Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Many people will be celebrating with their loved ones, giving and receiving candy and flowers, and feeling generally warm and fuzzy. While part of me would love to join in on the love fest, I have decided to write about the other date that falls on February 14th – V-Day. For those of you who have never heard of this, V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls inspired by Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues.
Critics of V-Day are angry that there are people who want to talk about Domestic Violence on a day that is supposed to be about relationships and love. To them I say – until domestic violence is no longer tied to “relationships” and “love”, I will continue to talk about it. I think Valentines Day is the perfect day to talk about this issue. It is a time when women and men should examine love and relationships and either cherish having found a man who isn’t abusive, plan on how to escape an abusive relationship, or try and help someone who is being abused.
So for my V-Day blog post, I am going to tell one woman’s story of abuse as a tribute to this day.
(Note: The man in this story is NOT Luc)
“Mr. GQ” and the loss of innocence:
I remember the first time I saw him, he looked like he had walked right out of a GQ magazine. He was tall, dark, handsome, and very well dressed. I had arrived at the party early and the only person I knew hadn’t arrived yet. Though I was super confident, I was also shy around guys. I was 22, had just graduated from college, and only recently moved away from my entire family. While I had dated in college, I was still a virgin. I was waiting for “Mr. Right” or “Prince Charming”. I still believed in fairytale romance and hoped to one day be swept off of my feet.
Mr. GQ flashed me a smile from across the room. Initially I looked behind me because I thought he most certainly couldn’t have been looking at me. A few minutes later, he was standing in front of me asking me for my number. Over the course of a couple weeks, we went out on several dates and things seemed to be going pretty well. I told him I wasn’t interested in sex before marriage and to my surprise he seemed cool with that. One day, he invited me over to his place to watch a movie to which I accepted without a second thought.
Upon arrival, he led me into his bedroom. I remember asking him why we couldn’t just watch the movie in the den like normal people. He made up some excuse about the main television being broken and having an annoying housemate. A couple of minutes after the movie started, he handed me a drink. Things went south quickly as he moved to taking off my clothes. I protested and reminded him that I didn’t want to have sex with him. He told me to be quiet and that it would be over quickly.
I remember feeling confused and scared. Why didn’t I feel normal? I felt like I was fighting to remain conscious and I kept blacking out. Was there something in the drink? As he forced himself on top of me, he didn’t care that I was pushing him off trying to make it stop nor did he care that I continued to say no. I felt like a rag doll and he looked like a robot on auto pilot. After it was over, I was in shock. I felt dizzy and wondered if this was really happening or if I was going to wake up from this nightmare.
I never called him again. I went through the next several months wondering if I was still a virgin or whether I could even call that rape since I had agreed to go into his bedroom. I chose not to report it, because I knew that it would come down to my word against his and I had gone to his room willingly.
The woman in the story was 22 year old Cappuccino Queen. I was raped the first time I had sex. I don’t talk about my first time, nor do I look upon it with the same fondness that I imagine some women who planned it might. Until recently, I didn’t even want to consider what happened to me as rape.
Ever since my son died, many people have told me how strong I am. I wasn’t strong as a 22 year old woman. I was scared and I let a rapist go free to rape others because I was too afraid to report it.
Almost ten years later, I met Luc (a different guy that Mr. GQ and clearly even worse). After having lived through such a terrible experience in my 20’s with Mr. GQ, I believed that maybe I had just met someone nice and charming who was actually Prince Charming. Right after I had Prince, this man I had believed was my Prince Charming (Luc) raped my 19 year old sister. After learning what he did to her, I wanted my sister to report it. I didn’t want her to feel the shame that I feel now – ten years from now. After my sister reported the rape, however, I learned a very scary and painful lesson. Unless a man jumps out of the bushes with a ski mask on, beats you to a pulp, and its all caught on a retail surveillance camera, you will be lucky if the rapist sees any jail time – you will be lucky if it isn’t turned on you.
Having been a victim myself of this violent crime, I am here to tell you that women don’t report rape for the hell of it – out of anger – or for revenge. Rape is not a black and white issue and not all rapists jump out of bushes with ski masks. It takes a very strong woman to admit that she has been raped and EVERY report needs to be taken seriously. In our country, criminals receive the benefit of innocence until they are proven guilty. When it comes to rape, that often means the victim is seen as guilty until proven innocent.
Recently, the Washington Post reported
about what happened to me and my sister after my sister tried to remove the man who raped her from the streets. I am certain that instead of being appalled at what occurred, at least one person commented on the article about how awful it is when women report rape falsely. I am willing to bet that people who jump to the conclusion that the report was false have been in situations themselves where they have committed acts of violence against women. These people fight fervently to make it seem as if women run around the streets crying rape at the drop of a hat. This just doesn’t happen.
The man who raped my sister was not an innocent man. Having potentially escaped the law in several murders, and then after raping a woman not even half his age, he became emboldened. He felt above the law because he had been. Then, he went on to kill an innocent child for money. I can almost guarantee that the police officers who didn’t want to believe this man could possibly be a rapist have still not learned their lessons. I am willing to bet that these same officers will continue to charge victims and allow criminals who commit acts of sexual violence to walk free. They will do this because our system allows it and encourages it. When a victim is further victimized by the system – authorities are never punished for getting it wrong. In fact, the officer who arrested my sister after my sister had been raped was promoted soon after.
This week – I encourage you to celebrate love and cherish healthy relationships. While you’re receiving flowers and chocolates, however, please also think about the work that still needs to be done in this country before women are truly equal and before we are all truly free.
If the police had investigated more thoroughly we wouldn’t be mourning the drowning death of Prince. The prince William county officers ,prosecutor and Rams” lawyer are even more responsible than Judge Algeo in the death of the baby. Their lack of ethics left a killer on the street to do more damage. I only pray they will get exacted with a punishment as strong as the crime they allowed.
I would hold them equally as responsible…not more responsible. I think this was a situation where several people turned their backs on Prince and ignored criminal behavior. Yes, Judge Algeo hit behind the fact that Luc hadn’t been convicted, however, he had a duty to protect Prince and he chose to ignore clear risk factors. If any one of these people had stood up against this man – if any one of these people had chosen to take their job seriously enough or try a little harder – they could have stopped this from happening. There were several points of failure here. Sure, the police could have done their job and put Luc in jail for any one of his previous crimes….but Judge Algeo could have also chosen to shop Luc’s reign of terror as well. He had the facts. He saw Prince laying on the train tracks with Luc barreling straight for him. He chose to leave him there and allow for him to be hit.
I, too, have experienced violence and reported it with the same result. My stories are not those from a piece of trash or woman who had nothing better to do than visit an ER’s, police stations and/or courtrooms, heck I don’t even have a traffic ticket on my record. I am a woman, a single mother and I have been victimized at different times in my life. I would say I have been more of a target being a single woman or girl who left home at the age of 17 while completing high school and getting some college later.
I was just saying today, to my therapist, people aren’t paying attention and very dangerous laws are being put into place that are empowering abusers, mainly against children in my state. I am the poster girl of abuse survivor. (many people don’t know this about me) Abuse victims don’t call the police many times, especially if they are professionals or just reputation conscious. I didn’t want the police at my home as the neighbors would know and I am purchasing my home. Well some day or one day that abuse will get so severe that without an ambulence, you won’t live. The police may be called by a neighbor. All I know is the abuser(s) got out of it every time. My abuse hasn’t been from a stranger. It hasn’t been from one person either. I wasn’t permiscuous so that lifestyle wasn’t the reason. I was actually very busy for many years. Every order of protection I received was violated and I have heard every excuse in the book why the authorities couldn’t do anything about this. It was disgusting and I started thinking it was my house! I thought maybe something was wrong with my address. Maybe it was the abyiss, maybe the police were doing me a favor not putting incidents on record.
That’s how my mind rationalized what I couldn’t understand or accept until later in life I found myself in family court. My eyes were slammed wide open with the reality of our legal system and the IMBALANCE of protection for women and children, maybe male victims too. I don’t know. It became undeniable. What I do know is my therapist has known me off and on for 20 years. I am a business owner (which has dwindled finally to almost nothing) and I am a homeowner who had perfect credit and my reputation mattered.
There is much to be thankful for, yes. There is much work to do in our society and around our world but I fear for my daughters safety and her future like I never did before. Law abiding citizens for the most part, believe the system works. By the time you need help, it’s usually too late and it’s difficult to explain to others how wrong or unjust it is. You’ve already been humiliated by the crime. To then try and explain there is no justice, it seems you are written off as a disgruntled litigant or victim who probably did something the person doesn’t know about that you’re trying to tell. You know how we tell children NOT to walk alone or to alway bring a friend? Well I am here to say, I believe that lesson needs to play all the way into adulthood. It just isn’t safe to go it alone out here. Being independent and female is actually VERY dangerous. I don’t believe it’s just bad luck.
I am sorry you have had to learn this ugly lesson and words can’t describe how truley sorry I am. I read your story and posts as you went through your struggle with the family courts and the devil himself. I know how they act as if a woman is lying because her mouth opened or we are somehow getting come uppins’ for our deeds. We all deserved justice. My mother tells me “life isn’t fair and nobody said it would be”. Her statement is pretty cold to my heart but unfortunately there’s more truth to that than I wanted to ever know.
Thank you CappiQ for speaking of the subjects so many don’t or can’t. We need more strong voices and advocates for our future. I am doing my best too. Happy Valentines Day.
Violence against women is an unfortunate and unacceptable part of human society. It comes in many shapes and forms and ultimately victimizes children. What good has a population done if it has not protected children? Hera’s blog and experience with the family court system is a reminder that we must all be vigilant in defending and preserving children. When people see injustice, they must act. When people see children being victimized, they must act swiftly, furiously and with all of their passion. I will remember Prince in all the decisions I make each day with the best interest of children on the front of my mind.
Thank you Chris. You sound like a great Dad and your children are blessed to have you. I can only hope that Prince’s legacy will be just that – a reminder to all people (parents and non-parents) to speak up against injustice and fight to protect all children – their own and those they may never meet.
I am a bit confused. In the last part of this post you wrote…
“the officer who arrested my sister after she had been raped “.
Is there a typo there?
I didn’t report a rape.. twice.. because I was too humiliated to. The first one was because I had no idea who the person was. What could I say to identify him. I too was in my early 20’s. The second time I lived in a small town. Knew all of the LE there. Had been in a relationship with the guy several years before and knew I would not be believed. I do not understand why rape is laughed off.. Way too many have gone unreported because LE treats the victim like a criminal. Do these people NOT understand how hard it is for a woman to have have to TELL anyone what happened to them..
Marica, I was referring to the office who arrested my sister after my sister had been raped. (not after the officer had been raped) Sorry for the confusion. 😉 I hope that clears that up. I am very sorry that this happened to you Marica. And you are right…most of us don’t report because we see so many examples of brave women reporting…only to have it turned around on them. I think all LE officials need to have extensive training on this issue because clearly there is a problem.
One of things we MUST do is make an effort to see changes made in our judicial system that laws are made to change the value currently placed upon the lives of children. We have stood by and allowed the system to over extend the laws where abuse is concerned. The death of a child at he hands of an adult is murder, not some variation of abuse. Too many are being allowed to walk free without being held accountable for their crimes.
Thinking of you today and keeping you in my prayers that you help make changes to our family court system.
Hi cappuccino queen,
I am so sorry for everything you have gone through. I have a 19 month old with a psychopath/cluster b personality disordered person, your story really hit home in so many ways, especially in which the manner your son died, that could have been my daughter when my now ex tried to drown her.
I wanted to comment on this post because I couldn’t help but share my story which I have hardly told anyone.. My neighbor raped me, and I did not report it or tell ANYONE including my husband for 30 days. When I finally did, and was investigated I was treated as a suspect and not a victim. In my interrogation video it even gets to the point of the officer telling me I was NOT raped and to recant, and write a new statement saying I was not raped. And I did it. This resulted in a divorce , ongoing custody battle, and even jail time! *I* was jailed, had to hire several attorneys and specialists, when finally it was resolved, by putting me in domestic violence group upon recommendation. Now my video is being used in police learning classes to teach officers what NOT to do! A little justice but hardly enough…
Bri, thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing and terribly sad how police who are supposed to specialize in these areas have NO IDEA how to treat a victim. Your story is horrible, but I think its sadly common. I think most of the time when a woman reports a rape she all of a sudden finds herself on the defensive. I am glad that they found the error of their ways. Unfortunately, the police involved in the case with my sister were promoted after their bad behavior and were never forced to look at what they did. Had they done their job properly…they could have saved my son’s life because the rapist would no longer be on the streets to kill his child. It’s never enough justice…but a little is something and I am glad you got something.
That is terrible. I would say “I can’t believe” everything you have gone through but sadly I CAN believe it because it’s very real and all these psychopaths have ALOT in common! The judicial system is now NOT leaning towards Mothers anymore, and when a Father comes in to dispute custody of his child they take it as a breath of fresh air compared to all these deadbeats! BUT the sad part is so commonly they are only coming back to court as a continuation of domestic violence against the Mother, In my case ex certainly only wants my daughter away from me because she is the last thing he can use to control me , and it works . I am glad you have this website and continue to share stories with all of us! thank you for this website