Some sex assault victims feel victimized twice

Posted at 9:54 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 07:33:21-04

By the time you finish reading this story, two Americans will be sexually assaulted.

It happens once every 107 seconds.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network claims an even more disturbing statistic: Only two percent of rapists will ever spend a day behind bars.

It's no wonder why many women feel victimized twice. Once by their attacker and once by the justice system.

"So many people tell me just to move on, to get over it. And I can't. I can't just pick up and act like it didn't happen." said Amanda, who says she was sexually assaulted by her best friend's husband.

Nearly half (48 percent) of all victims of sexual assault know their attackers.

Court records show Amanda's alleged attacker forced himself on her, even as she cried for him to stop. Dazed and confused after the encounter, she said she couldn't get away from his house fast enough.

"There was a lot of emotions going on and I just remember trying to get to my car as quick as I could," Amanda said.

Almost immediately, the man was texting her, apologizing and blaming alcohol, and pleading with her not to tell anyone. He acknowledged he was wrong and said he would never have done what he did if he weren't drunk.

Amanda struggled with whether to turn her best friend's husband in to police.

"Often victims feel guilty, they're not quite sure if a crime has occurred because of the circumstances surrounding it," said Domestic Violence Intervention Services Education Coordinator Samantha Wade.

According to Wade, many victims second-guess their own actions.

"And sometimes it's a process to get them to the feeling that it truly was not their fault. There was nothing that they did incorrectly. It's always the perpetrator's fault," said Wade.

Amanda did go to the police - 25 hours later. And every time she had to tell the story, the wound re-opened, beginning with the rape exam at the hospital.

"That was very intrusive and humiliating. Not only did it just happen but you have to tell every detail," Amanda said.

In the month it took police to make the arrest, Amanda says she lost "Everything, your livelihood. You lose your sanity. I lost my job. I lost the place I live. My kids were uprooted and all because of somebody else's actions," Amanda recalled.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler sees the struggle victims of sexual assault go through. His goal is to bring community-wide sensitivity to the treatment of women.

"They're a human being, who's been violated and our community wants to get this vermin off the street," said Kunzweiler. "We spend so much time teaching our daughters how to avoid being raped; as opposed to to teaching our sons how to treat and respect a woman," he said.

Kunzweiler's office provides advocates and other resources to help victims recover, but they can't guarantee convictions. Many cases, like Amanda's, end in plea bargains.

The state dropped the rape charge against Jacob Breeding, and in a statement to 2 Works for You, his attorney said he is innocent. Court documents show Amanda had injuries consistent with sexual assault, and text messages indicate Breeding was remorseful for his actions. Attorney Lee Berlin said Breeding was confident after cross examination of Amanda in the preliminary hearing.

Breeding pleaded guilty to indecent exposure, which meant no prison time. He will have to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

Prosecutors say plea agreements save the victim from the humiliation of a trial, and the possibility their attacker will walk away with no punishment at all.

"It's a big slap in the face ... that somebody can forcefully hold you down and violate you, have evidence, and then just say that that's the equivalent of indecent exposure," said Amanda.

Though she wanted her case to go before a jury, Amanda hopes her story will give victims the strength to come forward and help change the system.

"We all have to make one voice and be heard because if not, nobody's going to do anything."

Sexual assault victims can find immediate help here.

Lee Berlin's full statement on behalf of Jacob Breeding:

"Mr. Breeding has always maintained that he is innocent of the allegation of 1st Degree Rape made by the accuser in this matter. Mr. Breeding was very confident in the evidence developed on cross examination at the preliminary hearing and ultimately my ability to secure a Not Guilty verdict on his behalf at trial.

"The offense of 1st degree rape carries a sentence of 5 years to Life in prison and is an 85% crime. Although we determined the chance of losing at trial to be small, Mr. Breeding concluded that if he was convicted and went to prison, the effect on and loss to his family would be catastrophic. Mr. Breeding's family is of critical importance to him and weighed heavily in his decision making. As such, in order to avoid the possibility, however remote, of catastrophic loss, Mr. Breeding entered into a plea which guaranteed he avoided prison as long as he abides by the rules and conditions of probation.

"The plea terms dismissed the first degree rape count, and Mr. Breeding entered a plea to Indecent Exposure. This plea of guilty makes Mr. Breeding a convicted felon, and will require him to register as a sex offender for 15 years."

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