I just don’t want to delve right into this topic because I’m in a pretty good space right now. However, I have read accounts of the ‘not guilty’ verdict for a British actor charged with rape and the cacophony of bull dust that has inevitably followed.
People on twitter and Facebook demanded that the alleged (I loathe using that a word) victim in the case be named, charged, publicly shamed…for “falsely accusing” a popular personality of such a horrible crime.
My first response was to point out the statistics for successful convictions in crimes of sexual violence. I know them well, as I am one of the lucky 2% who make it all the way to a guilty verdict in Court. Yes, two percent. Now you can add ten percent if you like, if you’re one of those people who feels the need to bleat that this stark statistic as if it is exaggeratedly low. As if feminists and victims collude to make “men look bad”. Yep, people actually say that.
My first response, as was the case with many of my favourite women on twitter, was to reiterate that ‘not guilty’ means that there was not enough evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt which does not in and of itself prove that no crime took place. That we should be very careful about baying for blood in this case because chances are that this girl was assaulted and to charge her or name her is an horrendous re victimisation and just bloody dangerous! Would it be a travesty to be accused of rape under false pretences? No doubt. What would it be if we further demonised a rape victim because the law failed her? Why is the ‘reputation of a man’ more valuable than the very existence of someone so vulnerable and traumatised. You just don’t get a case to court with no evidence. You don’t.
It’s what society does to victims who report rape and sexual assault. It seems that we* need to cling to every reason and excuse to minimise such reprehensible acts of hatred because we are uncomfortable with the truth of it. That rape was committed by someone’s son, father, colleague or neighbour. Because they are ALL somebody’s something. They are all men whom we interact with in a regular capacity. Until we hear that they have violated someone so horribly. But the reaction when we hear this? For so many people, the reaction is to question (doubt) the accuser.
She led him on.
She just regrets having sex with him.
She’s a ‘cock tease’ (Yeah, that one has always stuck in my head. What the woman I worked with kept saying as a reason for what was done to me. Because penises have a life of their own and are out of control weapons..?)
She’s a slut.
In some way, any way, this horrible thing must be wrong. In a collective societal blindness that still bewilders me, it is the victim who is the target of this difficulty we have addressing sexual violence.
So in the case of the British actor, a finding of Not Guilty had the usual suspects making noise.
But do you know something?
It’s even worse than that. People are even more blind than that.
I got my case all the way to the Committal Hearing in the County Court, gave evidence and endured cross examination for a whole day.
And because I was telling the truth and at his core, the offender is a weak prick, he asked to plead guilty at the end of that day. I joke about being an awesome witness on the stand but I know the truth. I’m damn lucky that he caved in.
He admitted to what he did.
He was convicted.
So, we all agree he is guilty, right?
I should have begun my emotional recovery in that ‘lucky’ position of being victorious in Court. The law worked. I did it.
Even as my colleagues walked out of the Court with that knowledge…they discussed why ‘he only pled guilty to stop the drama’ and ‘avoid jail’. They said they knew he was not really guilty. He ‘just said that’.
I’ll repeat that.
A perpetrator of sexual violence admits he committed these crimes against me. He faced being put on the Sexual Offenders Registry which would mean that he couldn’t go near his kids school. And the majority of people around us STILL claimed to ‘know’ that he wasn’t really guilty. As if anyone on the planet would admit to these crimes if they were not guilty of them, or indeed worse than what they bargain down to. (In my case, some charges were dropped for the deal and the probable jail term suspended)
So don’t worry about a not guilty verdict. You can actually get to the point of a public confession of guilt before the Court and people will STILL call you a liar. Still deny the truth. Such is the power of their denial, at times I have felt that the perpetrator was actually the ‘most decent’ of this group who tried to destroy me because at least he fucking owned up…even in a watered down fashion. The other bastards spent the next two years making my life Hell. And the denial and judgement moved right up the chain to the top person in the state in my sector of employment. I thought with an admission in Court I would be treated accordingly, as the victim of deeply personal crimes.
I was wrong.
The problem we have with the reality of rape and sexual assault is bigger than we think.