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Costa Rica: “Was it My Fault I Was Raped, Because I Went Out at Night?”

[All links in this post lead to Spanish language sites]

With strength and courage, blogger SophiadelSol of Love Fashion & Vintage  [Update September 2012: this blog is no longer publicly accessible.] has written about her recent carjacking, abduction and rape as she was out at night with her boyfriend. In a society that blames the victims for exposing themselves to muggings, theft and anything else that may happen to them, she has bravely stood up for victims and placed the blame on the society that allows these things to happen.

She wrote the post “That happened because you went out at night” as a response to a comment directed at her boyfriend when someone heard about the carjacking: that it happened to him because he went out at night. So she extrapolated: did it mean that it was also her fault she was raped?

She writes about the events that led to her assault, describing how they were taken at gunpoint from their car and forced to undress, and then tied and placed face-down in the middle of a coffee plantation. She writes that she was then taken away to be raped. SophiadelSol describes how she was able to run away, go to her boyfriend and together walk for hours among the coffee plants until they found a road at dawn. Her answer: No. It was not their fault.

Night Sky, Moon, by Ruthanne Reid used under CCBy license.

Night Sky, Moon, by Ruthanne Reid used under CCBy license.

Entonces no, esto definitivamente no nos paso por salir de noche, ni por estar donde estabamos, no es nuestra culpa, no es culpa de nadie que este tipo de cosas pasen. Pero si es nuestra responsabilidad hacer algo para que dejen de pasar. No basta con andar con más cuidado o armados, la solución es cambiar nuestras leyes, que los jueces, fiscales, policias y agentes de investigación tengan una mano dura. Porque aquí los que hacen y deshacen son los delincuentes. Y nadie hace nada para que esto cambie. El valevergismo es lo que más abunda en Costa Rica. Pero y si fuera yo la hija de alguno de esos jueces? La historia tendría un final bastante diferente.

Then no, this definitely didn't happen to us because we went out at night, nor for being where we were, it isn't our fault, it is nobody's fault that these sort of things happen. But it is our responsibility to do something to stop them from happening again. It is not a matter of being more careful or arming ourselves, the solution is to change our laws, so judges, prosecutors, police and investigation agents have a harder hand. Because here, those who mostly do and undo are the delinquents. And nobody does anything for this to change. The “I don't give a damn” attitude is abundant in Costa Rica. But if I were the daughter of one of those judges? The story would have quite a different ending.

Support for the blogger has come through people sharing the post on Facebook and commenting on her blog.

Daniela López commented congratulating her for being so brave and for being an inspiration, insisting that the country needs more people like her.

Other readers took the opportunity to also tell their story, like Catalina Orozco, who wrote about being abused as a child and dealing with people asking why she never reported the abuse:

Mi papá biológico abusó de mi desde siempre, hasta que quedé embarazada a los 14 años de mi hijo (al cuál amo en términos de infinito). Mi futuro se perfilaba oscuro, pero ‘no me dejé', me aferré a seguir adelante con mi hijo y hoy (después de 9 años) me siento orgullosa de poder decir que si hay algo que me sobra en la vida es luz, felicidad y bienestar.

Menciono lo anterior para enmarcar lo siguiente: nada que me choque más como la constante pregunta de terceros ‘¿y porqué usted no dijo nada?'. ¿Cómo es, fue mi culpa el haber sido abusada porque ‘no dije nada'?

My biological father abused me since forever, until I got pregnant at 14 of my son (whom I love to infinity). My future seemed dark, but I did not let it get to me, I decided to go on with my son and today (after 9 years) I feel proud to say that if there is something I have much of in life is light, happiness and wellbeing.

I mention this to frame the following: nothing was as upsetting as the constant question asked by third parties of ‘why did you not say anything? So, is it my fault I was abused because I didn't ‘say anything'?

Lechuga added her comment, of how reading SophiadelSol's post was like reliving her own experience, with only a couple of changes. She also expressed solidarity in the face of all those who revictimize women and blame them for dressing a certain way, going to bars, drinking, or for trusting in people. Although Lechuga reported the crime, nothing came out of it:

Finalmente, mi proceso judicial fue un fracaso, otra historia o expediente que se suma al montón :( espero que si decidís hacer algo te vaya mil mejor, empoderate mucho frente a los investigadores, fiscales y demás, porque son sumamente machistas. Así que fuerte, valiente, demostrá la gran mujer que sos…

Finally, my judicial process was a failure, another story or file that gets piled up with the rest :( I hope that if you decide to press charges you do a thousand times better, empower yourself in front of the investigators, the prosecutors and others because they are male chauvinists. So be strong, brave, and show them the great woman you are…

Fernando Arias, while confirming that in his opinion none of this was their fault, tries to speak up for the people who work in the justice system. He also believes that changing the laws isn't really a solution.

Difiero igualmente, con el mayor de los respetos, en que la solución esté en cambiar las leyes; igualmente debo salir en defensa de todos los profesionales de la judicatura. Ellos no tienen la responsabilidad de lo que sucede afuera, ni actúan dependiendo de quienes sean las partes en el proceso. Pero le manifiesto mi más profundo respeto y consideración, porque aunque mis experiencias no han sido tan traumantes, sé lo que es sentirse amenazado por un arma y que me despojen de mis pertenencias.

I also disagree, with the greatest respect, in that the solution lies with changing the laws; in the same vein I shall come out in defense of all the judiciary professionals. They don't have the responsibility for everything that happens outside, nor do they act depending on who is playing the parts in the process. But I do express my most profound respect and consideration to you, because although my experiences have not been as traumatic, I know what it is like to feel threatened by a weapon and have my belongings taken away.

As for SophiadelSol, she closes with this statement:

Yo soy una mujer fuerte, ando con mi frente en alto, nada ni nadie va a hacer que desista de mi vida, mis sueños y metas. No tengo miedo ni verguenza. Soy la misma que era hace un mes pero más fuerte, más decidida. Viví una pesadilla pero estoy aquí para contarla, para que todos sepan que esto está pasando todos los días. Ningún periodico ni noticiario saca estas notas, no me interezan las razones. Lo único que quiero al contar este testimonio es que nadie más viva algo así, esto tiene que terminar!

I am a strong woman, I walk with my head held high, nothing and no-one will make me desist from my life, my dreams and goals. I am not afraid nor ashamed. I am the same person I was a month ago but stronger, more decided. I lived a nightmare but I am here to tell it, so that everyone can know that this is happening every day. No newspaper or news show will publish these notes, I am not interested in the reasons. The only thing I want as I tell this testimony is that no one ever goes through something like this again, this has to stop!

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