The Huffington Post’s Melissa Jeltsen recently reported on comments by the state attorney for Hillsborough County, Florida, Republican Mark Ober, who is under fire for saying that a teenage girl was “voluntarily” with the man accused of sexually abusing her. Ober’s office initially declined to press charges in the case, only to reexamine the allegations after they were picked up by local media. In response, the victim in the case composed the following open letter to Ober, which The Huffington Post is publishing in full here.
Dear Mr. Ober,
It is often considered a baffling thought as to why women so often do not report crimes of a sexual nature. The idea being that reporting will bring protection to the victim, that it will bring closure, and that justice will be served. Prior to my time with you and your administration I would have thought the same things, and assumed these women would unanimously be better off for reporting. Unfortunately, now more than ever, I understand.
The fact is Mr. Ober, that as a result of my time with you and your administration I have felt judged, ridiculed, blamed, dismissed, and uncared for time and time again. I have had people look at me and say that I gave consent in a scenario where consent could not be given. I have been asked more times if I “enjoyed it” than the amount of times I was asked of how it hurt. I have spent months living in fear of my case again being swept under the rug, and that the trauma of reporting through this system would have all been a waste. Because despite you saying you “know the facts” and that you now acknowledge a crime was committed, you closed my case. You closed my case and said there were no charges to be pressed, and that there was nothing that could be done for me. After months of being thrown from detective to detective, fighting just to get updates and a call back, I was told no wrong was committed and that I would have been too easy to blame. I was pushed away, and I was not worth your time. It is only thanks to BTLS Radio, and WTSP Channel 10 that you even took a second look. Making it truly frightening to think of all the other victims you’ve surely turned away, who did not have the resources I did to continue to push their case forward.
“After my experience with you, if I were ever assaulted, raped, or anything of the nature again and you were still my State Attorney, I would not report it.”
The sad truth is, Mr. Ober, that after my experience with you, if I were ever assaulted, raped, or anything of the nature again and you were still my State Attorney, I would not report it. Because I have felt more exploited through the experience of having you as my only outlet to justice than I had in the entire time of the crime that brought me to your door in the first place. I say that not as a plea to women who have not reported to hide their victimization, but to highlight how thoroughly you have failed me and my family, and surely so many more women before my time. I have merely been lucky enough, if one can even call it that, to be one of the few to make it through. Because with you in office, so few do.
So you may say what you want about me, and my case, to whatever forum or paper or news outlet comes your way. There’s not much harm you can do anymore. But I will still stand every day and say with all assurance that your time in office must come to an end. Because no victim deserves to be treated the way I have been. Because every victim needs to be able to come out of this stronger than before. Because no victim deserves to have to be represented by you. Because you do not deserve this job, you do not have my trust, and you will not have my vote. It is my sincere hope that others will commit the same.
The Girl You Will Not Forget