Often times cruise ship rape and sexual assault victims are understandably reluctant to speak publicly about their ordeals. Victims frequently say that speaking about the crimes feels like being victimized all over again. But, as a society, we need people to step forward and tell their stories, both to provide powerful testimonies as to the horrors of rape and sexual assault, and to encourage other victims to speak up.
In the following video, cruise ship rape victim Laurie Dishman tells her story.
As can be seen in the video, after she was raped Dishman reported the crime to the ship’s authorities, and soon learned that her rapist was known to the ship’s crew. At every step after the incident, Dishman was mistreated, even being asked to collect the evidence of the attack before ship medics performed a rape kit. Though Dishman reported the crime to the FBI upon returning to shore, the report says that the perpetrator was never prosecuted.
According to the facts presented in this report, Laurie Dishman did everything right, and the system failed her. She asked for antibiotics and a morning after pill. She had a rape kit performed, and she called the FBI upon returning to land in order to report the incident.
We recommend that rape and sexual assault victims have a rape kit performed as soon as possible, especially before washing or using the bathroom. Additionally, because time is of the essence, it is advisable to call the FBI from the ship, immediately after seeking medical attention and gathering evidence. The cruise line is supposed to help victims contact the FBI, but we advise that victims do not allow cruise ship personnel to speak on their behalf. Instead, it is best that victims tell the FBI their stories in their own words.