Every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
And every eight minutes, that victim is a child.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.
One of the greatest reasons most rapists aren’t convicted is because many victims can’t imagine having to face their attacker in court. The thought is horrifying.
An estimated 32,000 women each year become victims of rape-related pregnancies. The real nightmare is that many of these victims not only have to face their attacker in court, but on a regular basis when their rapists receive parental visitation rights.
Noemi is one of these women.
In 2011, the now 18-year-old was raped by a co-worker when he invited her over to his house. Initially she had considered abortion, but Noemi believed it wasn’t her daughter’s fault that she was conceived in violence.
“After I went to the doctor and I heard her heartbeat, it was kind of hard to say no.”
In the state of Nebraska, parental rights can be terminated if the attacker is convicted of sexual assault in the first-degree. While Noemi’s rapist was charged with first-degree sexual assault, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual assault in the third-degree, making it impossible to terminate his parental rights.
Noemi now co-parents with the man who raped her.
“Now, I have to text my rapist or email my rapist. To leave my daughter with someone I didn’t trust. [I’m] forced to parent with him and to see him on a weekly basis…to talk to him about my daughter’s school activities and her health.”
For a few hours, four days a month, Noemi’s rapist has unsupervised visits with her daughter. They take place at his house.
Understandably, Noemi’s greatest fear is what might happen to her daughter. The man raped her once. What’s to keep him from doing the same to her little girl?
Many states do not have laws in place to protect rape victims from custody battles, while others require the rapist to be convicted in order to block parental rights.
In an interview with CNN’s Lisa Ling, Noemi says it’s hard enough to think about what is still to come, as her attacker’s court-ordered time with their daughter will continue to increase.
For now, Noemi will have to continue co-parenting with her attacker.
But she’s not willing to stop fighting to protect herself, her child, and thousands of other women and children just like her.
Next year, she will testify before Nebraska lawmakers who are considering enacting rape laws, which would allow termination of parental rights.