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Archive for Monday, March 16, 1992

REPORTINGRAPE

March 16, 1992

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For Shannon Davis, the ordeal of being raped was something she didn't want to relive in court.

Now a graduate student at Kansas University, Davis said she never considered telling police that she had been the victim of what is known as date, or acquaintance, rape.

"Reporting it was never a consideration," Davis said. "Physically and emotionally, it would have ruined me. I made a conscious decision not to report it."

At the time of the rape, which occurred in 1988, Davis, a graduate teaching assistant in KU's political science department, was more concerned with getting on with her life and professional goals, she said.

SHE DOESN'T regret her decision but doesn't say it should be the same for everyone. Reporting a rape, Davis said, "is a decision that has to be made by each woman."

That falls in line with what local officials say about the decisions rape victims face. Echoing Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin, Lt. Mike Hall, Rape Victim Support Service Director Sarah Russell and others, Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells said he would like to see more victims report. But Wells knows that "it's traumatic for a victim to testify."

For many women, the prospect of going to court is simply too harrowing.

During a recent forum about violence against women, Alynn Jackson, an advocate for RVSS, said counselors don't pressure women to report.

"What we try to do first and foremost is give a little bit of power back to the victim," Jackson explained. "They are the ones making the decisions."

Angela Kraybill, a former Lawrence resident who graduated from KU in 1990, knows that firsthand.

KRAYBILL SAID she was raped when she was 13. Like Davis, Kraybill did not report the incident. Years later, she sought counseling at RVSS, a 24-hour rape crisis center that serves Douglas County.

Although Kraybill said she realized she was not to blame for the rape, she said she didn't report the incident because she didn't think anyone would believe her. Even friends, she said, were skeptical when she told them.

"I realized it wasn't my fault," Kraybill said. "He tried real hard to make me believe it was, but I knew that it wasn't."

When she was a student at KU, Kraybill saw an ad about RVSS in the college newspaper. She decided to "go to the group to prove to myself that I was OK."

When she called the agency, which has offices at Headquarters, 1419 Mass., an answering machine intercepted her call. However, a volunteer picked up the phone as Kraybill was leaving a message.

"If I could've gotten out of it, I would have," she said, smiling.

Although Davis and Kraybill said they don't regret their decisions not to report, both said they wished they would have sought counseling earlier.

Another rape victim offered a different reason for her decision not to go to police when she was raped in 1977.

THE WOMAN, Donna, who did not want to use her last name in this story, said she considered it useless to report the crime.

She said she was raped by two men when she was 18 and tried to bury all thought of it.

"After it happened, I put it all in a box and left it there in the back of my mind. I left it there for 14 years," said Donna, who is now married and has two children.

It wasn't until 1980, three years after the incident, that Donna told someone she had been raped.

SHE SAID she was married five years before she told her husband in detail about what had happened.

Asked what she would do if she were raped again, Donna said she probably would go to police.

Davis said she has thought about what she would do if she were raped again. She would like to think she would tell police.

"I always tell myself that I hope I could be brave enough to do that, but I just don't know if I could," she said.

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