We are circulating this video as all too often people are unable to empathise with the lasting impact sexual violence has on survivors.
Years after an attack, survivors suffer from crippling mental health disorders, such as depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The event may be over, their rapists jailed (on rare occasion in the UK), but the nightmares and panic attacks continue. It is a life sentence for those who suffer, and yet our lenient laws fail to recognise the severity of these crimes.
Here, one brave American survivor, Kathryn Bailey, gives us the smallest glimpse of what it might be like or an individual who has lived through the trauma of sexual violence. Aged just nine, she was raped by her brother, James Bailey, repeatedly while her parents worked long hours. The abuse lasted for four years.
Ten years later, aged 23, Kathyrn confronts her brother in court in New York with a heart-breaking impact statement read as an open letter. On Thursday 6 April, he was sentenced by County Court Judge Stephen Dougherty to 32 years in jail.
WARNING – This Content May Be Triggering For Some Readers
“The anger I placed on mum and dad was wrong of me,” Kathryn says in the video posted by Syracuse.com last week. “This should have all been placed on you. They trusted you to take care of me. It was sexual abuse, it was not curiosity,” she added, referencing the reason he had given for sexually assaulting her.
“With Detective Clark we were discussing what was going on and he asked, ‘what was the first thing that comes to your mind with you and Katie’s relationship?’ And you said one word: curiosity.
“After hearing that word, curiosity, the trauma for me continued. Just when I thought the memories and the way I felt were enough to make me cold and numb inside, you managed to damage and hurt me again.”
“How does possibility of 32 years sound to you?” Kathryn continues. “That’s 11,680 days and 280,000 hours. I’m positive that number will matter to you.
““I have the rest of my life to bear this weight of the abuse. And that is that. I will never forget what you’ve done to me. I will never forget how I felt through those dark days.
“I suppose a goodbye is in order, but I’d like to say one last thing,” she concluded. “I don’t hate you. I hate what you did.”
In America, survivors of sexual violence are usually granted anonymity, but Kathryn chose to go public to share her story by way of catharsis.
“I needed to conquer fear,” she told Syracuse.com following sentencing.
“I had to stand in front of my brother, and face him, talk to jury of strangers,” she said of her testimony, which took place a month ago. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
If you have had a similar experience to Kathryn and need someone to talk to, call the Samaritans on 116 123. If you need specific support such as counselling or need information on what to do after an attack, call Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999 between 10am to 12am until 23 April 2017.