My words for Judge Gordon

Your Honor, Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

As you may know, I am deeply disappointed that Mr. Polanski has been unable to resolve his unfortunate legal situation with the State of CA in a mutually agreeable manner.

For 40 years I have suffered insults and mistreatment beginning with Judge Rittenband when I was only 14 years old and continuing until most recently when former District Attorney Steven Cooley insulted my integrity and character. This has been intensified by relentless pursuit from members of the media, terrifying my family and forcing me into hiding.  I stand before you, no longer afraid and with hope that you will consider my plea for justice and relief.

Without dismissing Mr. Polanski’s shared responsibility for the forty year ordeal that Judge Rittenband and the District Attorney’s office have forced upon me, I would implore you to consider taking action which can finally bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy to myself and my family.

I was raised in Pennsylvania as a proud American and patriot, my father was a State Rep and a criminal defense attorney.  I have the utmost respect for our justice system, it is a foundation of our constitution and our freedom.  At 14 years old, while my parents tried to shield me from the ugliness of what was occurring all around me, I was still acutely aware that this is not the way our justice system is meant to work.  I am not speaking on behalf of Roman, but on behalf of equal justice under the law.

First, I would ask you to consider sentencing Mr. Polanski to time served in absentia.  Roger Gunson, Lawrence Silver and Douglas Dalton all state that the time Roman served in Chino was to be his entire sentence.  I do not believe anyone involved in this case would disagree with that fact, or that Judge Rittenband reneged on his promise of that sentence, and further, considering only his own reputation, planned to sentence Mr. Polanski to an indeterminate sentence lasting until the media interest waned, again, on an in chambers verbal promise.  At the very least recall the international warrant which as been denied by the respected Courts of Switzerland and Poland, in part because they contain false and misleading information.

Alternatively, you could unseal the testimony provided by Roger Gunson and compel the District Attorney to investigate the misconduct that occurred in this case.  I do not believe that Mr. Polanski’s presence need be a precursor for District Attorney Lacey to do her job, regardless of her distaste for investigating those from her own department, and the use of the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine in order to avoid investigating a potential crime.

The Opinion of the Court of Appeal in 2009 states, “The Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine, however much it may advance legitimate policies, is not an automatic rule but a discretionary tool of the courts, that may only be applied when the balance of all equitable concerns leads the court to conclude that it is a proper sanction for a party’s flight.  The doctrine is a blunt weapon, not appropriate in every matter in which a party has fled criminal prosecution.” Further, “We are disturbed by the district attorney’s refusal in the briefing submitted to this court to address or consider what appears to be an admission by a former member of the district attorney’s office that he: engaged in highly improper ex parte communications with a judge about a pending matter; recommended the misuse of a sentencing tool as a punishment; deliberately provoked the judge against a defendant based on a newspaper photograph and no further information; and pursued a personal agenda against a defendant.  Such profoundly unethical conduct, if proven to be true, strikes at the heart of the prosecutor’s role as a guardian of systemic integrity.   I believe that an investigation of the alleged misconduct would provide Mr. Polanski and myself with the relief we desire.

Last, consider the dismissal of the case in light of the facts which are known at this time, as a way to expedite a conclusion to a 40 year sentence which has been imposed on the victim of a crime as well as the perpetrator.

My Mother and Grandmother, my father, step father, husband and my 3 sons have endured terror that has faded to fear, and panic that has faded to anxiety, never knowing when or where they may be forced to face this unfairly unending case.  I know Romans family has suffered as well.  We are human beings, not wins and losses.

I now have become a grandmother.  I implore you to consider that now a 5th generation of my family may be unfairly burdened and resolve this matter without the spectacle of arresting and incarcerating an 83 year old defendant for the benefit of the egos involved in this case.  I do not want to have to explain to my granddaughter why she can’t go outside, or answer the phone, or why there are camera crews outside our home, and eventually what happened to her Nana in 1977.

Justice is not only about punishment, it is about equity and consideration.  I have endured the pendency of this case for over 40 years.  I am not a fugitive, I am not disentitled, therefore I move that this matter be dismissed in the interest of justice and fairness for the victim.

Please consider my words.  Thank you for your kind consideration.

My Letter to District Attorney Lacey

April 21, 2017

 

Mrs. Samantha Geimer

c/o Silver & Field, LLC

2990 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 312

Los Angeles, CA  90064

 

Jackie Lacey, District Attorney of Los Angeles County

Michele Hanisee, Deputy District Attorney

Major Crimes Division

210 West Temple Street,  Suite 1100

Los Angeles, CA  90012-3210

 

RE:  The State of California vs Roman Polanski & Roman Raymond Polanski vs The Superior Court of Los Angeles

 

District Attorney Lacey and Deputy District Attorney Hannisee:

 

Attached please find my correspondence to you dated over 3 years ago, January 24, 2014, along with your reply, dated over six weeks later, stating your “preparedness” to proceed if the case was again brought before you.

 

My wishes that you act on my behalf as the victim in this case to investigate the misconduct that occurred fell upon deaf ears, along with my request that you act upon the instructions of the Dec. 21, 2009, Opinion of the Second Appellate Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District.  In particular, the aforementioned Opinion stated that the Court is deeply concerned that these allegations of misconduct have not been addressed.

 

Further, “Polanski’s allegations urgently require full exploration and then, if indicated, curative action for the abuses alleged here.  Time continues to pass, and the delay in addressing this matter has already removed one participant from the ranks of the available witnesses for an evidentiary hearing on the judicial and prosecutorial misdeeds that have been alleged here. The passage of more time before this case’s final resolution will further hamper the search for the truth and the delivery of any appropriate relief, and it will also prolong the agony that the lack of finality in this matter continues to cause Samantha Geimer.  We all exhort all participants in this extended drama to place the integrity of the criminal justice system above the desire to punish any one individual, whether for his offense or his flight.”

 

I have read the PEOPLES OPPOSITION TO: (1) RENEWED MOTION TO UNSEAL THE SWORN TESTIMONY OF DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ROGER GUNSON; AND (2) MOTION TO RECONSIDER COURT’S APRIL 3, 2017 ORDER.

 

I am outraged that you continue to cover up the misconduct that has occurred in this case, which began 40 years ago and continues today.  I have spent 40 years with a boot on my neck filled by one powerful man after another, standing on a 13 year old rape victim’s suffering to further their own purposes and to serve themselves, and sickened that it has now been filled by women.

 

You refuse to investigate the truth, you seek to hide testimony and defame those who produce relevant evidence and facts with accusations of criminal activity, facts you ignore to serve yourselves.  I cannot help but see the irony of behavior that mimics the despicable behavior of our new administration in Washington, DC.  So, I say to you, DO YOUR JOB!  Stop making excuses, stop passing the buck, stop covering up what should be investigated and the very responsibility for which you were elected.

 

If you will not do the right, moral and legally required thing and stop covering up and withholding facts, I can only hope when the truth comes out as it always does, that you both are still around to have your reputations suffer as they should.  You and those have come before you have never protected me, you have treated me with contempt, using a crime committed against me to further your own careers.  You have treated Marci’s Law as you treat the victims who you are meant to protect, with disregard and callousness.

 

I know you will not help me, I know I mean nothing to you, I know the corruption in the Court and within your own department is something you have no interest in investigating.  Because you are both part of it.  I hope someday I will see the truth of all the egregious behavior I have had to tolerate at the hands of your predecessors and now you, will someday be known by all.  Whether you feel any shame or not.

 

Victims and those who commit crimes are not just wins and losses, not just notches in your belts.  Celebrity cases should not be misused by those like yourselves for some limelight and career advancement.  We have all heard that there is special place in Hell for women who do not help other women, I hope it is true.  I have no hope that you will DO YOUR JOB and investigate crimes committed by “your own”.  So, I will settle for hoping that you, as we all do, will suffer the consequences for your actions and your dishonesty.  This is just another sad day for what should be the greatest and most equitable judicial system in the world.

 

With deep regret that as a crime victim I cannot count on either of you and with sadness for all the others you will harm along your way “to the top”.

 

 

 

 

Samantha Geimer

 

 

 

Everything Alleged in this Motion is True

Motion for Evidentiary Hearing

Does anyone want to accept the truth?  What a lifetime of powerful men using your rape to further their careers feels like?  I doesn’t feel good.

Forgiving My Mother, Forgiving Myself.

I had an epiphany. After 37 years, I learned something new and surprising about myself and about my mother.  It came from reading the experience of another woman, a woman that experienced something very different than me.  I thought I had sorted myself out.  Then, I was asked to comment on the “can you separate the art from the artist” debate in regard to Woody Allen’s honor at the Golden Globes.  My opinion on that was already clear, however the similarities of the awards, the outrage, and oddly Mia Farrow’s support of Roman Polanski after he was charged with my rape, drew me into the conversation.

I didn’t know much about what Woody Allen had been accused of.  I set out to learn what I could in order to comment conscientiously on the “should he be honored” conversation.  I had never heard of Dylan Farrow until tweets about her abuse went viral during the Golden Globe Awards

After reading the varying accounts of “we said, they said”, I got to Dylan’s open letter.  I take in information on these high profile cases with the attitude that you can’t believe anything you read or hear.  I learned that from personal experience, if you weren’t involved in it, you will likely never know the real story. Her letter it seemed, would be the most important if not the only thing worth reading.  

I felt relief that she was intentionally putting herself out in the public eye, and she wanted her story told, that it was important to her not because she had been forced to respond to unwanted attention.  I put aside the media chatter and read Dylan’s letter.  She certainly had a lot to say, and clearly wanted to say it and be heard.  Her pain and bitterness is palpable even after 20 years.  Her anger not just at Woody Allen but those who work on or view his films was also emotionally expressed.  I admit my first feeling was, “I’m glad that’s not me”.  I’m not proud of that feeling, but it’s the truth, I felt a little lucky.  The irony of “what if it was your daughter?” was not lost on me. I wondered what Dylan would think of Mia’s letter to the probation department after my rape, espousing Roman’s outstanding character and “his importance to all people”.  Mostly, I felt saddened that she is still in so much pain. 

That’s when it hit me.  My next impulse was to call to my mother.  I needed to finally thank her for calling the police that night.  I’ve always been aware that I have never fully understood why she had to do it.  I now realize I had never really forgiven her, which made my apologies for my awfulness to her seem very shallow.  For someone who thought they had it all figured out, or perhaps decided to leave some things “un-figured”, it was an incredible shock.  Also, I needed to thank her for never creating an environment where I felt abused and damaged, for letting me insist I was fine, separating and internalizing her own anger, from me and my emotional well-being.  I took that for granted, having a strong supportive family is something I should have appreciated more. 

She accepted my apology with a little laugh.  I was grateful to realize that she didn’t need it.  She knew she did the right thing and didn’t require my approval or understanding.  She was always okay with taking the fallout that came with that call.  Her only comment was she wished she would have called my Dad, a criminal defense attorney, first.  He may have helped us negotiate the next 24 hours a little better.  But, hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t think I would have liked her notifying my father anymore more than I appreciated the call to the police. 

So here I am, almost 37 years to the very day she made that call.  I was angry about it for years.  I punished her however I could, with no sympathy or consideration for the pain she was in.  After all, she called the police, she started this whole mess.  If she was suffering, well I was too, so tough shit Mom.  I felt, believed and insisted that I was fine.  I thought it was just sex, he didn’t hurt me.  I was stupid, I should have told her about the topless photos to begin with and none of this would have happened.  Can’t we just forget about it!  The wisdom of a teenager I suppose.  In my mind she must have called the police out of anger or damaged pride.  If I was okay, why call the police?  In every single thing I went through there was this under current of emotion, this is happening to me because of you mom.  None of it will make me “un-molested”, what’s the point?

Even at age 14 it didn’t take long for me to realize two things.  The way it was being handled by the court was completely out of her control, I just needed someone to be mad at.  Also, I accepted she had to call the police.  But it was a rational, intellectual understanding, I never really “felt” why she had to do it.  I thought I got it, that I’d forgiven her, I felt bad about being such an awful little bitch.  But even recently while I was writing my book The Girl – A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski, I was still asking her the question, “If you could go back and do it over would you still call the police?”  The lack of hesitation and certainty in her reply, “Yes, of course!” was almost disturbing.  I wanted to say, “You do remember how awful that all was, don’t you?”  I asked her if she was sure, and she just looked at me.  She was sure. 

I think about all she sacrificed.  She wasn’t some “wanna be starlet”, she was a working actress.   It was her full time job, how she paid the mortgage.  Her lifelong dream of being a movie star was destroyed in a matter of hours.  She could only hope her name wasn’t released, because then she would lose her job as the “Ourismann Chevrolet Girl” her steady source of income.  But she never blinked.  So even if I still didn’t really get it, I just deferred to trusting her judgment and believing that even if I didn’t understand it, she did, and that was enough.

That all changed for me when I read Dylan Farrow’s open letter.  The pain she expresses that Woody Allen was never charged, even guilt, feeling responsible for this though she was only 7 years old at the time.  I was spared that.  I don’t know why charges were never pursued when Dylan became an adult or why Mia Farrow and the District Attorney “declined” to press charges, “fragile child” statement taken fully taken into account.  I remember begging for a plea deal to keep me off the stand in what Judge Rittenband and others hoped would be the “Hollywood Trial of the Century”.  I understand that fear, and I know it is deep and it is terrifying. But, if someone molests a 7 year old, how could you let them walk away?  The District Attorney’s Office certainly never offered us a choice.  Roger Gunson, as a human being, was incapable of letting Roman Polanski walk away from what he had done.

Thanks to my mother, I never had to deal with any of those doubts and emotional repercussions.  The “supposed burden” of the consequences of that phone call and the events that were set in motion, I was still carrying and they suddenly evaporated into thin air. My mother called the police, March 10, 1977, within minutes of my admitting to her that Roman had sex with me.  She never even asked a second question, just “Did he do it?”  That was all she needed to know.  She didn’t call the police for herself and she didn’t do it because she was angry or vengeful.  She did it for me.  To show me that I had value and that I should not let myself be abused or mistreated and she certainly would not.  By example, she was showing me my worth, teaching me to be strong and stand up against what is wrong.  That we as a family, would not tolerate this.  And even more importantly something else, that I was not required to be damaged by his actions, I was allowed to be okay.  I didn’t have to behave like a victim, but he would face the consequences.  That seemed like a contradiction at the time, now I realize it was a gift.

I’ve often been asked how things may have been different if the police weren’t involved.  I think I would have been okay.  I never felt damaged by Roman, it was a scary experience but I didn’t feel changed or bad about myself.  I’ve imagined this unreal future…  what if I ended up with a really crappy life and he went on to have the great successes we all assume he would have?  I don’t feel that I would be bitter or angry towards him for anything else unfortunate that may have happened in my life. Thankfully, my mother was strong enough to call the police and Roman was man enough to admit what he had done.  I will never know for sure what may have happened otherwise, I see no reason to dwell on it.  I imagine I’d be having drinks with my friends, watching the Oscars where Roman would be receiving accolades and I’d be saying “You know that old prick had sex with me with when I was 13!”  This would be followed by “no way!” and “full way!” and another round of cocktails.  That may seem cavalier, but indulge me in my right to recover and make fun of myself.  I think everyone knows I am tired of being asked to remain injured so someone else can make a point, and I certainly mean no disrespect to those who may still be struggling, maybe just offer a little hope.

I’ve had years to work out what happened, why everyone did the things they did.  Forgiveness came easily for me.  For the most part everyone was just doing their job.  The police officers, Detective Vanatter, Roger Gunson, the Grand Jury, my attorney Lawrence Silver, even Roman’s attorney, Doug Dalton.  So now I have the missing piece, why mom called the police, I feel just a little bit lighter, after 37 years it is incredible.

I look back now knowing that my mother was protecting me from the potential of ending up with all that regret and bitterness.  I realize she never once told me I was damaged.  She accepted it when I said I was okay, she took me at my word, but she called the police anyway.  Now that contradiction makes so much sense.  I am so grateful that her anger towards him didn’t manifest in her need for me to be damaged by him.  The proceedings were difficult and I was emotionally devastated during that year, but she took the blame for it.  She never apologized for any of it, somehow she knew that she was standing up for me and whatever the consequences, it was the right thing.

I am so happy that I have finally looked at it a different way and see it for what it was, that I’ve had the chance to thank her and apologize for being so awful to her.  She didn’t really need that from me, she wasn’t waiting for it.  I see now, I needed it.  She may have felt guilty about a lot of things, but never for making that call.  My talk of forgiveness and accepting things you can’t change, it’s all true.  But, even after 37 years, you can change yourself, you can change your mind, change the way you see something and it feels good.  So, thanks Mom, I’m sorry it took me so long to get it and I’m grateful that you were always strong enough not to need me too.

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Sexual Branding in the Works of Beyonce, Marie Calloway, and Sasha Grey

Sexual Branding in the Works of Beyonce, Marie Calloway, and Sasha Grey.

Voice America with Cynthia Brian

Wednesday, February 26th at 4:15 PST listen in!

Link

Wrote a letter to the DA and I did get a response!

District Attorney office to S Geimer 03-11-2014

January 24, 2014

RE:  The State of California vs Roman Polanski & Roman Raymond Polanski vs The Superior Court of Los Angeles

District Attorney Lacey:

Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Samantha Geimer, the minor victim involved in the Roman Polanski sexual assault case. I write you to request that your office commence an official investigation into the alleged misconduct occurring in 1977 and 1978 during proceedings in The State of California vs Roman Polanski.  As the minor victim in this case any misconduct which may have occurred impacts me directly.  More importantly the fundamental fairness and justice in our criminal justice system is paramount above the individual concerns of the defendant and I or the State of California’s interest in prosecuting a case.

In Section VIII. Conclusion, of the Dec. 21, 2009, Opinion of the Second Appellate Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, it is stated that the Court remains deeply concerned that these allegations of misconduct have not been addressed.  Further, “Polanski’s allegations urgently require full exploration and then, if indicated, curative action for the abuses alleged here.  Time continues to pass, and the delay in addressing this matter has already removed one participant from the ranks of the available witnesses for an evidentiary hearing on the judicial and prosecutorial misdeeds that have been alleged here. The passage of more time before this case’s final resolution will further hamper the search for the truth and the delivery of any appropriate relief, and it will also prolong the agony that the lack of finality in this matter continues to cause Samantha Geimer.  We all exhort all participants in this extended drama to place the integrity of the criminal justice system above the desire to punish any one individual, whether for his offense or his flight.”

It has been four years since this opinion was issued.  Additional allegations that have been made and facts that have been revealed since the original proceedings have raised new questions and concerns about the treatment of this case in the years since 1977.  These include the recent statements and behavior of David Wells, recent revelations about Judge Fidler’s handing of the case (*please see link below) and Steven Cooley’s hostile attitude towards myself and the California Victims’ Bill of Rights.

I understand that your office has pressing and more current matters on which to commit its resources, but if not now, when?  The answer will be never, as eventually the original participants in the matter will not be available to testify.  I have been the lonely voice of a woman and a victim in a choir of the voices of powerful men and their individual agendas.  I ask only that you find the truth, that you demonstrate the integrity of the Los Angeles District Attorneys’ Office and seek that justice not be delayed or denied any further.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Respectfully,

Samantha Geimer

* http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/movies/emails-raising-questions-about-the-polanski-case.html?smid=tw-nytmovies&seid=auto&_r=2

cc: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris

Lawrence Silver

Lawrence Silver

My wonderful attorney as depicted by the court room artist back in 1977

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So someone asked me to define “slut” for an interview on slut shaming

What is a slut?  I suppose if I had to define that word I would say it is someone who is sexually active with several partners or perhaps has sexual encounters of opportunity in addition to ones based on relationships. 

This word holds no power over me.  Perhaps it’s because of my experience of being called one as a rape victim at 13 years old.  Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the 70s, so I am pretty sure that I was one and do not hold that label in low esteem.  Back then the boys liked the girls that would fool around and treated us well, because, you know, they wanted to keep on fooling around.  I believe if someone calls you a slut in high school, they are either jealous that the boys they like are hanging out with you, or because you are hanging out with the other boys, not them.  But times have certainly changed.

I had hoped the horrible experience I had with the media and our community back in 1977 was a thing of the past.  But it seems that if you are a victim of sexual assault or just a woman or teenager who isn’t afraid of your sexuality, it’s a lot worse today.  Maybe it’s the different attitude towards sex.  I remember sex being thought of as a normal natural part of life you were meant to enjoy.  Today it seems sex is treated as a shameful and dirty act which leaves you damaged.  That’s a pretty unhealthy attitude.

The nature of this is sexist and based in conservative religious beliefs.    I have to wonder why any parent would want their sons and daughters to grow up with such damaging attitude towards sex.  I know we can’t go back to the days before AIDS and unbridled sexual freedom.   But human sexuality is a healthy and necessary part of life, making it ugly doesn’t make any sense.  So before you slut shame anyone, you should think about why you would want to hurt or judge anyone to begin with. 

And, if someone is slut shaming you, hold your head up high.  Own your own sexuality and don’t be ashamed of who you are or what may have happened to you.  You aren’t the one who has to go through life experiencing something that can be enjoyable and even beautiful, as something shameful and ugly.  Lucky you!

 

What now, in the real world

What now?  That is the question you ask yourself after you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted.  The terms sexual assault, molestation and rape include a range of abuses that begin with subtle coercion continuing through child molestation and encompass everything up to violent attacks.  The first thing to consider is what exactly happened regardless of the words you use to label it.  For a victim this can be a confusing thing to set straight in their own mind, let alone verbalize.  If someone is trying to share this experience with you, separate yourself from what has happened to them.  Do not put your own fears, outrage, anger or perception of how you would have experienced these events on the victim.

I put forward the thought that we should not force a standardized set of opinions on how a person is expected to feel or act when recovering from sexual abuse.  I believe we must allow them the freedom to choose their own feelings and actions, in their own time.

I was, of course, the victim in a very high profile sex scandal.  What has been added to my own experience is a lifetime of friends and acquaintances sharing their own experiences and those of friends and family members as well.  Perhaps they know I will not judge, perhaps since I refused to remain damaged and bitter they think I will have some helpful words.  I think that I have learned much about the different ways people process and recover from sexual abuse and how to support someone who is struggling.

First do away with your judgment, the initial reaction of “how could this have been prevented” is useless, it has already happened.  You may feel like if you just would have done something different, you could have avoided this.  Maybe it’s true, but the fault lies with the person who assaulted you, no matter what you did or didn’t do.  It is natural to feel some guilt or some shame, but that does not mean you are guilty or shameful.  These are feelings that you need to work through.  In supporting someone, understand this, do not deny or dismiss these doubts in a victim.  You can’t make them go away by saying these feeling are wrong, you have to understand that it is a common reaction, and validate that although the victim feels somehow responsible, what happened is not their fault.  You have to be allowed to express the feelings of guilt, shame or responsibility in order to work through them and not carry them with you into the future.

If the assault has just happened the first decision is who do your report it to, and will you report it?  If you have been violently attacked or the victim is a child, no matter how difficult, you should call the police.  Violent sexual predators and child molesters are likely to hurt someone else, if you don’t report it, they may continue abusing others.  Having said that, if you just can’t do it, then you can’t, you have to survive.  The moral obligation not to harm someone lies with the predator, not with you.  Victims do not cause rape, rapists do. 

When it comes to more subtle forms of sexual abuse, you may be even less likely to call the authorities.  You may feel that there is no evidence to prove what has happened to you, or prove that it was not consensual.  I think everyone understands that what you will go through in coming forward can be intimidating and may be a very bad experience, perhaps as in my case, worse than the event itself.

In 36 years I have learned many things and I am still learning.  It took me all this time and the recent revelations in the very public battle between Mia and Dylan Farrow vs. Woody Allen to finally “really” understand why my mother called the police when she found out what Roman had done to me.  As a sexually active teenager, I thought I was fine, after all it was just sex, I wasn’t injured and I was home safe and sound.   I had not been taught to have feelings of guilt and shame about sex, so I wondered how could the public shaming  we had to go through be worth it.  I was angry with her, but I eventually came to terms with it.  I’ve said I understood why she had to do it, but it was more of an intellectual understanding.  While I still like to believe I would have been fine if she didn’t, I now see what can happen when you don’t pursue charges.  However terrible it all was, I am now grateful that my mother refused to let Roman use me in such a disrespectful way and betray my family’s trust.  Her strength in standing up for me taught me a valuable lesson.  In the end I think what I went through made me a stronger person.  Consider that when you make your own choice, 20 years later will you still struggle to recover, feeling that you never go the justice you deserved?

The most important thing is for the victim to heal and recover under whatever circumstances exist.  If you choose to do this privately without involving the authorities, you will have to live with and accept that decision.  You can’t go back in time and change it any more than you can undo what happened to you.  So your fear at the moment, may override your ability to come forward.  You can make that choice, you are not obligated to anyone but yourself and your own recovery is the most important thing.  There are many reasons to encourage a victim to come forward, but if encouragement doesn’t change their mind, then you must respect their choice. 

When you do come forward you are likely to experience some of the judgment that I spoke of earlier.  What could you have done differently?  It is not fair but it seems that some have a very hard time not thinking that if you would have behaved differently, you could have avoided the assault.  It is hurtful, but you may be thinking some of these very things yourself.  You must know that whatever the circumstances, it is never okay to sexually assault someone and the responsibility lies entirely with the person who did it. 

My experience with these conflicting emotions, I think is shared by others.  I didn’t like being told I was responsible for nothing, it made me feel helpless and powerless.  In my own mind I could take responsibility for the bad choices I made, learn from them, and still put the blame entirely on the person who raped me.  I believe that you can live with that contradiction, you are not powerless.  You may wish you had made different choices, but the fault of what happened does not lie with you.

In the real world, not the world of high profile cases being tried in the court of public opinion, fueled by our “newsertainment” industry, things are handled differently.   A victim may tell no one, they may tell a family member or close friend immediately or years later, they may only tell part of the truth being ashamed to share it fully.   I think the most important thing to do when someone confides in you is to listen.  Refrain from judgment, don’t force your own emotions onto the victim.   Perhaps they are devastated, perhaps angry or ashamed, perhaps they feel that they will be okay and just want to share and talk it out.   However they feel it is valid.  My experience is that most people are kind and understanding, if you tell them what happened to you they will listen.  Often they will share that something similar has happened to them or to someone they know and tell you that they’re okay and you will be okay eventually too.  Behind closed doors survivors share and support, they include themselves in the collective and do not stay silent or isolated.  When things become public it’s more difficult.

As society we seem to need to force damage upon victims of sexual assault.  They are treated as if they are marked for life, injured, changed, unable to recover.  In part it seems that this is required to prove the perpetrators of these crimes have done a terrible thing.  The level of injury to a victim or their ability to recover from, it does not change the fact that sexual assault is a crime.  We should not demand that victims be unable to recover to prove that what happened to them is wrong.

Peoples’ feelings about sex play into this dynamic.  If you believe that sex is a dirty and shameful thing, you will project that onto victims of sexual assault.  If you have been taught that sexual activity is a sinful or ugly thing, you will project that onto yourself if you have been victimized. A healthy attitude towards sexual activity, knowing that sex is a normal natural part of a healthy life and not a shameful thing goes a long way towards recovery if you have been assaulted.  I believe it can help prevent sexual assault, if we teach our young people that sex is an ugly shameful thing, than what do we tell them rape is?  And as a society our need to place our own negative feelings about sexual activities on victims only pressures them further.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted remember this.  Whatever happened, whether you were dragged into a car and taken, assaulted by a stranger or an acquaintance on a walk home, if a family member, teacher or neighbor did something inappropriate with you when you were younger, or someone got you intoxicated and forced themselves on you, you can recover.  You are not damaged beyond repair.  However you choose to deal with it, it’s okay, it is your choice.  Whether you called the police or you chose not to.  Even if you didn’t and later wished you had, it is okay, you did the best you could.  If you never told anyone, if you repaired the relationship with family member privately, or if you told only a close friend what happened.  Whatever you did or not did not do, it was your choice.  You can heal, you can move on, you can find a place to fit this awful experience into your life and move on as a healthy person.  We can never undo what has happened.  Do not wait for circumstances beyond your control to change, so you can begin to heal.  If you still feel angry or afraid, that’s okay.  Forgive yourself, tomorrow is a new day, try again.  Just keep doing the best you can to find peace from within yourself that is the only place you will find it.

The proof is all around you.  My personal experience with survivors leads me to believe that the statistics estimating the incidence of sexual assault are much lower than the true figure.  I am here as proof.  My friends and family members are here as proof.  People you work with, strangers on the street, we are all here as proof to you that you can recover. Whatever happened, whether you received justice or not, whether you were believed or not, you can heal, you can recover, you can thrive.  There is no changing the past, there is only making a better future, for yourself, for those you care about, for those you will never meet.  Be proud that you have survived, support others who are recovering, you do not have to feel shame for being victimized.  The shame is for the person that assaulted you.

We all have our own unique experiences and paths, we do not have to accept being cast aside as a group of damaged objects. We can come together and use our success and our pride in surviving to shine a light into the darkness forced upon us by those who wish to close the door and look away.  The shame and stigma of sexual assault can be removed as easily as it was place upon us.  Refuse to carry the burden, refuse to place it on others, stand against those who try to make victims carry it with them.

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