Editorial: Court cases following #MeToo movement show victims’ bravery in describing abuse, says victim-witness advocate
When a woman tells her story of sexual abuse to the police, the police often don’t care — in fact, they may encourage the woman to make up a story of her rape for the sake of a case, says an advocate who has followed these cases.
But her story has the power to persuade those who will listen.
The court system is often seen as the last place someone of standing will be able to find a place of safety. And that is exactly where many victims feel they must turn to: the court system.
The story of Rachel Joy Scott provides a recent example.
When she went to the police in 2015, she was sexually abused by her former father-in-law at the age of 12. At that time, she had no desire to press charges due to her fear that doing so might have caused even more pain to her and her family.
The abuse happened in her house on the night of August 16, 2014, where her father-in-law, her stepfather and her stepbrother were drinking at the time. Rachel was playing with her brother and stepbrother when her stepfather picked her up and held her down, he then penetrated her from behind with his penis.
As her stepfather was raping her, a neighbor, a friend and another friend of her stepfather entered the house. While the women had sexual intercourse with Rachel, her stepfather also tried to attack and rape Rachel; the man was the father of Rachel’s current husband and had been raping them as well.
The abuse caused severe injuries to Rachel’s body, which she carried with her for the rest of her life. She has also developed mental health issues due to the extreme trauma.
On May 18, 2018, Rachel’s family filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rachel’s sister and brother in seeking damages for their injuries. They have requested $1 million each.
A lawsuit like this is hard to