Before my assault I always assumed that I knew how I would react if I was ever raped or a victim of a violent crime. Prosecute and let the sucker rot in prison. No holds barred.
Prosecuting someone who you don’t know seemed fairly easy to me at the beginning. I didn’t know the guy, had no connection to him, so I didn’t care if he rotted in jail. Little did I know that I would end up caring. A lot.
After 1.5 years and 3 detectives, the guy confessed. Detective 3 gave me time to consider my options. Drop the case or move forward with prosecuting. He went through all the reasons why it might be a good idea for me to drop the case and get on with my life. I now knew who the guy was and he confessed. Was that enough for me?
Detective 3 reminded me that there is absolutely no guarantee that the Commonwealth will take up the case. Actually, the odds were stacked against me greatly. Just because he is arrested doesn’t mean it will go to trial. He also warned me that there is a very real possibility that moving on with prosecuting and going to trial could do worse damage to me mentally than the actual assault. I heard this sentiment echoed by several friends who were in law enforcement.
Did I want to risk even more mental damage?
No, but I had come this far. I just didn’t know what to do.
I prayed a lot and cried a lot seeking answers. How can I possibly put someone in prison, potentially for the rest of their life, and not feel guilty about ruining his life and his family?
Had he ruined my life? Yes, but being a Christian I forgave him. I didn’t want to inflict harm on another person or his family. It just felt wrong. And this is why I get taken advantage of a lot. I care too much.
Again, I thought that the idea of arresting him would be easy. It truly was the hardest decision I have ever made.
On a rainy Sunday morning, April 10, 2016 to be exact, I found myself at National Community Church. It was jam packed that day. So packed that I had to sit in the very corner, back chair in the balcony. That was fine though because I just needed to be there and hear the word.
The church service went on as normal. Singing, readings, message, prayer. I didn’t know anybody around me at this service. (Thank goodness). When it came time for prayer, the pastor asked us to pray for those around us. Greet our neighbor and ask what you can pray for in their life.
**For those of you that know me well, you know that I was raised in a church where you don’t shake hands with each other. You keep to yourself and mind your own business. Nod your head or whisper hello. No body contact. So, shaking hands for me is one thing, but telling a stranger my problems and asking them to pray for me is another. My German Lutheran upbringing had me cringing. Hard.**
So, the woman next to me asked what I would like her to pray for in my life.
Oh boy, here we go…deep breath…
“I have to make a decision about sending a person to prison potentially for the rest of his life. I don’t want to ruin his life or his family’s life, but he did something really bad to me. I honestly don’t know what to do.”
And then I cried. I cried like all those times before in church and that wonderful woman hugged me and prayed over me. I had never experienced that before. A complete stranger praying over me just blew my mind. I was so thankful.
I never saw that woman again, but her understanding and praying helped me find some peace in making my decision.
Later on that evening I was reading the bible for some inspiration and came upon Joshua 1:9, which I have leaned on before.
Alright, I’m going to go through with this and put it ALL in God’s hands. Thy will be done.
But just to make sure, I thought about it some more (of course). What hit me square in the face was thinking about all the other times in my life that I had let people run over me. I am typically the first one to say “sorry”, or “no problem” if something is wrong, even if is not my fault. I don’t want to make other people feel bad or awkward. I’ll take the brunt of it to keep everyone happy. It’s ‘just’ me, so no worries. Obviously, this is not good and it was time to stand up for myself. I tell friends and family all the time to stand up for themselves. Maybe I needed to follow my own advice.
Am I going to let a complete stranger who did an awful thing to me get away with it?
No. Absolutely not.
So, on an beautiful April day full of cherry blossoms in Washington, DC I got the call from Detective 3. It was such a beautiful day that I got off the Metro (subway) a stop early to take his call and decided to walk rest of the way.
I wasn’t expecting this to move quickly, so I figured he was just checking in on me as he typically did.
“Do you want me to arrest him?” he asked
“Excuse me, what?” I replied
“I’ve got all the paperwork filed and everything in order with warrants. If you want to book him on the charges you need to tell me. You can take more time to think, but we can do it whenever you want.”
I remember standing there outside the Metro station on this gorgeous day and feeling numb. I had thought long & hard about this. I told him that I had my answer.
“Book him,” I replied
“Are you sure? Need more time?”
“No, I’m sure. I’ve contemplated this for a long time and I’ve decided that we will take this as far as God lets us. I’m tired of being a victim.”
“Alright, let me get in touch with his lawyer and I will let you know when he gets booked.”
I let out a really, really long sigh.
“I think so. I’m wrestling with the reality that I just made the decision to put a man in prison, potentially for the rest of his life. I did that. I potentially am ruining his life and his family’s. I am causing great pain.”
“Well, he raped you and has changed the trajectory of your life. He doesn’t get a free pass. What he did is wrong & illegal.”
“I know. I just never thought I would be in a situation like this. I know it is the right decision though.”
After we ended the call I couldn’t really think straight, or enjoy the beautiful day. I ended up at the nearest Starbucks and I’m sure I looked like a deer in headlights. Ordered my iced tea and called my sister to tell her the news.
She could sense that I was freaking out and made sure I was okay.
I just couldn’t get over the fact that after all this time, after all this sheer agony & pain that what I had wanted was actually happening. And it was all my decision. Not only is my family destroyed, so is his. I did that. Lots of guilt.
That day was a Thursday and Detective 3 gave him until Monday at noon to turn himself in to the courthouse. If he didn’t turn himself in, Detective 3 would come and break down doors to get him.
He turned himself in.
Then the real circus began.