“If anything, I am stronger.”

strong

Testimony by “M”

My name is “M.”. I am 19 years old, and this is my story.

I was 5 years old the first time my cousin molested his little sister and I…I remember he called it “the kissy game”. He would tell us over and over again that it was only a game, but part of the game was that we had to keep it a secret. There were times when he would lock us in a closet if we refused to “play”…this went on for two years until I was 7 years old. I never told my parents, my friends, anyone. It was my secret and I kept it well. When I was 13 I got into what would eventually become my first serious relationship. I remember finally telling my boyfriend everything that had happened. And it wasn’t until I saw his defensive/protective reaction, that the weight of what my cousin had done actually began to set in…for all that time I had felt dirty and damaged and insecure, but I had scolded myself saying “don’t be so stupid it was only a game, get over it.”

By the time I was 17 I came to a full realization/acknowledgement that I had been raped. There was no other way to put it. It was NOT a game. It was NOT okay. And I was NOT stupid for feeling that way. To this day it still hurts to think about the things that happened, but I am learning to cope. I am learning to remind myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not damaged or less of a person because of what he did to me. If anything, I am stronger.

Her Name was Sophia Marquez

angelswinging

Testimony by Patriarchy Survivor

Two summers ago I was summoned for my first jury duty. Since it was my first time I was a little nervous but my friends assured me that I would just sit around all day and  that my name would never get called. I was in the court house for all of five minutes before my name was called, and I was immediately one of twelve jurors on a murder trial.  I wanted to tell the judge about my anxiety disorder and about the fact that I was a rape survivor myself and didn’t know if I could handle the stress of the trial. But I was still struggling with overcoming the shame of the attack and wasn’t ready to share that story. So I made it on to the jury.

The victim’s name was Sophia Marquez. I can still see her face in my nightmares. I can still see Sophia’s sister crying on the witness stand because Sophia had been raped, strangled to death and left naked on the side of the freeway. The accused had no alibi at all, there was convincing DNA evidence and absolutely no reasonable doubt. The other 11 jurors and myself convicted him of first degree murder during an attempted rape (there wasn’t enough evidence to prove completed rape).

Most victims of sexual assault do not get justice, and it’s horribly cruel that a rape victim (or attempted rape) usually has to be murdered for the criminal justice system to even consider prosecution. If Sophia had just been sexually assault and left naked but alive on the side of the road she wouldn’t have gotten justice. The statistics are no better now than they were in the 70’s, most rape kits just sit in evidence lockers collecting dust, because the police cannot be bothered to investigate them. I am glad that Sophia’s family got justice for her murder, but most rape/ attmepted rape victims will not – their cases won’t even be investigated. And I am angry. I am angry that the district attorneys will not prosecute rapists without media pressure. I am angry that society blames rape victims and forgives rapists (boys will be boys!). I am angry that most rape survivors will not even report getting raped because the police victim blame and slut-shame. I am over this, I want things to change. Women are human beings, and our lives have value. I shouldn’t have to explain this to people, but I do.

Her name was Sophia Marquez, she was murdered during an attempted rape  in Sacramento, CA, and her naked corpse was dumped on the side of a freeway. I will never forget her face, I will never forget her name.