Friday, March 24, 2017

Why I Never Reported My Rapist to the Police

My trauma story is complicated. I'm sure many are. In all actuality I was raped almost four years ago, shortly after Easter of 2013. However, our minds are incredible things that can do amazing work in the name of protecting itself.

I had something called Dissociative Amnesia which I will probably write more on at a later time. Most simple what it means is that I forgot about my attack. I forgot everything as a coping skill. My brain knew I was not capable of processing the trauma that had occurred so it took it away.

It does not feel like it has been four years since my attack happened. I first told my therapist about it September of 2015. That day I was placed, terrified, into UCLA's psychiatric hospital.

I did speak to a policeman. As mandated reporters they had to call the police and a man came down to take my statement. At that point in my life it had been a day since I had told anyone. I was terrified of everything. I didn't yet have the full memories of my assault like I do now. I didn't trust anyone. I didn't trust myself.

Out of fear and shame I did not speak to the policeman very much. I don't actually remember what all I told him. I remember bits and pieces. I remember I had to take two breaks between talking to him. I remember I couldn't have done it without my amazing Social Worker, Megan, by my side. I also remember that I didn't tell him the whole truth. I down played the attack. I didn't want anyone to know what had happened. I had not processed or accepted it yet.

That was the one and only time I spoke to any law enforcement because after that I went to Residential for 10 weeks. When I came home, together with my support system, we decided I would not go to the police right away.

One of my main concerns throughout the whole process was not being believed. I have heard the horror stories of women who tried to report their sexual abuse and were made into the problem, not seen as the victim. Plus I already had a mental health background which I feared would make me automatically dismissed.

Instead I opted to go the church route. I reported within my church. Due to the time that had passed there was no evidence left. Due to the nature of the assault there were no witnesses. Due to my rapist being a sadistic monster he denied it outright. Through absolutely no fault of my church leadership nothing was able to be done about it.

That absolutely crushed my heart. In my head I knew it was the likely outcome, but had let myself hope for a better one. For the longest time I blamed the wrong people. I was hurt. I thought my leadership didn't believe me when he was unable to tell me what I wanted to hear. I was wrong.

That set me back pretty far and after that I would not go to the police for fear of the same or a worse response. I didn't know if I could take it again.

For a few months now I have wanted to go to the police. I know that nothing will happen with my case. It is too late, but I also know that there will be another girl like me and if the police already know my perpetrators name she will be more easily believed.

Different fears hold me back now. Sure, I still have the same fears of not being believed, but now I'm worried they will take action against me if I try to change my story. If I add to it and take away from it. I was very honest about my lack of a complete memory with them, but I'm sure very few police are familiar with Dissociative Amnesia. Heck, the word "dissociative" shows up with a red squiggly line under it when I type it because my computer isn't even familiar with it, but I digress. I'm afraid of having lied to the police. It wasn't major, but it was there. The hard part is not remembering what I said, mainly I think I just downplayed everything.

If I could go back and do it all over again I would report everything the minute I knew it. The day I could finally say "It was Him" I would go to the station. Not having that report, not having been able to at least try to go through a court process, not facing my attacker is one of my biggest regrets. I know I didn't do everything possible in my power to stop him from hurting another little girl.

Reporting a sexual assault is not something that is an easy decision. If anyone out there is struggling to make that decision know that it is completely your choice. If you want my advice you can take it, if not that's completely your decision, but I would report. I would do it. It won't be easy. You may not be believed, but that would be the fault of others. Looking back you would be able to tell yourself that you had done everything in your power. Whatever you choose, I'll be standing right here beside you.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing Caitlin! I am so sorry that you experienced this horrendous trauma. :( You are so courageous and I am certain that you will inspire others to come forward and share their stories.

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  2. Caitlin, I also didn't report my attack. It's been several years now since it happened (I was 18 - I'm now 49), but I decided not to report mine because 1) I thought I would end up being blamed, as most women are and 2) Because I had very little knowledge of what my attacker looked like (I was approached from behind and quickly blindfolded until the attack was over, so I didn't have much info to give the authorities. Unlike you, I never forgot about it however, but I understand how the mind works during a traumatic event, and I don't fault you. Over the years I had thought over and over about the other girls my attacker had probably attacked as well (possibly before mine and after), and my guilt was horrendous. It took me several years to be able to drive past the gas station/convenience store without reliving the nightmare over again (I had been car jacked, kidnapped, robbed and raped by knifepoint in my own car before being driven somewhere and allowed to drive away after he made his escape). I would also encourage anyone to report it, but like you, understand if they don't. It is truly a personal decision, even if not reporting it seems wrong to some, we all deal with things differently and we have to make our own decisions based on what we feel. It wasn't until my 30's that I was able to go back to that store, walk inside, and leave... but it did give me a sense of taking my power back that my attacker had stolen from me so many years before, and it was therapeutic for me. I only hope is that he has been caught and convicted by now, and at times, hopeful in a sense, that I was his only victim - but knowing full well just by how well prepared or at minimum, how he seemed to know what he was doing in my attack, that it is probably not the case. I send love and light your way Caitlin, and I am sorry you had this experience. You're not alone. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I kept it to myself for a couple of days, then I slowly let it out to a couple of people I trusted. I had a hard time saying his name at first, until I realized who I was protecting. Then I made it known. I told the police, the CEO at work (it happened there at the hospital), the state licensing commission (he was a physician). I knew I would have to say it over and over so I wrote it all out and gave the written copy to all of them. I knew I couldn't bare to repeat the horriffic experience over and over, and the writing felt cathartic. Reporting and telling them all his name gave me back an extraordinary feeling of power. I was turned over to specialists who have been dealing with this issue for years. They are trained to believe you and support you through this awful journey. It helped me to feel strong enough to go to battle. There were set backs. Like the time the District Attorney called and told me he was going to hold a press confrence and get the story out on the news. I begged him not to. Then my whole world would know the details. He did it anyway. Within 24 hours there were 4 other women who stepped forward with parts of my same story "word for word". All of them had happened prior to me, on a less violent scale, and none of them had reported. It was enough to get a conviction on my case. If I hadn't reported, I now know the next girl would have gotten worse. Not all cases have this same outcome, but all girls are worth the fight. No assailants deserve protection. Standing up for your self with the strong arms of the police department and district attorney behind you is so healing and powerful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing. When I posted this an old friend of mines mom reached out to me. She is a DA here in Bakersfield who prosecuted mainly sexual assault cases. I'm going to meet with her and find out about the system and possibly make a report in the hope that it will help the next girl, because I know I'm not the only one. I feel like it's too late for me now since I have no evidence and already know he will deny it, but idk. I'm glad you were brave enough to go through everything with the police and court. That's incredible. I'm glad you got strength from it.

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