Botched police work makes me remember how police failed me

Botched Police Work Makes Me Remember How The Police Failed Me

My reaction to the CNN story covering the destruction of unprocessed Rape Kits in 14 states.

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On the second of December, CNN ran a story talking about the destruction of unprocessed rape kits in 14 states. This conduct was discovered because a victim in one of the states where this was occurring went to be updated on progress and found out her case was thrown out.

The first thought I had was to check and see if my state of Ohio participated in those activities. Even though it's been almost 30 years for my assaults, and I was never taken to the police when they happened to me, I was glad that Ohio detectives didn't destroy untested evidence. I feel like they were negligent and unaware, but at least they weren't criminals themselves.

Whenever I have to go to update my child abuse and prevention in-service hours for my job, it is a heart-wrenching and triggering experience.

Watching video reenactments of abuse plus reading about cases of true stories of abuse makes me just want to jump out my own skin. Or become a social worker so I can find these kids and save them. I never leave one of those trainings without crying my eyes out at least twice from sorrow and jealousy.

On one hand, it's wonderful to see the progress that's been made towards supporting children who have been through sexual, physical, psychological, and/or neglect abuse. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder where all this was when I was growing up.

Why were police okay with just picking me up all hours of the evening after school on the streets just to take me to my babysitter's house or back home? Yes, I was a latchkey kid, but obviously something else was going on at home. My elementary school even arranged the school bus to drop me off on my babysitter's street to make sure I went there after school.

Why did nobody think they should investigate my home life more? I think for the longest time people just wrote me off as scatterbrained and stupid and just chalked up my behaviors to symptoms of that. I didn't feel cared for by authorities, my school, or the police.

I remember vividly telling teachers and friends about my sexual assaults but no one did anything or said anything about it. It got so bad that I became aware when people would outright shame me for putting myself in those situations and that I was probably remembering things wrong since I was so young when they happened. So eventually I just kept my mouth shut.

In fact, until writing for Odyssey, I've never talked about my assaults again. Not even to the dozens of child psychologists I had been going to since I became of age.

Now, hotlines and police stations and even hospitals have direct access to Children and Family Services. Daycare centers take children to 12 years of age, libraries offer homework centers, Afterschool programs are open to six at night, recreational centers are open till late in the evenings — all to prevent delinquency and latchkey kids. It feels like the world changed almost overnight from uncaring to overbearing. Films like “Antwone Fisher" and “Precious" accurately depicted a lot of my life growing up.

After researching the statute of limitations for rape cases here in Ohio, I wondered how my life would have changed if I had done a rape kit for my two assaults. Would the police have looked into the rest of my home life after the examination? Would I have been happy that the perpetrators had been put away — taken from their parents and loved ones? Could I have felt good about myself being the cause of a father being taken away from his two kids and a girlfriend that needed him?

I at least wish I could've done something to stop the upstairs man from hurting others. Who knows how many other victims of his are out there now because I didn't know how to get justice for myself. Was I his first victim? I'll never know.

It's sad that those whose rape kits were destroyed by the police departments in those states will never get justice. At least they went and got the rape kits done. They tried to bring their perpetrators down.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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