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I am 20 years old and was either sexually assaulted or raped (I don't know what to classify it as) when I was 17. This happened in Ohio and it has affected me ever since. Right after it happened I went to a payphone to call the police and they said they would have to tell my parents, so I didn't go in. I wanted to get treated really badly. The man was 29 at the time. Now I'm pondering whether to take my story to the police, but after I've asked a lot of people about the laws, I don't even think I was protected as a minor from this man - I knew who he was and it turned into something I didn't want to do. My point is that I had tried to get help but they said they would have to tell my parents because I was a juvenile, but at the same time as a juvenile I'm not protected under Ohio law from this man (minor laws). I had never even kissed a guy before this and I know I was manipulated by him. I had been a position in the back of his car where I couldn't see and then he started to rub himself up against me and a whole list of other things. What can I do in this situation. I want to press charges, but I'm scared. And the fact that a 17 year-old is a "minor" enough for the police to tell her parents, but not "minor" enough to be protected under the corruption of a minor law is another thing that really upsets me. I didn't have the rights of a 16 year- old, but under the sex laws 17 and 18 are the same yet I didn't have the rights of an 18 year-old either. Please Help.

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. I have never heard of the law which you mention. As you indicate, it might more appopriately be referred to as--"minors lack of rights." The only reason that being a minor should have factored into your case at all was because it was more "obviously rape"--meaning that even if what had happened had been consensual, the fact that you were under 18 and he was under 18 makes it statuatory rape by legal definition. This makes it doubly worse. That said, I think that you do need to do something: one, because your rights were violated on two counts; two, because you probably aren't the only person they are giving this inaccurate and harmful information to--and it won't end until someone exposes the circumstances; and three, because I think that you need to address this situation so you can begin to heal and hopefully "move on."

Now, what to do. Because of statute of limitations laws, I'm afraid that you won't get very far in legally pursuing the case. (Although, before you rule that out entirely, please contact Ohio's civil rights division located in your state's capital.) Although this is an unlikely possibility, if you have enough documentation, I think that you need to work on exposing the case via the media. (You can do this annonymously if you don't want to reveal yourself.) If you want to pursue this latter option, I know some journalists in the state of Ohio who would be sympathetic to your case. Let me know and I will give you their names. And again, before you rule out legally pursuing rape changes--please research the limitations. (If you can't get through to the government offices, you could also try a local rape crisis center. You can try to find one nearest you using our database of women's services.

I hope these suggestions help. I hope, too, that at a minimum telling me your story helped you in some way to begin to heal from what happened to you. Now, here's to making sure that it can't happen to anyone else. I'm here if you need further suggestions - best wishes.


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