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  • Writer's pictureHannah Strader

An Open Letter to the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department

Dear LPD,

I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me, and wouldn’t it be nice if we all just went away really? And it’s a shame because I admired you and your innovation with social media so much from a journalism standpoint. The way you would communicate with your community was wonderful to watch, and all the students adore it.

Which makes this hard. I never wanted to antagonize the police. That’s the opposite of what I want to do, because I went to you, and I cried in front of you, relived my trauma, and trusted you would do your job. Your response was a heartbreak worse than any personal relationship I’ve ever been in.

And I know my case isn’t solid. What happened to me wasn’t rape or violent. It was being physically restrained and forcibly kissed, but hey, that’s just being a woman isn’t it? That’s just what life is for the frailer sex. I’m 5 foot, 130 pounds, perfect trunk size. You wouldn’t know what that is like. You’re trained to go into danger, you signed up for it, and you protect your community.

Until you don’t.

Because it’s interesting to speak to so many victims of assault who have been iced out or simply not believed by you. Like the victim you tried to prosecute for filing a false police report, when you actually met her at the hospital and spoke to her friends. Surely she’s lying, because every woman loves to lay back and let her vagina get scraped for semen by doctors, right?

It’s clear to me you don’t understand the psychology of sexual assault or sexual violence, because if you did, I think you would want to be proactive in this. You would understand that in moments of severe stress and trauma, your brain releases chemicals that paralyzes you. You’re so scared you can’t move or speak, and your assailant will pick you up and take you right on the edge of town and sodomize you, maybe knock you around a bit, like one of the other survivors I know who was kidnapped by the man you refused to investigate. The man with 30+ victims you didn’t want to reach out to. Remember him?

He has kids. He’s still living in town. Probably still using fake dating profiles nationally and internationally to rape women. Did I mention one of the victims of the guy who assaulted me lives in Australia? Isn’t that exciting?

But you don’t know that. You didn’t ask. You told me to tell them all to make reports, and the three who did were ignored just the same as me.

In April when I made my report, no one even notified my assailant he was being investigated for another month or so. And when my assailant changed his phone number and address, it was interesting that I had to find that address for you. Housing records are public, I learned that as a journalist at KU. Not only that, but we were told our cases would be investigated on ground level, absolutely no mention of a detective. And when it was investigated on ground level and my assailant said “go fuck yourself”, well, you did just that didn’t you?

At this point in time I have a folder on my computer titled “evidence” full of screen shots from victims, but you told me those don’t count, the cyber crime unit may have to look into it. But they never would, because our case would be dismissed. You also wanted each of us to give him a cute little ring ding on the telephone in the hopes he would admit to assaulting me. As if I hadn’t met this man once in my life for 3 hours and then two years later exposed him as a predator.

Here’s another interesting fact about psychology: the longer the bad guy gets away with it, the more confident they become. So I’ve now gone to you, KCPD, Jackson County Sheriff’s, the office of Sharice Davids, KCTV5 and the Kansas City Star, but he’s just chilling.

I bet that’s exciting to him, in the same way he told his victims it was hot when they got scared. That he was predator and we are prey.

Do you have daughters? Do they sleep okay at night?

Regarding the charges against the former KU student you believe “falsely” reported, I’d like to make another point about psychology. You see, when something that awful happens to you, whether it be by a student or someone else you know, you don’t want to believe it.

I know you get that part!

You don’t want to believe you’ve just been raped, because then you were a victim. Then you have no control. Trauma doesn’t work like that. Your brain takes over and distances itself, tries to comprehend and make a story of what happened that sounds nicer and is easier to digest. You rationalize it and downplay it. Hell, I didn’t admit I was assaulted for two years and I wasn’t even raped or sodomized.

You can tell me all about your years of experience on the police force, but I grew up in a family that fostered victims for 12 years. That was my normal, to cohabitate with young teenagers in the foster system. To live with them daily and understand them and love them.

It is abhorrent to me that this is continuing to happen. I am truly crying as I write this, because I shouldn’t be writing it. I shouldn’t have to beg the police to value young womens’ bodies. I shouldn’t have to write something so sarcastic and angry just to get my point across that we fucking matter.

My dad passed away in 2014, and it’s a good thing, because if he were alive today he would have killed the man who assaulted me. Would that warrant your response?

How many more women have to die for you to realize that the problem is you? That the longer you do nothing, the larger of a problem this becomes. I don’t understand your function if it isn’t to protect and serve, neither of which you did for me or the 30+ victims I personally know. Not to mention the ones who have reached out to me in support since I publicly came forward to try to take this serial rapist off the streets.

I live with this knowledge every day. I know that the man who assaulted me was a public figure and he could take revenge at any point if he would like. No court order would stop him from doing that, it’s a piece of paper. It’s useless. This entire process is useless.

So you’ve left me here to collect the pieces, to continue to talk to the victims I know, to have discussions about how to heal, to share resources on therapists, to constantly remind everyone that suicide is not an answer to this lack of official response. That even though it feels like the entire justice system does not give a single fuck about you, you have to keep survivng.

I cannot tell you what that feels like, to have this over my head every day, but I’m sure others have tried. I can’t keep doing this to myself. I’m at my breaking point, and I can scream no longer. My voice is giving out and I’m only one person, but damnit I tried.

I wish you had too.


Hannah Strader

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