Survivor Stories



One day in 2008, I was escorted to the shower by two prison staff members. When my shower time was over, one officer returned and told me to turn around to be fully restrained. When the shower door opened, I was forced to the ground, face first, and sexually assaulted. I was taken out of the shower where a second officer was waiting to escort me back to my cell. On the way back, the officer told me to keep my mouth shut or he would plant a knife in my cell and get me a weapons charge.

The same officer stayed in the pod for hours after the incident and refused to let me make a phone call to my family. At that time I knew nothing about PREA, the hotline, or how to get help. The officer refused to sign my emergency grievance form requesting medical attention. He briefly left and returned with a phone. He taunted me with it, using abusive language, saying I would not be getting it. I requested to see the supervisor of the building and was shouted down.

Prisoners began laughing at me and joined in on the officer’s abusive taunts. My emotions overwhelmed me and I became depressed, angry, frustrated, and suicidal at the same time. I thought, “How could I be so stupid to let this happen to me?” The officer gave the phone to a gang member in the cell next to me and told him I was easy pickings.

I took a cup of toilet water and threw it through the door, where it landed on the guard. He told me he was going to get open the door and really mess me up. I responded by telling him that I would fight him, this time without shackles and handcuffs. I knew it was not the right thing to say, but all I kept thinking was that this guy is not going to completely get away with this.

When the officer came back, the supervisor and other prison staff were with him. I immediately told them what happened to me in the shower. A nurse took my blood pressure and temperature and I was placed on suicide watch in another cell in a different part of the building. I repeatedly requested to see someone from mental health along with the prison investigator.

Nine days later, there was a prison investigative interview. I was videotaped and voice recorded on the sexual abuse incident by the prison investigator and was told that the Special Investigative Unit would speak with me. I told the investigator to review the footage from the camera, which is right by the shower. He told me to be patient and let them do their investigation. Approximately one month later I saw another investigator who told me there was no physical evidence on my claim of sexual abuse. I asked about the shower’s video camera. He said that the video camera did not appear to be working that day. The officer who abused me resigned.

I was charged institutionally and criminally for assaulting the prison officer. When I appeared in court for the assault, the court had no information related to the sexual abuse incident, giving the appearance that I just decided to assault an employee for no reason. I was found guilty of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer.

I was transferred to another prison and within months of arriving, I found that the officer who had abused me was now an employee there. For three years he was offering gang members, who were enemies of mine, tobacco and magazines to attack me.

I have a court order for protective custody because I believe my safety is in danger due to this officer. Although I have been placed in a special incentive pod, which has a few more privileges than a segregation pod, the prison is not recognizing the court order for the protective custody. The excuses and lies continue as to why I cannot be placed in appropriate housing to ensure my safety.

– L, Virginia