Jennifer Bennett, 23, must have been excited for her first date with Thomas Bray. He was good looking, a doctor and a teacher at the local community college. None-the-less, she had met him online so she clearly thought about her safety, opting to meet Bray for drinks instead of allowing him to come and pick her up. After several drinks, Bray asked her to go to his condo which was just across the street. Within minutes, the good doctor/trusted teacher spit on her, beat her and verbally assaulted her. What came next was a brutal sexual attack that lasted five hours. Eventually, he allowed her to leave.
When she returned home with a black eye, bruises, cuts and welts, she agonized about what she should do.
“Rape is a violent crime, like getting shot, stabbed or beaten,” she said told Aimee Green at the Oregonian. “It’s not OK that we live in a society where a victim would consider whether they want to report that crime. If someone came up to you and beat you with a baseball bat, you wouldn’t think ‘Should I report that?'”
Unfortunately, when a woman is beaten or stabbed, the wolves don’t come out of the closet to pick the carcass clean like they do with rape victims. During the trial, Bray’s defense attorneys subpoenaed her search records from Google. She refused. She filed a $2 million lawsuit when she feared that justice would not be served and she was criticized as a gold digger. Most people would have no trouble understanding someone suing over lost luggage or bad service, but a woman suing after being raped is crass? I have always said that the one with the money gets to speak. After the trial, she dropped the suit.
At sentencing, she was allowed to speak, “I stand here as one of the brave, with a support network. That’s made me able to stand up for those who suffer in silence. “I lost my job, my home, my vitality, my sense of safety – and my smile. Why bother to report it? It was for my own peace of mind. I needed to make sure nobody else would be hurt by Mr. Bray,” who she said “has demonstrated no remorse.”
Bennett serves as a true hero among us and reminds us how America needs to lead in prosecuting violence against women. Justice should not require so many penalties or persecutions. No other victim is summarily punished. We are more than half of the population and violence against women is an issue that we should all be able to get behind.