As a young adult rape survivor, I was compelled to help other survivors by becoming a rape victims hospital advocate and a rape victims hotline counselor. The responsibilities of a rape victims hospital advocate is to provide crisis intervention, emotional support, explain legal and medical options, and ensure the survivors are treated with respect. They also provide coping strategies, and educate families on how to support the survivor. As a hospital advocate we were on call for several hours during the day and my duties included going to the hospital and sitting with the rape survivor while a rape kit is conducted. A rape kit is a package of items that are used to gather and preserve physical evidence. A rape victim hotline counselor role is to provide emotional support and give information to the caller on where they could go to get help as well as other support strategies. This was extremely important to me because I saw a need. As a thirteen year old survivor after the incident, the police thought it was necessary to interrogate me away from my parents when they didn't have any leads to catch the person that had violated me. Looking back on the incident as a child that had just gone through an exceptionally traumatic experience, I wasn't much help at giving them a sufficient description of the offender. After being strangled to the point where the blood vessels in my eyes had burst and completely blacking out, all I wanted to do was forget about the stranger that raped and tried to kill me. I had again found myself in yet another situation where figures of authority had labeled me a liar. They didn't outright say this to me but after interrogating me for hours and asking questions like "Why did you walk that route to your school, when there was a shorter route?", and "Why was I talking to a stranger?". I had pretty much come to the conclusion that the police officers had thought that I was a liar and somehow knew the person. The perpetrator was never caught because the interrogation was yet another traumatic experience that my mother just was not going to let me go through again.
It's no wonder that a large number of rape cases go unreported because of fear of not being believed, feeling insecure about reporting, and fear of getting in trouble. Some estimates go up to or above 90% of unreported rape cases and I learned first hand why. It is a sad reality that the vast majority of perpetrators will not go to jail or prison for this crime.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault even if the offense happened a long time ago, there are resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery. You don't have to give your name, it can be strictly confidential. Call The National Sex Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673) to get the help that you deserve.
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