This Was Preventable
A #SurvivorStory by MacKenzie
This is a copy of my testimony draft that I have been working on for months. Today I found out my case has been dismissed. I am angry and incredibly hopeless and I can not carry all of this on my own.
The night of December 2nd, the night before my first finals in college, I was attempting to prepare for what I thought would be a manageable but terrible week. Little did I know it would soon be the worst week I’ve ever experienced.
I was raped on the night of December 2nd, 2017.
Johnson State College managed to minimize my entire being into 6-10 pages. My friends at the time saw me immediately after and held my hair as I threw up and continually cried. I was covered in hives and scared myself with the dullness of my eyes in the mirror. I stood in the mirror in a towel attempting to piece myself together. The following week I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and failed all of my finals.
I spent my first night of finals in the hospital getting prodded and poked by a nice lady with a SANE kit. I took off all my clothes which were put into ‘evidence bags’ and spent hours lying on hospital bed. My best friend sat in a chair next to me in the hospital as they cut apart my clothing, scraped my skin, and told me that ‘as soon as I open this kit we need to complete it.’ Completing it meant taking samples of my DNA and forcing metal rods inside of me.
I will never forget lying on a bed staring at the fluorescent lights with a stranger shoving this metal inside of me 48 hours after I was raped in a dorm room.
After 2 hours in a Planned Parenthood where I took multiple pregnancy tests and got treated for every STD I had ever heard of and then some. After another 6 hours in hospital getting physically torn apart again, I knew this was real and that I had to prove myself.
The following weeks I received a call from Planned Parenthood and it was the same woman who had treated me. I could tell by her voice it wasn’t good news. “You’ll need to come back and get follow up treatment. “You have 4 STD’s, I’m so sorry.”
I had never had sex. One witness stated she was “aware that the complainant is not sexually active, was not on birth control, and would not have unprotected sex.” This is something I had said countless times, but it counted as “more credible” evidence when said by someone else.
After the medical aspect of my assault was dealt with I realized having to prove myself was an understatement. Johnson State College started an ‘investigation’ after I reported the assault. This investigation consisted of a 5 hour interview asking me to recall and relive the entire night of December 2nd. It consisted of my friends coming in and making statements asking them to recall the night as word for word as they could.
A major talking point in my case was that I was intoxicated and had removed my shirt during the time span in which this assault took place. Taking clothing off does not fit the definition of consent given by Johnson State College.
For purposes of this policy, effective consent means words or actions that demonstrate to a reasonable person a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has effective consent from any other person involved. Silence, lack of protest, or lack of resistance are not sufficient standing alone to establish consent. The actions of the individuals involved and the context in which those actions occurred will be considered in determining whether or not there was consent. Consent is not valid when a person is incapable of giving consent: (1) due to the person’s use or consumption of drugs or alcohol.” This event occurred after our freshmen orientation where students had to attend mandatory Title IX training. My friends and I had also attended a showing of “The Hunting Ground” a film that attempts to raise awareness and education around prevention of sexual assault. This same showing, the perpetrator was present and sitting 3 rows behind me. This is important because the film talks about the need to look out for people who are incapicated and can not make their own decisions. This being said “The witness advised that later in the evening the victim fell asleep in the perpetrators room while his roommate was in the room and everyone else had left. The witness told investigators that the perpetrators roommate left the room and the perpetrator came out To the recreation area to ask the group of friends what he should do about the victim. Witness said that the group said it was OK to leave her to sleep although the witness said she was not sure that was a good idea. She told investigators that she finally agreed with the rest of the group after they pointed out that the perpetrator had seemed fine at night and had not been flirtatious with the victim.” I had been unconscious on the perpetrators bed and those around me decided I was okay to be left alone. Following the assault many of them cut ties with me because I was irritable and couldn’t see them the same way.
Now, almost 3 years after the assault, I am still facing daily struggles from this act of violence. I have been attending therapy for the last two years attempting to recover from this assault. Following the assault I dropped out of college and put my education on hold. I have done EMDR therapy in an attempt to train myself to be okay with physical touch. I have had to explain this assault and the impacts it has to every partner I have been with since December of 2017. Again, noting I had not had consensual sex before this assault.
In August of 2017 I filed for a restraining order and had a hearing. I attended this hearing being prepared to having to see the perpetrator for the first time since leaving Johnson State. When I arrived, the advocate working on my case explained that the perpetrator had to work and would be calling into the court hearing. This was the first time I realized I was the only one being held accountable. In September of 2019 I was offered multiple job positions in the midwest and accepted to the University of Wisconsin but turned all these offers down because there was a possibility of progress occurring on this case. This assault has impacted every aspect of my life, meanwhile the perpetrator has been able to transfer colleges and continue with this life as usual.
Today, October 2nd, 2019, I received yet another insensitive text message from the investigator handling my case. “The judge has dismissed the extraditable warrant. Sorry.” An extraditable warrant is one that is active regardless of state lines. Currently, there is a felony out for the perpetrator in the state of Vermont. Since the perpetrator has since transferred colleges and moved states, the warrant is not active.
We could technically arrest this man for sexual assault if he crosses state lines, but until then, sorry.
Sexual assault has ruined my life. I have and will not be the same person after this assault. I called a survivors hotline and had an advocate tell me “Yeah, you’re right, this is bullshit. It would be great if we had justice, but now you just need to handle things on your end.” I got abandoned by people I had deemed by friends, got physically assaulted, forced out of my education and I’m the one that has to “deal with things” on my end? Accountability is something that I have learned so much about, and at this point I have admitted accountability for this act.
Rape is preventable and the only thing that causes rape are rapists. I am not at fault and I know that, but that doesn’t change the fact that I stopped my life in order to put my all into this case when no one else was willing to listen to me.
If this tells you anything it’s to believe survivors. Support survivors. Hold rapists accountable because obviously our current “justice system” is not willing to put in the work.