Recently a local rape case was reported to police. While the individual was never my client, I did hear the story directly from that individual, and heard updates from both the victim and those closely involved, over a period of weeks. And given the number of people who have talked with me about it since, the story has spread far and wide.
Early on in sharing with me, she told me people were telling her it was only a dream, or maybe a demonic attack, but in any case what she claimed had happened, was not reality, and she was urged to not speak of it. Still, she stood by her story. And never in her sharing of it–which she did more than once with me and several others–did the details collide. There was no reason to believe she was fabricating a story.
When she developed tender breasts and fever, she was taken to hospital, where (according to her) she was told she had Mastitis. In the home where she stayed, the woman sent me a text one day saying something was very wrong; the girl had bled all over the bed.
Earlier in sharing her account with me, the girl had mentioned several times she was pregnant and had miscarried. This ‘evidence’ seemed to corroborate her story. Still she was not believed by key people in her life. And still she stood by her story. (I personally asked her in my last conversation with her–in front of one of her key church leaders and two witnesses–if she had told us the truth. And even then she said, “yes.”)
However, by the time the trials began, and after the victim had been removed from the ‘safe home’ she had asked to be placed in, things changed. She recanted her testimony and the case was dismissed on November 9, 2015.
And many thanked God for this ‘answer to prayer’…
…because sometimes–in approximately 5% of cases–victims are believed to lie and make up false charges out of some perverse need for attention…
Today I read an article that was devastating, disturbing and familiar… It is long, and it is powerful; worth the time investment to read. (And not hard to read, as the story is very engaging, in a tragic way.) This is one of the few times An Unbelievable Story of Rape is told, where the “victim” recants the story, admitting it was nothing more than a lie, and the ensuing events that eventually confirm what is, in fact, the truth.
I tend to work from the perspective of believing a victim, and if they are lying, hopefully they will get the help they need and admit to those lies. It is never mine to judge, and I am not in a position to investigate, so I try to help the best I can, while praying for truth and healing, in either case.
Where there is the rare case of deception, my heart goes out to the accused. This article is loaded with learning, just in the telling of the story, and would be good for every law enforcement officer, pastor, teacher, parent–and anyone working with youth or potentially victimized or troubled individuals. It was hard for me to read, causing moments of unusual anxiety as I followed this victim’s (changing) story and the police department’s handling of it.
If you know anyone who has made rape/abuse claims or allegations, or fall in the people group most likely to come across victims or those claiming victimization, I urge you to read An Unbelievable Story of Rape.
I will share a quote from the article that jumped off the page at me. In my position of working with victims and alleged victims, I have no choice but to believe, unless there are glaring discrepancies: “A lot of times people say, ‘Believe your victim, believe your victim,’” Galbraith said. “But I don’t think that that’s the right standpoint. I think it’s listen to your victim. And then corroborate or refute based on how things go.”
There are many unknowns in working with victims of sexual violence, but the one thing I am certain of, is that sometimes the most diligent and well-meaning people have it wrong. (And to get a concept of just what I mean by that, I again highly recommend the link included here.)
And now, since I am not accustomed to an article or a story impacting me this intensely, I need to go de-stress.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger