A reader adds a new angle to the thread:
I was convicted in 2001 of embezzling more than a million dollars, for which I served 1-1/2 years in prison. I may come at this from a different angle, being a gay man who was raped in prison, rather than a straight women raped in college. I didn’t report my rapes (there were three). I didn’t even discuss them with friends.
First, if you think reporting a rape in a college environment is hard on the reporter, it is pure hell in prison.
The very first thing that happens is you’re transferred from your housing unit, so you lose your job and program. I was in a terrific program with one of the greatest teachers of my life, so the loss would have been substantial.
Second, why one was moved becomes common knowledge very quickly (in prison, gossip travels faster than the speed of light), so you will be a target, an known easy mark, wherever you’re put next. Third, the accused, at worst, suffers the loss of a few days good time. Most of the time, the event is found to be consensual sex (because I was gay, so of course I’d want to have sex with a man) and both are punished. I wouldn’t even be able to get medical care to ensure I did not seroconvert (I am HIV-). There was very little upside to reporting. So, I kept quiet and found ways to keep myself out of the situation.
I am sad to say that being raped was not the most traumatic thing to happen in prison. But even now, ten years later, every so often, I still wake in the middle of the night shaking with fear because of my stay there. On the other hand, I wouldn’t now report either. It is over with and done. I’ve moved on and don’t want to be involved in anything there. If this places others in danger, so be it. I don’t think the report would be fair to me or to anyone I accuse. After so long, even I don’t trust my memories of the events.
Thus, I don’t blame people for not reporting – it is a very personal decision. But I also don’t think accusations long after the rape are helpful either. Either go forward at the time, letting the chips fall where they may, or let it go.