Let’s get this out in the open first. No high school student wants to be the victim of a sexual assault. No high school student then wants every one in their school to find out they are the victim of a sexual assault. It’s the kind of notoriety that blows.
I’ve been the person told about a sexual assault more times than I care to count. Comes with the territory of outpatient mental health. Sometimes it’s twenty years later. Some times it’s twenty days. Sometimes it’s twenty hours.
The number of teenagers and women I’ve processed sexual assaults with staggers me. Because yes. While sexual assault definitely happens to males; I have a far larger number of female victims in my practice.
The number of times the perpetrator has been prosecuted- out all of the cases I’ve had- maybe twice.
The number of times the victim reported it and the police interviewed them, the DA reviewed the case, their psychiatric and medical records were released to the DA and the police…and then nothing happened…too many times.
The really fun part is when they report it to their high school. I learned this over the last few years having moved my practice to suburbia. The high school does their own investigation. That’s right. Even when the police are involved, DCF, and every one else, the high school, under the guise of Title IX conducts its own interviews. With the victim. The witnesses. And the accused perpetrator.
In the meantime in all of my cases…the victim is expected to change their class schedule, not go to prom (because they can’t actually tell the perpetrator not to go apparently?!), and basically completely invalidate the victim at every turn. All supposedly legally under Title IX.
There is a culture of victim blaming, victim shaming, and “but he’s on the wrestling team!” shock and horror that any one could make “him” uncomfortable by bringing up the fact that he perpetrated a sexual assault.
These cases are in white suburbia. I had SIGNIFICANTLY fewer of these cases I mean significantly fewer, when I worked in a city with a very large high school and a diverse make-up. I spoke with a police officer in one of these small towns and said is it just me or is there a lot of sexual assault here? They told me it wasn’t just me. That it was a problem in their small town.
The victims first have to deal with telling their own parents. Which sucks. Every time. Then had to deal with telling me or another mental health provider. Then they told the police. Then the district attorney. Then the freaking school. Who then in multiple cases told the girls to basically change their class schedule and adjust themselves around the perpetrators schedule because they couldn’t ask the perpetrator to change anything.
I actually received calls from a nearby guidance department who were trying to elicit from me that my client’s behaviors were just that. Behaviors. They were avoiding class because they simply didn’t want to go. I just about lost my mind. I said if the perpetrator who sexually assaulted me was in my class I also would not want to go. I also would act out behaviorally. That particular guidance office doesn’t call me back anymore.
Schools are failing our children. In so many ways. Victims are gaslighted and perpetrators are let off without even a slap on the wrist. We have created a culture of invalidating our children who are sexually assaulted because we are too scared to stand up to the wealthy white families of the perpetrators. (Eh hem. Kavanaugh. Starts at the freaking top people).
The victims are told to basically shut their mouths, sweep it under the rug, and go be a good girl now.
Fuck that nonsense.
Since I started writing my blog clients now and then will tell me they read it regularly. I don’t hide it, but I don’t promote it.
So to all of you reading. I am angry for you. I am hurt for you. I have called school administrators who left me voicemails back that their guidelines are published online and they will not discuss this further with me.
They obviously haven’t met me.
There will be discussions. If I have to plant myself in a board of education meeting until some one will listen to me every month they have them. Then I will.
I know it’s exhausting for you to constantly be fighting for your rights. I know you want to keep your head down and just make it through high school. I know you don’t want your parents to fight as hard as they want to because you just want things to go back to normal.
If that’s what you need; keep your head down. I got you.
And to anyone else reading this know that we as a society have to do better. We have to empower victims of sexual assault not demoralize them. We have to prosecute perpetrators yes even and especially when they are white and especially when they are wealthy. We can’t let this cycle continue because our children are suffering.