Details of Cops' Conduct Make It Clear Why Sexual Assault Survivors Rarely Speak Up

We have some news and you're not going to like it: In the same Department of Justice report that detailed the systematic racism plaguing the Baltimore Police Department, the police were also called out for doing little to nothing to help survivors of sexual assault. Or, okay: Scratch that. They didn't do nothing, they just did all the wrong things -- instead of being offered support or assistance in catching the men responsible, women who reported crimes were victim blamed, called liars and whores, and routinely ignored. Seriously.

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The specifics are horrific -- in one case, a prosecutor emailed an officer about a woman who came in to report sexual assault and called her a "conniving little whore." The officer responded and said, "Lmao! I feel the same."

In another, an officer asked a woman reporting a crime, "Why are you trying to mess that guy's life up?" In more, they were asked things like, "Did you have an orgasm? Was this regret sex? Do you have a boyfriend?"

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In another, a woman accused her taxi driver of rape and the suspect was identified, but the detective never tried to contact him and the investigation just ... stopped. The DoJ found that rape kits were only used in 15 percent of sexual assault cases, and that not only did officers use hostile language to talk about prostitutes and sex workers, but community complaints reported that officers would coerce sexual favors from that community in exchange for avoiding arrest, for cash, or for narcotics.

So if you're wondering why women are scared to report their crimes to the police, that's why.

Baltimore's not the only city with this problem, either: The last (and also damning) DoJ report focused on Missoula, Montana, and other inquires noted the failures of the police systems in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. And those are just the departments that have been investigated.

Plus, the situation on college campuses isn't much better. On the heels of this DoJ investigation, another (yes, another) man convicted of sexual assault on a college campus got off with a light punishment -- a student at University of Colorado, Boulder, got off with no jail time after raping an almost unconscious freshman even though he faced a sentence that could have been four years to life.

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It's terrible. And disheartening. We want the security of knowing that if we're assaulted or raped, the person who did it would go to jail. But we just don't live in a world that can guarantee that right now.

Hopefully, we will soon: The Baltimore police commissioner said he's taking steps (like putting a trusted captain in charge of a new sex offense unit and appointing a LGBT liason) to rectify the problem. He needs to fix this -- it should have never reached this point in the first place. And then the rest of the country needs to catch on, too.

 

Image via iStock.com/davidf

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