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  • Writer's pictureLt. Tim McMillan (Ret.)

Suffocated By Crimes Without Punishment

He admits to being at the party, and he admits that he was intoxicated. He even acknowledges to having sex with you. However, he says that it was consensual… I need you to be aware of something. When we get to court, and you take the stand, this is what his defense attorney is going to say. The attorney is going to describe how you lured his client into the bathroom at the party under false pretenses. He is going to say that you were not passed out drunk on the floor, rather that you took advantage of his client because he was drunk. His attorney is going to try to depict you as a slut and whore and say you knew his client was in a committed relationship with a lovely wholesome girl who sings in the church choir. In the lawyer’s story, it was you that came onto his client, and in a moment of drunken weakness, he agreed to have sex with you. His attorney is going to say that you waited almost two months to report the crime, not because you were ashamed, scared and emotionally suffering. He is going to acknowledge that you were pregnant. However, he will dispute it ever was a result of his client’s sexual encounter with you. The attorney will tell the jury that you got pregnant by someone else to trap his client and only when you had a miscarriage, and realized that his client wasn’t going to leave his girlfriend for you did you, falsely accuse him of rape.* The year was 2005, and I was a twenty-four-year-old police detective. Sitting across from me, was an attractive twenty-two-year-old girl. She had been involuntarily plunged into the cruel reality of what victims of sex crimes go through in the American criminal justice system. The painstaking truth I learned early in my career, was that for the victim my role always comes too late to protect them from the worst. Instead, my job ends up trying to help them gather the pieces of their shattered life as best as I can. The best I can offer is bringing justice to the predators who prey on the innocent.  At least, typically that is what my job consist of. However, the bluntness of my words at that given moment was indeed shared in an attempt to protect her. No matter how soft and compassionate my tone was, I knew my words still sounded like tiny daggers. Each sentence pierced through her ear drums and reverberated in her mind.  She silently sat there with her head down looking at the floor. Only the low mummer of the air conditioning system could be faintly heard as we both just silently sat there for a few moments.  I couldn’t see her face. However, I watched as one lone tear fell in slow motion onto the carpet of my office. She took in a deep breath, putting both hands on her knees and looked up at me. Her eyes were watery and glossed over, yet her face showed a defiant indifference. She was trying her hardest to convey to me that what I said, didn’t hurt her. She matter-of-factly said, “Well, I guess I was right. I was right for not wanting to report it in the first place. All but one of my friends have turned their back on me. Said, that it was my fault and that I shouldn’t have got that drunk. Funny, I don’t even like to drink. They convinced me to go to the party. They told me I was a being a nerd and that I needed to get out more. Said to me that my problem was I should find a boy and hook up. Well, I guess I did.” She took another deep breath, looking away from me and staring at a little artificial potted orange tree I have in my office. Everyone, always wonders if the small tree is real and at that moment, the tree provided a brief distraction from the reality of the entire experience.  She wanted to ask me if it was real, and I would have told her it wasn’t. I would have said, that I was originally from Florida and that it was my little reminder of home. She would then tell me she was from Boston, and we would joke about my inability to tolerate cold weather. We would laugh, and she would make fun of my southern accent. Life would have been normal.  Instead, she looked back at me, stood up and held out her hand. In response, I offered mine, and we shook hands as if we had just finished a business deal. She said, “Thank you for everything Detective McMillan. I appreciate your help.” Then she walked out of the door to my office and was gone. Twelve years later, I still have that same artificial orange tree in my office.

We have seen lots of people be critical of women in America who have protested, marched or spoken out for women’s rights.  The typical admonishment against those who decree that women should be treated equally is that they are “complainers” and “whiners.”  Critics are quick to cry out that women in America already have gender equality. Individuals will say that if women don’t like it in America, maybe they should go to some other third world country or totalitarian governed land where women actually are treated poorly. In truth, these faultfinders cannot ever have been a victim of a sex crime in America. If they had, they would realize just how entrenched the cultural patriarchy over the governess of leadership, moral authority, and social privilege the society really is. Indeed, it is true that men or boys can be the victims of sex crimes. However, out of all sex crimes, 90% of the victims are women. According to the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the world, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), in America, out of every 1000 rapes that occur only, 310 will be reported to the police. Out of that 310, only 57 will ever lead to arrest. In those 57 cases were someone is arrested, only 11 will go to trial. On average, only 7 of those 11 will result in a felony conviction, and just six will be incarcerated. The perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison that all other criminal offenses. In terms, of sexual assaults (excluding rape), the numbers aren’t any better, with an average of only 344 out of 1,000 attacks being reported. Essentially, out of 1000 women who read this, statistically speaking, 909 of you could be raped in America with absolute impunity. What the critics of the estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million people marched on January 21, 2017, for the Women’s March, or any other recent event in the wave of pro women's movements, fail to realize is that the actions are not inherently about politics.  Rather, the rise in women’s movements is in response to the populist normalization of language and behavior that are contributing factors to the hushed sexual violence women face.  The insertion of women’s issues into the political arena is not the fault of women. In actuality, the fault lies solely on the fact that misogynistic conduct incorporated itself into politics. Some are quick to point out that proponents of women’s rights engage in dress and behavior that is considered vulgar or offensive. Once again, many critics are overlooking is that the fact that these types of costumed appearances or behavior, is offensive directly relates to the societal norms, which allow women to be disproportionality victimized. It is the hypocrisy that men, can ambiguously or overtly talk about sexually explicit topics or make light of sexual assault and it is dismissed as “boys will be boys” or “locker room talk.” Conversely, if a woman dresses up like a vagina, suddenly she is “disgusting,” “unladylike,” or “vulgar.” Why? What is the difference? How do you mitigate gender equity and say that boys can, talk or act one way, and girls cannot? Understand, I am not suggesting that all women should aspire to dress up as their favorite female body part. Equally, I can say that some behaviors, dismissed as “locker room talk,” involve practices I wouldn’t engage in.  However, an individual cannot ignore that there exists a form of traditional rationalization that accepts males can be vulgar or offensive, while women cannot. In essence, it this universal tacit that men in society, control and exercise superior authority over sex. We men, can talk about it, in as intimate of detail as we would like, and we can take it, and there is nothing women can do to stop it. This is the cold and bitter reality of how “great American women have it.” These are the gritty truths of how truthfully equal women are to men.  The topic of female objectification and sexual abuse is a noiseless cultural norm that permeates every demographic in America. It slithers underneath closed doors in the suburbs and slinks into locked bedrooms within inner cities. America is supposed to be the global flagship of freedom and democracy. However, the reality is, there is an unspoken pandemic of female victimization in the United States. Assuredly, there are many other areas in which women are disproportionately treated. However, the issue of female sexual victimization is one of the most intimate and prevalent aspects of gender inequality that exists.  Alarmingly, it endures within a deafening vacuum of silence. No matter, what your political affiliation or loyalty, I urge you to consider what I have said from a degree of temperance and to resist a dismissive attitude purely out of ideological or political devotion. In the end, this is a subject that is emotionally charged for me. I am one of the individuals who has to hear the pain that victims endure. I am one of the people who take on the virtually impossible task of trying to bring some semblance of control and dignity back into the lives of women who have had a piece of their soul stolen. Now, I consider, as tough as that is for me, I am still a man. My somberness towards the prevalence of female victimization exists within the confines of my male existence. However, my sadness is centered on the helplessness I have to defend and protect women in our society. However, it is the women, just like that young lady who walked out of my office 12-years ago, who actually have to live the reality.  If you happen to be a woman, who doesn’t have these concerns, great! I really mean that. However, please understand that for a lot of women, this is a legitimate concern.  I am indeed growing emotionally weary, to the point of melancholy desperation, of having to give the same speech going on 15-years now. Not to mention, I have a ten-year-old and one-year-old daughters. The older they get, the more I know that the proverbial clock is ticking. So I am asking you please, not for me, but for each other and my daughters… please stand up and say women deserve true equality and to be treated with utmost respect.  *Some details have been altered and interchanged between several actual events in order to protect the anonymity of the victims.  

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