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Breaking the SilenceJasmine LopezComment
Stock photo by:  Jazi Photo  Makeup: Jacqueline Gamache

Stock photo by: Jazi Photo Makeup: Jacqueline Gamache

Please share your story.:

It was March of 2015 and I was 25 years old. I was working in the suburbs of Chicago and a male coworker offered me a ride home in his Jeep. I had only had what felt like safe interactions with him at work up until this night. When we got to my apartment, I asked if he'd like to come up because I thought it was the polite thing to do. He raped me that night in my apartment. I froze and couldn't fight back and would later learn that is a normal response to a traumatic event like this. I eventually got away to my bathroom and when I came back into the main area of my apartment he put me in a restraint holding my arms behind my back. I was able to fight back and get out of his grip. He left around 2 am. I saw him later at work the next day and he pretended as if nothing had happened. The moment I left work that night, I had a panic attack and I knew I needed to tell someone what had happened. I reached out to a friend. I reach out to my therapist. I called 911 and went to the hospital to be evaluated the next day. I was re-traumatized by police officers, a detective, a sergeant, doctors and nurses. When I was struggling to get words out to tell the ER nurse what had happened she said, "I don't understand why you can't just tell me??" One of the responding officers told me, "I don't see how there was a crime here." A detective told me, "If he wanted to rape you, he would have .... it doesn't matter what those advocates and your therapists are saying, he didn't do anything ... you were blocking the edge of the bed, he couldn't even get up if he wanted to ... you can't hide behind your dissociation." I found an attorney. I found a safe place to stay with a couple from my church for a few nights. I found an amazing organization downtown called Rape Victim Advocates. I found help and support, and I found people who believed my story and took me seriously. I did not get justice in the court rooms I would attend or from the detective I would meet with. I'm still coming to accept that as what is final for my case. A Chicago Police Officer said my case was labeled "non-criminal" because "I didn't fight back or say no." My case will go no further and I'm still trying to make peace with that. I will continue living. I will continue fighting. I will continue healing every day from that night.

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It took awhile before I could see anything good coming from what happened. I can now see that I am more resilient. I am stronger as a human. I am more compassionate and understanding when I hear others stories. What happened that night has inspired me to one day work with other survivors of sexual assault. I participated in a research study that UIC did about how the Chicago police react to sexual assault cases, to in the end, provide better training for the CPD. I am a resilient person and I believe that is the main truth I will take from this experience.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?:

I wanted to share my story simply in hopes that my story would resonate with someone else and it would help them or at the least, make them feel less alone.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

You did nothing wrong. None of what happened to you was your fault. You did not deserve any of it. There are people who will believe you, me being one of them.