New Mexico State Police: Train Law Enforcement Staff in Advocacy for Sexual Assault Survivors
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In the Spring of 2010, I reported a rape by an acquaintance to the Portales Police Department in the state of New Mexico.
When I said I'd been raped multiple times that night, the detective in charge of my case asked me, "Was one of those times consensual?" Because it came from a person in a position of authority, this victim-blaming question made me doubt my story, which set off a ripple effect that resulted in PTSD symptoms that worsened until I became suicidal. The detective also dismissed my claim when the rapist said I consented, and omitted details I had told him about the rape in his official report.
The legal system decided my rapist was telling the truth and I wasn't, and because of that, I was convinced no one would believe me. I was also sent off without any sort of guide to finding support from crisis centers, and I believe that was a tremendous mistake that didn't have to happen. I experienced victim-blaming and shaming when I opened up to people, even people I loved and trusted, which meant I got the message nobody cared about what had happened to me. This contributed significantly to my suicidal feelings. Unfortunately, my story is not unique. Every day, survivors of sexual violence are dismissed, mistreated by those who could help them, and shamed by our society into silence. We are not given the space we need to heal, and in fact, people's responses have detrimental effects on our mental and emotional health. This is unacceptable and should not be the norm.
I created this petition because things need to change. No other survivor should be dismissed, as I was, by the legal system. No other survivor should go through the hell I went through because people who could have helped didn't believe me.
I was lucky enough to find the YWCA of Greater Portland after moving to Portland, Oregon after I was raped, and I took a 40-Hour DV Advocacy Training through this organization which helped me tremendously in understanding my own trauma and the dynamics of sexual violence. It also helped me understand the term "rape culture," which helped me move forward because I stopped blaming myself for what happened to me.
I want every single staff member with law enforcement in the state of New Mexico to go through this training or something just like it. I demand that the state of New Mexico make a concerted, concrete effort to train their officers and all staff on trauma, domestic violence, and sexual violence issues.
It is my hope that, with this training, law enforcement staff will be able to provide the support needed by the people of their community, rather than leave survivors out in the cold to face recovering and healing from trauma alone.
The state of New Mexico failed me. It should not fail every other survivor who reports a crime committed against them.
Thank you for reading, signing, and sharing.
With your help, I hope to be advocating globally for this training for law enforcement, mental health professionals, and others who come in contact with survivors of trauma.
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