Now that I have had some months to reflect on the rape reporting process and its outcome in my case, I’m a little bit more in touch with my feelings. Sometimes it’s hard not to replay it in my head, think about how I forgot to mention this little detail or how I could have phrased that a little differently. I wonder what I could have said that might have changed the result. But what never crosses my mind is that I should’ve lied to make it simpler, clearer, because the more I think about it for exactly what it was, the clearer it becomes to me.
When I made the decision to report, despite the years elapsed between the rape itself and my reporting of it, it was a quick decision sparked by new information that had come to my attention that I had absolutely no time to process. It changed my perspective on my situation vastly and catapulted me far and quickly from where I’d comfortably settled just on the border of denial and reality. My brain had not yet fully processed and accepted all the truths that had previously been rendered overlook-able red flags; my brain still hasn’t processed all of these things. But when I made the decision to report my rapist I could see enough to know without a doubt that he was a rapist and he had raped me.
But the process was a whirlwind, and by the time it came to a month after reporting and I was sitting at a desk with a Monmouth County prosecutor and a rape crisis advocate and they were telling me they were unable to prosecute my case, I was so tired, so I nodded and asked every question I could think of, “What about regular assault?” Statute of limitations is up. “What if the law changes?” It won’t retroactively apply. “What if someone else came forward about him?” Doesn’t change my case. And so on. The answer was clear at the time. The answer was no. The answer would still be no, all of the little details I wish I could perfect about my statement aside. That’s not why I’m writing this.
I’m writing this because now that I’ve had this time to reflect and realize what was said to me, I’m infuriated, not at the prosecutors who I believe were doing their job and doing it extremely well and sensitively but at the laws themselves. Right now I am as clear as I have ever been about what happened to me, what was done to me. Right now I remember my friend whipping out his penis with very little foreplay and absolutely no discussion and attempting (unsuccessfully) to shove it inside me for too many minutes until forcing my legs apart, and despite their resistance forcing it inside of me and fucking me while I lied there in pain, closed my eyes, and tried not to cry. The only thing I remember saying was no, in response to being asked if I wanted to “ride it.”
What about this implies consent? I didn’t know back then. I didn’t know what it was supposed to be like to have sex. I didn’t know what consent looked like, and maybe I still don’t, if anyone thinks consent looks like that.
What about the fact that shows so many rape victims don’t fight their attacker? Here’s just one article that talks about it if you think I’ve made this up. (This article also mentions how little this has actually been methodologically studied, which maybe should be the first step to educating ourselves and our legal system.)
I’m angry because I know justice has not been served, and I can see no way to find closure for myself. I’m frustrated because I want and need our laws to change to protect victims instead of rapists, but I know that any successful efforts to enact change will only affect me if I’m ever raped again after the laws are updated. Don’t get me wrong, I want the change for all future victims, but it is agonizing knowing this is it for me and my rapist. The case is closed and it won’t be reopened because the law did not categorize what happened to me as rape in this state when it happened. It still doesn’t.
I know I was raped. I know I am entitled to my pain and my trauma and the effort it has taken and continues to take to heal. I don’t need you or the State to tell me it’s true to know. I don’t need to see his name on the sex offender registry to know. I know.
But now that I know, I can see that just knowing is not enough.