I have been vocal about a sexual harassment, and abuse, experience that ultimately led to the creation of the LOVE Necklace Campaign, but what I don’t often share, is that I was sexually assaulted several years prior. Because of what is happening in our country right now, I feel compelled to share my experience of what happened when I filed a police report, in hopes of offering a glimpse of what we endure when we make the choice to report a rape. It is a painful process, and it deserves respect and compassion.
I made the decision to report my assault because sitting in silence while flashbacks flooded my mind, was tearing me to pieces. I did not take my report lightly. I first spoke to a confidant who had been raped as well, she advised me not to make the report. “It’s going to be too painful, and won’t solve anything, and it will hurt you even more.” I let her advice settle, but the flashbacks were debilitating. I thought that if I could write out the events of that night in detail, I could get them out of my head, and move on. I wrote about how someone I thought was safe to be around, someone who I worked with, someone who was being trusted to volunteer with children, turned into a ravenous animal. It didn’t offer any peace, so after several weeks, I called the police.
After giving a report to one officer, I was scheduled to meet with a detective. I appeared at the police station with my details of the event, and was led into a large sterile room with three chairs, and a couch off to the side. I was instructed to sit in the middle of the room. The male detective sat in a chair across from me, maybe fifteen feet away, and a male lieutenant sat in one corner, and a female counselor sat on the couch.
After providing the detective with about an hour of traumatic details, and answering extremely private, vulnerable questions about my female anatomy, his response was this, “I’m so sorry. I know you’ve been through a terrible experience, but we just don’t have enough evidence to further pursue this case. The counselor is here to provide you with some resources, if you need them.”
He and the lieutenant left me sitting in the chair in the middle of the room, tears streaking my cheeks, my heart crushing against my chest. I lost all feeling in my legs and abdomen and felt myself sinking further into a hole of dark despair. I sobbed. I wailed. The counselor gave me twenty minutes to grieve, then told me that I needed wrap it up and move on. She acknowledge that what I experienced was horrific, gave me some pamphlets, and escorted me out.
I don’t regret reporting my assault. If I hadn’t, I would not have been able to move forward. But it was an excruciating process and as I write this, I am once again reliving that pain. I can feel my heart crush against my chest as anxiety riddles my body.
Reporting sexual assault requires courage, strength, and faith. In no way, is it an easy, or fair, process. The ridicule and shame that is put upon women who make the decision to stand up for themselves, and for their bodies, needs to stop.