October 20, 2010

Fiat Justitia

(I wrote this paper for my sexual assault investigation class last semester. My teacher was so impressed that she decided to have it published. This is my story. No holding back. I tell it like it is. Some may not appreciate it, but this story to me explains why I am who I am today. This story also gives the reason for why I want to become a sexual assault detective.) 






                                  Age of Innocence




            I was born March 13th, 1987 in San Jose, California at Good Samaritan hospital to two great, wonderful, loving, emotionally supportive parents. I started school at the age of three, where I began attending Hillbrook in Los Gatos, California. I graduated eighth grade in a class of thirty-two where I knew everyone since I was three years old. 
            I went from the sheltered life of private school, and having known the same people eleven years out of my fourteen years of life, to a public school where I knew no one and the rules of society were different. 
            I quickly made great friends that I still have to this day, and maintained a pretty high grade point average for my first few semesters of attending Leigh High School. Even though everything was so new and different to me, I tried to make the best of it and integrate myself into the new world that I had to become accustom to.
            A lot of aspects of my teenage years are a blur to me as I have blocked them out of my mind to avoid any further pain being inflicted upon me. I don’t know if it was the hormones, the new environment I was being subjected to, or just pure stupidity, but things started to change quickly, and not for the better.
            I wasn’t into the drug scene, I wasn’t one of the kids that enjoyed ditching school, or smoking off campus just to annoy the on campus officers, I was a law abiding, goody-two-shoes kind of girl.
            I was born an only child and have been used to being on my own and have learned how to entertain myself very easily. For some reason boredom hit me like a ton of bricks and I looked to guys for comfort. I was raised in a household where sex is something you have after you have fallen in love and are married. My mother has only had sex with one person in her whole life, my dad, and they have been married for 35 years. I have always admired my mother for this and have wanted to emulate her in every way possible. I had no intentions of having sex or giving up my virginity to anyone. Especially not at the tender age of fifteen.

Good Times Gone Awry

            Late one night I was hanging out in the apartment that’s attached to my parents house (it’s where my grandma used to live before she died) watching television by myself.  A few months prior my uncle had broken in after having been arrested for attacking my parents because he was high on cocaine. So I knew that being in the apartment late at night wasn’t the safest and smartest decision, but I really wanted my privacy and to simply be alone (without parents) while I watched television.  I had decided to invite a "friend" over to hang out with me and watch a movie  because let's be honest, it's just way more fun to watch movies with friends. He was someone I trusted. Because back then I trusted everyone even if I didn't know them. When he showed up the situation took a different turn than I thought it would. I answered the door with a smile on my face ready to invite him in to hang out. He had that look on his face where you know something just isn't right. I stood in shock and not knowing what to do I turned around and looked for comfort in what used to be my grandma’s room. 
            A lot of things are a blur to me of what exactly happened on that night, but I remember he forced himself upon me while I did everything I could to make him stop. I put up a fight verbally and physically with no avail.  He was 6’3” 230lbs. I was 5’4” 180lbs.  He was twenty-six years old. I was fifteen.
            I was raped that night. Against my will I had my virginity taken away from me within the blink of an eye for no reason that I could figure out. As soon as he had finished with me he left me alone in the apartment where I lay for hours staring at the ceiling wondering what had just happened and how to deal with it.
            The next day I told my parents what had happened. They were upset, pissed off, and in utter shock. The only thing they did was taking away my Internet access and my phone privileges. Yeah, because that was the cause of the problem. (I did have a problem where I'd meet people off of the internet because I didn't feel comfortable socializing in the real world. But taking it away wasn't going to solve the problem. Only made it escalate)  To this day I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish by doing those things or if they were just too scared to realize and admit to themselves what had just happened to me. Maybe they just didn't know how to handle it. God knows this wasn't a normal occurrence.  Either way I saw that they weren’t going to help me in the way that I needed so I turned to the only other adult I trusted. My P.E. teacher.  I guess she told the school counselor and then the police were contacted, because the next thing I knew I was being pulled out of class without warning.

Reality v. Law

            I was pulled out of English class by two police detectives. They were dressed in nice attire with their badges hooked on their belt loops. I was embarrassed, appalled, and confused that I was not only being taken out of my class, but in front of the entire classroom and my teacher by two detectives who I hadn’t even known had been informed about my rape. We ended up going to the conference room where they would interrogate me over and over again until they finally realized that I was telling the same story.  I was told they would contact me within the next couple of days and another police officer would come to talk to me.
            A few days later I was once again removed from my class by the same two detectives to go and talk in the conference room. This time they had another officer with them who was going to take my story and then transport me to Valley Medical Center where I would have a rape kit done and evidence taken.
            After I was introduced to the officer the two detectives left and said they’d be in contact with me if they found any new information. By this time I had given them a full description of the man (name, race, height, even a picture) and they were trying to contact him to question him.  The officer I was left with asked me a few questions about what had happened and said he needed to take me to Valley Medical Center to have a rape kit done.  We proceeded to walk outside, and by this time the last bell had rung so all of the kids were out of classes and walking towards the front lawn, and he escorted me to his patrol car. I was placed in the backseat of the police vehicle while all of my friends stood around watching including some of my neighbors that I went to school with. I hadn’t told a single person what had happened to me so I can only imagine what thoughts were going through their heads when they witnessed me getting into the back of a police car. 
            I was taken to Valley Medical Center to the portable section in the back. I was scared, alone, and didn’t know what was going on. I asked repeatedly for my mom to be contacted so at least I would have someone there with me who I was comfortable with. My request was never even entertained.
            The rape kit was taken and I was given a pill that they told me was the morning after pill. At that time I had no idea what the morning after pill was, but figured if a nurse was giving it to me than it must be okay. I left the room feeling angry, upset and confused and when I opened the door sitting in the waiting chairs was my mom. She was furious. She had been sitting in the waiting room for over an hour because no one would tell her where I was and they wouldn’t let her see me. She became even more furious when she found out that they had given her fifteen-year-old daughter the morning after pill without her consent and without my knowledge of what it was.

            I have learned over the years and in this sexual assault investigation class that you must be given the option of having a same sex officer to take your report. I was never given that option. I have also learned that you are allowed to have someone in the room with you when you are being examined for the rape kit. I was never given that option. I have also learned that officers should be discreet when dealing with the victim. That wasn’t what happened with me seeing as I was pulled out of class on more than one occasion by two detectives and then put into the back of a police vehicle in front of the entire student body of Leigh High School.  I also learned that you are supposed to be given an advocate or someone that you can talk to from the rape crisis center. That was never an option given to me. I have also learned through this class and many other Administration of Justice classes that when a rape or sexual assault occurs, the victim needs to be taken to the hospital as soon as possible to collect evidence. I wasn’t taken to the hospital for almost a week after the incident had occurred and after the detectives had been informed about my case.

End Result

            A few weeks after having been taken to Valley Medical Center for the rape exam, I received a phone call from the two detectives who initially spoke to me at the beginning of the case. They had contacted the man who raped me.  He said he was willing to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.  I told the detective’s that was fine with me and I would be most willing to do the same. They told me that wasn’t necessary. A few days after that I was given the results of the rape kit. They had found dried semen on my inner thigh matching the DNA of the man who had raped me.  The detectives told me it wasn’t enough evidence, and that they couldn’t move forward with the case.  I felt ashamed, alone, depressed, and totally lost. 
            The detectives once again came to my school, pulled me out of class, and questioned me one last time in the conference room. I answered the questions the same way I had the first two times with nothing changing in my story. They had the man, they had evidence, they had my story, what more did they need from me?  The detectives tried to make me feel bad and intimidate me by telling me that if I went through with pressing charges and took that man to court then he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and I could really ruin anything he had going for him. So? Why do I care what a rapist will have to go through by registering as a sex offender?
            I remember this part more clearly than I do any other day or event from my lifetime. The detectives turned to face each other, then both looked at me and one of them had the nerve to tell me that I was just a fifteen year old girl who was trying to cause trouble because the guy had sex with me and then didn’t want anything to do with me so I got angry and made up the entire thing.
            It’s my understanding that as an officer or even as a decent human being you don’t tell someone that they are just being a hormonal teenager and trying to ruin someone’s life for revenge.
            In the end the case went dead, justice was never served, the rapist is living his life somewhere, and the day my virginity was taken away from me without consent was the day my soul died.


            I ended up joining the P.E.A.T. (Peers Against Abstinence Team) team at Leigh High School. It helped for a little while. To listen to others tell their story. And see how it helped them when they spoke. But when it came to my turn to tell my story to the class I couldn’t seem to do it.  After having told the detectives my story, and being judged for something that I didn’t even ask to have happen to me, I was never able to retell my story to anyone ever again. Getting up in front of a classroom to speak was the worst thing for me because I always felt as though I was being judged and ridiculed. That I was just the same fifteen year old girl who made things up to ruin other people’s lives.
            I was expelled from Leigh High School halfway through my Junior year because I refused to speak in front of class, do any homework that involved presenting, and then finally stopped showing up to school because of the rumors. I was sent to Boynton High School where I transferred into ISP (Independent Studies Program) so I could work on my own time and by myself without having to constantly feel judged and threatened.         
            I believe that everything happens for a reason whether good or bad. Getting raped, losing all of my friends, and being expelled from high school might not be such great things. But I do believe that those things are the major things that influenced the person I am today. And without those experiences I wouldn’t have the knowledge and understanding that I now possess.

            I have wanted to be a police officer ever since I was three years old. After what happened to me, I have decided that I want to do something help victims of sexual assault. I want to be there for the men, women, and children who need someone they can trust and turn to with their problems.
            The law might say one thing, but that doesn’t mean that the people who are supposed to uphold the law are actually following through with it. I learned that the hard way. On multiple occasions.
            At first the way the detectives treated me, it deterred me from wanting to follow my dreams of becoming an officer of the law seeing as they were cold-hearted assholes that were only interested in themselves and blaming the victims. But then I realized that if the world has people like those two in law enforcement then I need to follow my heart, hopes, and dreams and become a better influence and balance out of the negativity that people like them are producing in this world.
            This class has shown me a lot of different directions I can take my passion in whether it is into law enforcement or in social work. I want to help the victims in a way that I wish I had been helped so they don’t go down the same path of destruction that I went down in trying to bury myself instead of living my life.
            It took me a long time to find myself again.  Almost eight years.  I live in the apartment that I was raped in. I sleep in the bedroom every night that I was forced to have sexual intercourse and have my virginity taken away from me in one fell swoop in.  I live in a place where I am surrounded by my inner demons and past reality. But I have learned how to control the hurt, the pain, and sometimes the anger.  I want to be there for other people who have been or are going through the same things that I have went through.  No one should have to suffer from someone else’s wrong doings. And no one should have to suffer alone.

(I need to add that my parents are great people. They have never had to deal with anything of this nature and I don't blame them at all for not knowing how to deal with it. I myself didn't know how to handle it and at the time I was a teenager with a lot of problems who in all honesty didn't want help. So thank you to the people who were actually there for me. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.)


Camilla Leila said...

this story is shocking. i had no idea you went through all of this. i'm so sorry that you ever had to suffer like this.

but i really do value and appreciate that from a horrible experience you are able to contribute something wonderful to the world, by becoming that figure that you had wished existed during your time of struggle. i know you will make a difference in the lives of other victims of sexual assault.

stay strong - i have no doubt that you already are incredibly strong, especially after reading this.

and all we can do from our bad life experiences is try and make the future positive.
lots of love.

Carolyn Dawn said...

thanks Camilla. like I said I want to make this blog about strength and the ability to over come obstacles. it feels good not only to talk about my story but to let people know that shit does happen and even though it's not easy, it is possible to move on with your life. i want to continue down that path of helping people whether it be as a police officer, social worker, even a counselor. and i also want to thank you for being such a strong person. your strength has given me strength. in more ways than you know. so thank you again Camilla. lots of love right back at ya.