Mary Lou was raped in Phoenix on Friday night, one of possibly hundreds of unreported rapes in the metropolis that night. These won’t make the news, but perhaps their effects will be at least as devastating as the high-profile cases.
The victim is a young woman who met the assailant in a treatment group. Under the pretense of being a friend who wanted to watch a movie with her, he took her to his apartment and sexually assaulted her. To aggravate the crime, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
This scenario happens all too frequently across the country. The victim is already devastated by an act of degradation and personal violence, and then is silenced by fear of reprisal. The first response for the victim, out of shame and feeling dirty, is to bathe and try to get clean from the vile act and memories of humiliation. Then she feels hopeless and guilty for washing away all the evidence, so there seems to be no point in reporting or doing a rape kit.
In Mary Lou’s case, the rape triggered flashbacks of previous sexual assaults and violations and brought on suicidal ideations. After pretending everything was okay for nearly 48 hours, she finally called a friend and the crisis response team. Before she could be admitted to a psychiatric hospital, however, she had to go to the emergency room for a rape kit and police report. Six hours later, hospital staff told her that they didn’t do the rape test there, so she was discouraged from taking further action.