Survivor Stories




My name is Ernest. I’m serving a 15-year sentence in a Florida state prison. I am a father of four, grandfather of two, and I identify as bisexual. I am a survivor of prisoner rape.

My rape happened in 2014. On his first day at the institution, the man who raped me threatened my best friend, a drag queen. He would chase the gay prisoners on the yard, and they were all afraid of his aggressiveness.

I built walls around myself. When he came around, I would leave. But no matter what I did, he would invade my space. He would use all kinds of tactics to corner me into a conversation with him. Knowing that I can sew, he would ask me to stitch his clothing. He also asked me to wash his clothes, even when they were already clean. All the while, the officers were fully aware of his behavior.

As one of the prison orderlies, I oversee the cleaning of the inmate reception bathroom. My work was supervised by a few of the sergeants and an officer, and they looked out for me. But this didn’t stop the rapist from monitoring my every move, waiting to catch me alone — until he did. The first time he caught me cleaning alone he forced me to perform oral sex on him. He was built much bigger than me, and I could not protect myself. The assaults continued. Eventually, he got so bold that one day he woke me up after breakfast, expecting oral sex. To defend myself, I started talking loudly, to wake up the dorm. When he realized I wasn’t going to give in to his sexual advances, he threatened me with a homemade knife, saying he would break my jaw. I went straight to the dorm sergeant and let her know what happened. But she didn’t know what to do. She put on a pair of latex gloves, took them off, and then pretended to call for back-up.

The rapist and I were both placed in solitary confinement. A captain asked the rapist’s side of the situation, and he lied, stating that he just wanted me to sew his pillow. When the captain asked me what the problem was, I handed him over half a dozen obscene letters he had written to me. But I still remained in solitary. I sought help from other prison officials, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. Apparently, the officers thought I could handle the situation myself. The façade of safety became like a see-through window pane.

My experience was devastating. It left me feeling humiliated, depressed, in great distress, and very angry. How was I supposed to deal? Was I supposed to fight him off? Stab him? My guard was down, and I absolutely did not want to have sex with this person. I felt powerless to refuse him.

After we were placed in solitary, the man who raped me and continuously forced me to give him oral sex completed his sentence. I remained in confinement for weeks after his release to society.

– Ernest, Florida