This was originally a comment left on a post by Jason over at Lousy Canuck (Jason's post is great, by the way, really a must-read in the ongoing, endless discussion about rape allegations, false accusations, etc.). Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds then graciously hosted the comment as a guest post. I decided to post it here, as well.
PS & OT: I apologize for going so long without posting. Rather than list a bunch of reasons--which would just be excuses and rationalizations, in all honesty--I'm just going to try and get right into posting more regularly.
Trigger Warning: Graphic descriptions of rape & the aftermath, police abuse, victim-blaming
I was raped three years ago. Almost exactly: the beginning of August
2010. It was a violent, stranger rape, as I was walking home from work. I
honestly had no fear about calling the police. My dad’s a cop. I was in
shock, mostly, but certainly not thinking that making a report was
going to be worse than what had just happened to me. Plus, there was so
much physical evidence–deep tissue bruising on my arms, burns on my
labia, tearing that went from my vagina to my anus–it never crossed my
mind that I wouldn’t be believed.
Two male detectives arrived at my house. I stammered out a request
for a female detective; it was denied. (I learned later that they
violated procedure by not accommodating the request.) They made me go
through what happened. I was in excruciating pain and dripping blood but
they didn’t want to take me to the hospital just then, and said the
hospital “wasn’t ready” anyway. So I described the rape. Then they asked
if I was taking any drugs. Well, just my medication. I thought it was
strange that they literally spent more time asking about my mental
health history and the types of medication I took, instead of the rape,
but at the time, again, I was in shock, and not thinking much.
Long story short: I submitted to an invasive physical exam, described
the rape more times than I can count. They didn’t wait for my rape
counselor, that I requested, another thing I found was actually against
the law. (But when she arrived, she kicked major ass. And really helped
me through the process; I don’t know what I would have done without her.
A rape kit is extremely invasive, and I was already in terrible pain,
but she was able to get me through it.) The black light (to look for
fluid/blood/etc) was broken, so I tried to approximate where he had
kissed me, licked me, so the nurse giving the exam could swab those
Oh, aside: the hospital wouldn’t provide Emergency Contraception,
although I did get a few pills to keep from getting STDs. (Not AIDS,
however–I was told the procedure was to only provide AIDS prevention if
you already know the rapist has AIDS, which seems a little hinky,
as it’s not exactly a question I could ask during the rape). The
detective, who drove me to the hospital, refused to stop at a pharmacy
on the way home, so I could get Plan B for myself. He said he “didn’t
feel comfortable” with that and I should “wait for my parents” even
though I was 24 and alone at home. Guess 24 is too young to make the
decision to try and prevent becoming pregnant with my rapist’s baby!
Over the next few months, I submitted to multiple, horrific
“interviews” that really felt like “interrogations” as time went on. I
was also dealing with a serious medical condition at the time (I almost
died; my intestines ruptured, but that was almost certainly not a result of
the rape, just bad timing). But I still believed in the system. I still
didn’t want the man who raped me on the streets. I did everything they
requested, answered every invasive question (the were really focused on my mental health history!), even got on the ground and acted out
the rape for them, with the head detective on top of me acting out the
part of the rapist. Not only was I absolutely hysterical by the time we
were done, I’m positive that aggravated my PTSD for a long time after.
And after all that, I was called in for an “interview” to discuss “a
new lead in your case”. They didn’t let my rape counselor in the
room–again, against the law, I found out later! For about an hour (I
think; my sense of time was not that great) they were no longer even
pretending to be supportive. They accused me over and over of making it
up. They had very flimsy “evidence” (which I won’t go into because it’s both complicated and ridiculous) but mostly it was their “instinct”.
Because I have a mental illness. Because I was hospitalized after
attempting suicide. Because I “claimed” I had been sexually assaulted in
the past. (They asked if I had ever been raped in the past, and I volunteered that I had been molested when I was nine. I found out later this was another mark against me, that having previous sexual assaults--not previous false allegations, mind, just previous attacks--counts against your credibility, for some reason. Like I'm supposed to tell the rapist: "Oh, hey, sorry, you'll have to find someone else; I'm over my limit.)
But mostly, it was because I was crazy. The lead detective was sure that I was just looking for
attention. My family had gone camping; obviously, I was angry at being left behind! (Even though I wasn't "left behind" but had instead declined the invitation, because I couldn't miss work, and also I would crawl across broken glass before I'd go camping.) He had a bipolar ex-wife, you see, and she made his life a
living hell. He told me how he understood mentally ill women, and how we
need to create drama. How we’re liars, and we crave attention.
And over and over they accused me of lying. Alone in this tiny room
with two large, angry men, I was doing everything I could to keep from
having a panic attack. I couldn’t respond to what they were saying;
again, I think I was in shock. And they threatened me with jail time,
with a felony on my record, destroying my family, public humiliation (he
threatened to call the papers–something he did anyway, because, quote,
“the community needs to know there was no threat to public safety”). They said I would be charged with a false report, with terrorizing the
public (there was a public awareness campaign initially after my attack,
though I didn’t have anything to do with it. After the rape, I did
everything I could to maintain anonymity, and only told two
people–beyond my family and the cops–hat I was attacked. But…I did it
for attention, which was why I didn’t tell anyone? I’m just sneaky like
that, I guess!). Accusations, threats, anger, pounding the table, over
and over and over.
The detective looked at me. His whole demeanor changed; he tried to
seem kind, avuncular. “Tell me you made the whole thing up. This whole
thing will disappear. Nothing will happen to you. You can leave, if you
just tell me you made it up. Tell me you made it up and you’re sorry for
lying, and I’ll let you leave.” I tried to hold out–but I didn’t last
long. Honestly, at that point, all I wanted in the entire world was just
to get out of that room. There are very few things I wouldn’t
have done, if I could only leave. So I looked at him and lied. I said,
“I made the whole thing up. I’m sorry.”
To his credit, the detective was true to his word. (I now realize he
could have been lying, and since I wasn’t under arrest or being
interrogated–technically, I could have left any time, even though I didn’t know that–my words could have been used in court.*) That was all. He let me leave. Well. He made me give him a hug before leaving, but I was allowed to go.
So understand: I am a “false rape allegation” statistic. When the detectives wrote their reports, sent the numbers off to the justice department to
compile the information, I am down as a liar, a false allegation, even
though no charges were ever filed against me. (Don’t know if that’s
because they didn’t think they could make a case against me, or because
they didn’t want to put a cop’s daughter on trial.) And you know what? I am not the only person.
It's horrifying, the number of women that I've met in support groups
and activist meetups who've experienced very similar things. They too, are
false allegation statistics. We were all raped.
So just keep that in mind, when you quote the 6-8% “false allegation”
statistic. I know we have to rely on the only information we have, and I
use the statistic in conversations, as well. But I always remember that
number is certainly not an accurate representation. (Maybe it should
always come with an asterisk?)
Please, remember my story when you see “false rape” statistics.
Remember my friend, who admitted to a false report charge in order to
keep her veteran benefits after being discharged (her rapist’s good
friend and direct superior handled the case; a discharge was
inevitable.) Remember the middle-aged woman I met, still traumatized,
who, as a teenager, recanted her story when her rapist (and stepfather)
threatened to kill her family. And the many, many others, all unknown,
all forgotten–even in the bare statistics, which are often the only
testament to our experiences. And we’re denied even that. Instead, our
stories, our traumas, are used to stigmatize and further traumatize new
victims. It makes me sick to know MRAs can take our numbers and
use them to justify their “bitches be lying” stance. I can’t put into
words how devastating that is.
Are there false allegations? Of course. Jason, in opening up about such a difficult topic, has explained exactly that. And no one hates
truly false allegations like a rape survivor. But we should balance that
with the knowledge that the “official” numbers are not an accurate
representation of the truth.
* This is why you never talk to any police officer under any circumstances without a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been arrested, charged, or read your rights. I could have put myself in jail with that lie.