by Samantha McCoy
I met my rapist when we were kids in the local church where my parents raised me. He was the pastor’s son and was very kind when we were children. I moved away in high school, and we ran into each other on campus five years later and over 100 miles away from our old town. We began to hang out over the next six months and catch up over the past five years. He had become a local police officer in the town we lived in, and I was in my junior year of college. I was going through changes in my life, and he seemed to be a good support for me at that time. He started coming over to my apartment frequently, and over the next two months he would buy me flowers and shower me with gifts. It felt secure and safe at the beginning.
Skip to a few more months and his behaviors started changing. He began staying over at my house and refusing to leave; he started showing up everywhere that I was, coming over uninvited, looking through my phone, and demanding to know who I was hanging out with. Even though we were not in a relationship, he started to control me. I made excuses for these behaviors because I thought that he might have just had a bad day or that he just cared, but was very wrong. I remember nights crying to my mom on the phone because he wouldn’t leave my apartment and I just needed space. I remember doing homework at my apartment and him dropping by during his shift to make sure no one else was in my apartment with me. I remember him getting upset and angry when I didn’t answer the door fast enough and him looking through the apartment as if I was hiding someone. I remember him getting upset because I started exercising and he told me I was trying to impress other men. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know who to ask for help. When I would ask him or tell him that something was bothering me, things just escalated into a fight.
Unfortunately, the night he assaulted me I went out with a large group of his officer friends for his birthday. He was consistently buying me drinks all night for over 7 hours and encouraging me to drink more and more. During the evening, I ran into a few male friends, and he became livid. He came up to me in the bar and started shoving me away from my old friend. Then stormed out of the bar and was screaming just because I said hi.
Unfortunately, due to the amount that I drank that night I do not remember how I got home, what time I got home, who took me to my residence, etc. I do remember small details of being dragged onto a mattress on the floor by my legs and him grabbing my face and screaming at me. When I woke up the next morning, I had bruises covering my entire body… hips, wrists, inner thighs..and by the pain I was feeling in other areas, I knew that something bad had happened. I called my mother immediately, and we took pictures of my bruises. The injuries were extensive. I later found naked photographs that he had taken on his phone from that night, and I was unconscious in the photos. I went to the state police because I did not trust going to the local police (since he worked for them). I thought that they were going to act due to the injuries I had immediately. Unfortunately, I was very very wrong. The police took me to the emergency room for an examination and to photograph my bruises. This process was very invasive and unsettling after everything I had already been through that night.
Law enforcement interviewed me over and over and over until I was going numb to everything around me. Their questions consisted of “well if you were unconscious then how do you know that you didn’t consent?” “He said the pictures were a birthday gift” “You sure do text a lot of males on your phone” “You know if you are lying you will go straight to jail.” I was consistently cooperating and getting upset and repeating my story over and over, but they were just not listening. They then demanded that I call him to record him to a possible confession. I did not want to do this, but the police did not give me a choice. They wire-tap his phone, and he admitted to knowing I was unconscious, that the assault lasted over two hours and was telling me that he was sorry and that he wanted to tell me that he loved me… I was hysterically crying because of what he had admitted. When I turned to the officers in the room with me for their reaction, they stated: “well, it is still a he-said, she said.” I immediately left the station with my mother and refused to cooperate any further. The state police did not listen to me and would not take me seriously. A month after I stopped contributing. They “lost the emergency room photos of my bruises” and “couldn’t retrieve the photos” that he had taken of me that night, despite his admission of taking the photographs and the state police describing the pictures to me during questioning. The prosecutors said that they didn’t have a case due to lack of evidence. I was dumbfounded. Everything was gone, the taping of the phone conversation had disappeared, photographs from two different people were gone, and no one would listen to me.
He remained an active officer for ten months until I was able to win a Title IX hearing at my university, where he was found unanimously responsible for sexual assault. The campus banned him, the court entered a no-contact order, and the school suspended him.
I filed a protective order, and the court granted it shortly after. After ten months of living in fear of his anger and him finding me, he finally was forced to resign from his job.
I went through the worst experience of my life, and it took many, many things from me. It took my happiness for over a year; I lost my salaried job, I lost my apartment and became homeless, I wasn’t able to attend classes regularly, I didn’t want to leave the bed, I lost friends because I couldn’t share what happened to me without being embarrassed or ashamed… everything reminded me of what happened, and I feared running into him or his friends on and off duty. I decided to move across the country to start over.
Although he took so much from me and two years of my life are gone and wasted on trying to heal from the damages, he did not steal my voice. I now dedicate my time to educating others on sexual assault and being a voice for the survivors who cannot speak out on their experience. I work at a local domestic violence shelter and also work as a mental health therapist. I graduated in May with my Master’s in Social Work, and I am planning on pursuing law school to make changes in the policies and laws surrounding sexual assault survivors.
I could have very well let that evil man take everything I had, and I almost gave him all of my power. But, I have found strength and healing through speaking out and helping others who have gone through this and who feel as though others do not hear them. I will not let him dictate my future or my success. I will never let him have control over me again, and I will succeed regardless of what he tried to do. My goal is to help other survivors reach that point and reclaim their lives. My voice is what has pushed me through and what has kept me alive, and I am so very thankful for my new life that I created.