#Justice Fails A Survivor When…

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On Monday June 23rd, a passionate group of women started a twitter campaign to raise awareness of how the criminal justice system treats rape, sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence, and trafficking survivors.  The campaign began as a way to ask a seemingly simple question that unfortunately doesn’t have an easy answer.  The golden question is, “who don’t survivors go to the police and put their assailant’s in jail?”

Since the campaign started, it appears as though hundreds of women and some men have joined in to speak out about how our justice system fails victims.  I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn about Twitter.  When I first heard about twitter, I felt as though it was pretty silly and could never imagine that I would become someone who tweeted.  A few years later, however, here I am.  I wanted to share some of the things I read as a result of this campaign, because I think it highlights the good of social media.

#JusticeFailsASurvivorWhen…

1)  “Police success statistics mean rape cases are dropped”:  Most law abiding citizens probably held the believe, as I did, that when someone breaks the law (and is caught) they will be arrested.  In reality, however, there are many police departments that cherry pick cases in order to ensure impressive crime fighting statistics.  Sadly, while there are some amazing police officers who work day and night to fight crime, there are also officers who don’t have altruistic motivations.  Police officers are people, and when you have people – you have the potential for moral corruption.

2)  “People assume a rapist is innocent because the police won’t arrest him or he wins in court.  No, this just means he got away with rape”:  Again, unless you have seen a criminal get away with horrific crimes time and time again, you might feel as though our justice system is successful at keeping us all safe.  Let me be the first person to tell you, in the event that you haven’t already heard this, most good men will never be accused of rape.  If you know someone who has, you might want to keep your distance because something could be seriously amiss about this person.  Like, for example, that person could go on to kill his own child.  Despite what many corrupt officials would like for us all to believe, women don’t just go around reporting false rape right and left.

3)  “When terms like ‘legitimate rape’ exist”:  This is a term that is so insane that most people would have to hear an official say it to really even believe it was said in seriousness.  When I read it on twitter, however, I absolutely believed it had been said.  I believed it because I have heard equally as ridiculous things said to me by people in powerful positions.  I would challenge anyone to explain to me what this official could have meant by “legitimate rape”.

4)  “Only 3% of rapist ever spend a day in jail”:  This statistic is alarming, because it means that the other 97% of rapists are walking the streets and likely to rape again.  I know from first hand experience that if a dangerous person is not caught the first (or second, etc) time he/she commits a crime, that person becomes emboldened and gets a feeling of being “above the law”.  When a rapist doesn’t get stopped, he doesn’t just decide to stop raping – he continues to rape.

5)  “When even convicted rapists and pedophiles are allowed full parental rights and access to their children”:  This last tweet hit me hard.  When a woman is raped, and there is a child produced from that rape, that child could most likely be forced to visit with their rapist parent.  If the rapist serves any time, which we all know is rare, his parental rights remain fully intact and upon his release he would be allowed to begin his dangerous influence on this innocent child.  Not to mention, the courts will remove the child from the custody of his mother if that mother is incapable of fostering a relationship between her child and her rapist.

Dangerous Parallels:

I think a lot of parallels can be made between how rape is treated in this country, and what is happening in family courts. There was a time when society understood the role of a mother as a nurturer and protector. It seems as though old school misogynist views are being played out in the Family Courtroom and in police stations across the country.  Why are rape cases assumed to always be “he said/she said”?  Why wouldn’t each claim be actually investigated before an officer makes the assumption that the claim is likely false?

While my ex didn’t get custody (because it was clear that he had no means to take care of Prince), when it came to discussion of abuse, the court saw him as a credible reporter.  I came to court with a parade of reputable character witnesses, an impressive history of work, educational achievements, and a clean record.  Luc, on the other hand, was unable to provide even one family member who could speak positively about him.  He had no proof of ever paying taxes or holding any kind of employment, and he wasn’t even honest about how old he was.    Even though these facts existed, our court system still cancelled out both of our comments and chalked them up to “he said/she said”.  Luc was only able to tip the scales when he found a therapist who would support his compulsive and dangerous lies.

 

I have often discussed what I believe is the death of justice.  I applaud the group behind this twitter campaign, because they are trying to resuscitate the justice system.  They are trying to pry open the eyes of those people in our society who refuse to realize how bad things have gotten.  Even though the issues that these women have tweeted about might not be immediate in your life at this moment, there will be a day when every single American will feel the negative impact of the monstrous holes in our justice system.  One day, the child of the rapist (who was forced to spend years being influenced by a violent felon) will show up on your door step.  He will be taking your daughter to prom.

 

 

 

 

The Incredibly Disgusting Double Standard

It is no secret how I feel about the state of women in America (and all over the world).  I have often referred to the fact that it appears as though the courts have waged a war on Motherhood.  In recent news, it appears as though the justice system has intentionally turned a blind eye to the idea of a woman’s right to choose when and where she has sex – and with whom.  The message young boys and men are being sent in our current society is that they are allowed to have sex with whomever they desire – regardless of whether or not the woman is consenting.  If the woman doesn’t want to have sex, a man can simply just video tape her and tell everyone she is a whore.  Instead of going to prison, the rapist will be able to terrorize his victim relentlessly without any consequences for his behavior.

Some people might read this and think I am being overly dramatic.  ‘Come on Cappuccino Queen, its not like men are running around raping women in the streets,’ you might be thinking.  While it might not have reached that level of social exception, it is disturbing that according to a 2010 Center for Disease Control survey, nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have been raped at some point in their life, including forced and attempted forced penetration and alcohol/drug facilitated penetration.  Forty-two percent of female rape victims experienced their first rape before the age of 18.

Current Events:

Just this month, two teenage girls have killed themselves after photos of their sexual abuse were posted online. Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 years old.  She was called a slut and bullied after her abusers emailed photos of her sexual assault around the school.  The other girl, 15-year-old Audrie Pott took her own life after pictures of her sexual assault by three boys appeared online.

A sane person would think that the fear of getting caught for raping a girl would deter a rapist from posting the evidence of the rape online; however, many times rapists use video tapes or pictures in an attempt to claim that a girl consented to sex.  Those who find it easier to blame the victim instead of consider the horrible truth, might jump to the conclusion that the girl wouldn’t let somebody take their picture if they weren’t consenting to sex.  The breakdown of that argument, however, comes when you consider the obvious reality that in most cases the woman is not consenting to be photographed or video taped and unless you are present in the room when the event occurred – there is no way to determine who controlled the video, how it was taken, and the level of consent from all parties.

 

The Amazing Male Circle of Trust:

While I don’t have the personal experience of being raped, video tapped, and then assaulted again when the sexual assault video footage goes viral, I do know exactly what its like to be written off as a liar simply because of my gender.  It is amazing how Judge Algeo had no evidence to suggest that Luc cared about Prince, other than his word, yet he was so convinced that Luc’s motives were pure.  He chose to believe a man who couldn’t even tell the truth about how old he was, and who had a history of abuse and chaos that followed him where ever he went.

One of my witnesses, who Luc had been involved with at some point, was written off in court by Judge Algeo didn’t agree with the choices she had made when she was younger and the jobs she had chosen to work.  Luc had never held an honest job in his life, but his word meant more than this woman who has worked steady jobs since the day she left school.  Judge Algeo didn’t seem to be concerned about the fact that Luc had no problem leeching financially off of this woman, but couldn’t seem to get past his own personal bias against her former lifestyle choices.  She was written off as a slut in Algeo’s eyes, while the man who sexually abused and exploited her  was brought into the court’s circle of trust.

 

It’s all connected:

In the “lovely” state of Maryland, even sex offenders and rapists have rights to their children.  Regardless of their personal history, the slate is wiped clean when you enter into custody court.  While I understand that there are men out there who have suffered through the abuses of Family Court as well, I see all to often that when it comes down to he said/she said the court seems to revert to the early 19 hundred before women were trusted to vote in this country.  Women are most likely to be written off as “scorned” and judges assume they are making “false accusations” while often times men are looked to for the “voice of truth and reason”.

The recent examples that we are seeing in the media surrounding rape and suicide are yet another example of a man’s word continuously being taken over that of a woman.  When a woman is seen on a sex tape, she  is automatically viewed as dirty regardless of her role in the planning of the video.  A man, however, is still given a pat on the back for his sexual conquest.  Even if you are disgusted by the video, you might be of the camp that says, “well boys will be boys.”

When Luc presented his illegal sex video to the police depicting a sexual assault.  The police responded by saying, “Well, he isn’t a good guy – but we don’t believe he is a rapist.”  Why not Prince William County?  What about this man’s character makes you just want to trust his word?  He is not an honest tax paying citizen, your patrols have been called to his home for domestic disturbances several times in the last few years, and he has nothing to prove that he is honest – yet he is standing in front of you as a man telling you that the woman in the video wanted it.

The police officers and school officials who ignored the cases involving Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons should be ashamed that they didn’t do something sooner to prevent these deaths from happening.  The police officers who allowed Luc to go free after he sexually assaulted an innocent woman (just because he had the nerve to illegally video tape the incident), should be ashamed of themselves too.  They should feel responsible for what happened as a result of letting a criminal go free.

There are many people who can ignore injustices like this and look at it like someone else’s problem.  One of the parents from Newtown said it well when he said, “you can keep ignoring the problem saying it only happens in other neighborhoods..until one day you wake up and it has not only happened in your neighborhood…it has happened to you.”

Injustice to this disgusting degree is everyone’s problem.