This is a copy of the letter I shared with Governor Walker, among other Alaskan officials. I have not received a response. I feel that it is time to share it with my community.
"Alaska is my home. It is not right that I do not feel safe when I come home. I am writing you this letter on behalf of my fellow Alaskan women, and Alaskan residents in general. I have experienced a truly traumatic and terrible thing. I believe that it is the duty of the law enforcement and officials in the state of Alaska to bring myself and my peers justice and, most importantly, safety.
On June 21st, 2014 I became a victim of rape. The man who raped me was the same man that I thought I loved; the same man that I thought loved me. I loved him like I have never loved anyone before, and hopefully never will again. I loved him blindly, obliviously, and naively. The man who raped me is the same man that told me I was lucky to have him, the same man who told me I would never find anyone better than him. The man who was once the man of my dreams is now the man who I have nightmares about, the man who has caused more pain and heartbreak than anyone should ever have to endure. I have been trying to escape the memories of what happened to me for over a year now. This is my story. I hope it enables you to open your minds, your hearts, and join me in trying to prevent future rapes from happening, and protect victims that have already suffered enough.
Six months after I was raped, I heard a rumor that he had raped another girl, a girl that I had gone to high school with. I knew with every single cell in my body that this wasn’t just a small town rumor, it was real. I forced myself to admit the truth about what happened to me in June of 2012. It was one of the most difficult, most terrifying truths I’ve ever had to face. I was so broken. The other girl and I were able to connect, able to lean on each other and support each other. She encouraged me to tell my family, and to report to the police. I wasn’t ready to make a police report; I just didn’t feel like my words against his were enough. I also knew that once I made the report official, it would be an even more real, even more horrific thing.
I did share the painful story with my parents, and some very close friends. It was very tough for all of them to hear. There is a reality attached to saying something out loud to another person or seeing it written on paper that can break your heart all over again. They told me that they believed me but that the police would probably just write it off as “angry ex-girlfriend inventing story to hurt ex-boyfriend”. I was encouraged to keep it to myself and try to deal with it, process it, forgive him, and move on. I really did try to do those things, but I am a proactive person. I believe that a major step in healing the epidemic of rape is talking about it, reporting it, and enforcing laws that prevent rape and protect the victims. Our rape culture encourages us to be quiet about rape because it is easier to tell someone to be quiet and move on than it is to face and solve the problem. I called Haven House in Homer, which was very helpful for me, but I still wasn’t ready to make an official report.
At the time, I didn’t know how to handle my emotions regarding the trauma. I was afraid that reporting it would have no effect, and I was afraid that no one would believe me. Again, this is a symptom of rape culture. Victims need to be heard, recognized, and respected. Encouraging a victim not to report is like telling rapists that it’s okay to keep raping people because their victims will be silenced. Sometimes the people hushing us think that they are protecting us, but it is only hurtful.
I came home to visit this fall. It is always difficult for me to be home because I am afraid to see him. Everywhere I go, I check the parking lot to make sure his truck isn’t outside. I passed him driving one time and I had to pull over because I was crying and shaking so hard. Anger, pain, anxiety, and depression follow me like ghosts, and being in Homer gives them life. My home wasn’t, and isn’t, safe for me. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, go to parties or social events for fear of seeing him.
I heard he was going to be at an event that I was planning on going to one weekend, so I changed my plans and went to Palmer with my family and my best friend. He did go to the event and it made me sick, picturing him in a room with people that I knew and loved. At this point, to me, he was, and is, dangerous. He hurts people without shame or guilt. When I got home, I got a call from my friend, his other victim. She had been contacted by a girl we both knew that he had raped at the event. I don’t know if you’re counting, but that is THREE women in 18 months that I know of.
The third girl went to the police, and I knew it was time that I did the same. I knew that it was my duty to protect the people in my community, in my home, from such a dangerous person; a serial rapist, a sociopath, and the first step was reporting. I made my report first to a patrol officer in Anchorage. A lot of people congratulated me on my bravery; they said they knew how hard it was to report. Honestly, the first report was not nearly as difficult as looking in the mirror and telling my reflection he did it because he loved me. It was not nearly as difficult as admitting that he, a person I loved more that anyone I had ever loved before, had raped me; that I had become a victim of a terrible, horrific, real crime. The patrol officer told me that he would send my report to the SVU(Special Victims Unit) and they would contact me to finish the report. The SVU did contact me, two weeks later.
The SVU detective assigned to my case helped me to understand why many people feel that reporting is the hardest part. I spoke with this detective several times about my case and what could be done. The detective’s suggestion was that I have my phone tapped, I call my rapist and I ask him why he raped me. I was appalled. Who in their right mind would think this was a good idea?? Absolutely ludicrous. As a victim of rape, I have developed a caution around men that I never had before. I have panic attacks when I pass him on the street, completely safe from him in my own vehicle. Who in the hell came up with the idea that I call him and confront him? It still is a mind boggling concept to me. Why would my rapist ever openly admit to raping me, especially after he had been reported before, and had gotten away with it?
I was also required to yet again go into the gory details of my case with the SVU’s detective, who rescheduled the phone report several times. Not only is that unprofessional, it was annoying. I understand that he is very busy, but my report should be a priority too. It was frustrating to reschedule my report because every time I have to talk about this event I have to visit a memory that haunts my dreams and breaks my heart. I have to plan time to talk about it and to recover from talking about it. After I told my story for a second time the detective told me that if I wasn’t willing to do the glass warrant- to call my rapist- there was nothing else they could do. The detective would call him, inform him that a case (a third case) was made against him, and if he elected to say nothing or to deny it, my case would be filed away, left alone, and my rapist would walk around freely, haunting me, raping women, and living his life with no guilt or punishment.
I did refuse to do the glass warrant, because unlike the detective and Alaska’s lawmakers, I had my own mental health and well-being in mind, and I knew that calling him wouldn’t make any positive changes. I called my detective and left a message informing him that I would not do the glass warrant and requesting that he let me know when he had contacted my rapist. He never called me back.
It bothers me very much that the system is set up so in favor of the suspect that nothing else could be done to try to prevent him. There are three cases against him and he is not feeling any heat. Doesn’t that terrify you? Doesn’t that seem very odd and wrong to you?
I don’t understand why they couldn’t perform a psychoanalysis, a lie detector, a serious investigation, an aggressive interrogation, something to try to bring justice. At the very least, his name should be tagged in the system, in the event that more reports are made against him. It is very disturbing to me that there are no laws in place to protect Alaska’s women. Alaska has some of the highest assault, abuse, and rape rates in the country. What a shame that such a beautiful place is so unsafe, not only because people are hurt there, but also because our government is doing nothing to protect us.
Did you know that 98% of rapists will not spend a day in jail or prison? Did you know that on average in the U.S. 30.964 out of every 100,000 are victims of rape, while in Alaska 79.7 out of every 100,000 are victims of rape? That makes Alaska almost three times higher than the national statistic! The reason that this keeps happening in Alaska is because we are allowing it. By not prosecuting or attempting to prosecute cases like mine, we are allowing a rapist to walk around and contribute to our ridiculously high statistics. It is incredibly painful to be part of a statistic that it so vile. I do not want to be a victim. Unfortunately, it is too late for me. However, it is not too late for my sisters; it is not too late for (some) of my friends. It is not too late to make a change.
The way that the process of the law works in Alaska, based on my understanding, experience, and research, is as follows: A rape is committed, victim reports, no action is taken. I know it sounds like I’m joking, but I’m serious. The detective from Anchorage’s SVU told me that the action they can take is all based on how soon a victim reports, because they can get more evidence if the incident is reported sooner. This does make sense; however, only 32% of rapes are reported in the first place, and unfortunately, not a lot of these are reported in a time frame in which a medical examination could be done. Just because I didn’t report on a schedule that makes my case easiest to prove does not make my case any less valid, any less real, or any less worthy of prosecution or justice. In fact, of all the rapes reported to Anchorage Police Department in 2003 only 11% of them led to a conviction. This is not acceptable. I should not be punished for not reporting “soon” enough. As for “not having enough evidence”, there are three cases against one man. How is this not enough evidence for a trial?
Rape is not like other crimes. It is personal, it is painful, and it is especially difficult to face. It would be impossible for me to pretend that my bike had not been stolen, my car had not been totaled in a hit and run, my purse had not been snatched, etc. Likewise, my family, friends, peers, and community could not deny that any of these cut and dried crimes had happened, and they would probably not accuse me of inventing these scenarios as revenge on the perpetrator for hurting my feelings. They would not ask what I had been wearing or if I had been drinking. They wouldn’t ask why I went to the hotel room with a criminal in the first place. I wouldn’t have hesitated to report in fear of not being believed, or worse, being ignored.
I know there is nothing the police, or anyone, can do if I don’t make the report. Well, I’ve made my report, and still nothing is being done. I am doing everything I know to do and have the power to do to put a rapist in jail. I am doing everything I can to keep the women in Alaska safe, to make my home a safe place for me to return to, and a safe place for my baby sister to grow up in. Why isn’t my government? Why aren’t the people whose job is to protect me, protecting me?
I should not have had to go through two officers and waited two months to be told that nothing could be done. I will not accept this. The way that we should be handling this starts with the initial report. When I called the police to make my report, I should’ve been immediately directed to a trained specialist. I never should have had to make two reports. Our SVU detectives need to be trained, sensitive, understanding, professional, and have a strong desire to bring rapists to justice. SVU detectives should be able to understand how difficult this is to talk about for a victim. A rape case should never be downplayed. The reporting and investigating process should be quick to remove the criminal from the streets as fast as we can, and I should never be ignored or rescheduled by my officer. Hired officers should be both male and female, and there should be enough to handle the high caseload. When a victim reports a rape, the name of the rapist should be tagged in the system. This way, even if after trying as hard as our law enforcement officers can, they are unable to bring the case to trial or make a conviction, if there is another report made against the same person, they are able to use the first case(s) in the favor of the victims to convict the rapist.
Alaska’s system is flawed. I am begging you to fix it, for myself and for every other victim of this crime. Implement laws protecting the victim. Implement laws that allow, encourage, and require a full, in-depth, investigation to be made for every rape that is reported. Hire officers that want to help this process be as easy and beneficial to the victims as possible. We have been through enough, we deserve justice. It is much more painful for us when our government does not even attempt to bring a rapist to justice than it would be for someone who has been wrongfully accused of rape to be investigated. False claims of rape are no more common than they are for other crimes, and the perception that they are is only harming survivors.
Please make a change. Please make an effort. Please protect us, your daughters, your sisters, your aunts, your granddaughters, your friends, and your fellow humans. We deserve to be safe. I deserve to be able to come home to my family and not be afraid. Why are you protecting my rapist, and not me? Why is this continuing to be allowed? It is time for a change."