When They Stand
I don’t write about the sex crimes part of my police job often though it’s considered my specialty. These cases cause me sleepless nights, tears and heartache. I’m not the victim but as a society we are all victimized by such atrocities.
For child victims of molestation and survivors of sexual assault, it leaves behind a legacy of shame and devastation. As a detective investigating the circumstances of the crimes, my job is to remain aloof and impartial. When I’m looking at a woman, bruised and bleeding, gazing at the floor and telling me it was her fault, I’m angry. When I watch a three year old child tell of the horrors he or she has lived with and then ask if it’s time to play, my tears fall.
I am human.
I never lie to a sexual assault victim or the parent of a molested child. The laws are not in their favor. The accused has the right to face the accuser. If a child is old enough to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they sit on the stand, alone, in front of adults and must be able to point out the defendant and describe what the monster did to them.
For women and men, they must articulate details of the attack and claim intimate pictures of genitalia as their own. The defense attorney, jury, and judge all look at the pictures in open court.
I don’t agree with the term “date rape.” Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter if you know your attacker, the after effects last a lifetime. I know there are those who say “victims” lie. I have investigated two cases where they did. I then prosecuted the true criminals and won.
In the past twelve months there has been an increase in my sex crimes workload. It’s been rough and I’m thankful every day that I have a wonderful support system and the strong shoulders of my husband to lean on.
Until this past year, my victims have agreed to lighter sentences for their attacker as part of plea deals so they would never be required to testify to the horrifying events. I understand. I empathize but I want my suspect to go away forever because I know this is the only way they’ll be stopped. I hold my counsel and wonder if I would be strong enough to bare all under these circumstances. For a long time I didn’t think I could.
Then something happened.
A fourteen year old girl slowly walked to the witness stand. Her long hair in ponytails, with small glasses perched on her nose. Her slender body was engulfed by her chair. She looked out at the audience where her mother and father sat and quietly described, in great detail, what was done to her. She found her voice and her emotional testimony was heard.
Then, in an exceptionally public case, a forty year old woman silenced a disbelieving audience who were supporting a well-known prominent man in our community. She described hours of torture and took one of the pictures of her brutalized body and turned it toward the defendant yelling, “You did this to me.” There was not a dry eye in the room.
Then, three months later, a sixteen year old refused to be silenced and at the end of her testimony she stood up from the witness chair and screamed her pain to a stunned courtroom. The defendant looked down and would not lift his head.
These three incredibly strong females have changed me. In spite of the insensitivity and regardless of reliving their personal pain, they stood up for all victims.
When they stand their power is unstoppable.