Survivor Stories


South Carolina


On the morning of July 1, 2011, I was raped by my cellmate at a federal prison in South Carolina. I reported the assault immediately and both of us were moved to the Special Housing Unit (SHU), just two cells apart from one another, until the investigation was concluded. During my interview, I informed the investigating officers that I wished to prosecute. However, nothing ever came of it.

From July 1, 2011 to September 18, 2011, the man who raped me was housed two cells across from me. During this time, he and two of his friends taunted, threatened, and demeaned me on a daily basis, yelling words like “fag,” “queer,” and “cocksucker” at me for hours at a time.

I was assaulted because he had gone through my mail and saw that my boyfriend had written to me. During the first assault, my attacker kept saying things like, “You’re going to like this, faggot” and “I know you want this, queer.” I tried fighting him off, but he was stronger and bigger than me.

On September 18, 2011, I begged a lieutenant to move me to a different cell in another part of the SHU. He finally did. But during those previous two and a half months, other staff members heard the verbal abuse and threats of violence against me and did nothing. Again, I asked to press charges, but was informed that because the perpetrator had been disciplined internally and was transferred to another prison, I’d have to wait until my release.

While in the SHU, I asked when I would be returned to general population. I was informed by two investigative officers that as long as I continued to push the issue of prosecuting my attacker, I would remain in the SHU for my “own protection.”

I was never able to officially press charges. When I was released I had to report to a halfway house in Washington, DC within 10 hours, and I had no opportunity to contact any local law enforcement in South Carolina.

I feel that as the victim, I was being punished for wanting my attacker held responsible for his crime. I received visits once a month from the staff psychologist, though I had requested to be seen more because of the rape. I was told that, “Since you’re gay, it really wasn’t a rape, was it?” Because of that, I stopped requesting psychological help or counseling.

Even now while in the halfway house, I have not been able to get any counseling or treatment. I believe this is because I am gay and because I continued to push for my assailant to be prosecuted for raping me.

– Robert, South Carolina