Update. I traveled three hours each way and used a vacation day to meet with the prosecutors. My one hope was that they wouldn’t make me do all of that if they were going to tell me there’s no chance of moving forward. Well, that’s exactly what they did, and I am glad. Because I met with them it was very personable and very clear to me that they support me and sympathize with me and believe me and wish there was more they could do, but they can’t. The law in New Jersey is very clear. The prosecutor said at one point, “I don’t want to say no doesn’t mean no, but…” essentially, no in New Jersey doesn’t always mean no, because the statute in NJ says not only does a victim need to communicate a lack of consent but that it must be clearly and effectively communicated. New Jersey is essentially a state that presumes consent until consent is withdrawn. That is so fucked up. That makes me upset. That is a law that is perpetuating the mindset that people, oftentimes men, are entitled to sex. And even though I and the prosecutors are firm believers that the legality does not determine the legitimacy of my or anyone else’s experience, it does determine who gets away with it. I have tons and tons of proof that intercourse happened between me and this person, I have proof that it has caused me suffering from the moment it happened up until today, but I do not have and could not have what the prosecutors needed, which was a strong no.
So now I’m being praised as strong and brave and I know that I am, but guess what? I was back then, too, and it wasn’t my lack of strength or courage that kept me from saying no in words back then. It wasn’t my lack of strength or courage that made me a victim of mental, sexual, and sometimes physical abuse at this person’s hand. It wasn’t my lack of strength or courage that kept me from realizing that my friend was capable of doing this to me. It was him. It was his lack of shame, lack of empathy, lack of humanity, lack of humility. It was his predatory disposition, his willingness to lie, his enjoyment of manipulation, and his confidence that he can get away with it. My strength and courage is what made me fight as hard as I can to prove him wrong, and I couldn’t.
The law is supposed to protect all of us; instead, it is protecting predators. I believe with everything I have that my rapist is capable of victimizing others. I believe the prosecutors agree with me. But they also know that they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense of sexual assault (there is no offense called “rape” in New Jersey) as defined by the statutes. That is a problem. It’s a problem I can do nothing about.
So now it’s over. I’m not anxiously waiting for another email or call. I’m not taking any more days off to deal with this. That is a relief. Now I know for sure there’s nothing I can do. That makes me feel so small and so tired. And now there’s a police report and a prosecutor’s file, so if it ever happens again it is on record that someone else has reported that, and that can be used as evidence should my rapist ever have to face the consequences of his crimes against somebody else, since he will never have to face them as a result of all he has done to me.
Still, I am glad I reported. It has been draining and upsetting and has tried my patience like nothing else despite how efficiently it moved even during the holidays. It was also empowering. And now I’m a statistic, but I already was. Now I’m a statistic of a reported rape instead of an unreported one. Now I’m a statistic of a rape that didn’t get prosecuted, and he’s a statistic of a rapist who has never spent a day in prison. Obviously it’s upsetting and it sucks. But I’m sure I did the right thing. I feel so much respect toward the law enforcers I have communicated with. I feel so full of integrity and self-esteem, something I lacked so much when I was raped and abused five and a half years ago. I’m coming out of this better than I was.