SURVIVOR TESTIMONY

Some of these stories are graphic, uncensored accounts of actual rapes and surrounding circumstances. The language used may be raw and include street slang. JDI has made only minor edits for spelling and clarity. The views expressed are those of the individual survivor/author, and are not necessarily the views of Just Detention International.

I am a 29 year old man in prison in Illinois for a non-violent offense. Upon my arrival at Danville Correctional Center, I asked to be placed in Protective Custody (PC) because I have panic attacks and didn’t feel safe, but they kept me in general population anyway. I told an officer that I needed to be put in PC and he said he’d look into it.

I was on my wing for 3 weeks. I wrote request slips every couple days about inmates sexually harassing me and intimidating me so bad that I was scared for my safety. Days went by with no response.

Eventually, officers came to my cell to move me to another wing of general population. After I got there, I told an officer about the problems I was having with other inmates. Like the others, he told me he would look into it.

After I got to my cell, an inmate named James approached my cell window. He said that he had been informed that there were inmates who were going to sexually and physically assault me. He told me I would pay him and his associates for protection. He threatened to physically and sexually harm me if I didn’t pay him and if ever he saw me talking with officers.

When he left my cell, I was paralyzed by fear, shaking and vomiting. I pushed the panic button, but the officer in the bubble told me over the intercom to quit pushing the button.

That day at lunch, James sat next to me and two of his associates sat across from me. He reached under the table and aggressively grabbed my genitals and told me if I didn’t want to follow his rules that next time it would be worse. I returned to my cell scared to death.

James approached my cell multiple times throughout that day and night. He was at my cell the next morning and forced me to call my family to ask them for money. I called, but there was no answer. He grabbed my arm and told me I better hope my family sends money or he was going to let inmates physically and sexually assault me. After the call,  I began to have a panic attack and shake. I pushed the panic button repeatedly, with no reply from the officer.

At rec time, I went to shower. There was an open one with no one standing around it, so I felt okay. As I started to shower, I noticed that a group of inmates were blocking the exit as well as the officer’s view of the shower.

I became very nervous. The inmate next to me stepped out and exited the shower area. When I turned around to leave, James was standing in the shower area naked. I grabbed my towel to leave when a couple of inmates grabbed me and threw me on the floor. I was paralyzed by fear.

James held me down and started to rape me while I was screaming, crying, and pleading with him to stop. He punched me in the back of the head, knocking me to the floor. He told me the next time I screamed he would kill me.

James then started choking me as he continued to rape me. When he was done, he punched me in the head, back, and stomach while I was pinned on the floor, saying he was going to kill me and my family if I told anyone. Then he bent me over and washed me in the shower.

When he was done, James threw me out of the shower, and his associates walked me back to my cell. Once I got there, I started vomiting, shaking, and having a panic attack.

After a short while, James appeared at my cell and threatened to sexually assault me again if I didn’t pay him. When he left my cell, I pressed the panic button. The officer again announced over the intercom to stop pressing the panic button. James immediately appeared at the door and accused me of trying to report the sexual assault and again threatened to kill me, saying that no matter where I was placed, he and his associates would get to me.

At that point, I was fearful for my safety and did not know who to tell or where to turn. I had done everything that the Danville Correctional Handbook told me to do in this situation.

After that, James visited my cell day and night, threatening me and trying to extort me. I was having panic attacks and would act paralyzed when James would try to talk to me. I continued to press the panic button, but officers always told me to be quiet.

A few days after raping me, James again assaulted me and took my commissary. Afterward, an office approached me and said Internal Affairs (IA) suspected me of gambling, which would explain why James took my food. I told him about the threats, extortion, and sexual things that James did to me and asked to see a doctor. I told him I was fearful for my life.

I was placed in segregation while they investigated the gambling charges against me. James sent me a letter telling me what to say to IA, which I showed to an officer. The officer told me I better do what James said because he couldn’t protect me.

While I was in segregation, other inmates threatened to harm me when I got out. I put in slips to IA and the wardens, expressing my fear for my life. I met with the Head and Asst. Wardens and told them everything. I went to see a psychiatrist the next day and told her what happened and that I was having panic attacks. She put in right away for a transfer.

Officers gave James an extortion ticket and shipped him out. I was moved back to general population, where the sexual harassment started. They transferred me a couple days later.

The assault affected me physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I still have pain and suffer from PTSD, depression, nightmares, and Rape Trauma Syndrome. I am making this a life career to stop prison rape. 

- Kerry, Illinois

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