(BIRMINGHAM, Ala. WIAT) — Jessica is a 32-year-old woman from Dekalb County. She says the state’s laws have forced her to face the man she says raped her again and again.
CBS 42 News Reporter Malique Rankin spoke with Jessica, who asked to have her last name omitted from this story to protect her children. With Alabama’s recent abortion ban, Jessica’s story has gotten national attention, showing how the state’s laws can fail rape survivors.
Jessica tells CBS 42 she was continually raped by her step-uncle. The man was Jessica’s mother’s half brother. Despite an abundance of evidence, including a DNA test, the man was never convicted.
“Well it all started when I was 12 or 13 years old, and he started climbing in my bed at night,” Jessica said.
As a result, she was impregnated four times. At 14, she miscarried. At 16, she had a baby boy. At 18, she had her third child. He later died due to a disease common in cases of incest. At 19, Jessica had her youngest son. She says her family threatened her to ensure she stayed home and the nature of her children’s conception remained secret.
“I literally just felt like I didn’t have any options,” Jessica said.
Her accused rapist has been taking her to court, and winning, for visitation rights of her sons. The man that raped Jessica currently has visitation rights to her two children. The judge told Jessica for each visit she denied her rapist, she’d have to spend 48 hours in the county jail.
She shares her story in hopes it brings change.
“You have to stand behind what’s right, and you have to stand up for what you believe in. You know, it’s been a very long, hard road for me, but it’s going to be worth it. It may not benefit my case, but somebody in the future will benefit from this.”
Representative Juandalynn Givan represents Jefferson County in the state legislature. She says the state continually takes steps backward through the laws we pass.
“We are one of two states in the union that does not have a law that terminates the rights of a rapist,” Givan said.
Rep. Givan says her fellow lawmakers are wasting time passing senseless bills.
“I think the legislature is failing the women of Alabama. The justice system can do no more than what we enact into law,” Givan said.
Rep. Givan has already taken steps to pre-file legislation for next session that would strip rapists of their parental rights.
For resources for sexual assault survivors, click here or call 800-656-HOPE.