To tell my story as a date rape survivor and communicate my message in a way that can help the most people.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Misguided Justice

I have been following the news reports quite closely from the moment I heard 2 prisoners escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility a NY State maximum security prison. This story is very personal to me as a victim of a violent sexual predator who currently serves a 21 year sentence in a Pennsylvania maximum security prison and then will be transferred to an Idaho maximum security prison to serve a Life sentence. In the time period leading up to my attacker's, Jeffrey Marsalis, trial and during my counseling I shared my fear that he would escape, somehow find and harm me for testifying against him. Although seemingly irrational and I've spent a lot of time working through it, there was and (now proven) is a very small chance it could happen.

The two convicted felons (Richard Matt & David Sweat) now on the loose were heinous, vicious murderers and I can imagine what the victims are thinking and feeling until they are finally caught and returned to prison. As the details unfolded and continue to do so every day I think about them because I know from personal experience the fears I had that they are now living out in real time. If I could I would speak to them or meet with them face to face to show my support and share that I want to be there however they may need me.

As if it wasn't bad enough that these violent men were now free it was then reported that a prison employee took it upon herself to not just decide that a judge and jury conviction was incorrect but to help the two escape. I don't care that she may have been charmed by one or both of them or whatever else her attorney may explain away her behavior but she went to the next level by assisting them. Since her arrest I watch the footage of Joyce Mitchell online or on television and get extremely angry. My disgusted reaction is a result of my knowledge and experience of what it takes to put a criminal behind bars no matter what the crime and how high the stakes and the personal investment made not just from the victims and their families but from law enforcement and the prosecutors office. Every step throughout the legal process is, as I see it, another hurdle to get over in order to get justice as a victim. The stress and anxiety experienced can only be described as all consuming until the verdict comes in from the Jury and they say the magic word "GUILTY". But even then there is still one more hurdle to overcome and that's the sentencing by the judge. Will it be what the accused and now convicted deserves?

So the trial and sentencing are over and the convicted are "safely" away in prison only does the real healing begin for the victims and families. But not in this case! If this was happening to me I would show up in court every day that Joyce Mitchell appears and write as many letters as humanly possible to the judge and prosecutors office asking that no mercy and the harshest penalties be imposed on her for undoing what a jury and judge had done. Since it, thankfully, not happening to me what I can do is share my experience and publicly show my support for the families of the victims who crossed paths with those awful men.

Monday, June 1, 2015

It's Not OK

The past few weeks have been happily busy for me as I work and volunteer and throw in a few social activities here and there. I've had the opportunity to meet some amazing new people some of which have become my friends. Since moving out to LA new friendships have been slow in coming but I knew if I was patient those important connections would cultivate. My recent part-time job has allowed me to be exposed to some very interesting people all with their own unique story to tell. Each also accepting and supportive of my own story. It's inspiring! Recently, as a large group of us sat around chatting, discussions of a previous work environment involving a very uncomfortable experience some women had were brought up. I listened to what several had to say and filed it away in my mind. We were separated for the remainder of our work day and the subject wasn't revisited.

I got home late that night but when I woke up the next morning I started to think more about what was shared with me by those women the night before. I became angry about what they had to experience and decided when I saw them that evening I would bring up what I do as a public speaker and advocate of sexual assault awareness and offer my support. My instincts told me that these women were strong and outspoken and most likely receptive to what I had in mind. I approached one of the girls shared my idea and she couldn't have said Yes to me fast enough telling me she had already considered taking action. She provided me her information along with a friend of hers also and I told her I would get working on some ideas how we could move forward to report the offensive behavior.

Although I can't discuss in detail just yet what happened because it's not my story to tell I can say that a man hired as an entertainer frequently used vulgar, offensive language, stories and jokes in his routine. The women were working while this was going on. He is clearly only moderately talented because there are plenty of entertainers out there who do not lower their standards to such a level in order to get reactions from an audience. We all have varying standards of tolerance when it comes to things that may be considered off color and even one woman's disapproval should not be ignored but this was more than enough women to organize a group and lodge a complaint. Especially when one woman has heard the dialogue repeated from this "entertainer" before. We have power in numbers.

The point I'm trying to get across is that women should never be hesitant or afraid to speak up because there may be others who are thinking the same thing. The only way we can stop this type of bad behavior is to call out the offender to someone in authority and make them aware that It's Not OK!