I am a survivor of rape. My assault happened by someone I thought was a person I could trust. We had been childhood friends and he was the pastor’s son at the church I grew up in. He was a police officer in the town I was attending college at and we started hanging out and getting to know each other better, since we hadn’t seen each other in years. To make a long story short, he displayed warning signs of odd behaviors a few months after getting to know each other, but I ignored them because I thought I could trust him. The warning signs included demanding that he was allowed to spend the night at my apartment without asking, following me home or randomly being in the same places I was, getting VERY angry at very small things that happened and then apologizing that he reacted in that way… I thought these were just a sign of him really caring for me and he always made it seem like he was genuinely sorry if I became upset. Unfortunately, the night I was assaulted I went out with a large group of his officer friends for his birthday. He was consistently buying me drinks all night for over 7 hours and encouraging me to drink more and more. During the course of the night, I ran into a few male friends and he became livid. He stormed out of the bar and was screaming just because I said hi to an old friend.
Unfortunately, due to the amount that I drank that night I do not remember how I got home, what time I got home, who took me home, etc. I do remember a small details of being dragged onto a mattress on the floor by my legs and him yelling. When I woke up the next morning, I had bruises covering my entire body… hips, wrists, inner thighs..and by the pain I was feeling in other areas, I knew that something bad had happened. I called my mother immediately and took pictures of my bruises because they were so large. I later found naked photographs that he had taken of my phone and I was clearly unconscious in the photographs.
I went to the state police, because I did not trust going to the local police (since he worked for them). I thought that they were going to immediately act due to the injuries I had. Unfortunately, I was very very wrong. The police took me to the emergency room for an examination and to photograph my bruises. This process was very invasive and unsettling after everything I had already been through. They interviewed me over and over and over until I literally was going numb to everything around me. Their questions consisted of “well if you were unconscious then how do you know that you didn’t consent?” “He said the pictures were a birthday gift” “You sure do text a lot of males in your phone”. I was consistently cooperating and getting upset and repeating my story over and over, but they were just not listening. They then demanded that I call him to record him to a possible confession. I did not want to do this but I was not given the choice. They wire tapped his phone and he admitted to knowing I was unconscious, that the assault lasted over two hours and was telling me that he was sorry and that he wanted to tell me that he loved me… I was hysterically crying because of what he had admitted. When I turned to the officers in the room with me for their reaction, they stated “well, its still a he-said, she-said”. I immediately left the station with my mother and refused to cooperate any further. The state police would not listen and did not take me serious. Ironically, a month after I stopped cooperating they “lost the emergency room photos of my bruises” and “couldn’t retrieve the photos” that he had taken of me that night. The prosecutors stated that they didn’t have a case due to lack of evidence. I was floored. Everything was gone, the taping of the phone conversation was gone, photographs from two different people were gone…and no one would listen to me.
He remained an officer for 10 months until I was able to win a Title IX hearing at my university, where he was found unanimously guilty. I filed a protective order and was granted it and then he finally lost his job.
I went through the worst experience of my life and it took many, many things from me. It took my happiness for over a year, I lost my salaried job, I lost my apartment, I wasn’t able to attend classes regularly, I didn’t want to leave bed… everything reminded me of what happened and I feared running into him or his friends. I made the decision to move across the country to start over.
Although he took so much from me and two years of my life are gone that were wasted on trying to heal from the damages, he did not take my voice. I now dedicate my time to educating others on sexual assault and being a voice for the survivors who cannot speak out on their experience. I work at a local domestic violence shelter and also work as a mental health therapist. I graduated in May with my Master’s in Social Work and I am planning on pursuing law school to make changes in the policies and laws surrounding sexual assault survivors. I speak at events and have even spoken at events to educate police officers in my new state. I was also a peer educator at my new university and educate on healthy relationships, sexual assault awareness, and prevention, as well as bystander intervention.
I could have very well let that evil man take everything I had and I almost gave him all of my power. But, I have found strength and healing through speaking out and helping others who have gone through this and who feel as though they aren’t being heard. I will not let him dictate my future or my success. I will never let him have control over me again and I will succeed regardless of what he tried to do. My goal is to help other survivors reach that point and reclaim their lives. My voice is what has pushed me through and what has kept me alive and I am so very thankful for my new life that I created.
— Survivor, age 24