Tell me again how things should be…
tell me again how those are my only options…
tell me again that there’s simply nothing I can do…Go ahead, I dare you.
I can give you a hundred reasons why coming forward and reporting sexual assault or rape is a bad idea. I could share with you all the ways that I have been ostracized for speaking out, for being too loud, too vocal, too assertive, too much of a pain in the ass for the legal department. I could list example after example of how people attempt to dismiss or dehumanize me by doing petty, unprofessional and unethical things like telling a rape victim who calls to report additional information or ask a question to hold and leave her holding for over 2 hours, DELIBERATELY in an attempt to avoid having to converse with her.
I could list all the instances where my fear and concerns were brushed off as though I couldn’t asses for myself the danger I knew myself to be.
I could tell you about all the eye rolls, deep sighs, muffled laughs, “dropped calls”, or of just flat out being hung up on by the office charged with representing the government and my interests in my serial rape case.
I could go on for days about the way the Air Force and it’s representatives have mishandled this case, including receiving letters with specific instructions 5 months after a response was due in writing or how they failed to interview a single witness that was provided to them.
I could release videos, text messages and emails that would make your skin crawl as they’ve tried to discourage me in every way at every turn from seeking justice for myself. Oh sure, they’ll counter that claim and state that they’re eager to prosecute all the while undermining the effort.
But instead I’m going to tell you the one, singular reason why you should fight with every thing in you and when that runs out borrow strength from your friends, your family, from strangers and finally when all those reserves have run out take one last look deep within your self and look at your soul. See it and believe in it. YOU ARE WORTHY OF JUSTICE.
I don’t give a fuck how I am perceived. I am not in a popularity contest. I don’t give a flying fuck if anyone likes me. I don’t NEED anyone else’s validation. I KNOW what happened to me. I KNOW what I endured. I’m not even remotely interested in whether or not my particular temperament meshes with the people who are supposed to be doing their JOBS. I AM WORTHY OF JUSTICE. JUSTICE not VENGEANCE.
If I wanted vengeance, if I wanted revenge I would have put a bullet in his head over a year ago. I didn’t. I put my faith in a system designed to fail with people determined to silence me.
I WONT BE SILENCED.
I WONT BE SHAMED.
All that negativity, all that resistance is background noise, it’s nothing. Those people, the people who would tear you down, treat you with disrespect, doubt your indelible right to FIGHT with everything you have for JUSTICE for yourself…those people will absolutely get theirs. Karma isn’t just some mythical thing that we wish for, karma is very real and very absolute.
Now let’s talk feelings and reality…
It fucking sucks. It hurts. It is pain I wouldn’t wish even on the man who raped me. I would however love the opportunity to have one of these people take a walk inside my mind for a few hours. I would love an opportunity to share what being a survivor of violent sexual crime really feels like.
I would love for one of them to know exactly how it felt to have to call with a *67 because you know your calls are being ignored. I would love for one of them to know exactly how it felt to KNOW the instant I was put on hold that it was deliberate and that NO-ONE would be coming back to the phone. I would love for one of them to know exactly what it feels like to have been completely stripped of your dignity while being brutally sodomized and then wait with that same horrible, consuming feeling of having your dignity stripped again… waiting for a voice to help me that never came. I would love, love, love for the people who participated in that action yesterday to think about how it would feel to have a family member or close friend in my shoes. Would you want your mother, wife, sister, daughter treated that way after she had the courage to report her rape? Would you spit in their faces so eagerly?
If a man had come up to me while at an ATM and threatened me, told me to give him MY money, money I worked hard for my very FIRST instinctual reaction would be to call the police as soon as I was able, not even a question, not a moment of hesitation. I would call the police, they would respond, probably express some empathy and likely review the ATM security footage and set to work to bring a robber to justice.
If I was car jacked at a stop light the same scenario would play out. My INSTANT, instinctual reaction would be to call the police, report the crime, start an investigation. I would likely receive some empathy from responding officers and they would take me seriously and attempt to seek justice.
Well, I THOUGHT it would work the same when I was raped. I called 911 as soon as I was able, which was immediately after I was able to leave the residence and I thought I would have a scenario play out like the ones above, but what I found was vastly different. I was naive then. I thought people in law enforcement, people who are charged with the duty of protecting you and your rights, people who are supposed to prosecute violent offenders for the greater good of society, I thought those people would have the most invested in my desire for justice. All too often we hear about victims who don’t wish to come forward or if they do they stop pursuing charges for one reason or another. We hear about victims who drop the charges or victims that won’t fully cooperate.
I was going to be the victim that did all the “right things”. Like I said, I was naive back then.
I have fought an uphill battle the entire way and I was a “righteous” victim. I called 911. I reported my crime. I turned over all the evidence I had, which was astronomical. I submitted DNA, there was a match to my rapist. I cooperated fully, turned over my electronic devices, clothing, a video that I managed to capture of my rapist. I did every single thing that was asked of me including multiple trips to the military base, police station and legal offices. I did so without reservation, without hesitation. So committed to my pursuit and belief in my right to seek justice I carried burden after burden, turning over evidence any time something new developed, which was always. Even when the legal department had turnover, new attorneys, new staff I made myself available even though the process was daunting and emotional.
I figured if everyone could see how much I valued my life, the quality of my life and justice that they would take up my cause. I was wrong.
I was 100% wrong.
I learned very quickly how little I matter to anyone working on this case except my SVC (Special Victims Counsel). I have learned that it is perfectly acceptable for the legal office at Patrick Air Force Base, specifically Maj Millburn to hang up on victims of rape when they call in to ask a question. I have learned from the SARC officer (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator) Laura Tasker, to flat out lie to you when you ask her a direct and simple question is just like brushing your teeth, nothing to it.
I have learned that it is perfectly fine to blatantly make false, misleading statements about specific agreements that supposedly occurred between my SVC Maj Nicole Modesitt and Lt Col Banas as it pertained to me and my wishes that never took place.
I learned that the USAF legal department at Patrick Air Force base can ask you to hold when you call and then DELIBERATELY put you on hold for over 2 hours and never come to the phone and extend you the basic human decency to tell you that no-one is coming back to the line to hear anything you have to say, no matter how urgent or important you feel it is.
I learned that unprofessional, unethical behavior is something that is encouraged and celebrated by the very people who are supposed to be prosecuting a serial rapist.
But the most important thing I’ve learned is that no matter how despicable their behavior, no matter how little they care about ME as a human being, no matter how many eye rolls, deep sighs, frustrated muttering and undeniable disrespect…no matter what… my worth, my humanity will never be stripped from me. And that’s real talk, not easy talk.
I could easily crumble. And God knows, I WANT to at times. There are times when I really THINK about the people who are treating me this way after surviving such a horrific attack and I think about what it says to their character, their decency, their morality and I know that I am on the right side of Karma.
I think about them and I have pity, because if I can survive what I went through and have every reason to hate the world, to be fearful of people, to treat others with contempt but still CHOOSE to be a decent, moral and ethical human then the problem isn’t with me…
Yesterday was a day when I realized that a new level of low existed in this world. Yesterday I was discriminated against for being a survivor and today I will rise above it.
I won’t feel shame. I refuse.
I want to thank the legal department of Patrick Air Force Base for their attempts to demoralize me, for their willingness to misunderstand me, for their complete lack of ethical treatment of victims of violent crime. It’s days like yesterday that remind me that evil exists in all forms on all spectrums.
The actions you deem justified will come back to haunt you and I promise you, you will remember my name long after I have moved on.
So tell me again what it is you’re doing for me, for my case, for the other victims, for future victims…regale me with your incompetence, your ignorance, your amorality.
Yesterday another woman was willing to throw her hat in the ring and your treatment of ME prevented her from doing that…nicely done Patrick, nicely done.
Not everyone is a fighter but you can bet your ass I am. The road of accountability does not end at Tsgt Keith Alan Snyder…with my last breath anyone who touches this case with anything less than respect, compassion and professionalism will be held responsible. You might be laughing to yourself, this might amuse you and I hope that is EXACTLY how you take it. I am quite used to being grossly underestimated. Now stop reading and get back to work…you spineless, complicit imbeciles.
Buckle up buttercup, my rights are not something I take for granted and I assure you, you won’t either.