In jail for the first time, locked up for public drunkenness, Frank Mendoza was scared of what other prisoners might do to him. But it wasn't the inmates he should have feared -- it was the staff. Almost immediately, corrections officials at the Los Angeles County jail began harassing him for being gay. When Frank told them to stop, one officer threatened to hurt him. Just days later, the officer made good on his threat, beating and raping Frank.
"I believe my rape was premeditated," Frank says. "Prisoner rape is not just a statistic for those of us who have lived through it -- it is
a life shattering experience."
As in far too many cases of sexal assault, Frank's efforts to file a report were dismissed. He was also denied medical care. Despite the pain he suffered, Frank is now committed to speaking out about the problem of sexual abuse in detention. He recently shared his story publicly for the first time, at a national conference on sexual assault. Like other members of JDI's Survivor Speakers List, Frank was able to turn his ordeal into an opportunity to raise awareness about the horrors of rape in detention, helping to stimulate much needed corrections reform.
You can read testimonies from survivors, including Frank, on JDI's
website. As with any accounts of sexual violence, they are not
suitable reading for everyone. But in order to stop this human rights crisis, we must hear directly from survivors about what really goes on behind the walls of our prisons and jails.
Brave survivors founded JDI 30 years ago and sustained the
organization for decades. Thank you for supporting the fight to end prisoner rape.