The investigator leaned across his desk.
“What were you wearing?” He asked as if that made a difference. When my answer didn’t satisfy him, he asked the next one.
“Had you been drinking/”
Questions like these not only signaled to me that somehow this person felt it necessary to place partial blame on me for the crime I was victim to.
By U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s what really happened.
It was 11:30 pm.
I left my job and walked to my car. Jolted by the cold wind, I unlocked the door and slipped inside as quickly as I could.
Before I could insert the key into the ignition, I felt his arm around my neck. I smelled the stench of his breath and felt its heat on the back of my neck as every hair raised in a cold chill. His other hand came from the side, showing me the gun it held.
He somehow pulled me into the back seat and held the gun to my head as he demanded I remove my slacks. His assault was brutal, each thrust a pain like a knife as my body rejected him despite the gun. By the time he was done I was swallowing my own vomit to prevent him from pulling the trigger.
After relieving my stomach and finding what was left of my clothing, I drove to my apartment and stumbled up the flight of steps. Without thinking, I ignored my roommates and went immediately to the bathroom, where I threw up again and began filling the bathtub. I wanted the smell, feel and memory of him gone.
It took four days for close friends to talk me into reporting the incident.
After picking the person out of a photo identification process, I was told to go home and I would hear something soon. I’m still waiting. This happened in 1980.
I still carry the scars today. From the PTSD diagnosis to just not feeling at ease around strangers, daily reminders of my nightmare creep into my current world.
We have gained little since then – in how we handle rape victims and in how we punish the rapist. 68% of rapes are never reported to the police. 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.
The most offensive are the men that take it upon themselves to discuss rape like they are an authority on the subject; unless they are a rapist or a victim, they are not. I hear politicians say things that not only are insulting, they continue to place blame on the victim. Our justice system will be more lenient on a rapist than any other charge – because they think it is a “he said, she said” argument.
And now – to make everything even worse – we are hearing discussions about the rights of the father and how a raped woman should not be allowed to abort the unwanted pregnancy. Forced indenturehood has a name in our country, it is called slavery.
This is no longer a women’s issue. This is a national crisis. We have all the money in the world to pour into a military budget, so men can go blow things up somewhere, but we will not spend an additional dime to protect our own mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. We expect them to protect themselves, and if that plan fails, we blame them by asking what they were wearing, if they had been drinking, or did they ever smile at the person.
What are you going to do to help change this?