Hey blog readers, you’ve potentially read most of this post in a post about Hillary Clinton losing the election… but I thought they needed to be separated. Thanks!
[Trigger warning: A couple of small details of sexual assault are mentioned in this post.]
Whenever sexual assault comes up, this is the question I find that’s asked most often…
It’s a valid question. I understand. If I’m over here saying we should treat victims of sexual assault the same way we would victims of any other crime, then that logic kind of tracks, that we’d expect them to report it… We’d expect people who were robbed to report it. So, I understand the reasoning and the curiosity and why it would be asked.
I know there are many well-documented reasons of why women don’t report – such as feeling re-victimized in many ways… But today, I’m sharing my answer to the question…
So, why didn’t I report?
(Ish.) I took a while, and I only half-reported, kinda. So, I’m gonna explain what I mean by that.
The first time, I really thought I must be crazy. So, I was mad, but felt I “wasn’t allowed” to be. Even though it was absolutely sexual assault (in that he completely ignored me and told me “it’s time,” and later said, “I knew you didn’t want to, but you needed to,” – which is, uh, I dunno… The literal definition of sexual assault…
At the time, I was uncomfortable looking at it that way… It didn’t seem “fair” to say something so “serious” or “mean” about someone I was involved with (even if it was completely true).
So, I didn’t report. I tried to quietly deal with it.
The second time, I also didn’t report right away. Again, I minimized.
Also, he finished outside of me the second time (not the first, but the second he did). So, while there was DNA, I don’t really know how that all works in these cases… Also, I wasn’t thinking, “I must report this man who assaulted me and preserve everything.” I was thinking, “this man I’m sleeping with and I had a reeeeeeally uncomfortable morning. I want this to be over.” And I immediately took a shower.
I had multiple things to do that day, and I went and did them.
I was feeling down and confused and sad. But I wasn’t going to interrupt my day because of this man…
So, I did nothing that morning.
Only, months later, when he said the sentence that’s basically an admission of assault did I think, “This is truly serious. This is something to no longer minimize. I need to look at my options here.”
So, I went to the NYPD…
One of the questions I was asked was “Well, was he helping you? Were you in that space – needing that help?”
I’m not trying to knock the NYPD. The officer was nice enough, and I really *think* was trying to help… Still, they followed up that question by saying, “We both know what this is, and it isn’t rape.”
(There was something about the tone of voice they used when saying, “We both know what this is” that sort of hurt my feelings… It seemed to be implying I was a girl who willingly went into sex and regretted it. And that’s not what happened. And when they say, “We both know what this is, I don’t. I’ve spent months in therapy reconciling this… But the one thing I know it wasn’t was consensual sex.)
So, even though a man started his sentence with, “I knew you didn’t want to,” (which is, you know, kind of the definition of assault), the NYPD officer seemed to go along with his narrative that he was “helping” me.
The officer did say – and I don’t know if this makes me feel better or worse – but they said, “Don’t beat yourself up. Honestly, if you had immediately left before taking a shower and reported, it most likely wouldn’t have mattered. It would’ve been DNA of a man you were already involved with and your word against his, and you’d be in the exact same position you’re in right now.”
So, it’s nice I don’t have to blame myself – at least for that specific decision. It’s sad that our system is set up that way – that even if you take all the “right” steps, it doesn’t matter.
So, after that conversation, I went to an attorney to see if I could do anything at least civilly.
This man had done this to someone else before.
He’s the one who told me that… Of course, he frames it as this “dramatic girl,” but hearing the details of the story (from him!) which already point to it being assault, and knowing more viscerally what he is like/who he is, I believe that he sexually assaulted her.
So, after I knew that with me, it wasn’t an accident -that he did it intentionally, and that this is the kind of man he is, I wanted to do anything I could to protect other women… That’s why I went to an attorney.
She said unfortunately even if I got that sentence of “I knew you didn’t want to, but you needed to” on tape, that is still not enough… that the defense will get into semantics during court. They will explain away that tape. And I don’t have any other evidence to back me up… I will testify, and the defense will try to drag me through the mud for what?
She asks me most importantly, “What do you want?” In a civil case, what would I really want? I don’t want his money. (I mean, for certain reasons it might be nice, just to feel I got something, I guess… But I don’t want it.)
I could get a protective order, but I don’t need it. He’s not contacting me. We’re merely not talking. And I would love to know that I never have to see or interact with him again. But the way a protective order was explained to me is that it’s not like I have all this power or anything…
For instance, if we get into the same seminar somewhere, or if we are both hired to work at the same place, I’m not necessarily the one who gets to stay. If he’s considered more valuable and we can’t be in the same room together, I might be the one who has to leave.
I’m already making concessions in my own life to stay away from him. So, to have legal concessions (that I ask for?!) that potentially put even more restrictions on me? …That doesn’t seem smart.
So, what could I possibly get out of this case? The vindication of “winning”? Even if I “won,” it’s not winning to see his face in court all the time. It’s not “winning” to start an even bigger dust up in my life than the one that’s already started with all of this… I’ve heard that going to court is like being assaulted all over again. Did I really want that?
I wish I could protect other women.
I feel a sense of a little bit of guilt about that…
But alas, as far as I can tell, I am out of options.
So, I did try. I went to the appropriate channels. And I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more…