Sunday, October 7, 2018

When a woman is a victim of crime

I close friend of mine was raped at 18. She wasn’t raped at a college party or after a drunken escapade nor did it happen because she was dressed ‘slutty’ or because she hung around the wrong people. It happened because she was always told to trust the police; and so, when an on-duty officer stopped his car to offer her a drive home, she felt safe accepting. As it turns out, this was her first mistake. 

After driving her into a secluded area (this was rural NB after all) he raped her. Considering the officer was in the position of power, clearly that put her at an immediate disadvantage. She followed proper procedure, reporting the crime but it was swept under the rug. The cop was shoved off to another community with no charges and as a result, my friend was sent a clear message; you don’t matter.
This is the same message many women have received in various situations over the years. Whether it be the recent case with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the US or many other women who’ve reported assaulted only to be abused by not only the perpetrator but also the system;, it’s not a new story. Unfortunately, even though it’s 2018, it still appears that nothing has changed from when my friend was raped 20 years ago. We’re still dealing with the same structure of power and belief system now as we were in the 90s.

Although this isn’t always the case, as a woman, I often feel that if needed, the police won’t be on my side. In fact, if I am victimized, I really have no faith that calling the cops will be productive. They'll show up, ask a few questions and chances are, that’s where everything will end. I’ve heard too many stories from other women that have reassured me of this belief; from women who were in abusive situations to women who were stalked, threatened and one of which, eventually killed, with little or no help from the police. I recently heard one story where the female officer accused the woman involved in a domestic situation of being of fault. 

Not to say that women are always innocent victims but it makes me feel that my odds of being taken seriously are slim.

My friend that was raped never was the same after that day. She suffered from self-esteem issues, made irrational and sometimes self-destructive decisions and not surprisingly, had a great deal of distrust for authority. Years later, she was assaulted again by an acquaintance who asked for a drive home. She briefly - very briefly - considered going to the police but finally decided against it. In her mind, it was the people who were supposed to protect her in the first place that lost her trust. The sad part is that when I tell this story to most women, they aren’t surprised.

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