Because of what happened to Eva, I became more involved in sexual assault issues, increasing my awareness and my knowledge. This growth allowed me to discover strength about myself that I never knew existed; it gave me control and made me secure. Eva, on the other hand, was robbed of her control and her strength.
It was my strength and growth that inspired Eva to take action and to consider her options. She decided to call her mom. After their telephone conversation, Eva’s mom drove up to Santa Barbara to spend the weekend supporting her daughter. Let me just tell you that a parent’s love is amazing. Her mom’s concern and support encouraged Eva to be strong – and she needed that.
That weekend, Eva’s indifference on whether or not to report the assault became obvious. She decided to report it. Her mom offered to call the Santa Barbara sheriff’s station, but Eva refused. She said that she wanted to do it herself.
Eva later told me that when she picked up the receiver to call the sheriff’s station, it was the most empowered she had felt in her entire life. That guy had taken something away from her, and she felt by reporting the crime she could take it back.
Eva was aware of how difficult it was to press charges. She had heard horror stories of the girls who experience a sexual assault and aren’t able to convince the judge that it was in fact sexual assault. In many instances this leaves the girl feeling helpless. I knew that an outcome like this would hurt Eva – she knew it too. I remember that she told me that if she did go through with this it would be hard and unfair. But she kept saying, “Maybe next time the responsibility will be put on the rapist.”
So that’s the deal with Eva; she wanted to do this not only for her own peace of mind, but also for other women who’ve survived a sexual assault. She says now that the hardest time for her were those few weeks after the sexual assault happened. She told me later that it was because she didn’t feel like anyone could understand what she was going through. She thanks me all the time for my support during this troubled time, and she wants to be able to provide that same support to someone else.
The trial was the most terrifying, horrific thing that Eva experienced since the assault. There were so many times when she couldn’t sleep and her eating habits would vary considerably. I remember it seemed like there would be entire months that Eva would cry through.
I’m not trying to make this seem overly dramatic. I just remember seeing her face when this was all over – and she said it was all worth it. Obviously she wishes that it never happened. But it did. That guy violated her and took a part of her. And she took it back.
Imani Rupert and Muriel Philips are media interns for the Rape Prevention Education Program.