So I keep reading the same type of comments appearing in my Facebook feed over and over again.
“why didn’t they come forward sooner?”
” I have no sympathy for anyone who waited 10, 20 or 30 years plus to come forward”
“I don’t believe it”
“Oh, so a compliment is sexual harassment now?”
At first, I would scroll past them with a sigh and a shake of my head and as more and more comments like this appeared I decided that I didn’t care what “friends” I lost or if the followers of my writing got offended and unfollowed me.
It has become increasingly important for me to share my own experience in hopes of continuing a conversation that is LONG overdue.
I am not naïve. Most of the people who should take the time to read this, wont. And there will be others who simply won’t care and more still who despite my truth, backed up by evidence will refuse to change their minds or even consider a view point that isn’t theirs. So with that said, here we go…
Ask yourself this question FIRST.
When was the last time YOU filed a sexual harassment or sexual assault claim?
If the answer to that question is never, ask yourself the follow up question…
Is the reason you have NOT filed a sexual harassment or sexual assault claim because
A. You have never been sexually abused
B. because you didn’t feel anyone would believe you?
You think it’s so easy to just come forward and be heard and believed do you?
I’m going to share my story, perhaps because you know me it will have greater impact, perhaps not, but this is MY truth, MY story and it is happening in REAL time.
I was sexually assaulted on September 16th, 2017. That’s THIS year, only 2 months ago. There was NO part of my encounter that was consensual or that could have been perceived as consensual.
By sexually assaulted I mean that I was both brutally sodomized and raped vaginally. My assailant was known to me. It started in his living room and progressed to his bedroom.
My assailant outweighed me by 100lbs and towered over me by 18 inches. I am 5 feet tall, I’ll let you do the math.
I protested and fought from the moment it began to no avail. When it was over I had a brief moment when he left the room to gather items of his and towels that I used “clean myself off” as best as I could. I ran into the living room to retrieve my clothes and shoved the items down the front of my pants so that I could take his DNA as evidence.
He followed me into the living room and positioned himself closest to the front door and insisted on talking to me. I felt trapped, I had been raped. I was in an enormous amount of pain and my brain was struggling to understand what had happened and how I was going to get out. I noticed that my phone had fallen on top of my purse underneath the ottoman and thought if he was going to “talk” to me, then I was going to record what he was saying. I pressed VIDEO record on my phone and pushed my purse aside hoping he would not see it.
I recorded 8 minutes and 49 seconds of him ADMITTING to raping me, of him stating very clearly that he heard me yelling at him to stop, that he told me to stop fighting him, that it would feel better if I STOPPED fighting him. He admits to hurting me and states on camera that he feels like the “biggest piece of shit ever”.
8 MINUTES AND 49 SECONDS OF AN UNDENIABLE CONFESSION.
Let that sink in. My RAPIST, admitted on video to raping me.
He kept telling me he was sorry and even began to cry at one point. I got so angry after hearing him say the words “Oh so because I raped you once NOW I’m a rapist?” that I jumped up and kicked over a table in his living room. This snapped him out of whatever thought process he was in and he grabbed my purse and held it above my head and then held it just out of my reach at the front door. He then said “go ahead, call 911 if you feel like it”. He opened the door and he tossed my purse out on his front porch. I ran out and grabbed my purse, fumbled for my phone and called 911 from his DRIVEWAY. IMMEDIATELY after the attack.
When the dispatcher asked me the address I was so distraught that I couldn’t even remember the name of the street I was on even though I had been there many, many times before. I had to drive down the street looking for a street sign so that I could give the name of the road I was on.
I then began driving in a state of utter shock, crying hysterically because my phone kept dropping the call to the police. And then my phone battery died. It was however, enough for them to record and respond to the location.
On the drive home and once I had enough charge to turn my phone on again I began recording the events so that I would have a record of what happened. I dictated (talk to text) into my phone every single detail, down to the food that I consumed, what was playing on the TV, what I was wearing, what he was wearing, the evidence I had collected and any other pertinent details I could think of.
When I got home the first thing I did was take the evidence I had collected, his clothing, my clothing and the towels I used to clean up his DNA and put them in a baggy. I took pictures of the bruising on my inner thighs and the bruises on my foot and ankle from kicking over the table. I also downloaded the video on my phone and emailed it to myself in case anything happened to me or my phone.
I went to my best friend’s house and told her what happened, showed her my bruises and played the video recording for her and cried in her arms as she held me and apologized over and over again. This was on a Saturday. I went to work the following Monday and tried to pretend that everything was normal, meanwhile I was in physical pain but that was nothing compared to my emotional distress.
For four subsequent days my rapist attempted to contact me and request that we meet in person so we could “talk”. I, of course, refused to meet in person but stated that I would talk via text or phone with the intent to record any further incrimination on his part. Then suddenly his communication to me stopped. I assumed because he had been either arrested or made aware that I had reported him.
I told my other best friend what was going on because I worked with her and I let her listen to the video in it’s entirety and she also cried for me. I was in contact with OSI (Office of Special Investigation, United States Air Force) because my assailant is an active military member. I reported it to the proper authorities within the Air Force and went in to give my official statement as well as turn over all of the evidence I collected. I turned over my phone so they could copy the video and texts directly from the source. I turned over the clothes and towels. I turned over the photos of my bruises date and time stamped by my phone AND ALL of the subsequent contact that we had, including multiple admissions and apologies via text.
Because the rape did not happen on base and I was not military I was told the jurisdiction would go to the local police department. So I agreed to go in and meet with their detectives and report it to them also.
EACH time having to relive what had happened to me. EACH TIME I had to listen to the recording of my rapist ADMITTING to raping me, no if’s ands or buts about it. Black & white, clear as day. EACH time I was questioned about the circumstances, my relationship, my attire, whether or not I had been drinking etc. EACH TIME….
All the while attempting to hold down a job, heal from my physical wounds and my mental wounds. I had to wait for resources to be made available to me through both the civilian side and the military side. I had to seek medical treatment for my injuries and I had to be treated for an STD that I contracted from him, luckily one that was easily curable with antibiotics, but there is nothing scarier than waiting for the results of an HIV test after being raped.
By week two I was so twisted I could not think, eat or sleep. The shock was wearing off and the severity of my situation was setting in. I could barely function. I STILL hadn’t told my family because I felt such an enormous amount of shame and frankly didn’t know HOW to go about saying to my mother, brother and children what happened to me.
But as the legal process progressed and more and more calls began to flood my phone from detectives, to advocates, to doctor’s offices and counselors I knew I would have to tell them. I told my mother first and watched her heart break for me. I told my brother a few days later and listened as he strained to control his anger and he became so upset that he had to hang up the phone. I told my daughter and then my son and finally I told the man I had just started to date seriously. Then I began opening up about it to everyone because I refused to allow myself to be silenced by someone else’s crime.
Then one day, late into the second week I was at work trying to function, trying to keep myself together when a supervisor came in and started freaking out as supervisors do about something completely benign that had nothing to really do with me and I became so emotional that I told them I had to leave. I got up and walked out, the stress too much for me to handle in that moment. At this point, everyone was aware of what had happened to me and were well aware of my emotional state.
I was told not to come back to work. I was told not to come back to work via text as I was pulling into the police station to go over my statement yet again and to make a controlled phone call to my attacker in an attempt to extract more evidence from him. I was told that the doctor I worked for didn’t CARE what my “excuse or reason” for leaving that day was, that there was NO EXCUSE for my reaction and I was done there.
I lost my job because the emotional toll of trying to keep it together while dealing with the physical and mental trauma of rape.
And you want to know what the most fucked up and INSANE part of this process has revealed?
My rapist is a serial rapist.
There is another current victim AND there was a previous victim that is on his permanent military record.
And with ALL my evidence…he is STILL walking around, consequence free for now with access to an arsenal of weapons at his home and SOLE custody of two little girls.
I DID all of things you are supposed to do.
I called 911 IMMEDIATELY, as soon as I was able. I submitted DNA, clothing, towels, a VIDEO recording, text messages, emails, my 911 tape, my sworn statement, I have gone to therapy, I have sought medical treatment, I have filed victim’s compensation, I have NOT remained silent, I have sat in a room full of uniformed military and uniformed police and sworn my testimony, I have offered to take a polygraph and I have cooperated every step of the way and he is STILL free.
I have to jump through every single hoop that is set ablaze for me or I will be considered an “uncooperative victim” by the state, damaging MY credibility.
I even attempted to procure an attorney to represent me and was told that it wasn’t a good idea to do that BEFORE a criminal trial because it would look like I was only coming forward for monetary purposes!!!!
HE IS STILL FREE and I am the only one (besides the other victims) who is suffering REAL time consequences.
AND I HAVE the support of my friends and family. I have a support system.
I lost my job, my dignity, my emotional well being, my financial security and I did ALL the right things.
You might be asking yourself about the video?…and believe me, so did I. Did you know that Florida is one of eleven “two consent” law states. That means that in order to record someone you have to have the expressed consent of BOTH parties…
I didn’t think to ask my rapist if it would be okay with him if I recorded his confession, so it is inadmissible in a civilian courtroom. In fact, it is a felony to record someone without their permission, so technically although I have all the evidence one could want to convict someone of multiple crimes against me, I am by proxy guilty of a criminal act.
The local police department’s hands were tied and had to request that jurisdiction be turned over to the Air Force for prosecution…and that is where I am now.
Waiting…waiting for justice to be served.
Waiting for a SERIAL rapist to get his day in court…living every moment of my assault, hearing that video every day whether it’s playing or not. Trying to keep my head and heart above water long enough to see justice served and there are NO guarantees.
You see in the military I don’t get that blissful moment of seeing him in handcuffs and charged with the crimes against me. Nope…I have to wait to see if his commanding officer feels compelled to take action beyond a slap on the wrist or an administrative write up…and that is IF the legal department recommends action be taken.
I haven’t even gotten to a trial yet (Military Court Martial).
I haven’t been ripped apart by a defense attorney yet. I haven’t had to defend myself, my choices, my lifestyle, my sexuality, my eating and drinking habits, my choice of dress, my mental health, my past, nothing has been questioned yet…this is just the beginning…
We have only JUST begun…
You think it’s so easy to come forward huh?
It’s not easy.
Nothing about this process is easy. It takes tremendous strength and stamina and perseverance.
I have it good compared to most…I am the BEST case scenario. I did all the “right” things and this is the course of justice.
Every day is a new challenge. Every day is another phone call, another person needing details, another appointment, another memory, another trigger, another nightmare IF I’m lucky enough to find sleep, another flashback, another medication added to help me overcome my PTSD and depression. EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. DAY.
So ask yourself, when is the last time YOU reported sexual harassment or a sexual assault?
Ok then. Argument OVER.