A Memoir About Rape and the Politics of Sexual Violence

Eileen Doe is a pseudonym. However, my story is a factual account of surviving a terrifying hate crime. I refer to being raped as a hate crime. I was raped because I’m a woman. There was nothing sexual about it and the aftermath was the kind of PTSD that afflicts any victim of terror. My story stopped twenty years ago, locking in the little I knew about the rapist. It started again a month ago when i was called and informed that there was a DNA hit on the stranger who raped me. I found out the man who raped me is a serial rapist and registered sex offender. I am using a pseudonym and have changed some details about my story to protect my family. I was advised to do so by a lawyer in the state where I live.

Many of my posts require a password. If you would like permission to read these blog posts please send a request here or email me at mysfstory@yahoo.com

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PODCAST: Psychology of Rape: My Story in Poems


You can find my latest podcast episode on Eileen Doe: Rape in San Francisco

Episode 5 — Eileen Doe: Rape in San Francisco

Episode Summary: In 1993 I was raped by a stranger. In 2016 I was contacted by the San Francisco Police Department and was informed of a conclusive DNA hit on a serial rapist. Episode 5 continues my story. In this episode I talk about rape, trauma, and I share poems written just before and after I was raped. These are prose poem journal entries.

About my activism and advocacy work:

If you are a rape survivor and have a story to tell (anonymously or not) you can email me at mysfstory@yahoo.com. I am interested in articles, stories, guests on my podcast.

As a rape survivor from San Francisco I am reaching out to other women who reported rape to the police. I have been contacted by a growing number women who had stories very similar to mine. Investigations were not taken seriously, rape kits were not tested, victim’s experiences invalidated. The cases were never prosecuted. SFPD has a very poor record on handling rape. My case is an example of the effects of this problem. I was raped by a stranger. The case was never investigated. And I found out recently other women were raped by this serial rapist BECAUSE the case was not prosecuted. This was a man I’d never seen before and a man the SFPD identified as a suspect. None the less my rape kit sat on a shelf, the case was closed, and I was left with no advocacy. Twenty years later they tested the kit, found the rapist and I found out he’d been convicted of first degree rape since raping me. That’s violence rape with a weapon. I am reaching out in order to find a way to advocate for others and help change policy. Please msg. me on FB or email me at mysfstory@yahoo.com. I will also be setting up a private group. Please share this information with any activists / survivors who would be interested in sharing their story. Thank you all who have contacted me or completed the survey. I will post updates weekly. I am attempting to attach a flyer that you can distribute to organizations or individuals. 
 Thank you,

Eileen

I’m A Rape Survivor — Today’s Challenge

I wrote this story a few weeks ago but after talking with a number of survivors, still suffering the effects of trauma I want to share strong feelings that surfaced a few weeks ago. I want to share that life does go back to normal eventually. Maybe things will never be the same. In some ways I’m a stronger person now. But always I wish it had never happened and I could get back what I lost.


Today’s Challenge

My big dilemma today is whether to take a tranquilizer or not. It’s not whether to finish data analysis for my dissertation, it’s not to research the experimental medication I’ve been prescribed for a serious illness I was just diagnosed with, it’s not cleaning the house, paying the bills. It’s not anything but whether to take a tranquilizer.

I want to. I probably will.

Why am I pulling on this tangled rope? Is there a reason? Will I really make a difference to other women? Yesterday the DA’s office called me. Here three months after the call from the SFPD about the DNA hit on the man who raped me.

I’ve said it before that I had conjured a projection of the man who held me against my will in the room that day. Finally, pictures of him. I had been outside of my kids’ school talking to this prosecutor. I was so upset. So angry. I tried so hard to keep my voice calm but I wasn’t calm. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe any of it. Someone got in trouble somewhere. Otherwise the assistant district attorney wouldn’t have called me himself to apologize, to share that I did have some rights as a victim. It’s only fair. He said he’s looked at so many angles and the case is not prosecutable. It’s very unfortunate. He can’t imagine what I must be going through but he’s sure I’m ambivalent. According to him these things (untested rape kits, lost police records, insensitive calls from the police) can unfortunately happen. According to him it wasn’t really the SFPD’s fault. He knows the detective who contacted me and she’s done some really good work with other cases. I was so upset, I didn’t apologize for my anger but I acknowledged my emotional state. But he tells me, I understand I’m trained for this. I could see through the darkness of all of this that he was trying to help, likely because of political pressure. He said the case would gain attention if it went public. You may not want to shake this bee hive.

I don’t want to so why am I? Why did I right shake up the bee hive after I was raped? Why did I put up pictures of the rapist’s police sketch — or did I really do that? Was that just a wish turned into a fabricated memory? Did I hang up pictures of the rapist on telephone poles in San Francisco? I don’t know. I had hoped they would catch him. I did trudge my exhausted, shrinking body into the Hall of Justice (we used to call it Hall of Injustice when we used to protest). I did drag myself in there, all alone. No advocate, no friend. Just me in that room. A large space with high windows. The city washed in a hopeful yellow light. On tranquilizers then.

Slam.

Slam.

Slam.

The sound of me being pushed hard across the room when he broke through the door.

Slam.

Still in that flashback racket I listened to the detective when she told me they were almost positive they had the guy. He’d done the same exact thing to several other women.” Then the pictures, laid down in front of me like cards in blackjack.

Him?

This one?

Him?

Each one of those visits to the Hall of Injustice, I was only safe once I was back on the street outside. Walking to the bus. Only safe once I could close my eyes on the way back to the apartment I shared with 3 other women. Only safe when I could turn the lights off in my room almost completely black. Then I could feel the tranquilizer while Bob Dylan, Simple Twist of Fate, moved around and around on the record player — an old thing I found at Salvation Army. A trapezoid shaped suitcase. Coolest thing I’d ever seen.

You know what was happening don’t you? I was falling deeper and deeper into darkness.

That is what I want today, right now. That same yellow light pouring in. I want to take a tranquilizer and listen to Simple Twist of Fate. I want to fall into that well of tears. I know it is returning to the trauma like my therapist says. I should do opposite action. Work in the yard, go out with a friend…but I have two hours until the kids are home from school and it’s hard to be normal to find a place of motherhood. A place of empathy and comfort. I just want to cry.

Because you see the one thing-the only thing they could do for me — was send pictures of the rapist. I had already seen pictures of him through his facebook page on line. But those were pictures of the man, the father, the husband. The man. The photographs I received today were all of his mugshots. All pictures of the man who raped me.

Reaching Out to Rape Survivors & Advocates to Speak on Podcast


This is a call out to rape survivors, Advocates, and Feminists. I am a rape survivor from San Francisco. I was raped 23 years ago by a stranger. This past November I received a call from the SFPD and informed me that there was a conclusive DNA hit on my rape kit (just tested after 20 years) and that the hit was to a known serial rapist. He is out free and there is no way for me to prosecute. Out of frustration and despair I tried a number of ways to seek justice. When those failed I started reaching out to other survivors and am helping them tell their stories. I have talked to many amazing women. I have spoken to several journalists and one said “I’m curious as to why you would decide to do this activism as a result of the DNA hit.” It’s because it’s the only way to get justice. the more I speak with women, the more I see that women DO want to speak out and have their stories told. This is complicated of course and there are safety issues both physical and psychological. Speaking out is very difficult.

I would love to talk with any survivors either via phone or email. Eileen Doe is a pseudonym and you can contact me here on FB msg or at mysfstory@ yahoo.com

I am also looking for survivors, advocates, and activists who are interested in an interview on my podcast Eileen Doe: Rape in San Francisco. This would be anonymous and we could alter your voice. My podcast starts with my story of being raped and the subsequent call. I am continuing to tell the story of how I got involved in activism. I will also talk about trauma, the laws in CA, and a criminal trial. I have a few speakers lined up and once I get through the first few episodes about my story I will begin interviews.

Thank you to all the women who have come forward. Also, a FB friend reminded me that your stories are yours to tell or NOT tell. It may be easier or more appropriate at this time to talk with a counselor for support and advocacy. These calls are confidential and I have spoken with a few women who needed a safety plan before speaking out. You can reach the 24 /7 Sexual Assault hotline at 1–800–656–4673. This number is through RAINN and is separate from my work. https://www.rainn.org/


PODCAST — Eileen Doe: Rape in San Francisco


This podcast follows my interactions with the San Francisco Police Department after they called me to inform me there was a conclusive DNA hit on a stranger who raped me 20 years ago. There was no way to prosecute due to the statute of limitations in California. As a result of this experience I have begun advocacy and activism. As a result I have uncovered corruption, mistreatment of victims, and mishandling of rape cases. This podcast documents the work I’m doing and other survivor stories.

TRIGGER WARNING: this podcast contains descriptions of sexual violence and may be emotionally triggering to victims of rape and sexual violence.

https://soundcloud.com/elieen-doe

In episode 1 — In the early 1990s I was living in San Francisco and was raped by a stranger while working in an empty office building. This episode focuses on the event, the aftermath, and the lasting effects of trauma.

Episode 2 — November 2016 I received a call from the SFPD informing me there had been a conclusive DNA hit on my 20 year old rape kit that had not been tested until 2016. A serial rapist was matched to my case. He had been a stranger to me. This episode focuses on the day the SFPD called to inform me.

We Are Not on The Same Team, SFPD & SF DA’s Office


The DA finally send pictures of the man who raped me. The stranger I’ve been I’ve been writing about on my blog. I got a call from someone high up in the DA’s office. My activism is making some waves but not enough to prosecute. That’s because the laws are an impenetrable dam. They keep justice out. He’s free, this man who raped me. California has clear, indisputable evidence that this man raped me.

The pictures of him are like you see on the news. The local TV news. A rapist in a little frame. A mug shot. The thing is there are about 10 pictures spanning from about the time when he raped me to now — these twenty years later. And, he’s old. He — like me — he’s aged. Except he seems so old. But he’s a liar too. Every picture is a different expression, a subtly different posture. there’s one that looks like a snapshot. In this picture he’s yet another. I realize as I study them that’s because he’s a rapist. He changes his appearance.

I was at an antique show today. I walked through and stopped at a stall with antique knives and swords. The kind used in the military. Some blades smooth, some jagged. I had a visceral desire to hold the handle of one. To take the knife and plunge it into this man’s chest. The man in the pictures.

At first my life was flooded; I was drowning. The pictures, the conversation with the prosecutor at the DA’s office. There’s no way. There’s no way to prosecute. And even if we tried, “it would attract media attention. It would shake up a bee hive” and leave me there unprotected. No judge would try a case after the statute of limitations has expired. Even though now California ended the statute of limitations. You can’t go back in time and apply laws. It’s ex post facto. You can’t retroactively change a law.

I think -while I’m talking to this DA- that he’s talking to me casually, off the cuff. He jokes. They’d throw us out of the court room.

Us?

Is it a joke? Is it a joke to him? The intricacies of the law, the ways in and out. But you can’t joke about it. They — the SFPD & DA — they let a rapist go free. They are the reason several women — probably more — were also held at knife point and raped. They are the reason these women have nightmares, problems in their relationships. They are the reason these women drink too much, cut themselves. Hate themselves.

Shame on you SFPD & DA’s office.

Remember this: we are on different teams. I’d just as soon see you go down for what you’ve done as the rapist (whether it’s a lawsuit, an advocacy campaign, or a media blitz). And just like I said to the DA when he told me that the “SFPD has some good people, sure everyone makes mistakes…”

I said “you’re not going to change my opinion so don’t even try. It wasn’t one or two mistakes, it was systematic injustice and I’m not the only woman who has been treated this way.”

Shame on you SFPD & DA’s office. We’re not on the same team.

Anonymous Survey for Survivors of Sexual Assault

TAKE THE ANONYMOUS SURVEY NOW

I am a rape survivor, activist, mother, wife, college instructor, writer. I am working on a campaign to gather rape survivor stories in the hopes of changing policy in how police and district attorneys deal with rape victims. I was violently raped by a stranger 20 years ago. Despite having a suspect, the San Francisco Police Department closed my case within a month of the attack and never tested my rape kit. The rapist turned out to be a serial rapist and has since been convicted of raping other women. He wore a disguise and used a weapon. The kit was never tested until SFPD cleared the last of the backlogged kits. Mine was one of them. I was called and informed of the DNA hit. I was then again treated poorly by the SFPD. I was also told that my investigation file along with many others was “lost” by the SFPD. I am looking for women to talk about their experiences with the SFPD and DAs office after reporting sexual assault.

I have created an ANONYMOUS survey about experiences of survivors of sexual assault (no information will be tracked — Survey Monkey alliows surveys that are 100% anonymous).

I am hoping to gather more information about survivors of sexual assault in and out of the SF Bay area. If you have time, please take a few minutes to complete this survey

If anyone is available to translate my survey (only 10 short questions) into another language so more women can access please message me.

You can find me on facebook

or email me at mysfstory@yahoo.com

TAKE THE ANONYMOUS SURVEY NOW

For help now call 800.656.HOPE (4673)

Book Review: Crash Into Me


Crash Into Me by Liz Seccuro.

In 1984, Liz Seccuro a freshman at University of Virginia was drugged and raped at a fraternity house party. She woke the next morning , bruised and battered. The house was eerily empty, an unusual occurrence in a busy fraternity house the morning after a party. In physical pain and shock Seccuro walked form the fraternity house to the university hospital. She was told they did not do rape examinations and would have to travel to a larger city. When Seccuro went to the leaders of the University she was brushed off, lied to, and turned away. Her story, despite thirty years passing, Seccuro’s story sounds very much like college campus rape stories in the news today.

What made Seccuro’s memoir so interesting to me was that the story of her rape was suddenly in her life again 25 years later. Like Seccuro I was raped as a young woman. I moved on and created a wonderful life for myself. I got married, went to graduate school, had children, and am a writer. Then I was called several months ago out of the blue and told by the San Francisco Police Department that there had been a DNA hit on the man who raped me. Some twenty five years after being raped the SFPD sent my untested rape kit to the lab and a serial rapist was identified. When I found Crash Into Me, I identified with Seccuro. I related to her experiences as a young, ambitious, independent woman coming of age in the 1980s.

Seccuro found out about the man who attacked and sexually assaulted her when he sent her a letter in the mail twenty five years after raping her. The letter stated he was in Alcoholics Anonymous and he had reached the step where he had to take responsibility for harm he’d caused authors. In the letter he apologized for harming Securo. As she acted and made decisions those first weeks after the letter, I recognized the subtle rising of PTSD. The blinding effect on one’s present life. Not a sudden darkness, but a tunnel-visioned preoccupation with it. She exchanged a few letters with the rapist but it became clear that he was self-centered and unable to take responsibility for what he’d done. His version of the truth retreated back to subtle but none-the-less ugly misogyny. It also occurred to Seccuro that this man had her home address. He could have emailed and for a rapist to send a victim a letter at their home has the chilling implication of threat.

Because there is no statute of limitations on rape in Virginia, Seccuro was able to prosecute. She went through with it knowing it would disrupt her family and her life. Because she had been drugged her memories of that night were mainly disjointed sounds and sights. The one thing she’d always wondered was whether there had been more than one rapist. She had a memory of being shuffled into a room and voices. As the trial proceeds the rapist remains antagonistic towards Seccuro and his defense attorney employs underhanded tactics to trigger Seccuro’s trauma and challenge her credibility. This included a long back and forth about the blood on her legs. Recalling the blood triggered PTSD in Seccuro and set her off balance during her testimony.

Despite the rapists confession and shocking new information about the rape, the defense makes a plea bargain and the rapist served less than 6 months in jail.

It was hard for me to read Crash Into Me. It was a compelling and well-written book. Seccuro is a strong role-model and has used this experience to bring awareness to the issue of campus rape. It was hard for me because I had hope through her story that there would be justice not more blame and trauma. I don’t know how we endure the things we do as women.

You can find Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice on amazon
and more about Liz Seccuro on her
website

A Call out to Rape Survivors from San Francisco


I thought my story was a one in a million mistake. I had been raped by a stranger 20 years ago. He used a weapon and wore a disguise. The San Francisco police said they had a suspect. They asked me to look at a set of mugshots. I wasn’t sure if the man who raped me was among them. They picked up the pictures and said “that’s it. you didn’t pick him. the case is closed.” I felt horrible but of course I was suffering the devastating effects of trauma.

And I trusted the San Francisco police department.

What I didn’t know was that when they closed my case, they put my rape kit (the biological specimen and other evidence) on a shelf and left it there for 20 years. They also didn’t keep my case open. Instead they filed it somewhere in the police storage rooms. And sometime between then and now they “LOST” my entire file: that’s the police report, the list of suspects, the sketch, interviews with witnesses. Everything. I found that out recently. I also found out my lost rape file was one of many from the 1980s and 1990s.

My life went on. Twenty years passed. This stranger and the rape stayed with me. Everyday there was a moment or two when I thought of it. Usually insinuations that reminded me of the empty building I was raped in. But other things too: police sirens or lights, stories of rape, and of course the anniversary.

Then just before Thanksgiving last year the SFPD called to tell me that my rape kit had been tested. Twenty years later. At first the detective didn’t know if I could prosecute. She told me the rapists name and details about him. She turned my world upside down. Then the horrible (and horribly short) journey through the trauma began again. The police officer had me recount the whole ordeal. Asked me if I had had sex with my husband within 36 hours of the rape. She was not compassionate in the least.

I was devastated and stunned. During that last call I cried. I’d pulled the car over and cried on the side of the road. I said “why did you call me in the first place?!” She said she felt bad. She said the police is like the military. You do as you’re told.

When it all ended a couple of days before Christmas she said “I’ve got bad news for you. There’s nothing you can do.”

Goodbye.

Story over.

Case closed.

I couldn’t help it. I started writing and writing and writing. At one point I posted a blog that detailed these interactions with the police. I’ve since taken it down to protect my anonymity. But while it was still posted I was contacted by a large feminist organization. She told me that there were MANY women who had similar experiences with the SFPD and SF DA’s office. San Francisco is being targeted for advocacy and activism to change the way rape victims and rape cases are handled.

I started connecting with other survivors and the stories are coming in. Rape kits are untested, women are dismissed, rape kits are destroyed, cases are not pursued.

What does this all mean? For one thing it makes it almost legal to rape a woman in San Francisco. For a moment I considered a parody brochure for the city “Looking for a place to rape a woman and not get caught? Rapists San Francisco is your kind of town. We offer maltreatment of victims, destruction of evidence, and low prosecution rates.” I almost made this brochure but I realized it would be crass and painful because it’s not a joke. It’s serious. In my case the man who raped me was a serial rapist. He’s committed at least 3 rapes since mine. Three more women unnecessarily and irrevocably harmed. Had they kept my case open, the SFPD would have been able to link it with a rape he committed not even a year later and was convicted of. They could have stopped him but they didn’t take rape seriously.

If you are a survivor with a story about the way police or the DA handled your rape and you want to share it confidentially you can contact me at mysfstory@yahoo.com

Please check out my facebook page dedicated to changing the situation in San Francisco. Please forward it to anyone you might know who wants to be a part of this movement to improve the lives of rape survivors.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015359826126