On Monday June 23rd, a passionate group of women started a twitter campaign to raise awareness of how the criminal justice system treats rape, sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence, and trafficking survivors. The campaign began as a way to ask a seemingly simple question that unfortunately doesn’t have an easy answer. The golden question is, “who don’t survivors go to the police and put their assailant’s in jail?”
Since the campaign started, it appears as though hundreds of women and some men have joined in to speak out about how our justice system fails victims. I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn about Twitter. When I first heard about twitter, I felt as though it was pretty silly and could never imagine that I would become someone who tweeted. A few years later, however, here I am. I wanted to share some of the things I read as a result of this campaign, because I think it highlights the good of social media.
1) “Police success statistics mean rape cases are dropped”: Most law abiding citizens probably held the believe, as I did, that when someone breaks the law (and is caught) they will be arrested. In reality, however, there are many police departments that cherry pick cases in order to ensure impressive crime fighting statistics. Sadly, while there are some amazing police officers who work day and night to fight crime, there are also officers who don’t have altruistic motivations. Police officers are people, and when you have people – you have the potential for moral corruption.
2) “People assume a rapist is innocent because the police won’t arrest him or he wins in court. No, this just means he got away with rape”: Again, unless you have seen a criminal get away with horrific crimes time and time again, you might feel as though our justice system is successful at keeping us all safe. Let me be the first person to tell you, in the event that you haven’t already heard this, most good men will never be accused of rape. If you know someone who has, you might want to keep your distance because something could be seriously amiss about this person. Like, for example, that person could go on to kill his own child. Despite what many corrupt officials would like for us all to believe, women don’t just go around reporting false rape right and left.
3) “When terms like ‘legitimate rape’ exist”: This is a term that is so insane that most people would have to hear an official say it to really even believe it was said in seriousness. When I read it on twitter, however, I absolutely believed it had been said. I believed it because I have heard equally as ridiculous things said to me by people in powerful positions. I would challenge anyone to explain to me what this official could have meant by “legitimate rape”.
4) “Only 3% of rapist ever spend a day in jail”: This statistic is alarming, because it means that the other 97% of rapists are walking the streets and likely to rape again. I know from first hand experience that if a dangerous person is not caught the first (or second, etc) time he/she commits a crime, that person becomes emboldened and gets a feeling of being “above the law”. When a rapist doesn’t get stopped, he doesn’t just decide to stop raping – he continues to rape.
5) “When even convicted rapists and pedophiles are allowed full parental rights and access to their children”: This last tweet hit me hard. When a woman is raped, and there is a child produced from that rape, that child could most likely be forced to visit with their rapist parent. If the rapist serves any time, which we all know is rare, his parental rights remain fully intact and upon his release he would be allowed to begin his dangerous influence on this innocent child. Not to mention, the courts will remove the child from the custody of his mother if that mother is incapable of fostering a relationship between her child and her rapist.
I think a lot of parallels can be made between how rape is treated in this country, and what is happening in family courts. There was a time when society understood the role of a mother as a nurturer and protector. It seems as though old school misogynist views are being played out in the Family Courtroom and in police stations across the country. Why are rape cases assumed to always be “he said/she said”? Why wouldn’t each claim be actually investigated before an officer makes the assumption that the claim is likely false?
While my ex didn’t get custody (because it was clear that he had no means to take care of Prince), when it came to discussion of abuse, the court saw him as a credible reporter. I came to court with a parade of reputable character witnesses, an impressive history of work, educational achievements, and a clean record. Luc, on the other hand, was unable to provide even one family member who could speak positively about him. He had no proof of ever paying taxes or holding any kind of employment, and he wasn’t even honest about how old he was. Even though these facts existed, our court system still cancelled out both of our comments and chalked them up to “he said/she said”. Luc was only able to tip the scales when he found a therapist who would support his compulsive and dangerous lies.
I have often discussed what I believe is the death of justice. I applaud the group behind this twitter campaign, because they are trying to resuscitate the justice system. They are trying to pry open the eyes of those people in our society who refuse to realize how bad things have gotten. Even though the issues that these women have tweeted about might not be immediate in your life at this moment, there will be a day when every single American will feel the negative impact of the monstrous holes in our justice system. One day, the child of the rapist (who was forced to spend years being influenced by a violent felon) will show up on your door step. He will be taking your daughter to prom.