Friday, December 31, 2010
You must use real words and be very descriptive when going over your testimony with the DA, and also when you actually testify. You have to say penis, vagina, licked, specifically where you were touched, etc. It's really hard and upsetting. You won't want to go into detail but will have to. The thing to remember is you've already made it through this once when being interviewed by the police. You can do it, it's unpleasant but doable. Once you've testified you never have to describe it again if you don't want to, and that's a comforting thought!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So make a list. The more answers you have, the better you'll feel about the process. Don't feel bad asking the ADA or Victim/Witness advocate any question you have no matter how stupid you think it is. Really, it takes some of the terror away. It also makes you feel like you're involved in this, and you are! Without you the ADA can't make their case, they need you to testify! You are important!
I'm meeting the ADA tomorrow to go over what it's going to be like when I have to testify next week. Of course there's still a tiny chance he'll take a plea, but I need to be prepared for the very real possibility that this time next week I will have to tell an open courtroom every horrible detail about what he did to me as a child. I have a list of questions to bring with me.
In the beginning, I didn't write anything down. When I'd get a call from the ADA, I'd forget half of what I wanted to ask and feel too stupid and annoying to call her back and ask for clarification. It's really unnerving to be left uncertain of what's going on. Writing down questions has helped me to significantly cut back on anxiety.
Even though my case is a little complicated, this seems to be something huge that is overlooked when reporting a rape. It takes a long time to get to trial. It just does. In my case my rapist was still technically a juvenile(even though he was 15 and I was 6) when he assaulted me so there were extra steps that needed to be taken to prosecute this case where we are now both adults, and extra time it took to achieve getting to where it could be prosecuted. It has been almost four years since I reported what happened to me as a child to the police. I reported in the wrong county. I didn't know if I needed to report in the county I currently live in or the one where it took place, and it turns out that you should report in the county where it takes place. Now, the wrong county did send my statement and information to the correct county and they picked up and requestioned me and then started the investigation, but it took almost an entire year for the correct people to get on my case. It's definitely a timesaver to report in the correct county/ jurisdiction.
The defense will try to stall in any way they possibly can. They want to make it take so long that you just give up and tell the District Attorney you don't want it prosecuted any more. This is the easiest way out for them, the easiest way for them to have a happy client. I found the best technique to deal with this was to just pretend during the long periods of waiting that nothing was happening, and trying not to think about it. In a way it taking so long to get to trial has been a good thing for me. It has allowed me time to slowly adjust to what prosecuting my rapist entailed, and I was able to focus on one step at a time, not allowing me to get ahead of myself. To get to go to trial in one year is quick, I've seen figures stating the average is about a year and a half to two years from reporting to end of trial. The justice system does not move quickly.
I'm scared to death of what is going to happen next week. The trial against my rapist is supposed to start next Wednesday. My rapist also happens to be my uncle, making the number of familial supporters I have very low. It also means my very own grandmother or aunt could be there to testify in his defense. This has only managed to heighten my anxiety.
In the vast amount of time leading up to this trial I have been looking for reassurances in the form of other survivors' accounts of prosecuting their rapists and have found very little aside from vague stories where the point is if the perpetrator was found guilty or innocent. It's comforting to see stories where the perpetrator is found guilty of course, but it didn't really give me an idea of what I was getting myself into. So, I thought I could provide that which I was looking for, and this is it.
Things I wish I had known when reporting my rape; and my journey to justice.