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  • Writer's pictureemilynmoser

Why I Reported One, But Not the Other

I reported my sexual assault. I didn’t report my molestation. One was committed by a complete stranger. The other was committed by someone I knew. I reported one, but not the other. Both decisions were right for me and I stand by them.


Although I did report my sexual assault, it was a decision that was made for me. The truth is, I don't even think I realized it was something that I could report at the time. All I knew was that I had just been attacked and the man had attempted to rape me, and that’s it. I could barely wrap my mind around what had just happened as it is, I wasn’t thinking beyond that.


Immediately after the assault, I called my dad who told me to find someone to help me until he could get there. I found the Assistant Principal of my school who pretty quickly called the police. I don’t remember ever being asked if I wanted the police to be called and I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to report my sexual assault. But that’s what I did, because I didn’t know I had options let alone any idea what I wanted to do.


A lot goes into reporting. First, I started by telling the police officers what happened and answering their follow-up questions. Then, I was taken to the hospital in my most expensive rideshare to date, an ambulance. At the hospital I answered more of the same questions by law enforcement as well as medical professionals. I was examined and put through machines (and by machines I mean one machine and it was an CT Scan). Once I got cleared at the hospital, I was sent to an assault treatment center. There, I was asked similar questions and was examined much like they would for a rape kit. They swabbed me for DNA in crevices of my body I didn’t know I had. They photographed all of my scrapes, bruises and extensive injuries. And then finally, after 8 hours, I was allowed to go home. But I wasn’t done yet. Within the next couple of days, I then had to meet with a sketch artist to come up with a composite of the man who put me in this mess.


While it was the most emotionally and physically draining process, I understand why everything needed to happen when it did. They had to ask me countless questions to get my full story before the trauma would cause me to mentally block out the details. They had to examine and swab me while the DNA was still on my skin. They had to photograph me while the wounds were still fresh. They had to get me to complete a sketch before I forgot what his face looked like. Time was of the essence.


I reported my sexual assault and, although I wasn’t necessarily the one to make that decision, it was the right decision for me because in the end my assailant was put behind bars. I find peace in knowing he can’t hurt any other young girls. And that is always the hope when you report - to stop this terrible thing from happening to anyone else.


But reporting is not the right decision for everyone. And it may not always be the right decision for the same person all the time. When I was molested, I didn’t report it, and that decision was also right for me.



After my assault, I was eligible for 10 counseling sessions provided by the state. I was adamant that I was “fine” and didn’t need to go to counseling, but I went anyway per the strong suggestion of my parents.


I didn’t ever know what I was supposed to talk about in counseling, so most of the time I just talked about things that went on in my everyday life. The day I told her about being molested, just days prior, was no different.


My mom was dating our family friend, who’s daughter was also my best friend. After her graduation party, my mom, brother and I all spent the night at their house. My mom and brother were in one room and I was in my best friend’s. The next thing I knew, I was waking up to my family friend rubbing my pubic area over my pajama bottoms.


I startled awake and wriggled around so he couldn’t touch me anymore. He hid under the bed. He was drunk and freaked out because he “thought I was my mom.” I was terrified. I pretended to go back to sleep until he left the room. My mom, brother and I left their house in the middle of the night. The next day he cried to me, more than I’ve ever seen a grown man cry, and profusely apologized. He swore it was an accident.


I believed him.


I didn’t realize that what he did to me was classified as molestation at the time, but I knew that it was wrong and that it made me uncomfortable. I asked my counselor not to say anything and she promised me she wouldn’t. It wasn’t long until I realized she had lied to me.


When I was taken out of my math class to be asked some questions by two police officers, I assumed it was for the sexual assault. It wasn’t uncommon for law enforcement to take me out of class to ask me some questions or have me look at what they called a “6 pack,” a grouping of 6 potential suspects’ mugshots. It wasn’t until the officers started asking me about the incident with my family friend that I realized my counselor had gone behind my back and told the police. She was doing her job as a mandated reporter; because of her profession, she was legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse. Even knowing that, I still felt betrayed.


Through sobs, I begged the police officers not to report the molestation. I wasn’t ready to report it. I believed him when he told me it was an accident. I had such deep ties to this entire family; I didn’t want to hurt them by reporting it. I loved them like my own family. I wanted to protect them. I still do.


Writing this has been a very difficult process for me. For so long, I suppressed all of my feeling about the molestation and tried to live my life pretending that it never happened, but it did happen and I can’t change that or the way that it makes me feel. My relationship with him, his daughter, and even my mom (although we eventually came back stronger) changed. We slowly started to distance ourselves from them because staying close was too difficult. No matter how hard we all tried to keep going on like nothing ever happened, things were never the same. And although they aren’t in our lives like they once were, they are still a part of them.


There are no rules on how to handle sexual violence, especially when it’s committed by someone you know. Things are complicated and there are a lot of factors at play, but what’s important is that you do what is right for you.


It’s easy to feel like your life is out of your control after experiencing sexual violence. Making decisions on what to do next is a way to regain control over what happened; it’s how survivors exercise their agency. Part of exercising agency is deciding whether or not to report. Reporting is a survivor’s choice. Not reporting is also a survivor’s choice.


It’s your story. It’s your choice.


Whatever feels right to you is the right choice for you. Don’t let anyone shame you for sharing your story or for staying silent. Do what’s best for you. I will always support you.


In fearless pursuit,

Emily




Below is a link, provided by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), for an extensive list of national resources for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones.


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