Editor's Note: This is a guest post from a contributor to Raw Charge, ashonice. She asked us if we would post it, and it is important in light of the recent events in Buffalo. Remember that this is a difficult topic for many, so please be respectful in any discussion.
When news broke of Patrick Kane’s rape investigation, I couldn’t help but dread the hours and days that follow. If you’re involved with the hockey community at all, you know the Mike Ribeiro story. The Slava Voynov story. The Semyon Varlamov story. The multiple stories coming from junior hockey. The countless stories detailed here. The cycle has started over once again with Patrick Kane. Secrecy. Potential lies. Betrayal of trust. Fighting. Careless comments. Tasteless jokes. Accusations of caring too much.
But when it comes to rape investigations, there is not enough caring to start with. First, the victim has to come forward. I can’t speak for them, I can only base this off other women’s experiences that have been shared with me. I can have empathy for them. I can attempt to "walk a mile" in their shoes. I invite you to take that walk with me.
Your body has been trespassed against. You’re hurt, you’re scared, you’re angry that someone has violated you. You might not even know exactly how you feel because you’re still in shock. You could be depressed. You could be suicidal. All of these emotions are right, because they’re *yours* and you know something horrific was done to you.
You have to attempt to process some of that before you can even begin to think about reporting the crime. And when you do, then the worry about being believed might start. The accusations begin that you’re ruining this man’s life (funny how there’s not much worry about how he attempted to ruin yours).
So you give your report, to an officer who seems like they might really not care. Probably, it’s brief, and impersonal, and you might start to think it’s not worth it. Might think of dropping the case all together. You’re alive, after all, and perhaps, maybe, at least he left you that, right? You can try to start putting the pieces back together.
But instead you decide to push forward. You don’t drop the case. The responding officer confers with a detective to decide whether or not you need to have a medical/forensic sexual assault exam, whether or not further interviews need to be done now, whether or not there is other evidence that needs to be collected. You might know what’s going on. You might not. You might not be aware that your rights are being ignored, depending on the state you’re in. (Many states are required to inform the victim of her right to be accompanied throughout the rape exam and throughout every part of the criminal justice process.)
Then comes the exam itself. You might know it, but it’s not about your medical needs. The exam is about collecting evidence, of having physical documentation that you were raped. Because your word is not enough. (And the physical documentation may do nothing except prove that yes, sexual activity took place, because again, your word is not enough that he raped you and he’s saying there was consent to rough sex or you asked for it or any other excuse that might work.) If you deny any part of the exam, or any requests for further evidence that don’t make sense (you don’t know why police would need your diary from six months ago), you may be accused of not cooperating with the investigation.
But you do everything they ask (and might be wondering why it’s not enough for him to be arrested yet. Why is he still walking free as you pour your soul out to the cops. Sadly, he might never be arrested before appearing in court, as long as he answers the summons.) But you do everything they ask, and then have in depth interview as to what happened. But that interview might not happen right away. The case will likely be handed over to yet another detective. Yet another stranger asking intrusive questions. Another person that you have to prove what happened.
But you are interviewed. Your account, to the best of your memory because it could be days or even weeks after the actual rape, is recorded. You have answered questions, so many questions. Questions like "why were you at his house to start with", "were you drinking?", "were you doing drugs?", "was he drinking?", "were you alone with him?". Or worse, things that make the rape feel like your fault. "Did you lead him on?", "did you tease him?", "what were you wearing?", "do you remember saying yes at any point?" Hopefully you know that being raped is never your fault, but maybe you start to doubt this now. Maybe you blame yourself, just as they seem to blaming you.
You think you answered everything truthfully, it’s what you remember, but you might start questioning yourself. The details might be hazy because it hurts you to remember them, to force yourself to live through your rape, over and over. You’re emotional, and you don’t want to think about it. You just want to begin to heal.
Finally you hear that the perpetrator, the person of your nightmares, is being interviewed. Not arrested, just interviewed. Again, your rapist may not be arrested. The detectives will only obtain an arrest warrant if there’s sufficient evidence. If you’ve provided enough details, if they’ve discovered evidence in their investigation, whatever. But they’re interviewed, good, great, this can go to trial now, right? Right?
No. The case goes to the district attorney’s office for review. Or not. In many places, cops can choose which case is reviewed. Not all rape investigations end up on the district attorney’s desk. But, making the assumption yours did, it’s then reviewed and the DA decides to reject it, or accept it, or ask for more evidence.
Throughout all of this, people are saying that you’re lying. Ruining this man’s life. That you should shut up, it didn’t happen. That this man was really nice to this other person and would never do such a thing. But he did, and he did it to you and why would you put yourself through this if he didn’t?
Or the man that raped you is a celebrity of some sort. A hockey player. An NHL player with three Stanley Cup wins who people love, adore, respect, and idolize. Not only is it just your community with the spotlight, but a nation. More than a nation, nearly the entire world. And so far, you’ve remained nameless, these people who are insisting that he is innocent of the things you know happened don’t know it’s you that he did them to. They can’t direct their anger that their precious hero hurt someone at you. Because they would. Though they’ve never spoken directly to him, they believe his innocence over your words. For no other reason than he is a celebrity and you are not.
And so I care. I care too much. My heart hurts for the nameless victims and the named ones. For those who go through the legal process but are told there isn’t enough evidence to go to trial. For those that manage to get to court, only to have a jury not believe them. Because people would rather believe that others can and will do no harm when they have.
I believe you. I stand with you.
This time I hope we center the victim, not the celebrity.
Thank you for reading. Again, this is a guest post from a contributor to Raw Charge, ashonice. Remember that this is a difficult topic for many, so please be respectful in any discussion.