Invisible Victim-Secondary Crime-Who Will Help You Now ?

By Trinka Porrata

No one seems to know or care that they exist.  They are the victims of a crime who then become suspects in another crime, though without free will on their part.  Meanwhile the crime they suffered is erased, ridiculed, dismissed, ignored, or simply lost in the time lapse as evidence dissipates and/or because the drug used in the original crime isn’t something typically targeted even if any testing is done.

Their “problem” doesn’t fit into the interests of prosecutors or even defense attorneys.  It is so much easier to ignore the underlying, initial crime because it is typically so difficult to prove.  Their suffering thus is lost to the system, often disbelieved in turn by friends, family, coworkers.   They face financial loss, night terrors and incarceration.  It is a dark, lonely journey.

Who are they?  They may be male or female, of any age range or economic background.  They may have been the victim or at least intended victim of sexual assault, robbery, or credit card fraud.  Or they may have been drugged “just for laughs.” 

You could become one of them.  And if it happens, will anyone have your back?

So you are out with the girls and have a drink or two at a popular nightspot.  You are all having a great time.  Sure, you are “watching” your drinks and “watching” each other’s backs.  Or are you really?  OK, so you do turn away from your drink for a minute or two once or twice.  Access.   And one of your friends wanders off when she sees someone else she knows across the room.  You lose track of her for a little while.  Access. And so on.

Then it happens………..According to your friends, you wandered off toward the bathroom and your friends saw you walk away, but no one went with you.  You were alone and out of sight. . . . . . . . But this is now info I’m getting later from your friends, because you don’t remember this moment or any thereafter for quite some time.  Despite promises to watch each other’s backs, you and your friends provided access, moments of lapsed attention.  Someone drugged your drink.  It has now kicked in with its most desired effect---blackout.   

A little later your friends ponder that you’ve been gone quite long for just going to the bathroom.  And they wait a little longer.  And they look for you but you are nowhere to be found. 

Where are you now?

Scenario 1

DRUGGED AND RAPED--The drink drugger has followed you and once around the corner with your brain aflutter with the effects of the drug, he escorts you out the back door.  You won’t remember it.  Maybe he offered you help and part of your brain realized you needed help, while the other part of your brain was off the grid.  Maybe he grabbed you.  Doesn’t matter how, but he has you now.  A lot of different things could happen from raping you in the parking lot to taking your elsewhere but for the moment let’s assume he rapes you in the back of his van in the parking lot.  When finished, he pushes you out the door, still with your brain off the grid.  You still may not remember a thing or just tiny pieces.  In any case, you are not yet in control.  And maybe you, in a sort of autopilot, get into your car and drive off.  You may end up in an accident or your driving is bad enough to attract attention or you pass out behind the wheel at the side of the road or in the middle of the road or whatever, and you are arrested for DUI.  You may “answer” basic questions from the officers and yet later still not remember having seen them, much less having answered any questions.  At some point you “come to” in jail or in a hospital, confused and in trouble.  Eventually you get out and try to piece it all together.  You sit alone for awhile.  Then you call your friends from last night and they are clueless.  Hey, you just walked away from them and never came back.  They are as confused as you.  Maybe you are sure you were raped or maybe not totally sure but think just maybe.  So little info.  So much confusion……………and time is slipping away. 

Scenario 2

DRUGGED BUT LOST TO YOUR INTENDED THE RAPIST--You wander away from your friends but the drink drugger lost you in the crowded bar and dance floor.  And so you aren’t raped, but you have no recall of walking away, no recall of walking out the door and no recall of driving the car………………….and then you crashed or were driving erratically or……………and so it goes.
There are many variations of the two above scenarios and many possibilities of what can happen from there, but it is all bad.  Take your pick:

  • You wake up in jail on DUI charges.
  • You wake up in the hospital with serious injuries from the crash.
  • You wake up in either above situation to learn that you killed someone in the crash.
  • You wake up in either above situation and learn you were in a high speed police chase. 
  • You wake up to learn you fought the officers (maybe even grabbed one by the family jewels during the altercation) and were arrested for felony assault on an officer.
  • You were combative and refused to blow in the machine (thus we’ll never know that your BAC—blood alcohol level—was just a .03 or whatever; not over the limit but behavior was off the charts).
  • Your BAC was extremely high (not consistent with your drinking pattern or at least not consistent with the drinks you recall taking).  And that’s a whole new story about drinking after the point of being drugged.

It’s all quite baffling to you in any case.  How could YOU have done any of these things.  How could this happen?  Who do you turn to?  Who will believe you?  If you do put it together and realize you might have been drugged, is it too late to be tested?  You go to the police or the hospital, but will they believe you?  Even if they do (good luck with that), time has passed and the drug is likely gone.  Or, even if they do, will they test for the right drug? And on and on it goes.

At some point you meet your public defender or someone calls an attorney for you.  You try to tell them your plight.  But the public defender isn’t interested, just doing the minimum to get you through the first court appearance.  He suggests you get your own attorney.  OK, so you have no idea who or how but you start looking.  Everywhere you turn it is the same…………….OK, give me $20,000 or $25,000 cash up front and we’ll talk.  Then they get your money, IF you can come up with that much, and then they merely suggest that you just plead guilty and take your chances since it’s a first time offense (assuming you aren’t the one who killed someone, hurt people badly or did a lot of damage or were in the police pursuit).  But, you insist, I think I was drugged in that bar!!!  No, your attorney (even if you coughed up all that money) probably won’t get around to checking for security tapes at that location to see if there’s any proof.  Probably won’t send out investigators to ask people who were there.  Probably won’t seek out an expert to review the case. Probably won’t help you much. 

If you weren’t raped, you don’t even have a rape crisis center to turn to for a little support.  Who do you turn to?  What do you do?

You see, DUI is a pretty black and white crime.  Having been a cop for 25 years, I understand it well.  You WERE driving and you WERE impaired.  Case closed! 

The reality is that it is hard to break through that barrier because most of the time it is quite true.  Even if you make a rape report and have a sexual assault kit done, the assumption is typically that you are just claiming this to get out of the DUI.  Ironically, while the cops and prosecutor typically react that it’s a defense attorney stunt, the truth is that typically the defense attorney doesn’t really care either.  And the judicial system is pretty blind to it as well. 

Don’t misunderstand--There ARE great cops, great prosecutors, even some great defense attorneys (yes, really), and good judges, but what are the odds you will meet them at this crucial moment in time?  A precious few individuals that I know who have fallen into this situation have indeed found public defenders or private attorneys who DO care and give it their best shot.  There are cops who have recognized the scenario and have indeed backtracked to identify what happened from the beginning.  But many others have not been so lucky.

And, yes, people sometime lie and abuse the system and I have no tolerance for that type of person.  Bad cases ultimately hurt good cases.  Like the former Olympic ice dancer who drugged her own drink and claimed that her business partner did it to rape her, angry that he had canceled their personal, sexual relationship.  She got caught but the damage to other cases was already done by all the negative publicity because of her status.

You were the victim of a crime.  But you became a suspect in a crime.  You now live in a deep, dark, lonely limbo. 

I know many stories from this group of invisible victims, but one particular story is so poignant, I’d like you to read it next, in her own words