|For so long I was envious of those|
who had an opportunity to confront
abusers in court.
And then I found out that everyone who had had an opportunity to help me seek justice 30 years ago lied to me. I had been told by my parents, educators, counselors, and even a police officer that the statute of limitations had run out in 7 years. The bastard had been protected by my silence during the only period in which I could have sought justice. I trusted them. And they lied.
Maybe they meant well, but the truth is, rape of a child under the age of 12 in my state is a class A felony. There is not a statute of limitations on class A felonies. On February 12, 2012 I gave my statement to the state police detective and started the wheels of justice moving. I knew it would be a long and difficult process. But I have only one goal: get his name published as being accused to open the door for other victims to go through. Anything else is icing on the cake.
I am up for the fight. In the last three years I have had 27 interactions with the system. I have been in court (with the bastard) 6 times for preliminary hearings. I have signed statements and read briefs. I have waited for the judge to make decisions. And I have weekly emailed to victim advocate in the prosecutor's office to help them remember my name and my case.
And 27 times I have dealt with an emotional response that I can only describe as rattling, as if my foundation has been moved, like I'm not grounded. I'm not sad or tearful, but I am a bit melancholy. It lasts for a day or two, and during this time I am strangely gentler than normal. I still can not give this feeling a name. None of the usual emotions seem to fit. So I just call it rattled and unbalanced.
|I did nothing wrong. I did not invite|
being raped. I do not hold any shame.
I am not afraid to testify. This process is complicated, but the next forward step is to have a hearing where I tell the entire story to the judge in front of the bastard and the defense attorney. I am completely ready to do that. I dreamed about being able to do that for three decades. He no longer has any power over me, and I look forward to the day I can sit on the stand and let him hear my words.
And yet, I have this strange unsettling feeling every time I deal with this.
Finally, after encounter #26, I got it. I now understand what sexual assault victims had been trying to tell me.
I am not afraid of the rapist.
I am afraid of being failed by the system.
Encounter #26 was a phone conversation with the detective. We had gotten a ruling in our favor, and the detective would have to file charges again. I told him I was scared; the prosecutor had told me that she and the judge were tired of the case. He encouraged me by saying "They don't have that option. It is their job to fight for justice for you. I am frustrated for you and will continue to fight as much as I have to for you." His words were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to know that someone else, someone with more power than I have, was willing to fight for me.
Every brief, every motion, every hearing takes us one step closer to justice. But every brief, every motion, every hearing is because of some legal wrangling on the part of the defense. I have to believe that these maneuverings on the part of defense counsel are intentional because she knows what I believe- if this case ever gets to a grand jury he will be indicted. He admitted to abusing me to the state police. Once he is indicted, perhaps the flood gates open.
But each time I wonder- will the judge decide in my favor? Will justice reign? Will I ever get to tell my story on the record?
I was failed by so many people in my past. My parents. My friends. Psychologists. A psychiatrist. Teachers. School counselors. Boyfriends and even an ex-husband. All of these people told me to get over it. Move on. There's nothing that can be done. People I trusted, people in power and with influence over me, disregarded my desire for justice as teen histrionics.
Will I get the same treatment from the legal system now? Will I be told, as matter of law, that justice is a gift I don't deserve? Will I be discarded as a case that doesn't matter, dismissed and not believed?
With the words of the detective ringing in my ears I identified the lie in which my fear is based: "You are not worthy of justice," and I have replaced it with the truth:
I am worthy of justice and worth the fight.
I find it amazing how much more support I have now. My love holds my hand during every court appearance. All of my friends offer words of encouragement whenever I give an update. None of them have ever discouraged me from continuing this process. They want to help me. They join me in spirit during the fight. They celebrate the victories and mourn the losses with me.
I don't expect that unsettled feeling to go away. I did not ask for this fight, but I will finish it. I know that defense counsel will continue to throw road blocks into my path. But I am worthy of justice, and I am worth this fight. Other victims of the bastard who raped me are worthy of justice and worth this fight. And if you are a victim of sexual assault I tell you-
You are worthy of justice and worth the fight.