An Angry Victim…and a Survivor

This is the testimony of Angeline Jackson, a young Jamaican woman I know. She posted this on Facebook today, and I asked her if I could re-post it. She speaks for herself.

As a lesbian I have often spoken of myself as a survivor of targeted sexual violence; unfortunately today I don’t feel too much like a survivor, rather an angry victim.

After my attack I decided to be brave and report the matter to the police. The first policewomen from CISOCA (Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse) I reported it to told me that I “should leave this lifestyle and go back to church.” I could have stopped there, but I decided to go to Spanish Town CISOCA; there the women were much more professional.

I remember clearly Sergeant Lowe-Cox putting down the paper I had handed to her of the written account. She looked up in the air and said, “Jesus Christ, another one.”

I remember the days going back and forth to Spanish Town CISOCA with Faddy, taking the police to the scene, and hearing the male officers ask one of the accompanying CISOCA ladies if I was a sodomite. Finally, they were asked to identify items that were stolen from me.

I remember the day I was called and asked to come in and do an identification. I remember being driven to the “100 Man” Police Station in Portmore after hours of waiting in Spanish Town. I remember meeting another bisexual woman who had also suffered the same. I remember going into that room and looking at the lineup of men before me. I remember as I eliminated them one by one till I was down to two. I asked the officer in charge of the proceedings to ask both men to hold out their hands. I remember requesting that they each say, “Pussy-hole come here.” I remember standing directly across from number six and looking at his eyes. I remember stooping and holding my head as the pressure mounted.

I remember getting up, I remember calling the number.

I remember the day Mommy and I went to court downtown. I remember trying to eat but the food was stuck in my throat. I remember feeling like some one was kicking at my chest and squeezing my heart.

I remember stepping into that courtroom. I remember the questions the accused’s lawyer asked to make me seem as if I didn’t know what I was talking about. I remember pointing at and identifying in the court room the same person I had identified at the line up. I remember hearing for the first time his name. I remember as he sat there and tried to intimidate me; I remember refusing to crack.

I remember coming out of the court room feeling as though I’d done a service to myself  – but also for other women who are afraid to come forward.

I remember being called one night by Constable Kimeisha Smith as I spoke with a friend, to be informed of the decision. I was happy; it was the first time I truly felt like a survivor.

Today I went searching for the case and what I found has made me angry. It has made me feel, all over again, like a victim; but now, today, in this post, I am taking it back. I am not a victim.

Why am I angry? I’m angry because I was sexually assaulted, forced to do oral sex at gun point, yet the closest thing that resembles the assault that …… was charged with was assault at common law, and assault with intent to rape, for which he was sentenced to two years. He was sentenced to ten and fifteen years respectively for illegal possession of firearm and robbery with aggravation. Ten and fifteen years? What about the assault to my person? Two years!? Two?

I’m also angry because he was acquitted in 2011. He was acquitted and the police didn’t have the decency to contact me and say, Ms. Jackson, the man who saw you in court, the man you identified, the man you sent to prison, has been acquitted.

I am angry because as I searched I learnt that this man in 2008 was arrested for reportedly assaulting a 21-year-old woman, while he was out on bail for a previous sexual offense. That was his 110th offense while out on bail – forty of which were rape-related.

Today I am forced to truly question the value Jamaica places on women. The police continue to ask persons to report sexual violence, but how can we? How can we be sure we will be safe after reporting? Will there be another acquittal without so much as informing the survivors either before or after?

Is Jamaica serious about wanting to reduce violence against women and girls?

I decided to write this note because it is what I can do to take back my power. I’ve written it in the hopes that maybe, if there are other survivors of sexual violence who have experienced the same,  you will talk up and not keep quiet; be a survivor not a victim.

I’ve also written with the hopes that maybe – just maybe – another lesbian or bisexual survivor will see this and report it. I want you to know that you are not alone.

I’ve written because I will no longer keep quiet. I will no longer accept my role as causing this on myself. I will no longer sit in shame. I am a survivor.

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65 thoughts on “An Angry Victim…and a Survivor

  1. I’m glad that you are able to share your story with us , you are brave , I don’t know how I would cope or if I would’ve been able to share as you have. Your story makes me angry at how you treated and sad that you had to experience such a violation . It so frustrating to see how worthless our Justice system is in preventing violence like this , and more so the punishment given is not reflective of seriousness of the crime.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Nastassia. I will make sure that Angeline sees this, and responds. And you are right – the issue of justice is one of major concern in our country.

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    1. Thank you so much for the reblog! Angeline wanted her story to be shared as much as possible. It is through sharing our stories that we can sometimes be healed. Yes, “deeply frustrating” is the word for it, and it’s certainly a worldwide issue. Thanks again and do continue following my blog!

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      1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m happy to share stories like this that are well worth sharing, especially when they are from the perspectives of women who share my heritage (my Mother is Jamaican) and also (on a more general level) when they come from women of colour who are too often excluded from or overlooked by western women’s rights collectives.

        And for that, I’m so glad that Angeline and others like her have found the strength within themselves to share their stories.

        I’ve also gone ahead and followed your blog. 🙂

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      2. Thanks so much again. How lovely that your mother is Jamaican. We have a fairly strong feminist movement here in the Caribbean that keeps these issues on the front burner. But it is important for us to share these stories across the world, whatever the barriers. It takes incredible bravery for people like Angeline to tell her story (and especially to give her name – at first I didn’t include it but she told me to use it). As I am sure you know, Jamaica is incredibly homophobic and this is no exaggeration. People like Angeline need huge amounts of support and love! Oh, and thanks so much for following my blog! I appreciate it.

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  2. Agree with Tersiaburger: when will the world stand up for women and children (and victimized men as well)? The entire post made me queasy, angry, disgusted and furious. The shabby, unprofessional treatment by the police and judicial system is appalling. That one scum could perpetrate 110 attacks WHILE ON BAIL is inexcusable. Again, Petchary, you are a beacon of light in a turgid darkness, a ray of hope in a morass of violence, oppression and despair. Keep reporting, keep sharing, keep giving other voices a platform. People ARE listening.

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I am not trying to spread gloom and doom, as some may think, or to paint a depressing picture of the country that has been my home for so long. The darkness is indeed turgid sometimes! But thank you for your support. My goal is really to spread awareness and support for wonderful Jamaicans like Angeline, who have suffered so much (I can only try to imagine…) As I am writing in my current blog post, the Jamaican justice system is old, tired and degenerate… 😦

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    1. Thank you so much for doing this! I am very happy that you will be sharing Angeline’s story with a wider audience, in the Caribbean and beyond. She is indeed brave.

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    1. I really don’t understand why the world will not do this. It is as if there are other, far higher priorities. It certainly is not just a Jamaican concern, although the very difficult discrimination issues against gays and lesbians are particularly acute in Jamaica. Thank you so much for your comment, Tersia, and please do come again!

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    2. Yes when will the world stand? We meet regularly to address and condemn the violence against women and girls yet the figures are not getting better. Thank you for commenting Tersia.

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  3. a policeWOMAN tells her she” should leave this lifestyle…”…if someone is assaulted what the hell does it matter -in the eyes of the law- what their lifestyle is !!?…does that mean she deserved it!?…110 offences while on bail ,40 rape related…how the f was this man free to continue brutalizing people ?!!…if he was convicted of even one of those rape charges he should be in prison for life!..he is obviously not going to change…it’s clear that the “law” and “justice ” are two different things…i am filled with rage (which i don’t want to have in me) when i read this…this is why i’m a feminist…love and strength to you my sister

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    1. Thank you so much dear M’Bala, for your kind comments and your support. No, it is not good to be filled with rage. But the support of feminist men such as yourself is incredibly valued and appreciated. As for your first question, we are always aware that rape victims are often made to feel as if they have done something to encourage this wrong doing – that it is their fault that they have been violently attacked. In this case, of course, the fact of her sexual orientation was more than enough of an excuse to assault her, in the man’s eyes. They call it “corrective rape.” THANK YOU again for your good wishes. I will make sure that Angeline reads everyone’s comments.

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  4. Thank you for posting this letter by a survivor, who has stood up for herself and fought. In reading this letter and seeing that she was violated, not because of her sexual orientation but, because this piece of vermin habitually preys on young women and girls and that the system repeatedly fails to get him permanently off the streets. The young lady was treated terribly by CISOCA, the organization that is supposed to help without discrimination. That further added to the horror of the assault and rape. Any person, whether they believe homosexuality is wrong or not, should be aggrieved by this report. No one should be treated with such direspect. I have to say though anyone growing up in Jamaica knows that people, even those in high office that you expect better from, can be crass and vulgar, even when not showing disapproval. My sister, as a chubby teenager in the Half-way Tree area was referred to as “hey fatty” or “hey fatty boom boom,” on several occasion. and men on the street can be very vulgar in propositioning random women. I agree with the young lady’s plea wholeheartedly, when will Jamaica stand up to protect its women and girls?

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    1. I think (I could be wrong) that Angeline’s sexual orientation was part of the issue, but clearly he is a serial rapist and the fact that he has “got away with it” is extremely depressing. I was also disappointed at the initial response from CISOCA – judging her, which is totally wrong and unprofessional to say the least. What you have said about the vulgarity of everyday exchanges with men – who treat women as sex objects on a daily basis – is very worrying. A Caribbean women’s group called Code Red for Gender (their blog is redforgender.wordpress.com and they are on Facebook too) had a tweet chat a few days ago on street harassment, and I think there may be another in the future. It is all part of the picture. Really hard to deal with – your poor sister. Thanks so much for your comments, Donna!

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    2. Thank you for commenting Donna, I also remember being called “fatty boom boom” when I was younger, it was harsh and can really damage an individual’s perception of self and one’s value.

      CISOCA’s response almost made me never go back. I really don’t know if my orientation had anything to do with the court proceedings I wish I could know for certain, I do know my orientation came up in the collection of the report by the Spanish Town CISOCA (non-judgementally), and I also know that it came up in within the court room.

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  5. I read an article on The Guardian recently and the stats on violence against women around the world are truly depressing. I’m glad she asked you to post this though because she has refused to just sit there and be angry and do what she can about it.

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    1. Yes – it is appalling. I don’t understand where this global “epidemic” is coming from. Perhaps it’s just that we are more aware, but it frightens me. We should have got past that – centuries ago… I think that was Angeline’s motivation; she decided not to keep it to herself any more, and hopes that by telling her story she will give support and encouragement to those who have been through this terrible experience also. It’s an act of solidarity…

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  6. Very tough to digest and read… very much so. Thanks for sharing but each time I read all these stories of ignorant people and ‘the church’ and Jamaicans calling down the lord, it makes me sick. I yearn for a nice beach , but I am not coming back – not on my hard earned money and I am certain they will survive without it. Wonder how old was she when this happen ? While they love to preach god and call down the lord in Jamaica.. I can only say GOOD GOD on them!

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      1. You are truly a brave person indeed. Very brave, my heart goes out to you but I know it will make you a stronger person. Keep faith and hope alive. I have been hoping for a better Jamaica for over 27 years since I left, but I cant see it. Good luck!

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    1. Dear Patrick: I understand how you feel. I feel the same way. There are lots of nice beaches around the world you can go to, not only in Jamaica. The Church issue is something that we are grappling with, and we are not going to allow them to shout others down on this issue, on abortion, on homosexuality in general. There has been this growing fundamentalist tendency that is trying to get a stranglehold on such issues – this prevents sensible dialogue… Ugh. Good God, indeed! A luta continua, as they say…

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    1. Yes. You are right. The stories are exhausting – but it is necessary. We hope that this may be our salvation – and the salvation of so many others who have suffered in similar ways…

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  7. Such a powerful story; thank you for sharing this, as I can only imagine how difficult this was to write. We fight for LGBT equality worldwide and won’t stop until our community realizes full equality dear. I’m proud of you dear one and happy that Emma shared your story; this gay American has your back.

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    1. Benjamin, yes – the fight must continue. I am sure Angeline will read your message and will appreciate your genuine and warm support. Lots of love to you, as always. And thanks.

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      1. I talk to Benjamin every day on Twitter. He is a loyal and passionate friend who fights daily for gay rights and the right to self-expression. I so admire him!

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