People often don't want to believe the truth when it's inconvenient for them.
I finally reported the case earlier this year, in April. There are many reasons a survivor of sexual assault waits to report or chooses not to. For starters, how recalling the details of the experience causes them to relive the trauma. Or, the fact that it can take one years to even realize the trauma happened, as you are prone to being in a state of shock after it does. But the aftermath of coming forward & being "victim blamed" or "slut shamed" is another reason why many keep their stories to themselves. And though I didn't think I could report the incident at first, due to my own naïveté, I also was fearful that the police would blame me as I have heard them do to many before.
I went to Planned Parenthood to get tested & they asked me if I had a history of sexual assault. I told them, & they encouraged me to report it if I was interested. They said they would help me with the process, & they did, which I was grateful for.
We called the police department together, I recounted the details over the phone, but they requested that I come to the station in person. This terrified me. And the representatives at Planned Parenthood knew it was understandably so.
I, a Mixed Race, disabled woman of color, going to the police station, all by myself, on foot, by public transit, with no one to escort me, in the middle of a pandemic?
It didn't feel safe or right at all. But I was also scared to even show my face at a police station.
Why? Had I done anything wrong? Had I committed a crime?
No. I'm a law abiding citizen. I have a reputation to uphold, my education, & career as a therapist at stake. I wouldn't risk losing all that I have worked so hard to earn.
But I know how the police treat people of color, and I was afraid.
After letting them know that I did not feel comfortable coming in person, they offered to come to my apartment. I was still uneasy, but this made me feel a little less anxious.
I left Planned Parenthood and caught the bus home. When I arrived, I called the police department to let them know I made it back.
About an hour later, two officers of color, a female of Latina descent and an Asian male, came to my place of residence. They were both short in stature. Immediately, I felt a flush of relief.
They were very kind and listened to me intently as I reported the incident. They were respectful and compassionate, took all of my info, and were on their way.
But if they were both male or Caucasian, I would have not been as comfortable sharing it.
You're probably thinking, "Why were you so scared of the police? Did you think they were going to hurt you?"
Even if they weren't making any physical contact with me, they could have easily caused emotional harm by insinuating that I was to blame for the sexual assault that took place. They could have accused me of asking for it. This happens all of the time.
But I have other reasons to fear the police.
If you're reading this now, or in the future, you've already heard of why protests are currently going on around the world. And you, like everyone else, should be outraged by the many Black & Brown lives that have been lost to police brutality. So I will spare you those details.
But this type of racism and brutality is too close to home for me, as it is for many Americans of color.
Before I was even born, my father was beaten by police officers for kissing my biological mother in his car. They took him out of his vehicle and kicked him while he was down, simply because he was a Black man kissing a White woman.
Years later, long after I was born, the police were often called on my home of origin. My Italian family was loud, argumentative, & volatile. They frequently disturbed the peace. The neighbors would get upset, with reason, and call the cops.
But did they take me away? Did they protect me?
You see, my egg donor (code name for my biological mother for anyone who's new here) was a "Karen" long before that meme came around.
She knew how to use the police to instill fear in my father and I if we weren't behaving how she wanted us to. To get her way, she could easily call the police and make it look like my father or I were at fault for a lie she would concoct, when in reality, her and her family were the true threats to our safety.
Instead of seeing all of the trauma I had went through, the police would talk down to me like I was a juvenile delinquent. They would tell me I had no rights because I was just a minor. They would act like I was a bad kid who had to completely submit to my mother's authority, rather than see that report after report was being made about my family yelling and shouting at the top of their lungs multiple times per month.
I was reminded of this when I watched the recent docuseries on Netflix about the tragic case of Gabriel Fernandez. When the sheriffs were called to respond to all of the abuse, neglect, and torture he went through, they would listen to whatever lies his mother would cough up and then bring him outside to scold him and tell him that he needed to stop making it all up, or he would go to jail for being dishonest.
I'm incredibly fortunate that my childhood was nowhere near as horrific as the one that Gabriel endured before he was murdered, but I have so much empathy for him, because the police would talk down to me the same exact way.
It wasn't until I was 15 years old that I practically begged police officers to make a report to the Department of Children & Family Services that they finally did. And I went to hell and back having to retell my story to a new social worker every couple of weeks, over and over again, because they didn't believe me. They always gave my egg donor the benefit of the doubt, and I truly believe it's because I was a child of color with a father who wasn't able to be there for me.
I literally had to record my family screaming profanity at me on an old, deactivated cell phone in order for them to believe me and eventually place me into foster care.
If you've read some of my blog posts before or know me closely, I've spoken about this in depth.
But this is the reality I'm trying to wake everyone up to. This is how the system is failing. Corruption, racism, hatred, and intolerance are all ingrained into its very fabric. It repeatedly ridicules, beats, and kills those who need its help the most while pardoning the true offenders.
I was just watching Trevor Noah's segment on Rashard Brooks. He discussed how the innocent man was inebriated and sleeping in his car. He spoke about how he was polite and respectful towards the police before they killed him. He said what he thought they should have done, though it may be wishful thinking for an imperfect world, was offer to take him home. With all of the darkness that's shrouding the world in this moment, they could have shown us a glimmer of light by offering to drive him home.
But they didn't.
And though I agree with Trevor Noah, that's what a "good" officer would have done, I don't know if I would have taken that ride.
I would have been too scared to get in the car.
And if I, a Mixed Race, light skinned, disabled woman of color with college degrees, am too scared to be alone with police officers, . . . how do you think other people of color feel?
Thanks for Reading.