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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Rape and legal issues

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Author Topic: Rape and legal issues
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

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I was raped shortly before my sixteenth birthday – I had been out with friends at a party and everyone was getting ready to go home. My best friend’s cousin offered to give me a ride home because for my friend to take be back home it would mean his driving 25 minutes to my house to then turn around and go 35 minutes in the opposite direction to get back to his place. I figured that if my friend trusted him, so could I. And I did – sort of. He was really sweet … opened my door for me, asked what station I liked to listen to, checked to see that I didn’t need anything before I returned home.

About 10 minutes from my house he stopped the car and told me that he wanted to show me something. We both got out of the car and he pointed out a few constellations (or maybe he didn’t … I don’t know much about the constellations, so he could have just been telling me things were there that weren’t.) He told me that in the back of his car he had this cool telescope that if you positioned it right you could pick out all of the best constellations. I don’t know what I was thinking … why I trusted him so much. He had seemed so sweet. But I do know that once we were both in the back of the car he forced me down on the seat, and he raped me. I struggled and screamed and tried to get away- but I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell my parents without being in trouble for being at the party – so when I was able to I kneed him and fought my way out of the car. I ran to my friend’s house and once there I fought her about calling the cops or going to the hospital. I didn’t want my parents to find out. I stood in the shower far past the water turning cold (I don’t remember, I just remember my friend coming and getting me out and telling me I was freezing.) Nothing would make the feeling go away. Not long after that I burned the clothes I had been wearing (I know it was stupid). I started counseling and since this time have sat in court rooms with friends, and acquaintances, and friends of friends who needed support.

I never took him to court – never could bring myself to do that. I didn't even tell my mother until this year. Recently, one of my closest friends called me in the middle of the night. I drove to her and picked her up. She had been raped by the same person I had. She is taking him to court in a couple of weeks, and her lawyer has asked me to testify about her “apparent state of mind” when I arrived at the scene. Her brother called me yesterday and informed me that she told her lawyer about the rape, and she asked him to question me about it on the stand.

Is he allowed to do that? Shouldn’t that not be admissible because it’s not about her? I love my friend like a sister, and I know I should try to help her – but is it wrong that I don’t want to? I haven’t seen him since that night, and I don’t want to! I know I should be there to support her, and I feel like me trying to find some out makes me not the friend I should be … but I don’t think I can handle seeing him. I certainly don’t want to sit in a chair and talk about this. Who would believe someone saying this happened when they do anything possible to make any evidence disappear? I don’t know what to do – or even if I can do anything. Can he make me testify?

[ 02-01-2008, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Yeah, he is allowed to do that, and witness testimony is just that. It's not inadmissable when it's meant to support the case.

Rapists very infrequently actually get charged, and even less frequently do any real time. Having an additional witness who was also victimized is often one of the few ways to get charges to really happen and stick.

I don't say that to exert pressure on you. Obviously, you need to consider what you can handle above and beyond all else with this. But because so often when people testify it IS very healing -- even though it's very hard -- and because it would likely help your friend as well as you, as well as whoever else this guy might rape next, what I'd encourage you to do is to have a chat with the lawyer about testifying so that you can have a solid idea of what would be involved, so you can make a choice informedly. Since we both can't possibly know the details of this case and because we're not lawyers, the information from a lawyer with a legal case question is going to be more informed than ours, especially when it's their case and they DO know the specifics.

I say that though, also knowing that depending on the situation, you may not have a choice. If you get called to testify for something, it is often not optional. However, you still would have the option, even if you must testify, of stating the fifth amendment and refusing to answer any questions; of being a hostile witness. Again, these are things the lawyer can explain to you, and another reason to see the lawyer and get more informed.

But just know that even if you decide this is NOT something you want to do, and it is a choice, or if you plead the fifth, you're not a bad person, for real. (As well, if some of your feelings right now are guilt about not reporting before, and now your friend going through this, know that no one can predict the future, you got to make that call for yourself, and it is this guy responsible for these rapes: not you.) Also know that if your fear is about not being believed -- and again, not trying to influence your decision -- you'll be in a room where there are two of you saying the same thing. It is more likely than not you WILL be beleived, and that may be very healing for you, particularly considering you will be seeing this guy in a very protected space.

Lastly, you also may want to ask the lawyer for a contact for any local rape survivor advocacy groups: they can tell you more about this, too, and also help prepare you to testify if you must go.

[ 02-01-2008, 11:42 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

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Thank you for the advice Heather. I called the lawyer’s office this morning expecting to have to leave a message, but he was in. We met in the afternoon and discussed things at length. He told me that I don’t have any real choice about going – for he has every plan of calling me to testify. He did say, however, that if I plan to testify rather than pleading the fifth he will set aside time three days a week (or more if needed) up until the day of the trial to prep me for the stand. He has a partner that he would have work with us so that I’ll know what will come from him as well as any angle the other lawyer asking questions may take. He explained that they have some photographs of the man that raped my friend and I, and they would use them during prep sessions to allow both of us time to get used to seeing him. Also, that by working with him he would be able to object the minute the other lawyer stepped over the line. He also suggested the possibility of going back into counseling (because I haven’t seen this person since that night) because it could help me in dealing with seeing him again.

It seems kind of ridiculous now that after sitting in court with other women that have been through the same thing – and telling some that questioned going to court that at times I regret not doing so - that I would be looking for ways to get out of it. I had mentioned this yesterday to one of my friends that I’d sat in a courtroom with two years ago. Today she called me and said that she’d talked with some of the other girls we meet with (not so much an organized group as much as a group we kind of put together with three of us to just talk that more people started showing up to as we all met and got to know one another) and that there’s a list of girls waiting to know a date so they can be there to sit with my friend and I. She pointed out that with the other girls there it would be like discussing the situation with them as I have before.

I think that now I need to focus my mind to the fact that while I’d hoped he wouldn’t do it again he did – and I didn’t stop him before but I have a chance to now. My friend has decided that because I won’t allow her to blame herself for what happened, she won’t allow me to blame myself for him doing this to anyone else. I certainly think you’re right about the “very protected space” though I’m certain as protected as it may be it will seem less than that. I do plan on taking the counselor advice from the lawyer though. I guess I’m just worried that for a long time my triggers were really bad – and I don’t want to go back to that. It’s be like starting over from brick one of a terribly long yellow brick road. I guess I should just trust that with my friends along whatever falling may happen there’s a safe place to land.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Stephanie: you sound really empowered right now, and I think that's fantastic, and seriously applaud you for considering going forward with this. Sounds like the lawyer is also a good advocate: that's obviously ideal.

Like I said, you may be surprised by how it feels when you do this. Overall, any bit of data -- as well as personal accounts -- I have ever read about rape survivors testifying has reflected that mo matter the verdict, more people find it an empowering and positive experience than not.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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