad of false truths about rape victims and how it happens. Society has done us a great disservice by showing rape in movies and television in it’s most minority form, by a stranger.
Statistically, 7 out of 10 times rapes are committed by someone known by the victim. 45% are committed by and acquaintance & by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
Did you know, only 11% of rape and sexual assault incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon? It’s much more common for personal weapons—such as hands, feet or teeth—are used against victims of sexual violence in about 2 out of 3 cases.
What can we do? Think twice when you shame someone for NOT reporting the crime to the police. Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.
I want to encourage you to read this article by Julie Bendel
An even greater disturbance to me is the growing voice of accusations that I lied and that other women who have reported a sexual crime lied. You must be careful when accusing someone of lying about a rape crime, make sure your evidence proves absolute consent on the accuser’s behalf. If you were not there at the time of the assault, you are not qualified to give your opinion. I am not encouraging you to believe any given victim, however it’s far more fair to just remain neutral.
Combing through a person’s past and capturing all the ways they have adapted is not evidence that the crime did not happen. It’s okay to have your own doubts and your own questions about a given account however that doesn’t entitle you to harass or perpetuate your own version of a given account. A victim doesn’t owe you an explanation about anything.
With this said, I would like to give my own statement regarding the Los Angeles District’s decision in my case:
My family and I were well aware of the likelihood that my case was not prosecutable due to the statute of limitations in California regarding rape which was modified in 2016. It is unfortunate that the law isn’t fully retroactive to accommodate assaults that have happened in the past, regardless of how far back. It gives me great solace to know that my testimony is fully documented, investigated and sealed for the future if needed by law enforcement. I gave my statement, as did the other witnesses. Speaking out was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and I hope it inspires others to do the same if it feels right for them.