Saturday, February 14, 2015


I used to get angry when I heard sexual assault victims talk about not pressing charges and seeking justice. "You don't know what it's like," they would tell me. "It's like being assaulted all over again." That is true. I did not know what it was like, I had no idea how violated they felt recounting the events over and over again to
For so long I was envious of those
who had an opportunity to confront
 abusers in court. 
strangers. But since we are being honest I can tell you that my anger was fueled by one thing: jealousy. I was so envious of them; they had everything I didn't have. They had support of family and friends. They had time on their side. Many had physical evidence. It seemed so simple to me, just press charges and seek justice.

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 do not have unresolved feelings about the rapist. I have been speaking this same truth for almost 39 years. My story has not changed. He raped me. He knew what he was doing. I did not, I did not deserve it, and I did nothing to cause it. It happened TO me, not BECAUSE of me. He holds the shame, not I. He mentally tortured me for the next 6 years that I lived next door to his parents. I have heard rumors that there was a group of older boys who bullied and sexually abused other boys in the town. If so, and if he was also a victim, that truth needs to come out as well. The bottom line is simple, the truth must come out.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Keeping you in my prayers. This is not an easy battle. Hold your head high, you are so worth it.
    My heart is so sad for what you have experienced.
    May God Love, Bless, and Protect You and Yours Always. Jesus you are the Divine Physician please heal her broken heart, mind, and soul. Amen.


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