In June of 2015 I was raped. In May of 2017 my rapist was found guilty. In July of 2017 I was able to read my impact statement. Here it is:
It's almost impossible to figure out where to begin, or what to say, and how to say it most effectively. Should I begin with the detrimental, agonizing physical effects brought on by being raped? Or should I start with my lament on the hopelessness and suicidal tendencies that raged in the aftermath? I don't know. I'm sure I'm not the first rape survivor you (the judge) have heard from, and I doubt I'll be the last. My story is nothing extraordinary, and that is perhaps the most tragic thing of all. I suppose I'll start from the beginning, and attempt to make sense of the past two years for you.
After I woke up disoriented and confused at home, I noticed that I was bleeding into the toilet. After continuing to bleed for several more hours, my mother intervened and took me to Littleton Adventist Hospital where she works. For the next 6-7 hours I was swabbed, poked, and prodded in every orifice of my body. I had a nearly foot long q-tip inserted into my rectum, and a chunk of my hair pulled out. The inside of my body was scraped and photographed. My clothes were taken from me. I had to explain the details of a night I couldn't remember three different times. I spent ten minutes on my hands and knees, crying, a camera documenting photo after photo of the rip in my anus. I was sent home with emergency contraceptives, and a month's supply of anti-HIV medication.
The next 30 days were spent no further than a minute away from a toilet, as the medication caused intense gastrointestinal pain, and seemingly infinite emergency runs to the toilet. I was unable to work. I could barely find the energy to spend time with friends or family. I was a mess of crippling stomach cramps, nausea, and uncontrollable bowl movements. On top of this the tear in my anus tried to heal while being continuously reopened, because of the side effects of the medication.
Perhaps this sounds miserable, and it was, but it was nothing compared to the psychological and emotional fallout. And now really, how do I being? I began to go through my days in a confused and depressed fog; neither present nor participatory. What had happened that night? What if I was exaggerating a bad hangover? What if the nurse lied to me when she said I had definitely been raped? What if I had just gone home after work that night?
As the questioning and doubt began to gather and storm in my mind, so did the self-hatred, and self-defeating thoughts. I felt as though my agency, my voice, my ability and right to make decisions about who and what goes into my body were all stripped from me. I wasn't a human, or a person. I was just a thing for something else to use; no more meaningful than a tissue in the hand at the end of some lonely boy's evening. I lost my ability to make decisions. Within ten days of being raped I found myself at the grocery store, having a panic attack over the amount of produce options. I went where I was told I needed to go, and spent the rest of the time cut-off, isolating in my basement bedroom, a bottle of liquor in one hand and a joint in the other. I oscillated between not feeling, feeling intense anxiety and panic, and self-medicating.
After a month off of work, and two weeks back at it, I woke up one morning and couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't move. I couldn't feel. I couldn't think. I was eventually fired, and my former boss called the police to do a wellness check on me, fearing I had hurt or killed myself. I wouldn't be able to rejoin the workforce for another five months. I spent that time alone, in my basement, either anesthetizing myself, or screaming and crying in the mirror, into my pillow, in the shower, on the floor, unable to process what had happened and what was happening to me. And during such an intense time, when I most need to ask for help, I was unable to form the thought, let alone the words to voice such a need. Eventually my anxiety, panic, and depression began to manifest in visual hallucinations while I tossed and turned, unable to sleep at night. By March the following year, I had a near psychotic break, going into a mania that caused me to begin cutting myself one night, texting my best friend to alert him, and then eventually blacking and passing out from the mania alone.
In the months following the rape I gained 30 pounds, had a near suicide attempt, and lost any trust or love that I had for my fellow human beings and myself. This is only what I am able to express. There is so much more that I may never be able to put words to. There is still agony, and grieving, and the road to recovery is potholed and pitted with unnameable, unforeseeable, and constant obstacles and pains.
But I have been lucky. I have an incredible support system that rallied and carried me for so long. Without my mother I wouldn't have gone to the hospital. Without my friend Phil I might have killed myself that night. But I was lucky in other ways as well. I was lucky that my rapist was foolish enough to leave his DNA on me. I was lucky that an RTD (transit) officer helped me get home when I woke up on the ground at one of the Light Rail stations. I was lucky that the Denver police, victim's advocates, and assistant DA's took my case seriously. I was lucky that the jury believed my testimony, and declared this manchild guilty of forcing himself into me, and ripping me open with not only his penis, but his misogyny and manifest destiny.
But most victims and survivors aren't so lucky. 70% of rapes go unreported every year, and for every 100 rapes that are reported only 1 rapist will ever see the inside of a jail cell. It is our obligation as citizens and upholders of the law to do proper justice to the victims, as well as dissuade others from thinking that raping someone is acceptable, and from acting on that thought. If rapists keep getting off with a swat on the hand, or egregiously short sentences, it only perpetuates and strengthens rape culture, misogyny, sexism, and the oppression of women (or, in fact, the oppression of all victims regardless of gender or sexual identity). That is why I ask you to consider the maximum sentence for this rapist, for this person who had his way with me when I couldn't object or protest or fight back. And believe me, if I could have I would have. Nothing I did was in any way an invitation or form of consent. It doesn't matter that I was drunk. It doesn't matter what I was wearing. All that matters is that he saw me, and thought, "I'm going to do what I want with this thing, and what I want is to rip her body open."
Please consider all of this when making your decision. I implore you to not let another rapist off easy. I implore you to help give a voice to those who cannot speak up or be heard on their own by giving Mr. Martinez the maximum penalty for his actions. We are all of us responsible for our actions and choices, but sometimes the law must step in and decide the consequences. Please, make those consequences just.
Want to support my delusions of being a paid writer and philosopher? Check out any of the options below to make a donation.
© Alessandra Ragusin 2016-2020