My Story, Pt III
It took me four months, and badgering from friends, to tell the police. I couldn't even do it myself. AK had to arrange it. I felt so small standing in that police station, like I was naked with the word "victim" tattoed down my body. I think I counted to about 400 before AK went back to the desk to ask what was taking so long.
When I finally got the chance to tell what happened, the cop closed his notebook and said, "Now I have to ask. Are you just trying to get back at an ex you're mad at?" I nearly broke down in front of him. I waited until he left. I felt like a whore before. I felt like I was nothing after that. I still regret not showing him how much that hurt.
The detective for the city and a female detective from the school's deparment of public safety took my statement. That was just as horrible as the hospital. They showed me a printed line up of six guys. I froze. I couldn't pick him out. I couldn't get passed the fact that I was looking at him. Everything looks so cut and dry on Law & Order: SVU, but the whole time I felt like they were judging me, like they didn't believe me. That night, just after midnight, I slit my wrist open 18 times. Vertically, for the first time. There was blood everywhere. The scars lasted for months.
Two weeks later, the detective came to my house with another man I've never met. The man looked intense. I felt like I was the one who did something wrong. He told me that there was not enough evidence. He said that M got a lawyer, and so he didn't question him. He said that based on B's report and N's, he couldn't determine if what I said was true. Especially since I couldn't remember it.
"But I passed the test," I thought. "You said the chair I picked in your office is the one victims always picked." I asked him about the evidence kit from the hospital, the stained underwear and dress that I kept like the hospital told me to. I even still had the condom and the jacket M left. He said since they were not going forward with the case, they were not going to process it. I wanted to ask him, "Then why did I even go through all of this?!" But I didn't. I just nodded, shook his hand, and walked them out.
A few days later, I tried to kill myself. Walking home from school one night, I saw a car speeding down the road. I stepped off the curb.
A week after that, I enrolled myself in counseling. I went back to talk to the advocate at the campus rape center. They convienced me to go throught the school's judicial process.
I had to give my statement, again, but the advocate went with me. The female cop from before was official with it, but nicer. She was honest about my chances to win the hearing. She said that I just have to be truthful with the panel and that all they just have believe that more likely than not, it happened.
She gave me four options:
1) Submit a written statement for someone to read for me.
2) Only be in the hearing room for when I have to give my statement.
3) Be in the room, part of the time or the whole time, with a partion between my side of the room and his.
4) Stay in the room for the entire trail.
They said it should last about 2-3 hours. They explained to me the process. They walked me through the questions the officer who was representing me was going to ask me and him. They said they felt good about this case, and that I was really brave. But I didnít feel brave.
The trail was the day after my graduation. The last day my parents and grandma would be in town. My dad was the only one that didn't know what was going on.
I was a zombie as I walked to the room. I nearly fainted when I walked in, even though only the four panel members and the lady recording the hearing sat in the room. Even though they told me he would come in after me, I felt a wave of paralysis when I stepped through that door. I had to hold onto my desk to make my way to my seat. When he did walk in, I couldn't breathe. If my friends were not there waiting in my waiting room downstairs, I donít think I could have lasted.
The trail took eight hours. I never got to hug my mom goodbye.
AL, my character witness, read her speech. She cried. I cried. She gave up her last day in town to be there. Just for me.
His first character witness told the panel how she lives with him and that he could get any girl he wanted. He didn't need me.
His second witness couldn't even rememeber how man girls left the bar with them.
My roommate, MH, submitted a letter to discredit N. AK sent one telling how distraught I was the weeks after.
I got to read my statement. I talked about my commitment to abstience. How I've been in 3 committed relationships lasting no less than 2 years, and they all respected my wishes.
I talked about how this has all affacted me. How I dropped in weight severly. How I couldn't focus. How I've been hurting myself. How I've changed. How he's taken so much from me.
The panel didn't have many questions of me since I couldn't rememeber all of the night. Or maybe it was the look on my face. They did ask if I was in counseling. I admitted being on anti-depressents.
M, being a law student, asked my witness, N, at least 50 questions. It seemed as if 30 of the questions were the same question just asked a different way. He tried the same with me, but I broke down when he said something I was not expecting. He didnít just admit that he was with me. He accused me of coming on to him.
The entire time I could not look at him. Even when I left the "stand" (which was just a chair facing the panel), I looked toward my side. I had to grip my chair when I stood up. I had to reach for and hold my table when I walked back. I never felt so weak.
My roommate, B, was one of his witnesses. B did his best to dicredit the level of my intoxication. He argued the semantics of the word even though he saw me lying unconcious on the couch. He tried to make it seem as if I was just a girl who made a mistake. He even turned and looked at me as he lied about our conversation back in December. He wasn't suppose to look at me.
When M was on the stand, I kept my head down on the table. If I had to take a drink of water, I faced toward my advocate beside me.
He was cocky. Confident that everything would be in his favor. He argued with the panel several times. First, he was mad that someone was defending me. They explained to him that it was not I bringing the case but the school DPS, so the officer had a right to be there. Then he argued that they shouldn't allow any reference to my virginity. I lost my breath. That is what I was basing my testimony on. The panel explained to him that that law to not reveal prior sexual history is to protect the victim, not to go against her.
During the lunch break they made sure my group and his didn't go to the same place. The advocate, my defending officer, and the female campus officer walked before and behind me. My friends flanked my side. Someone bought my lunch. I don't remember if I managed to eat. I was having a hard time unfreezing or dropping my guard. I tried to get the girls up to speed on what was happening. They kept encouraging me. Then, I had to go back to the fire.
The panel was tough with their questions to clarify things that were said. They pryed. A lot. It was determined that both M and B were sober. That B had hope to "get with" N, but he played it off as just being a guy thing. One panelist even asked M if he finished. He proudly confirmed that he did twice. He said he gave me a kiss on the cheek and left me in the living room. I didnít need to hear that.
I cried. I cried hard. It was silent at first, just tears streaming down my face as I listened to everyone discussing this degrading thing. As they talked about me and what he did to me.
I tried to stop the tears, but they flowed harder, and I was louder. I knew these boys were lying. I could feel it. What they were saying wasn't even in my character. I know he didn't want to be punished, but hearing what they were saying hurt so much more than discovering I was raped to begin with. I felt anger for the first time. The angrier I got, the worse my body shook, and the worse I cried.
Everyone spoke over me at first, continuing to pretend like I wasn't there. Someone got me a box of tissues, but I guess my sobbing was getting to the sole woman on the panel of four, so they called for a 15 minute break.
I never saw his face. I'm prone to nightmares, so I didnít want it in my memory. I do know his build. I know he is white or white hispanic, but that is only because during one of my breaks, the one time my advocate didnít walk ahead of me to make sure his group wasnít in the hall, he was sitting there. B too. His advocate quickly ushered them away. I lost it in the hallway. I'm sure they heard me. I don't know if I was screaming, crying, or silent. I just remember that instant fear and sudden panic of not knowing what to do. I don't know if they rushed me to the restroom first or to my room. I just remember that it took A and N to calm me down and encourage me to return to the room.
The one good thing that I remember, besides my friends being there and having the officer and my advocate on either side of me the entire time, was this one turning point of the panel's questioning.
After B and M both said their sides, one of advocates said, "I find it hard to believe that two people who were at a bar and didn't have a conversation and flirt (M said that we did meet at the bar, but when asked what was said, he couldnít recall anything about me), and did not talk in the drive to N's house, would just walk into a house and just go have sex. When the panelist said that (about 7 hours into the trail), that was the first time I felt I had a chance.
8 hours later, we went to A's apartment. She packed and we ordered brownies, cookies, and ice cream. I was too drained to talk, but I tried to smile for them.
The first day of my summer semester, I got a email notification on my phone about the results. My friends went with me to the computer lab to look at the offical letter. They found him responsible for breaking the student code of conduct by having nonconsensual sex with a student. They gave him 80 days of community service and a mark on his student record. They told him that he could not contact me in any way or have his friends contact me in any way. If he did, or if he commit any other offense against the student code of conduct, he would be kicked out of school. I was told that if I took this to trail and he was found guilty, he would be kicked out. I guess because I was leaving they let him stay.
Daily, B would psychologically torture me. Every morning, he'd jumping off the stairs to the landing in front of my door. Our floors were old, so the loud boom scared me every time. If I was sitting on the porch with the other house mates, he'd come out and stand in the middle and take over the conversation. He wasn't allowed to speak to me, but he sure wanted me to be aware of him. There one one time when he did scream at me. I was leaving the house to go to the store. He was sitting on the porch. He asked if I locked the door. I didn't, but I kept my mouth silent. He threatened me. I didn't tell anyone.
M's sentence is a slap on the wrist, but I was so emotionally drained after all of this that I was just so happy that they believed me.
He, as the officer said he probably would, appealed the decision. It took nearly two months for all the paper work. It really hurt that he couldnít just be a man and take the decisionóbut then again, he isnít a man. They let me write a letter in my defense, but they said there was not guarantee that it would even be considered.
I hated writing that letter because it was like reliving everything all over again. I got the final decision at the end of June. I took until November 18th--eight months and a day since I reported it and six months since the trial--for me to look.
They kept the decision the same. They still believe me. A sat with me via facebook chat. Before I looked, she encouraged me. After I looked, she told me how proud she was of me. For the first time, I felt proud too. Of course I cried.
Even thought the day I went to the hospital was bad, the hearing was worse day of my life. To me, sex has always been something between a husband and wife. I wanted my first time to be with the man I married. I try to tell myself that because I did not give myself to this guy, I am still a virgin. But itís hard to keep that in mind. I still feel like a part of me was stolen. When I try to explain this to friends, I know they donít really understand. I feel like a broken record most of the time, and Iím working on telling them less and less because I donít want to burden them. Iím trying to smile, to go out and have fun, but most of the time, itís all fake.
A line from the result letter still hangs with me. They determined to keep his "unusually light sentence" the same. So I think, maybe they don't completely believe me. Maybe they only think that it more likely than not happened. After all, that's all I had to try to prove.
It is still hard for me to see myself as a whole person. Especially since this keeps happening. Maybe I should have never drank. I shouldn't have trusted people who I thought were my friends. I should have just been for myself.
I always thought of rape as something violent. A rapist as a stranger in the dark. As a woman you know of risk and protecting yourself, but you never think of someone taking advantage of a situation of which you can't do anything to help yourself. At least I did.
As I said before, my house mates know the story. A week after my trial, the weekend before I got the results, I went to the bar with the housemates, AD and the temporary housemate, a med student named AT. I didn't want to go, but it had been a horrible week. My classmate, J, was bringing her high school friend who had a fake I.D. I knew J would leave her at the bar, so I felt I had to go to protect that girl.
Last I remember is trying to monitor her drinks, because as I predicted, J left her alone. I woke up in pain. The same pain I tried to ignore in December. I spent the day in bed. I convienced myself that it was in my mind. I reasoned to myself that because I haven't drank in awhile, two drinks were enough for me to not remember anything.
The guys swore that I put the high school girl to bed on my couch in my room and went to bed myself. They said they left us there to go to the strip club. That nothing happened. I tried very hard to believe them even though in the back of my mind I was counting the days to my next period. If it came, nothing happened. I got it four long weeks later.
But then the last week of school, my fellow female housemate, H tells me that AT, bragged to her and her boyfriend, AD, that he f*cked me. He admitted that I was unconscious and wouldn't remember.
I've never told anyone about that. This is the first I've even really writen about it. I break down in my room, while driving, while in the shower, but I am completely by myself on this one. I know they probably wouldn't believe me. They'd shake their heads and say it was my fault. That I asked for it. I guess I'm just this unlucky. Or maybe I do deserve to be used like this.
My advocate keeps checking in on me to see how I am doing, so that is good. My closer friends still ask to see how Iím really doing. I lie, a lot. I know what they really want to hear. They can't take nor understand what I am really feeling.
December 4th made the one year "anniversary" of what happened. Dec. 18th was the last day for him to finish his community service. I'm posting this in hopes to give me some release and detachment from this all. So far it's not working, but we'll see.
Thank you so much for listening. I know that was REALLY long, so I'm not offended if you skimmed. You can ask me questions if you want or even just want to vent to me. I'll especially try to give advice on the hearing process. I may not have conveyed it in what I wrote, but I have learned a lot from it.
I just really hope that because of what I have gone through I can eventually be strong enough to help and inspire other people. Especially sheltered girls who are away from their family for the first time like myself.
Thanks again. That was my story. I hope it only goes up hill from here.