Tag Archives: Rape

For Some Victims, Reporting a Rape Can Bring Doubt, Abuse—and Even Prosecution False reporting is a crime, one that some police would like to make a priority. But history shows the police can’t always tell the truth from a lie.

The women accusing the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct have faced doubt and derision. Other women, who have alleged sexual assault or harassment by powerful men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, have become targets for online abuse or had their careers threatened. Harvey Weinstein went so far as to hire ex-Mossad operatives to investigate the personal history of the actress Rose McGowan, to discourage her from publicly accusing him of rape.

There are many reasons for women to think twice about reporting sexual assault. But one potential consequence looms especially large: They may also be prosecuted.

This month, a retired police lieutenant in Memphis, Tennessee, Cody Wilkerson, testified, as part of a lawsuit against the city, not only that police detectives sometimes neglected to investigate cases of sexual assault but also that he overheard the head of investigative services in the city’s police department say, on his first day in charge: “The first thing we need to do is start locking up more victims for false reporting.” It’s an alarming choice of priorities — and one that can backfire.

In 2015 we wrote an article for ProPublica and the Marshall Project about Marie, an 18-year-old who reported being raped in Lynnwood, Washington, by a man who broke into her apartment. (Marie is her middle name.) Police detectives treated small inconsistencies in her account — common among trauma victims — as major discrepancies. Instead of interviewing her as a victim, they interrogated her as a suspect. Under pressure, Marie eventually recanted — and was charged with false reporting, punishable by up to a year in jail. The court ordered her to pay $500 in court costs, get mental health counseling for her lying and go on supervised probation for one year. More than two years later, the police in Colorado arrested a serial rapist — and discovered a photograph proving he had raped Marie.

What happened to Marie seemed unthinkable. She was victimized twice — first raped, then prosecuted. But cases like hers can be found around the country. In 1997, a legally blind woman reported being raped at knife point in Madison, Wisconsin. That same year, a pregnant 16-year-old reported being raped in New York City. In 2004, a 19-year-old reported being sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Cranberry Township, Pa.

In all three instances, the women were charged with lying. In all three instances, their reports turned out to be true. The men who raped them were later identified and convicted.

In 2001, a 13-year-old in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, reported being abducted and molested. “You keep lying and lying and lying and lying,” a police detective told her. In 2015, a physical therapist in Vallejo, California, reported being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. The police called her story a hoax. One lieutenant said that she “owes this community an apology.” In both instances, video footage later surfaced affirming the victims’ reports.

In Marie’s case, and with some of the other cases, the victims hadn’t acted the way the police thought a victim should act. Their affect seemed off, or they declined help from an advocate, or they looked away instead of making eye contact. As a result, their stories became suspect.

In Lynnwood, the police have since changed the way they do things to prevent anything like Marie’s case from happening again. Detectives today receive additional training about trauma and cannot doubt a rape report absent “definitive proof” that it is false. In an effort to build trust, the department ensures that victims get immediate help from specially trained advocates. Those changes correspond with guidelines for rape investigations that sex-crimes experts have urged for police departments around the country. Those guidelines stress: The police should investigate thoroughly while reserving judgment. Evidence trumps assumptions. The police should be wary of stereotypes; they should not, for example, find an adolescent victim less believable than an adult. Some victims will be hysterical, others stoic; police should not measure credibility by a victim’s response. Police should not interrogate victims. They should listen.

Nationally, police departments, victim advocates and academics have experimented with ways to relieve the burden on rape victims who might fear dismissal, or even arrest, by reporting their attacks to the police. Perhaps the most influential campaign to change police procedures is known as Start by Believing, sponsored by End Violence Against Women International, an organization that conducts training for the police and victim advocates. The campaign asks participants to make a simple pledge: Start the process of investigation by believing those who come forward. Police agencies in nearly every state have joined up.

Police in Ashland, Ore., started a program called You Have Options. Agencies that participate handle sexual-assault complaints in a radically different way. Victims can report a rape but request that the police not pursue criminal charges. The idea is to give more control to victims, who might otherwise be reluctant to involve themselves with law enforcement. The detective who founded the program believes it will help the police in the long term by increasing the number of people who come forward and allowing police to collect information that could be used in future investigations if a victim changes his or her mind.

Both programs are controversial. For instance, Stacy Galbraith, the detective in Colorado who arrested the serial rapist in Marie’s case, told us her starting point isn’t believing: “I think it’s listen to your victim. And then corroborate or refute based on how things go.”

You Have Options is an even tougher sell. Many police officers are instinctively resistant to the idea of not immediately investigating a rape. Their job, after all, is to catch bad guys, not let them get away.

It is clear that some law enforcement agencies have begun to experiment with ways to be more responsive to rape victims. It is equally clear that there are no simple solutions. The path forward will almost certainly be contentious. But if we are going to make it easier for victims to tell their stories to law enforcement, change is essential.

By Ken Armstrong, T. Christian Miller / ProPublica

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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After a Rape: Helping Survivors Heal, Part II

The world is changing for survivors of sexual assault. Right after an attack, women in the U.S. now have a good chance of finding support as they make their way through the resulting maze of law enforcement, medical and legal proceedings.

But to heal and thrive, survivors need long-term help as well. Across the country, rape crisis centers and other groups are working to fill that gap with hotlines, advocacy and especially counseling, which transforms some women’s lives beyond their expectations.

Every state has a coalition to combat sexual violence, and coalition members continually share new ways to improve services. In one example of these innovations, Oregon has started offering free counseling to aid in the healing process of survivors.

The counseling sessions have become available this past year through the Crime Victims’ Services Division of the Oregon Department of Justice. Whether or not they choose to report their assault to authorities, survivors can receive five free therapy sessions, in addition to free medical help. “We’re addressing physical and emotional needs,” says Nicole Broder of Oregon’s Sexual Assault Task Force. “This is a good step toward providing holistic care.”

Counseling doesn’t benefit every survivor. Take the example of Erica, who was raped as a child and then again when she was 18.

“I started to see a counselor, then another one,” says Erica, who has lived in Bakersfield, Calif., all her life. Counseling didn’t help her, but she found she could heal herself through reading books on the subject. “I learned how to deal with my mental and physical abuse [on my own],” she says. “I ‘therapied’ myself out of the darkness I was in.”

Other survivors say that counseling has been a critical factor in healing—and that it has contributed to unforeseen positive changes in their lives.

Heather also was raped twice—both times by boyfriends. The first attack occurred in Ventura County, Calif., when she was 17, and the second took place in Bend, Ore., when she was 34.

“The first time, I didn’t tell anyone until 10 years later,” she says. “The worst thing was to keep it inside all those years. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone. Because I wasn’t dealing with my feelings, it manifested itself in other ways. I was promiscuous, and I abused alcohol and used marijuana. I wasn’t dealing with anything. It got to be a dark and scary place.”

After the second assault, which occurred in 2016, Heather began individual counseling sessions in Oregon, and she continued counseling when she moved back to California. The process has allowed her to function more successfully in everyday life, and to define a life goal.

“It’s helped me learn how to set boundaries and limits with people,” she says. “It’s helping me understand my emotions and communicate to others how I’m feeling. I deal with a lot of anxiety and depression because of what I’ve gone through, and sometimes, family members and close friends don’t understand why I act a certain way. It helps me explain it to them. It helps a lot to articulate my feelings.

“Counseling has made me a better person. I totally believe it’s helping me be a better parent. [Heather has a 1-year-old daughter.] It’s helping me build better relationships with my family—helping by leaps and bounds.

“It has also helped me figure out what direction I want to go in school. I feel more confident in going after my goals. I’m planning to go to Naropa University in Boulder, Colo., and I’m going to do my master’s in mindfulness counseling. I want to be a licensed counselor, and I want to work with victims of trauma like myself.

“Even though something really unfortunate happened to me, it has helped me find a purpose in life. Even though I’m not glad it happened, I’m grateful.”

Amy (whose name has been changed here to protect her privacy), a Laotian-American woman, survived a sexual assault when she was 20. Now 26, she tells how counseling made a tremendous difference in her life.

Amy was raped by her roommate in Flagstaff, Ariz., while she was studying to be a dental hygienist—a career path she had chosen to please her parents. “But I ended up dropping out at the end of the semester due to depression,” she says. “I couldn’t attend school or ride on a bus. Certain smells triggered [panic attacks]. So did large lecture halls. I couldn’t give presentations—I hyperventilated.”

She returned to her family’s home in Kansas, where she started attending group and individual counseling sessions.

“I had been in denial for two years,” she says. “During therapy, I realized that it wasn’t my fault and that I shouldn’t have to be afraid to go back to school.”

Counseling also helped Amy rethink her larger goals and opt for a career in a field that was meaningful to her. “Before, I was this quiet girl who was going to dental hygiene school to make my parents happy,” she says. “But now I’m studying geology to help demine war-torn countries—mainly in Laos but also in [the Middle East]. I’m so thankful for the counseling. I feel like I’ve changed for the better.”

Having emerged from denial and gained strength from her therapy sessions, Amy now volunteers with a college group dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault. She’s especially interested in helping other Asian women who are afraid to report rape. “I tell them it’s never too late to get help and press charges,” she says. “I tell them [what happened to them] is not a normal thing. At first, they see me as an Asian girl who is trying to help, but I tell them it happened to me, too.”

Along with counseling services, crisis centers provide 24-hour hotlines to help survivors cope and heal. Some women call right after they’re attacked, but most wait longer.

“The majority of people don’t call immediately after an assault,” says Elsa Granados, executive director of the rape crisis center in Santa Barbara, Calif. “There are reasons for that, including self-blame and the feeling no one would believe them. Many people call us a year after the time of the assault.”

When survivors do call the hotline in Santa Barbara, crisis center staff and trained volunteers work “to believe, normalize and validate feelings of the survivors,” Granados says. “We work off of the model of empowerment. The nature of sexual assault is that survivors feel their lives could have been taken. They feel like they’re not in charge of their lives, like they have no control. We tell them we won’t make decisions for them, but we’ll take their lead and support them in their decisions.”

Hotline workers provide accurate information about sexual assault and about services available to survivors. “Everyone has different needs; [for example, some may need to find] immediate safety in a shelter,” Granados says. “We work with partners in the community to fulfill those needs.”

Crisis centers also offer advocates who help survivors through the immediate aftermath of a rape and, if needed, through the years that follow. These advocates are different from the advocates provided by district attorneys’ offices, according to Ashley Beatty, coordinator of the Victims’ Assistance Program in Deschutes County, Ore. The latter guide survivors through the legal process but aren’t bound by confidentiality. On the other hand, advocates from crisis centers are considered privileged—what survivors tell them “is 100 percent confidential,” Beatty says.

Advocates in crisis centers provide services ranging from listening and validating feelings to supporting survivors during medical exams, police interviews and court proceedings.

In Santa Barbara, advocacy is available as long as a survivor needs it. “We look at how survivors have been affected and how they’ve developed coping mechanisms,” Granados says. “We look at those issues over the long term, and we leave the door open. The person may go through another phase of life and need our services again. For instance, if a survivor gets pregnant, she may come back. Or if she sees the perpetrator, that may create a situation where those feelings arise again.”

Rape survivors who have benefited from services such as advocacy and counseling feel others can benefit as well. “If you’re ready to do the work, it will seriously transform your life,” says Heather, the Ventura County survivor who plans to become a therapist. “I’m blown away by the changes that have happened to me.”

Barbara Dunlap is an award-winning journalist with years of writing and editing experience at publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle. She also served on the board of Winning Over Anger & Violence, a nonprofit working to end the cycle of violence in central Oregon.

By Barbara Dunlap/Truthdig

Posted by the NON-Conformist

After a Rape: Navigating the Trauma, Part I

After a sexual assault, the journey toward healing is filled with formidable roadblocks of self-blame, depression and crushing anxiety. But painful as this process is, survivors are benefiting more than ever from programs designed to help them navigate the trauma of rape.

In many communities, it’s becoming easier to report a rape to law enforcement. Rape crisis centers in every state provide 24-hour hotlines, short- and long-term counseling, and advocacy for navigating the system.

This was not always the case. Rape survivors in the past routinely faced more trauma and humiliation as they made their way through a maze of law enforcement, medical and legal proceedings.

“Rape survivors were not taken seriously,” recalls Elsa Granados, executive director of the rape crisis center in Santa Barbara, Calif. “They were dismissed, ridiculed, told to get over it.”

But as the women’s rights movement blossomed in the early 1970s, attitudes started to change and help for survivors of sexual assault became more accessible.

Following an assault, the first step for survivors often is an in-depth medical exam conducted by nurses trained as sexual assault nurse examiners or by other specially trained medical personnel. These practitioners learn to conduct a forensic exam while meeting the physical and psychological needs of survivors.

“One of the most important things we do is listen to [survivors] and believe them,” says Susan Yokoyama, a sexual assault nurse examiner in Bend, Ore. “For the exam, the patient has to relive what has occurred. That’s often hard,” she says.

“The person’s body is the crime scene. We have to ask point-blank questions like, ‘Where did he put his penis?’ We collect DNA swabs wherever [the perpetrator] touched the victim,” Yokoyama says. “We check for trace samples like hair that can be compared to samples where the assault took place. We check for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV exposure, and we make sure the woman has a physician for referral.”

The exam, which can take two hours, can serve as a first step toward healing. “We spend a lot of time with victims,” Yokoyama says. “We see them start to heal a little. Their affect is lighter when we’re done. The role of the nurse is to be supportive, and the idea is to give them back a feeling of control.”

Sharon, a sexual assault survivor in a small town in Idaho, received that kind of support when she went to the emergency room after an attack. “I didn’t have to wait—I went right into the exam room because an advocate had let them know I was coming,” she says. “The nurses and doctors treated with me with such kindness because of what I went through.”

Keeping medical personnel trained and up to date can be difficult, especially in rural communities. Practitioners in sparsely populated areas conduct very few exams a year, “so it’s hard to keep up their skill set,” says Nicole Broder, program coordinator for Oregon’s Sexual Assault Task Force. “It’s also hard to provide enough coverage [geographically].”

Oregon is making a big push to correct that by offering more training in outlying areas. Instructors have trainees conduct mock sexual assault exams to stay in practice. Trainees also learn how to serve as expert witnesses in court cases, Broder says.

Another important step for survivors is reporting their attack to law enforcement officials, something many women are hesitant to do for a variety of reasons, ranging from fear of the perpetrator to fear of not being believed.

“Our society still does a lot of victim blaming,” says Beth Raub, assistant director of the Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center, part of the district attorney’s office in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. Some survivors “don’t want to relive the assault,” she says. Others are plagued by shame, self-doubt or the feeling that nothing is going to happen even if they report.

As a result, only 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

It took Amy (her name has been changed here to protect her privacy) two years to work up the nerve to report her attack after she was raped in Flagstaff, Ariz., at the age of 20. “It was really hard to talk about it,” she says. “I felt I lost myself, and I felt disgusted.” She finally felt empowered to make the report after undergoing counseling.

Sharon, another survivor, put off calling authorities in her Idaho town because she feared reprisal. At 57 years old, she had endured years of sexual assaults and violence at the hands of a man who threatened to harm her family if she exposed him. She reported her attacker to police only when “I was ready to die because of all the abuse—psychologically and physically.”

It used to be common for survivors to face an indifferent or even hostile reception when they reported a rape. Police in cities such as Philadelphia added insult to injury. According to The Guardian, “for years, (Philadelphia) detectives had got away with filing rape cases under a noncriminal classification code that was the equivalent of sweeping them under the carpet.”

After prodding from women’s advocates and an investigation by the FBI, Philadelphia police did an about-face. With regard to treatment of rape survivors, they now have one of the country’s most progressive departments.

In 2013, Human Rights Watch issued a report about how police in four cities—Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Mich., Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas—have created a compassionate, nonjudgmental environment for survivors to tell their stories.

But progress in this area varies from community to community. In many cities, law enforcement officials still view rape survivors with suspicion rather than offering support. Consider Amy’s treatment when she reported to the Flagstaff police that she’d been raped in the past. “They were not supportive,” she says. “They asked, ‘How do we know you’re not lying?’ ”

About the time of her assault in 2011, an innovative program called Callisto was developed to allow college students to report rapes without approaching law enforcement personnel. (Amy didn’t use Callisto to report her assault, but she has since recommended that the school she now attends work with that organization.)

When a survivor uses Callisto, she has three ways to proceed. She can go online to record time-stamped details of her assault in a confidential file; she can electronically report the assault to her school; and/or she can opt into a matching system, which means the information she enters will only be released to school authorities if another user identifies the same perpetrator. (The third option is the only one that requires the identity of the assailant.)

Callisto offers two pluses for survivors: It gives them control over how their story is shared, and it helps identify serial rapists who may have attacked other women.

According to the Callisto website, “less than 10% of college assault survivors report to administrators, local police, campus security, or other authorities. … When survivors do report, the most common motivation is to protect their community. Most survivors would report if they knew their assailant was a repeat perpetrator.”

Callisto partners with seven U.S. college campuses, and students and parents are encouraged to recommend other schools for the program.

Regardless of her reporting method, if a survivor chooses to press charges, she can expect a lengthy legal journey. “It can be an arduous process,” says Raub of San Luis Obispo County.

Her office provides trained advocates to help survivors navigate the system. “The advocates explain the arraignment, the preliminary hearing, the mechanical process of the criminal justice system. If the district attorney needs to meet with a survivor, the advocate can be in room. If a survivor has to testify, the advocate can sit on the stand with her. Advocates also keep survivors updated on their rights and on what’s happening in the case.”

When it comes to prosecution and conviction of perpetrators, statistics are grim. Of the 310 out of 1,000 rapes that are reported, only 11 wind up being referred to prosecutors, according to RAINN, the national anti-sexual violence network. Of those, a mere seven cases result in felony convictions, and only six lead to incarceration of the perpetrator.

This is because prosecutors must prove an attack beyond a reasonable doubt. “There has to be enough evidence,” Raub says. “It can be a big problem coming up with that proof. If a person was drugged or drunk [at the time of the assault], that person may not be able to provide enough evidence to meet the burden of proof.”

Amy, who was sexually assaulted in Flagstaff, says she is proud she had to strength to report the attack, but she wasn’t satisfied with the results.

Initially, the parents of her attacker offered her money to drop the proceedings. “They wanted to pay me off, wanted me to shut up. It was white privilege at its finest,” says Amy, who is Laotian-American.

The amount she was offered would have been enough to pay off her hefty student loans, but “I wasn’t doing it to make money,” she says.

In court, the perpetrator denied the attack, but witness testimony made Amy’s case. “He was suspended from Northern Arizona University indefinitely, but he just got probation,” she says. “I’m not happy with the verdict.”

Sharon, the Idaho survivor of multiple sexual assaults by the same man, did see her abuser go to jail. “He’s still in prison,” she says. “He got a 24-year fixed sentence and another six years on top of that.”

Helping get the perpetrator off the streets—something she may not have been able to do had she not received the kind of support she did—gave Sharon her life back. “I knew he’d be locked up and couldn’t get to me, nor my kids nor any of my family,” she says. “That was one of the main ways he controlled me.”

Barbara Dunlap is an award-winning journalist with years of writing and editing experience at publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle. She also served on the board of Winning Over Anger & Violence, a nonprofit working to end the cycle of violence in central Oregon.

Part 2 of this report will examine rape crisis centers and the services they provide survivors, including confidential hotlines, counseling and advocacy.

By Barbara Dunlap/TruthDig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Maryland governor signs ‘No means no’ rape law, victims no longer need to prove resistance

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed several bills that intend to make it easier to prosecute rape cases and protect sexual crime victims.

On Tuesday, Hogan signed 211 bills into law during a ceremony at the state house, including SB 217, or “Criminal Law – Sexual Offenses – Physical Resistance,” which eliminates the requirement that victims of sexual crimes prove they physically resisted their assailants.

Making Maryland safer begins with making sure that we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for their actions and the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing,” Hogan said in a press release.

Previously, victims of rape had to prove they did not consent and that their resistance was overcome by “force, or the threat of force,” according to Section 3-303 of Maryland Criminal Law.

A 2016 BuzzFeed investigation into the Baltimore County Police Department found that the language in the law often allowed police to dismiss rape charges as “unfounded” if they believed that there wasn’t enough evidence that the victim fought back.

The investigation states that even if a victim submitted to sexual acts out of fear for their life, the assailant was able to “walk away without so much as a police interrogation.” Out of the 42 “unfounded” cases Buzzfeed investigated, 15 were dismissed because the victim did not resist enough.

The bill, signed Tuesday, amends the law, specifically stating, “evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed.

Given that a victim increases their chances of being maimed or killed, if trying to physically resist the rape, this bill will clarify that a victim of rape does not have to fight the perpetrator or put up physical resistance in order for the court to hand down a guilty verdict,” State Senator Delores Kelley (D-District 10), who sponsored the bill, said on her website.

The bill was unanimously passed by both the State House and Senate before Hogan signed it into law Tuesday.

In addition, Hogan signed SB 308, the Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act, which expands the definition of sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, even in cases where the sexual abuse is committed by a parent or guardian.

All of the laws signed Tuesday will take effect on October 1.

From Russia Today

Posted by John the Revelator

How Twitter Feminists Sabotaged ‘Birth of A Nation’

In case you haven’t heard the news already, the long-awaited Birth of A Nation film has officially flopped,according to every mainstream media outlet.

“Black feminists,” black gossip bloggers, journalists and white supremacists who’d rather the original Birth of A Nation (1915), have bandwagoned to sabotage possibly one of the most meaningful and pioneering projects of our generation and unfortunately, we fed into it.

After watching the film’s assassination campaign online for many months, I couldn’t help but recall once upon a time when highly revered veteran Black feminist bell hooks, who has also found herself a target of social media neo-feminism, once confidently warned that…

More from Atlanta Blackstar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

First ‘Birth Of A Nation’ Screening Cancelled

Nate Parker, the director, star and producer of "The Birth of a Nation," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Image: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

A screening of “The Birth of a Nation” and a Q&A with writer-director-star Nate Parker that was supposed to take place at the American Film Institute’s Conservatory on Friday has been postponed because of concerns that have been raised about the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s the first event involving Parker that’s been called off since he became the center of controversy for his comments about a resurfaced rape trial he faced while attending Penn State in 1999.

His film about Nat Turner’s slave uprising had been set to screen at the LA-based film school’s “Opening Day,” a special screening for second-year fellows (as the students are called) that traditionally takes place at the end of the first week of the new semester. The screening is usually reserved for an upcoming, high-profile release and is accompanied by a guest who worked on the film.

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Posted by Libergirl

 

Video: Daniel Holtzclaw OKC Cop Accused of 13 Rapes Verdict

 

Posted by Libergirl