READER REPORT:

Why I never reported my rape

NAME WITHHELD
Last updated 12:00 09/12/2013
Sad woman, depressed, grieving
THE AFTERMATH: This reader was too afraid to report her rape.

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I was raped when I was 20 by the friend of a guy I didn't know very well, but was friendly with. This guy's friend had been carrying out a campaign of intimidation for some time and told me he was going to 'get me'. Although he frightened me, I didn't believe anything could happen to me with other people around.

He once threatened me with a knife at a friend's house but I escaped out a window. From that point on I made sure never to be around him. 

Unfortunately I lived in a big student flat at that time and we hardly ever bothered to lock the house when we were home.

One morning he walked into my room and told me what he'd come for. I was confused by being woken at dawn, him being in my room and had a sort of mental paralysis from fear and what he might do to me, seeing as he'd pulled a knife before.

So I let it happen and figured he'd leave me alone after that (which he did).

I never told anyone until now. I did tell my flatmates that he'd been in the house, but not what happened. I wondered how he'd found my room. Can you believe he'd wandered into one of the guy's rooms, woken him up, asked him where my room was and my flatmate had told him. I never asked if he threatened the flatmate, but we did lock the house from then on.

I was too ashamed to tell anyone because I hadn't fought him off and I was scared of the repercussions if I went to the police as he had gang affiliations. I thought it would be my word against his, and that a court case would be too awful.

I managed eventually to suppress any thoughts of the event, until it all came back to me during a time of stress about 12 years ago. I can see now I write it down that the flatmate was a witness and the mutual friend possibly (if not scared of repercussions himself).

On balance I still think a court case would have shamed and endangered me. I would have been dragged through the mud for being a hippy student in an unlocked flat where we had wild parties, and for hanging out with the wrong sort of people. The defence would have made mincemeat of my reputation and self-esteem. So I buried any thoughts of it as best I could.

Some years later I was on the jury for a gang rape case. We acquitted, and to this day my gut feeling says we called it wrong, but I also don't see what else we could've done under the present system.

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I feel deeply for the young woman who was brave enough to go to court against members of a major New Zealand gang, then had her reputation dragged through the muck. For some of the charges it came down to her word against his. Add to this, there was no forensic proof that her drink had been spiked as alleged and several people on the jury firmly believed that if her drink hadn't been spiked and she was heavily intoxicated by her own doing, then it wasn't rape and wouldn't budge from this view. Despite the law saying otherwise.

In the end, because of the lack of evidence and the conflicting testimonies, 'beyond reasonable doubt' was too hard a step to get over.


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