I’d fully intended to write something funny or uplifting or motivational today. Then, I read this:
As much as I’d rather not revisit one of the worst experiences of my life, I think it’s probably important. And it’s called “stuff nobody says” because people need to start saying it. So, I’ll start.
This sentence for a rape is 60 days in jail and two years probation. At least he’s paying for it, right? At least she can take comfort in knowing he was found guilty, right?
Let me tell you what happens when you’re one hell of a tough chick that says, “damn it! I’m pressing charges! He can’t get away with this!”
Well, first thing you do (if you’re smart, they say), is go to the hospital and get a rape exam–if you’re lucky enough to find someone that can do it. What all is involved in a rape exam? Well, they dig under your fingernails and swab for DNA. Then, they pluck hairs out of your head to look for evidence, then they pluck pubic hairs for evidence. All of this is done while your feet are in stirrups for an unwanted gynecological exam to get evidence. See, a gynecological exam after a rape is kind of like putting salt on an open wound. It already hurts, but if you want justice, you’ll have to allow it to hurt a little worse. Once this humiliation after your initial violation is complete, the police officers come talk to you. They don’t come all at once so you only have to re-live your rape once. Nope. They come one by one and you need to tell each the story of what happened. They need to make sure your story is consistent. And you already know they don’t believe you. If they did, why would they be making you tell your story over and over? Once you’ve told the story to enough police officers, you’re allowed to go after receiving some sleeping pills and clothes to wear. They keep your clothes as evidence, you see. If you were dressed wrong, you could have been “asking for it” and those poor boys (yep, there’s sometimes more than one), will need to show how slutty you were dressed in their defense of why they raped you.
Then, you get to go home and try and maintain composure to try to explain to all the “concerned” what happened. So, you just keep knocking yourself out with the sleeping pills. You tell your parents and they’re sick. They clearly can’t deal. You see you’re on your own. But then, the prosecutor comes to your dorm room and finally you’re thinking here’s someone that wants to help.
She sits down and tells you that rape victims are always the ones on trial. She tells you the questions you’ll face: “were you a virgin? How many men have you had sex with? What were you wearing? Do you like rough sex?” And she goes on. You ask “why is it so difficult? Why would I go through everything I have if nothing happened? I did as I’d been told–went to the doctor, filed charges?” She tells you, “that’s just the way it is with rape.” You remember your parents and friends and how they couldn’t deal with it. You know going to court will only prolong the violation you’ve already survived, and let’s say you’re tough enough to do it anyway.
You wait, you do your best to go on. Maybe you quit everything because the worst experience of your life has now become your life. You’ve made it your mission to prosecute this guy/guys and stand up for yourself in the most difficult way. You’ve done it all to help save others from the rapist.
You finally get your day in court. Your family and friends are there to support you. They listen as defense attorneys attempt to paint you as a slut who wanted it. They sit and listen. You sit and deal. “It’ll be worth it,” you think. “This is the right thing to do,” you think. “What they did is not ok. I have to speak up.”
Finally, it’s over. Guilty. And the judge sentences the rapist(s) to 60 days plus two years probation. And he’s going to be out in 3 days after time served. Do you think you did the right thing? If it happened to your daughter and she asked you what she should do, what would you tell her? Prosecute? Why?
Does it seem like justice?
If you could go back and do it again, would you do the same thing?
And here’s the aftermath:
You’ve already stopped trusting men, but those you were told were there to protect you: police, judges, prosecutors also let you know you weren’t worth it. So, you just stop trusting anyone.
You learn your sense of freedom, safety; your future is worth time served and probation.
Why did you report it at all? All it did was extend the violation and give the police, attorney, media, public, and judge the chance to keep humiliating you.
I’m not saying don’t report. I’m saying this is a system in serious need of fixing.
I feel like I should say I’m sorry for saying things you don’t likely want to hear. But, I’m not sorry.