I Didn't Look Drunk Enough For The DA To Pursue My Attacker, But I'm Sober Enough To View Justice Differently
Nine months ago I was sexually assaulted by a stranger at a bar. The rest of the story may sound familiar to others: I went to the hospital, got pricked and prodded, evidence collected, urine sampled, and recounted all of the details (that I hadn't even had time to process) to a middle-aged, white detective who had "burnt out" stained on every crevice of his face. Although I would rather have went home and showered it off, I did everything I was "supposed" to do.
In the weeks following the assault, I focused on stabilization with my therapist and prepared for whenever I heard back about the District Attorney's decision to investigate my case. I was sure he was going it. The story was clear to me: my attacker followed me into a bathroom, locked us in a stall, and wouldn't let me leave until he was finished.
When I finally got the call about the DA's decision, it felt like the blood being pumped through my body froze. I listened as the detective told me that the DA did not take my case. I somehow found enough sound in my throat to choke up "why?". The detective proceeded to tell me that the video footage from the bar showed that I was not stumbling, which means I wasn't incapacitated. Therefore, they had to assume that I was consenting to everything that happened because I didn't look drunk enough. Ouch. I could spend hours writing about how everything in this country is set up to make survivors feel crazy and question our own trauma, but instead, I want to focus on my process and consideration of a transformative, liberated future.
Like what you're reading?
Get more in your inbox.
For weeks after I heard the DA's decision, I would lay awake at night asking myself, "So that's it? I don't get any justice for what he did to me?" I was perseverating on the concept of justice and how badly I wanted it. As I began to explore my desire for justice, my previous questions began to evolve into, "Would I really feel vindicated if he were to be convicted to time in prison? "
I don’t want to depend on a system that thrives off of stomping the spirit out of people. As Angela Davis said, "Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo - obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.” Is that what I want? Although he locked me in that bathroom stall, I don't believe the answer is locking him away in prison. That isn't justice.
Currently, I am left contemplating what I envision when I think of justice for my trauma. Right now, I am finding justice in my rage. For Black women, rage is not tolerated, especially if we want to be respected, listened to, and taken seriously. So consider these words that I'm writing as an act of rage, and consider this act of rage to be resistance.
I choose to believe in liberation, even though I can't see it yet.