For my first News Day Tuesday, I’d like to cover the case of Jane Doe V. Harris County, Texas, and Sheriff Hickman, which I believe is a prime example of the shoddy treatment rape victims receive when they seek help from the justice system. I know that this is not always the case–however, Jane Doe’s case is a particularly egregious example of the abuse that can occur when a mentally ill person is jailed instead of receiving proper mental health care.
You can read the entire transcript here; however, to paraphrase, Jane Doe was raped and had a mental break while testifying against her rapist. She was taken to a psychiatric facility for treatment; however, upon her release, she was arrested and jailed
While in jail, Jane Doe was subjected to physical and psychological harm. She was repeatedly assaulted by both inmates and jailers and denied access to necessary medical treatment, most notably her psychiatric medication.
At one point, jailers tried to convince her that her grip on reality was so distorted that she was the one being charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault and that her rapist was the victim.
Jane Doe later filed a lawsuit against Harris County, Texas, and Sheriff Hickman.
Again, you can read the entire document for yourself here, but please be aware that the content is disturbing and may be distressing to some readers.
The point I’m trying to make here is that it can be a scary and dangerous world for us, the people living with mental illness. I believe even one story like this is too many, and it baffles me that people continue to wonder why rape victims often don’t come forward, let alone pursue charges against their abusers. The risks, simply put, can feel too high for the potential “reward” of seeing their rapist behind bars, especially in a time when having a mental illness is still seen as a character flaw and a punishable offense.
Be safe out there, readers.