WIRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY ALEXA CONTRERAS
Disclaimer: The following article contains content and details concerning a student’s experience with sexual assault. Please be advised. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of sexual assault, we urge you to seek help immediately by contacting one of the numbers listed at the bottom of the article or by reaching out to a trusted adult such as a parent, family friend, or teacher.
According to Rainn.org, every 9 minutes Child Protective Services (CPS) proves or finds evidence for claims of child sexual abuse. 34% of these claims are for children under the age of 12 years old. I am part of that percent.
At the start of elementary school, an acquaintance I had sexually abused and assaulted me for years on and off. At that age, I was not aware of what was wrong and what was right. I developed unhealthy habits that usually stem from sexual assault/abuse. Because I am a naturally quiet person, I took up a lot of time processing and building up courage. I only just spoke up at the age of 15. I started by reaching out to a trusted teacher; they helped me speak up by making some calls.
After waiting over a week, I went in for questioning by an officer. As I gave detailed descriptions of what happened, I mentioned that I told my teacher that I was a victim of sexual assault. He told me that what I went through is not sexual assault and that I should not use that word when accusing in my situation. He told me that the person did not force me to do things like I said (even though he was abusive and often threatened me with violence). He suggested that next time I say, “someone touched me and I didn’t like it. “
“Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics”(Rainn.org). The officer also stated the most they can do is get him help even if he admits to his actions towards me. The reason why they will not contact his family to let them know is that “it might upset them” as the officer said. This world isn’t going to protect people from things that might upset them, which makes that an unreasonable excuse not to contact my attacker’s family. Life happens. It is the least they can do if they can’t take any further actions. How will my attacker get help when they don’t want to let the family know that I spoke up?
When the officer talked to my mom, he told her that I was unsure about specific things that happened when I never said I was unsure. My mom had to keep telling him that it is sexual assault because he kept denying it by saying we were young which doesn’t make it sexual assault/abuse. His words were very degrading and damaging, as he belittled my situation, and all because he didn’t know some common, but important knowledge.
My Advice to You
A lot of people do not speak up for these reasons. Cops usually aren’t trained for these situations, and if they are, they don’t take it seriously. I wish someone had told me what to expect. Sadly, we have to be prepared for these types of things; we live in a world where victims, especially females, are looked down on. Many people will doubt you, give false information, and treat it like it’s nothing. If you choose to speak up about something, do it as soon as possible, and remember that you know what happened; don’t let others tell you otherwise. It’s never your fault, and speaking up is the best thing you can do. It is easy to feel discouraged, but it’s important to never give up no matter what.
There are many cases where the judicial system fails to go through with a case and it is forgotten about. According to the University of Massachusetts, out of 100 rape reports, only 18 end in an arrest. That is why predators continue to do what they do, and victims don’t speak up. They see the lack of action that is taken upon them and continue to hurt others. We have to beg them to reopen a case, or even just make sure they don’t forget about it like they usually do. Or with my situation, they think it is too late, and apparently can’t do anything since we were young and “our brains aren’t fully developed.”
Despite the unfairness in many cases, it is important to persevere. I use what happened to me as a life lesson and it has made me stronger in the long run. I am not happy that it happened to me, but I learned several things from it. I learned the importance of using my voice, being confident, and independent. People that have gone through this or similar things will think it is their fault, but the actions of the perpetrator are never the fault of the victim. Sharing my experiences on social media helped others speak up as well. Even though I did not get any justice, writing this article helped me, and I hope to keep inspiring others to be brave.
If you need someone to talk to about sexual assault and harassment, please call: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
Human trafficking hotline: 888-373-7888
Victims of crime hotline: