(Warning this blog may be hard to read).
I recently read a media article where a female inmate was assaulted and the person responsible for sexually assaulting her was a Corrections Officer who worked in a County jail. I am so proud of that woman who stood so bravely against this guy. She was lucky that she was able to get proper help right away and that the evidence wasn’t destroyed. If I could say one thing to her, it would be, thank you for speaking out. And to the ones that helped her? Thank you for not allowing the perpetrator to get away with it. Reading that article has given me the courage to write this blog. I hope that it will encourage others to find their voice and break the silence of abuse, to also inspire others to stand up for those of the most vulnerable who can’t stand up for themselves. Too many times inmates are assaulted and if they dare to speak out many of them are silenced by threats and cover ups.
Not all Jail Guards are predators however, there are some Jail Guards who are predators. They are set up in the right environment, working with some of the most vulnerable in society. Those who are incarcerated have no voice and because they are accused of crimes or convicted of crimes, they are considered as ‘less’. Meaning that if they complain about being raped or that they are any other type of crime victim, they become the villain simply because they have an “alleged past” or a “past”. Instead of holding the person or persons responsible for perpetrating the crimes against the inmate, the inmate is held accountable and said to be lying.
In 2001 I was arrested and put in a County jail. (see my previous two blogs–Brianna Kenzie Living Out Loud and Kinship). I was there for over 250 days while I awaited trial. Due to all the media articles that were written about my “alleged identity” on top of the fact that I was arrested for alleged crimes, I was made vulnerable to predators who worked in that County jail. I want to reiterated here that I am not saying that all jail guards are predators. I am saying that some of the jail guards are predators. Unfortunately, there were a good many predators who worked in the jail where I was incarcerated. Due to all the media’s bias concerning the way they portrayed me in the media (that used primarily conjecture and speculation), I was made vulnerable to abuse by the predators who worked in the jail.
When I was first arrested, I was put in a cell with other inmates. But when the Jail Guards began to taunt me in front of the other inmates, I eventually had to be put on administrative segregation for my own protection. The taunting started when I had to ask the jail guards for tampons one day on the Pod speaker. ( A Pod is a place where multiple rolls of inmate cells are located). I remember the first taunt. When I asked for tampons the Jail Guard spoke back to me on the speaker, saying, “Are you sure you’re old enough for tampons?” The other inmates who heard the guard on the speaker laughed and from that day forth they began to taunt me as well. As the taunting grew worse by the Jail guards, the inmates followed suit. Eventually the inmate’s taunting turned to outright physical bullying me and I had to request to be segregated from them for my own protection. I could no longer be outside of my cell when they had time out of their cells to hang out in the Pod day area.
I was incarcerated in a cell by myself for most of my stay in the County Jail. By most I mean, all of it except for maybe a week of my time there. The jail guards taunting set me up to be bullied by inmates, and ultimately set me up to be sexually assaulted by the Predator Jail Guards.
At first when I was incarcerated in the County Jail and segregated, I watched everything going on in the Pod from my cell. (I was lucky if I even got one hour out of my cell once a week during my entire stay in that jail). I learned from watching the interaction between the Jail Guards and inmates as to who the Predator Jail Guards were.
Many inmates would cooperate willingly with the Predator Guards in exchange for money to be put on their books or for ‘extra’ privileges like extra time out of their cells, extra phone call times, extra food… they would ‘willingly’ perform oral sex and etc on or ‘with’ the Predator Jail Guards. These inmates were manipulated and sexually assaulted. As an inmate you have no ‘rights’, you cannot consent to sex nor can you say no when Predator Jail Guards come calling despite it being illegal for them to ask or demand sex.
Some inmates refused the Predator jail guards demands. Some were lucky and were left alone. However, the ones who didn’t have strong family or community ties… they were forced to sexually perform anyway. They were sexually assaulted. I can still remember their cries and screams of rage. However, most of them endured the assaults in silence…I can still remember the slap of skin on skin echoing though out the Pod as Predators took their turns..mostly on the all night shifts.
I wasn’t targeted right away by the Predators. They bid their time and when they decided they could safely get away with assaulting me, the abuse began.
At first it began with two Predator Jail Guards. It was in the dead of night when they first entered the Pod. They did their usual ‘walk thru’ on the tiers looking in each inmate cell as they passed. On any given night, it was like they were going “eeny, mini, miny, moe…” as they decided which cell they would enter. I’m sure I wasn’t the only inmate counting their steps…holding my breath. But this particular night, their footsteps paused at my cell. One was a Sargent and the other a regular guard. They stood whispering for a long while, talking about the media and how no one would believe me if I told on them. The Sargent was leading the conversation. The other one, he talked about wanting to run his fingers through my hair, he thought I was ‘pretty’ and ‘loved’ the way my hair hung over my back as I slept. He said I looked so young and innocent. The Sargent wanted to see if I was as soft as I looked, thought it’d feel good to run his hands over my body… I lay on my bunk in my cell too terrified to move. I forced my breathing to stay even as they talked so that they would think I was still asleep. All they did was talk about what they wanted to do to me that night and for several nights after, each time bringing in another Predator Jail guard.
Then one night, as they made their rounds, I heard the snip of the door lock and my cell door opened. I kept my back to the door. I pretended to be asleep as the Predator Jail Guards entered my cell. There were two that first night, the third kept walking fast up and down the tiers, keeping some sort of vigil while his cohorts were in my cell. All they did that night was whisper and lightly run their hands over my body. Then they left my cell and went to one of their usual victims who cooperated with them, to get their jollys.
At first all they did when they visited me at night in my cell was just touch me lightly. But eventually, as the visits increased, they began to run their hands over my body and sexually stimulate me. They would masturbate in my cell, taking turns touching me. I didn’t know what to do. I was too terrified to let them know that I was awake. I was too afraid to utter a sound, so every night while they touched me, while they put their mouths on me, and my body betrayed me by responding… I forced my breathing to be calm and kept my eye’s lightly closed as if I were asleep. I had no idea that I was making matters escalate by pretending to be asleep.
The Predator jail guards began to be excited that they could do anything to me and that I wouldn’t wake up. The fact that I was young and vulnerable, the fact that I not only was young but looked young, made me even more of a target. They began to play games and often referred to me as the “teenybopper” though I was incarcerated as an adult. “Lets go see what the teenybopper is doing” was a familiar line I heard several of them repeat often in their conversations when they headed to my cell.
Eventually, I decided that I was going to tell the one Jail guard that I trusted. He was a man that I never saw abuse or taunt any inmate and he’d always treated all the inmates with respect. He always was fair and never once did I see him abuse anyone. He mostly worked during the morning and evening shifts. The Predator Guards didn’t abuse inmates when he was around.
Then one night he changed his work schedule and worked the night shift. I had not had the opportunity to talk to him yet. I wish I had of, because if I had of, he may have not been enticed to do what he did.. In the quiet of the night, the Sargent that started the whole abuse with me and incited other Predator’s to abuse me, came into the Pod and this night, the one Jail Guard that I trusted, was with him. I thought, Yes! He will make the abuse stop! As I lay in my cell, pretending to be asleep, the two entered my cell. The Sargent said “Watch, you can do anything to her and she won’t wake up” and then he began to sexually abuse me by touching me with his mouth, and poking and prodding me with his fingers in my privates… and before I realized what was to happen, the one guard I’d trusted, said “hot damn!” and undid his belt, unzipped his zipper, and rammed his penis into my anus. I was shocked and gasped, saying please don’t… as he grabbed my hip as he rocked me back and forth…
What the two Predators wasn’t expecting was what happened next. See, I’d been moved to a new Pod, a Pod where a lot of newly incarcerated inmates were, one’s who weren’t quite aware of what the Predators regularly did in the jail… The inmates began to yell, “You better wake your ass up, Throneberry!” and “Don’t let them stick their ‘thangs’ in you!” and etc… The Predators started shouting at them to “shut the hell up”, the one that had raped me, zipped up fast and then they got out of my cell as fast as he could. You see, along the Pod day area runs a long mirrored window and when an inmate looks out their cell they can see all the cells on the tiers mirrored on that window. The lights were low and dim and yet they all saw clearly what was happening in my cell. (Each cell has a vertical long wall-slit window and a window slit in the door).
I learned something that night, I learned that if you shouted enough that it could make the Predators leave your cell. So, I found my voice that night and I owe it to the inmates in that Pod. I began to yell go away when the Predators tried to visit my cell at night. I no longer would pretend to be asleep. For a few nights this kept the jail guard Predators out of my cell. However, eventually, they’d come in my cell anyways, and I would be held down and be sexually assaulted by the Predators, trying to “teach” me a lesson.
The Predator Jail guards moved me from Pod to Pod frequently in order to keep assaulting me on the nights they worked. They’d strike when I’d fall asleep and enter my cell quickly to get a good hold on me. There were many nights that I sang all night in order to stay awake and keep the Predators out of my cell. I sang any song I could recall, and I somewhat regressed from being under so much duress to childhood songs.
One of their favorite places was to take me to the Booking area and put me in the cell they called the ‘Drunk Tank’. On one particular night, after they’d came into my cell and assaulted me, I began to sing-song about the rape(s) I’d been forced to endure. This one night, someone that wasn’t a Predator heard me singing. I was later moved to a holding cell in Booking. It was the wee hours of morning. I was too exhausted to stay awake any longer and I fell asleep.
I awoke to a male and female Booking jail guard laughing and talking to a Custody Officer (one that escorted inmates to and from court hearings). I sat up and watched them out the window. The male guard was holding his hands making a round, large circle saying, “By the time we all got thru with her, I bet her ass hole was this big.” The Custody Officer laughed and said “She’s awake now”. They all looked at me. I yelled at them to “shut up” because…I didn’t know what else to do or say. They just laughed. The female guard said that she stuck her finger up my ass too.
A little while later, I was tossed clean clothes and told to get dressed. I complied. Then I was loaded up in a transport van and taken to the local hospital. Evidently, whoever had heard me sing-songing about being raped… made sure I was taken to the hospital.
The two guards driving me to the Hospital were the same “Predators” that had been bragging about raping and sticking their finger in me. Once we got to the hospital, the nurses told me they were sorry “it” happened to me. I snapped at them to leave me alone and they left my hospital room offended. What they didn’t know was that the Predators were standing by their sides as they took my blood pressure and temperature. I didn’t mean to snap at the nurses. I’d tell them I’m sorry if I could.
The male guard who had bragged about how big my “ass hole” must be, stepped out of the room to make a call on his cell phone. I heard him say a name, and tell him “You better get down here because she’s accusing all of us of rape”.
I was examined by the medical doctor who made the jail guards stay out of the room. She had to keep the door open though. I told her that I’d been raped repeatedly ever since I was put in that jail and that the two guards who had brought me to the hospital were bragging about it when I woke up. I told her that I didn’t know if the two guards with me had really raped me or if they were just trying to say they did it to be a part ‘the good ole boys club’ so to speak. I told her I’d been raped by more than one guard and that I had kept my eyes shut because it only made them be more sadistic when I made eye contact with them. I told her that I didn’t remember who they all were that had come in my cell that night and raped me.
It’d been done so much, one day faded into the next, one night became the same as another night. One predator the same as the other.
The doctor found “recent tearing” in my anus and what she thought was possibly seminal fluid on my thigh when she did the rape kit exam.
After my examination, two Detectives from the County Sheriff’s Office showed up. The younger one of the two was the ‘friend’ of the male guard, the one the male guard had made the phone call to. The older Detective was the one who lead the ‘interview’.
I tearfully told them I had been raped and that it had been happening repeatedly since I’d been incarcerated in the jail and that I wasn’t the only one that was being raped, that other inmates were also being raped. I hoped the guy conducting the interview would help me.
But after I finished talking, he took out a small tape recorder from his bag, clicked it on, stated who all was in the room. Then he read me my Miranda Rights. I knew then for sure that he wasn’t interested in the truth. I was a victim of a crime so there was no reason for him to read me my Miranda Rights. He said that if I refused to talk at that point that the evidence from the rape kit would not be taken to the State Crime Lab. I could barely say anything at that point. I knew there was no hope in stopping what was happening to me and to others in that jail. I felt violated all over again.
The Detectives let the male guard Predator, that had driven me to the hospital take the rape kit that had been collected by the doctor, to the Crime Lab because he said he could do it on his way home, that he was off work after he got me back to the jail. The Detectives let him save them the time.
Later the same day, the Detective that conducted the interview at the hospital came to the jail and told me “If you ever accuse any jail guard again of rape I will make sure that you are prosecuted”. He had backed me against the wall and got close in my face when he told me this. It was pure intimidation: the reading me my rights and the threat of prosecution.
Did that Detective realize he was covering up a horde of crimes? Or was he genuinely “looking out” for ‘the good ole boy club’ thinking I’d falsely accused them? Either way, his actions were wrong.
I paid dearly for reporting that rape. I was put in the medical unit for almost two weeks and as any inmate in that jail could tell you, the abuse was ten times worse in the medical unit than it was when the Predators did it to you in the cells in the Pods. The nurse in charge of the medical unit, one of main Nurses, was all too willing to let it happen. She was just as sadistic as the Predator guards…
I reported the rape and it was covered up. I told my attorney and was told to just let it go because no one would believe me, that it wasn’t why they were representing me. It’s no wonder I eventually chose to represent myself. I felt I had no choice…no one was on my side.
At one point I became pregnant, I was rail thin, so the baby bump was obvious. I was probably about 3 months pregnant by the time I realized it. I had morning sickness and traded my most of my food for salt packets to keep the nausea at bay… one of the Predators saw me looking at my baby bump in the mirror above the sink on the toilet one morning. He took me to the medical unit. The older nurse, who was always nice (and too old to get what was happening in front of her nose), took my blood. I asked her why and she said it was the most accurate way to do a pregnancy test. I was then escorted back to my cell. Later that evening the Predators made sure I lost my baby bump. Their violence brutally killed the child growing within me. My baby never had a chance to survive, to be born, to grow up. I don’t know which Predator Jail Guard was the father. But I won’t ever forget that baby. To them it was just a wad of tissues…But I believe that upon conception, that the ‘fetus’ is a live growing baby. That baby would be around 17 years old now had it of been allowed to live.
I only bring up the baby because the violence it suffered was worse than all the abuse I’d been subjected to. When the violence happened and I was left alone, I bled large blood clots and never received medical attention when I ‘miscarried’ on the floor of my jail cell.
I have peace in my heart knowing that he or she is with my Heavenly Father in Heaven and one day I will get to hug my child.
But how many other women have been put though what I’ve been through? There were many of them victimized when I was incarcerated. How many have lost babies because of Predators that work in that jail? When does it stop? I know I’m not the only victim so I always pray for the one’s being victimized now. Will you pray?
It took me years to get out of that jail emotionally. I was only in there for about 258 days. But the nightmares still come sometimes and the emotional trauma has taken years to heal. I think it’s still a process for me. And while on one hand I have God’s love and the love and support of my family, I sometimes still feel like I did all those times I was locked in a jail cell in that jail…vulnerable and alone.
Thankfully, I am never alone. Jesus, my Heavenly Father’s Son, said He’d never leave or forsake me (Bible quote). I have this comfort in my heart and that is how I am able to keep living each day. Somehow, the pain has lessened over time and though I will never forget what happened to me in that jail 19 years ago, I am no longer bound by the abuse. I am free to move on with my life and to enjoy it to the fullest.
My life is far from perfect and life always has it’s struggles but no matter what comes my way, I know that I’m going to be okay. What happened to me in that jail nearly caused me to take my own life many times, but when God came into my life, I realized I could survive. Then He helped me learn to live my life again.
If you are reading this and you are a victim of sexual assault please know that you can count on God to help you. Please don’t be silenced by the abuse, don’t be afraid to seek help.
I share this in hopes that it will encourage others to speak out if they are victims of crimes. I also hope to encourage those that help abuse victims to keep doing so. We all need a support system we can count on.
(I am the Author of this blog and retain sole right to this and my other blogs. No part of this blog content or any other blog content on my blog site is to be used or printed without my consent).