Every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted; and every nine minutes, that victim is a child. Do you know how many of those, who perpetrated these heinous crimes, actually receive prison time? Five out of every thousand.
The United States Criminal Justice system is woefully unprepared to handle these cases in a timely or fair manner. Just today, a local North Carolina newspaper reported that the rape kits, and other evidence, collected in the rape and murder of three women, in 2017, are still sitting in the state lab, untested.
It’s no wonder that perpetrators of sexual violence are the least likely to go to jail or prison.
But why are all of these tests just sitting in evidence or even in a lab, and not being tested. There are a number of reasons; the detective on the case did not request DNA results, the laboratory is too busy to test the kit right away, but most of all, because it’s not been made a priority.
Three out of every four victims of assault never report the attack.
Do you wonder why? I don’t. I’m one of the three.
I’ve been the victim of sexual assault, battery, marital rape, regular old rape, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment. Yep, all of them. By different people, at different times in my life. I’ve reported some instances, and kept others to myself.
Why? Because I learned, at a very tender age, that reporting things such as this gets me absolutely nowhere.
Recently, a friend here wrote an article discussing her experience of almost being raped, and how she got away. She talked about how her own parents thought that a woman that could allow herself to be raped was asking for it. She must be dressed inappropriately, be in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc. Another friend wrote in her personal blog off site, about numerous instances of sexual misconduct, and minimized the attacks on herself. She didn’t want others to think she was saying that what she had personally been through was as bad, or worse, than what they could possibly have experienced.
This is the world we still live in, today. Now, imagine it 20 years ago, 30 years ago. The first time I needed to report sexual molestation was almost 36 years ago, and it was my own mother I needed to tell.
I was belittled, called a liar, and at the age of six, told that I must have been asking for it. Asking for what? Asking for something I knew nothing about? Get the fuck out of here.
A few short years later, armed with information I still had no business having, and still not asking for a damn thing, I quietly accepted what was being forced on me, and kept it to myself. Because I had been taught that letting it out, telling my secret, would just get me in trouble.
And again, you wonder why victims don’t report.
As a newly minted teenager, I was raped by two boys I thought were my friends. They were drunk, and so was I. We were at a party, everyone was having a grand old time, until we weren’t. None of us were supposed to be where we were, and we definitely weren’t supposed to be drinking. No one paid any attention to my cries of “No” or “Stop” or “You’re hurting me”. The police had been called by neighbors, due to the loud music and apparent partying. Once they arrived, I was found by the pool, in a state of undress, on a lounge chair.
I told my story. I was taken to the local clinic and a rape kit was done. My parents were called, or rather, my mother was called. My Dad was in NC with my grandparents. She was mortified. Not at my horrific situation, but at hers. That she had been called in the middle of the night, to her hospital gown clad daughter, crying rape.
She told the hospital, the cops, anyone who would listen, that I was promiscuous, and that I had likely just changed my mind once the cops arrived and was lying. That there was no need for the rape kit to be run, to “cancel” the report.
So, they did.
I was 13 years old. I had NEVER had sex, willingly.
I never reported any sexual misconduct again. I’ve dealt with it from husbands, bosses, strangers, so-called friends, and I’ve never bothered to report it, because I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter.
That I don’t matter.
I am what happens when rape isn’t taken seriously. Repeat offenders is what happens when rape isn’t taken seriously. The system is broken, and something needs to be done. And the place to start, in my not so humble opinion, are the state labs that aren’t testing kits.