We Call Them Pigs For A Reason

Heina is a writer for Skepchick network. She shared her story in reporting harassment and threats to the police on her blog here. With her permission we are reposting her story here.

[Content Notice: Gender-Based Violence, Stalking, Threats. Edited for clarity.]

Three years ago, I was starting to tentatively explore my same-sex attractions. Socially awkward as I was (and am, really), I tried various Internet outlets that were for women seeking women. Mindful of my safety, I posted a sexy pic that didn’t include my face or any identifiable information. In addition, I used an entirely different name and email address from my actual ones. To expedite the screening process, since men were sure to contact me despite my seeking women only, I included a phone number that wasn’t traceable to me.

I had posted the ad a few times with no responses other than cock shots sent to my inbox. Then, one day, my phone rang with a routed call. Excited, I picked up… only to find myself speaking to someone openly admitting he was a man. Annoyed, I told him to never call me again and hung up. He called me a dozen times; I declined the call as many times. Before giving up, he left me one hell of a voicemail.

Hi there, I was just curious why you’re so angry. You definitely are the epitome of militant lesbian. Anyway, I just thought I would call you. I’m not calling to ask you out or anything like that. I just wanted you to know– I thought you were an attractive woman and I don’t think that’s a crime to do so. Particularly when you’re inviting telephone calls when you’re posting your number so I just want you to be sure that I’m on to you and I know where to find you, okay? I would advise you be a little more cautious in your tone with people and you’re gonna need to start watching your back.

He was straight-up threatening me in the calmest, creepiest tone possible.

On a hunch, I googled his phone number and email address. He turned out to be some kind of Hollywood producer. Although part of me recognized that I had my bases covered in terms ofidentity protection and he clearly wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer for using his work email and number to threaten me, the eerie calm in his voice scared me. As I had grown up in a very safe suburban city, I was sure that the police would be sympathetic and helpful. Accordingly, I created a hard-copy record of his threat and I headed over to my then-city’s police department.

When the officer called me in, I was shaking a bit, but spoke as clearly and calmly as possible, presenting my evidence and voicing my fears. He responded with laughter.

Taken aback by his trivialization of the situation, I asked him if he could look at my evidence. I knew who the guy was, I pleaded. Couldn’t he, as an officer of the law, do something? Take the guy to task for threatening me somehow? At least take down a report so that if something happened, there was a record? He replied with an incredulous no to all my inquiries.

Out of the blue, he asked me if my picture included my face. I said no. He asked me how I expected to attract responses with a picture that didn’t include my face. Before I could respond, he answered his own question: it was a sexy picture, was it not? Feeling shamed, I was unable to speak and merely nodded.

“Don’t worry about it, then,” he chuckled. “Go home.”

What choice did I have other than to begin to gather up my things and prepare to leave? Before I could make my exit, though, he told me that he often visits women-seeking-women for the pictures, winked at me, and expressed his hope that he would see me on there sometime. Taken aback by the lechery in his tone, I half expected him to take a swat at my ass as I walked out the door.

The rest of that day, I lay in bed, frightened and confused, yet somehow feeling that I had deserved it. I had, in a few hours, lost my naive trust in the law and learned why it can be so difficult for some women in situations with aggressively sexual men to stand up for themselves. I was so ashamed that it took me years to tell anyone about what happened.

Once upon a time, I used to tell women to firmly stand up to men who pursued them despite a lack of mutual interest. I know better now — it’s more complicated than that. I know that I’m not the only woman to get violent responses from the men I ignore or otherwise rebuff, online and off. I know that far worse could have easily happened. I know that far worsedoes happen. Once upon a time, I told fellow women that if rejected men got aggressive, they should go to the police and thought it was silly if they hesitated to do so. As it turns out, many women have their reasons. In my experience, the men who threaten women aren’t necessarily so different from the men who are supposed to represent the law — and, at least in my case, the officer was happy to openly tell me so.

I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic

Commenter EEB wrote this in the comments on one of Jason’s (Lousy Canuck) posts. With her permission, Stephanie Zvan reprinted it here as a guest post because more people need to know that this can and does happen. With permission from Stephanie (and intimated permission from EEB) I am adding this story here. 

OK. In all of these discussions the past few days, on various blogs and various inter-related topics, I’ve been thinking about saying this. I never felt it was quite the right place, or time. But I think now is the right time. This might be egotistical, and I’m sorry, but I feel it needs to be said.

[Putting a big TRIGGER WARNING for graphic description of rape & aftermath, victim blaming.]

I was raped three years ago. Almost exactly: the beginning of August 2010. It was a violent, stranger rape, as I was walking home from work. I honestly had no fear about calling the police. My dad’s a cop. I was in shock, mostly, but certainly not thinking that making a report was going to be worse than what had just happened to me. Plus, there was so much physical evidence–deep tissue bruising on my arms, burns on my labia, tearing that went from my vagina to my anus–it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be believed.

Two male detectives arrived at my house. I stammered out a request for a female detective; it was denied. (I learned later that they violated procedure by not accommodating the request.) They made me go through what happened. I was in excruciating pain and dripping blood but they didn’t want to take me to the hospital just then, and said the hospital “wasn’t ready” anyway. So I described the rape. Then they asked if I was taking any drugs. Well, just my medication. I thought it was strange that they literally spent more time asking about my mental health history and the types of medication I took, instead of the rape, but at the time, again, I was in shock, and not thinking much.

Long story short: I submitted to an invasive physical exam, described the rape more times than I can count. They didn’t wait for my rape counselor, that I requested, another thing I found was actually against the law. (But when she arrived, she kicked major ass. And really helped me through the process; I don’t know what I would have done without her. A rape kit is extremely invasive, and I was already in terrible pain, but she was able to get me through it.) The black light (to look for fluid/blood/etc) was broken, so I tried to approximate where he had kissed me, licked me, so the nurse giving the exam could swab those areas. (This will be important later.)

Oh, aside: the hospital wouldn’t provide Emergency Contraception, although I did get a few pills to keep from getting STDs. Not AIDS, however–I was told the procedure was to only provide AIDS prevention if you already know the rapist has AIDS, which seems a little hinky, as it’s not exactly a question I could ask during the rape). The detective, who drove me to the hospital, refused to stop at a pharmacy on the way home, so I could get Plan B for myself. He said he “didn’t feel comfortable” with that and I should “wait for my parents” even though I was 24 and alone at home. Guess 24 is too young to make the decision to try and prevent becoming pregnant with my rapist’s baby!

Over the next few months, I submitted to multiple, horrific “interviews” that really felt like “interrogations” as time went on. I was also dealing with a serious medical condition at the time (I almost died; my intestines ruptured, but was almost certainly not a result of the rape, just bad timing). But I still believed in the system. I still didn’t want the man who raped me on the streets. I did everything they requested, answered every invasive question (the were really focused on my mental health history!), even got on the ground and acted out the rape for them, with the head detective on top of me acting out the part of the rapist. Not only was I absolutely hysterical by the time we were done, I’m positive that aggravated my PTSD for a long time after.

And after all that, I was called in for an “interview” to discuss “a new lead in your case”. They didn’t let my rape counselor in the room–again, against the law, I found out later! For about an hour (I think; my sense of time was not that great) they were no longer even pretending to be supportive. They accused me over and over of making it up. They had very flimsy “evidence” (which I won’t go into because it’s both complicated and ridiculous) but mostly it was their “instinct”.

Because I have a mental illness. Because I was hospitalized after attempting suicide. Because I “claimed” I had been sexually assaulted in the past. Because I was crazy, and he was sure I was just looking for attention. He had a bipolar ex-wife, you see, and she made his life a living hell. He told me how he understood mentally ill women, and how we need to create drama. How we’re liars, and we crave attention.

And over and over they accused me of lying. Alone in this tiny room with two large, angry men, I was doing everything I could to keep from having a panic attack. I couldn’t respond to what they were saying; again, I think I was in shock. And they threatened me with jail time, with a felony on my record, destroying my family, public humiliation (he threatened to call the papers–something he did anyway, because, quote, “the community needs to know there was no threat to public safety”). They said I would be charged with a false report, with terrorizing the public (there was a public awareness campaign initially after my attack, though I didn’t have anything to do with it. After the rape, I did everything I could to maintain anonymity, and only told two people–beyond my family and the cops–hat I was attacked. But…I did it for attention, which was why I didn’t tell anyone? I’m just sneaky like that, I guess!). Accusations, threats, anger, pounding the table, over and over and over.

The detective looked at me. His whole demeanor changed; he tried to seem kind, avuncular. “Tell me you made the whole thing up. This whole thing will disappear. Nothing will happen to you. You can leave, if you just tell me you made it up. Tell me you made it up and you’re sorry for lying, and I’ll let you leave.” I tried to hold out–but I didn’t last long. Honestly, at that point, all I wanted in the entire world was just toget out of that room. There are very few things I wouldn’t have done, if I could only leave. So I looked at him and lied. I said, “I made the whole thing up. I’m sorry.”

To his credit, the detective was true to his word. (I now realize he could have been lying, and since I wasn’t under arrest or being interrogated–technically, I could have left any time, even though I didn’t know that–my words could have been used in court.*) That was all. He let me leave. Well. He made me give him a hug before leaving, but I was allowed to go. A very pissed off rape counselor and my very broken looking father were in the hallway just outside.

(At the time, I thought the rape counselor hated me, thought I was a liar like everyone else. She didn’t; she was pissed at the detectives, but I didn’t know that until I ran into her two years later at an event. But at the time, I thought she wouldn’t want anything to do with me, and so I lost the one person who was really helping me recover.)

So understand: I am a “false rape allegation” statistic. When they wrote their reports, sent the numbers off to the justice department to compile the information, I am down as a liar, a false allegation, even though no charges were ever filed against me. (Don’t know if that’s because they didn’t think they could make a case against me, or because they didn’t want to put a cop’s daughter on trial.) And you know what? I am not the only person. It is horrifying, the number of women that I have met in support groups and activist meetups who experienced very similar things. They too, are false allegation statistics. We were all raped.

So just keep that in mind, when you quote the 6-8% “false allegation” statistic. I know we have to rely on the only information we have, and I use the statistic in conversations, as well. But I always remember that number is certainly not an accurate representation. (Maybe it should always come with an asterisk?)

Please, remember my story when you see “false rape” statistics. Remember my friend, who admitted to a false report charge in order to keep her veteran benefits after being discharged (her rapist’s good friend and direct superior handled the case; a discharge was inevitable.) Remember the middle-aged woman I met, still traumatized, who, as a teenager, recanted her story when her rapist (and stepfather) threatened to kill her family. And the many, many others, all unknown, all forgotten–even in the bare statistics, which are often the only testament to our experiences. And we’re denied even that. Instead, our stories, our traumas, are used to stigmatize and further traumatize new victims. It makes me sick to know MRAs can take our numbers and use them to justify their “bitches be lying” stance. I can’t put into words how devastating that is.

Are there false allegations? Of course. Jason, in opening up about such a difficult topic, has explained exactly that. And no one hates truly false allegations like a rape survivor. But we should balance that with the knowledge that the “official” numbers are not an accurate representation of the truth.

Thank you for listening. I’m sorry for the length. I honestly tired multiple times to shorten this, but I feel that this story needed to be told, this needs to be added to the discussion about false allegations. And thank you, Jason, for such brilliant writing, honesty, and compassion; also, thank you for hosting these discussions.

* This is why you never talk to any police officer under any circumstances without a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been arrested, charged, or read your rights. I could have put myself in jail with that lie.

When I Didn’t Consent. Why I reported. Why I didn’t.

Elyse is a blogger at the popular network skepchick, where this article was originally posted. Re-printed here with permission.

I was raped. I reported it. I was raped. I didn’t report it. I was raped. I reported it but I didn’t press charges. I was raped. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I told myself that I wasn’t raped.

But I was. I was raped.

We have these conversations about rape, conversations that always include a question of “Was the rape reported to the police?” Women are taught that when they get raped, it is our duty to report it. We are obligated to press charges. We must crusade for justice. If the rapist is a real rapist, and he raped someone, it the victim’s duty to stop him.

And we think we know what rape looks like. We know there’s bushes or drinks involved. There’s kicking and screaming… or unconsciousness… and the word “NO!” can be heard from the next room or by passersby. And there’s crying. Crying during. Crying after. So. much. crying. And there’s blood. At least SOME blood.

And we know what to do when you know you’re being raped. If there’s a weapon, you don’t fight. If there’s no weapon, you do. And you make sure you scratch him to get his DNA under your nails. And you don’t shower. And you don’t change. And you go to the hospital. Right away. You’d be irresponsible to wash away evidence.

Even though women put a lot of effort into not getting themselves raped, we already have the script written. We have a plan. We know how we’ll handle it when someone finally thwarts our attempts to get through the night un-raped.

Funny thing about rape, though, is that sometimes your rapist doesn’t match what you thought your rapist would look like. Sometimes central casting sends in dudes that don’t match the type you were already planning to get raped by. And sometimes these guys go off script, ad libbing lines and their timing is off and sometimes it’s the script is edited so much, you didn’t even recognize that this was Your Rape because NONE of the shit that just went down was part of the original plan.

This is a discussion of the times it does and the times being raped doesn’t go according to plan. They’re not in chronological order. They’re in the order in which I feel like discussing them.

And at this point, I’m offering up some trigger warnings for rape and if you’re my parent, you should probably stop reading…

Continue reading

We’re Back!

The site has been down for a while due to lack of responses and interest. Over the last few months however, there has been a trend in more and more people coming out with their stories of harassment, sexual assault, and how they dealt with the police and otherwise. These stories need to be told and so I will be restarting the site. 

 

Over the next few weeks, I will be making changes to the site including adding resources, and hopefully getting guest posts from both victims, and people who work in support services. Let’s break the silence around sexual assault and work to make this world a better place. 

Rape Crisis Scotland

From the People who brought you the “Not Ever” video, here is another well done video featuring other victims of sexual assault talking about their experiences.

I am looking for other YouTube videos to feature on this blog. If you or someone you know has a talent for making videos I would love some amusing, shocking, or in some other way attention-catching videos that bring about Rape and Sexual Violence awareness.

Please contact me at itsnotyourfaultproject@gmail.com

Not Ever

This is a new ad campaign, designed at pointing out the ridiculousness of thinking women “ask for it” and victim blaming.

There seems to be an increase in great articles on this subject. Here is one that shows how the idea of victim blaming is ridiculous by showing what it would sound like with other crimes.

http://thegloss.com/culture/what-happens-when-you-victim-blame-in-crimes-other-than-rape/