The following post may be as hard to read as it is to write so please be mindful of that as you read forward. This isn’t fiction, this my life.
If you haven’t read about Rehtaeh Parsons already then please go here and read her story. It is so deeply painful, I am in knots every time Ieven see her name. It should be painful for everyone to read about what happened to this young lady, but for me it hits a spot that is just too deep and painfully close to home.
I want to say right from the start that I am in NO WAY anti-police. In fact I am very pro-police. There are several members of my family, whom I love deeply, who are cops. I believe that police officers do their best in difficult circumstances. But I also believe that there are deep flaws in the system and that police officers are only human and some of them can drop the ball. I know because it happened to me….
At the end of the eighth grade I was a monster of a teenage girl. I was testing all my limits. I tried smoking, I tried drinking (peach schnapps, be still my heart), I was using some pretty colourful language, I skipped school for the first time, and I was boy crazy. I wasn’t easy, not by a stretch but that doesn’t excuse that happened to me.
During a lunch break at school I stopped by the house of one of those boys I was so crazy about. He was there with a friend, a boy I knew, but was not crazy about,in fact I found him a little scary. Why did I go into the house? I don’t know, what goes on in the mind of 14 year old girl? I wanted the boy to like me, and everyone knows 14 year old girls are invincible, right?
I don’t know how it started, I don’t remember. Maybe it is suppressed or maybe 24 years has just taken a toll on the memory. It doesn’t matter how it started, I remember how it ended; me on my back in the living room while the boy I was sweet on held me down and his friend sexually assaulted me with his hand. I managed to free a leg and kicked the boy, that earned me a few particularly brutal punches in the face. To this day he is the only guy to ever punch me in the face, and I promise you he was also the last.
I don’t remember how long it lasted, it felt like forever but was likely less that ten minutes. When it was done I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go home even though I was less than a block from my house; I was supposed to be in school, I was supposed to writing a French exam. I was scared that I was going to get in trouble; I was obviously deep in shock. So I walked back to the school. I don’t know what I planned to do, write the damned French exam I guess; I didn’t get the chance. Someone at the school had called my foster mother because I was late getting back, because I was missing the exam. She came to the school furious with me, expecting to find me doing some stupid, trouble making 14 year old girl thing. She knew as soon as she saw me that this was not the case. I can’t even imagine how I must have looked to her, whatever she had planned on this wasn’t it.
We went home and she called the police to report what had happened to me. That’s what you do, that’s the process. She was told that I shouldn’t change my clothes or clean myself, if I could help it I shouldn’t even pee. The IWK was advised that I would be coming in for an examination. So then I waited…
The police who arrived were members of the now defunct Dartmouth Police Department. They sent two male officers to interview a 14 year old girl. This, in my opinion was the first ball dropping. I know it was the 80’s and there weren’t as many ladies on the force back then but they must have had some female cop who could have come take a statement from a barely pubescent girl who has just been the victim of a violent sexual assault.
What I remember most about sitting there with these two men is how belittled I felt, how victimized. I was scared, terrified really and starting to feel the physical effects of what had happened to me and I was sitting there being berated by men who seemed put out by having to bare witness to my ordeal. I wasn’t expecting to sit and hold hands and cry together, but I also wasn’t expecting to be treated like I was the one who did something wrong.
In the end they turned to my foster mother and told her that they didn’t think it was worth it to press charges, it wasn’t worth it. I was sitting there feeling filthy both physically and mentally, aching where I had been violated, face throbbing where I had been punched. My breasts were covered in purple welts from being grabbed by rough fingers and I hadn’t peed. I knew the names of the boys who had done this, I knew their phone numbers and where they lived but the police didn’t even go talk to them because it wasn’t worth it, I wasn’t worth it.
I took so much away from that day but none of it was good. I never told anyone but my very best friend at the time. I pushed the events out of that day as far out of my mind as possible but my behavior went from bad to worse, much much worse. Looking back on it I see a kid with PTSD dealing with it and the ensuing depression all alone. I carried the weight of that day for years. I carried it with me it in 1997 when a “date” went very wrong and I was raped; when the police came that time I was the one who opted not to press charges, I was the one who deemed me not worth it. I carried it with me right up until today, I carried it in the form of a secret, until I read about a girl who killed herself after going through a similar anguish.
I am sorry Rehtaeh, I am sorry you were hurt so terribly. I am sorry you didn’t see justice for the heinous thing which was done to you. I am sorry that your peers were so cruel when what you needed was love and kindness and support. But most of all I am sorry you didn’t feel like you were worth it. This cannot be allowed to happen again, it just can’t.