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.
Testimony by Lucy Kidd
This week was the two year anniversary of the last time I was sexually assaulted. This last time was the most traumatic to me for several reasons. First, It was the only one I actually shared with people in my life, second, there were witnesses, third, there was the combined trauma of the sexual assault and the victim-blaming, 4. my attacker wrote a letter of apology to my boyfriend for attacking me (but not to me, because apparently I’m just my boyfriend’s property), and 5, I had a mental breakdown afterwards and had to quit my job, and 6, because the attack happened in my own home I no longer felt safe there, and 7. I couldn’t sit through a class without having a panic attack, so I had to withdraw from all my classes, even though I was supposed to graduate that semester. With my previous attacks I was able to cope somehow, but not this last time. Not two years ago.
To someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, it’s hard to explain the phenomena of the “anniversary,” but I will try. For some reason, the memories come back in full force – unwelcome and all-consuming. The nightmares of being attacked returned this week as well, the uncontrollable crying, and the intense feelings of anger towards the people in my life who victim-blamed me. There are the feelings of intense shame and humiliation, and the inability to control my emotions.
There are some positive things that came out of my anniversary – it forced me to deal with the fact that I am not yet recovered, that I still have a lot of work to do. I finally had the courage this week to seek out sexual assault counseling. two years overdue but never too late. I am now able to hold down a job and a loving relationship. These are things I can be proud of.
To the Reader: your input is welcome, so long as it is not victim blaming, slut shaming, or advice on how YOU would have dealt with being attacked. If it’s not your trauma, then you have no idea.