I’ve spent some of the last posts telling you my own personal advice for what to do after being assaulted. But I think it’s an important asterisk to add that while I believe you can always get help, you can’t always get “justice.”
If you need therapy, or if you need medication for PTSD, or STIs, or anything like that, I believe there is some way to get them. (I hope – I hope that’s not just a ridiculous belief from a privileged place, though I am aware it might be. And if you live in a city where it’s impossible you can comment how wrong I am.) But while I’m hoping to believe you can always somewhere find some sort of support group… what you might not get is help from where you expect it, or where you feel like you need it.
If it happened at work or at school, it is possible you will not have people in your corner there. It is possible that you will want to leave, unfortunately. And that won’t be right, and it won’t be fair. But it might be the best/most possible thing for you at the time, if there is not a system in place to keep you away from your perpetrator.
If your workplace or school is not helpful, you may bring the legal system into things. But that might be daunting for a million reasons. You may not have the time or the money or the energy to go through it. You might just not wanna see your reputation, and every life choice you’ve ever made, dragged out and strangled on the stand. And that’s okay.
You may hope the police could help you, but sometimes they don’t. Maybe, again, my privilege is showing by being a “non-threatening” white girl who’s for the most part only had great experiences with police (and also super few and far between). But when I told the police officer that the man who assaulted me and totally ignored me said, “I knew you didn’t want to, but you needed to,” because he was helping me to “get over” the guy from Los Angeles, instead of telling me that was gross or wrong, she said “Was he? Was he helping you? Were you at that point in your life?” As though he was actually being “helpful” in any way by forcing me to have sex in my bed before I was ready.
And we could argue that my story has maybe too much nuance, and it would be hard to be prosecuted. But I have heard first-hand accounts of people who went to the police who had clearly been raped, with bruises giving specifics soon after it happened, who were asked “But why did you go over there? But you’d done sexual type things with him before, right?” Basically grilled and given the 3rd degree, as though they are the criminal.
I’m not gonna say police officers are never helpful. That’d be a crazy blanket statement. The transit officer who took my statement after a man reached up my skirt and grabbed my vagina was very helpful. When I apologized for wasting her time on such a small crime, she was quick to say, ‘No, no, no. I’m so glad you came in. This all needs to be reported, because the more it’s reported, the more we can try to help stop it. We can’t stop who we don’t about.’
So, you might have a lovely interaction with the police! You might have an exceptionally helpful boss or dean or whatever. You might get help in all of the places you hope to. I don’t wanna paint a super bleak picture full of impossibilities.
But you also might not. Friends you love might not have the capacity to truly understand, and they may say the wrong thing, or just misunderstand what it’s like to go through the healing process and therefore not be there for you in ways you wish they could be.
You might not get justice. You might not get the kind of support you need from the people you often lean on. When I say I think there’s always gotta be some way to get help, that doesn’t mean I think there’s always a way to get perfection, or the outcome you want, or a “fair” result… I just mean for the time being, you focus on what you need to deal with the situation.
Dig your heels in and fight at every turn, or dig your heels in and quietly refuse to leave your life situation you love while you steel yourself to see your rapist everyday while choosing to give up the “fight” because all of that is too hard, or go the totally opposite way and leave to some other city or state (or country!) and totally get away from it all, or just do whatever you want! Whatever it is you have to do for you.
I don’t think there are any officially, specifically, definitively “right” choices when it comes to all of this. I just think you have to do whatever it is you feel is best for you.
Ultimately, you just gotta try to stay alive, stay functional, and hopefully find a life you can be happy living (even if it’s not the “fair” one)…