Content warning: Rape by a police officer
– I want to die. In the interrogation room at the police station, they have been beating me, pushing, humiliating, putting me down for many hours now. I am refused access to the doctor and they won’t let me call my mom. When they’ve left me alone with one of the policemen, he says he recognizes me from protests. And that I’m such a fighting feminist because nobody fucked me properly before. Then he rapes me. I’m screaming, I’m yelling my head off. A policewoman enters, the policeman leaves, I beg her for help. He comes back with a statement that I am slandering him for saying that he raped me. I puke. If it hadn’t been for my friends, I would have been gone a long time ago. “Another fatal victim of the Wrocław police”- you would read the headlines. But I’m alive and I want to tell my story.
Police Headquarters: “care for the service environment, also in the desired ethical dimension, free from any charges indicating the possibility of committing a prohibited act by officers is of direct interest to the management of the Polish Police”. The Police Headquarters, in response to the parliamentary intervention, informs that conducting additional control activities would be pointless. The press officer still did not respond to the inquiries of OKO.press.
Agnes organized the first women’s strikes at the age of 16. Recently, they invited a Ukrainian woman who escaped from the war to their place. In addition, people in need stay with them too – in a crisis of homelessness or mental crises.
– I was with Agnes a week before the incident. The person was lying on the bed with their dogs, some people they had taken in were hovering around them, the Ukrainian woman who was staying with Agnes was in another room. They had no space for themselves. You could see that the person was exhausted – says a friend of Agnes. – This is such an “Our Lady of Agnes”. They will help everyone, take everyone in. They help tenants thrown out on the streets, people exploited at work. Many of them lived with Agnes. They only think too little about themselves.
Nb – what it’s all about in Polish?
Agnes is nonbinary. They use they/them pronouns – ‘Ono’ [lit. ‘it’] in Polish. (Here is how to use them.)
Nonbinary folks use a multitude of ways to hack the relatively strict gender rules of Polish grammar. Using the Neutral Gender [En: ‘it’] is among the more popular choices. Much like in English, neutral forms are firmly there, although they were never intended to be ‘gender-neutral’ as we think of it, nor were they ever common in 1st or 2nd person use (I or You). The nonbinary way of using ‘ono’ requires filling up these grammar gaps (such as 1st & 2nd person singular past tense suffixes, -łom, -łoś), with the goal of making the Polish neutral gender into a fully viable language option that would live up to its very Latin name, meaning exactly ‘neither one nor the other’, or in this case ‘neither male nor female’. Agnes’ identity and their chosen forms of address play a signifacnt part in their story, hence this explanation. For the translation we have opted for the English ‘they’ as the closest functional counterpart, but if you’d like to know more about the Polsih side of things, you can go to Słownik Neutratywów (Gender Neutral Language Dictionary) on Facebook and Instagram or zaimki.pl (The Pronouns page).
It began with the theft
Agnes has come out as nonbinry at the beginning of the year. The community accepted it with support, but their partner broke up with them after that. “I’m a heterosexual man, I want to be with a woman, not a nonbinary person.”
From the beginning of the month, Agnes felt worse and worse, in the last days before the arrest they had a nervous breakdown. They don’t go to psychotherapy, because despite working full-time, they have no money for it because of the costs of living in Poland. They have been diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder (borderline), and risky behavior is sometimes a part of this personality disorder. They threw themselves into partying and doing drugs.
– That day I was with my friend, after the party. At 5:00 p.m. the next day, May 26, I tried to steal a bottle of vodka, the so-called “monkey” in polish, at the Aldi store. Normally I wouldn’t, I don’t steal alcohol from supermarkets. When a security guard caught me, I didn’t confess to theft. An employee came over and started yanking me to make me take the bottle out from my jacket. She said I had to give back the vodka. “Do you want it? There you go!” I said and I threw the bottle. It crashed with a loud bang.
“They were clearly high” – says the Aldi employee, who was attacked by Agnes. – They were shouting: “You can’t do anything to me anyway.”
– I wasn’t high. I admit, I was very aggressive, because I was in the middle of a panic attack – said Agnes. – That employee was recording me, yanking me and putting me down. I didn’t want her to do this, so I made a swing to knock the phone out of her hand.
A friend of Agnes shows me the recordings. Agnes is trying to kick the phone out of the hands of the employee. Agnes is screaming and trying to pull away from that employee.
“Please don’t judge me,” Agnes says as I watch the tapes. – Because I judge myself. I don’t recognize myself here. I wasn’t myself. I was not aware that there was such a destructive, irresponsible person in me. I was insane due to a nervous breakdown, and the way the shop workers tugged and humiliated me made me feel even more hysterical and discordant. It was not me. I regret it.
– She started attacking a man and destroyed his car mirror. – says an employee of Aldi. – He was walking with a pregnant woman and a child. The child was terrified by this behavior. And all this for 20 PLN.
– After a while I calmed down – says Agnes. – Then the man walked past me and said: “Move over or I’ll hit you in the ass” He knocked me off stride again. That’s why I followed him out of the store. I had a chance to escape then – but I already knew I had fucked up. I was ready to face the consequences, that’s the way it is.
In response to the parliamentary intervention of Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, the First Deputy of the Police Commander in Chief, Superintendent Dariusz Augustyniak calls the man’s actions “citizen’s arrest”.
– Agnes called me then. They needed an ambulance, they had no control over themselves. They were trembling from the treatment they’ve received from the staff and the man who had a mirror broken. What is the reason for citizen’s arrest for the theft for 20 PLN? In my opinion, their response was a defensive reaction to being socially persecuted for theft – says Robert, a friend of Agnes.
– After breaking the mirror, I calmed down again, I was waiting for the ambulance – says Agnes. – I kept saying that I needed it, that I was ill, that I had no control over myself, I had panic attacks and hysteria. Suddenly two men lunged at me. I was on the ground in a second. I just remember how they tugged at my clothes. I yelled at them not to touch me because I didn’t know who they were. Another thing I was able to say was, “You’re strangling me.” I did it three or four times. After I regained my voice and was able to breathe, I told my friend next to me to record. I asked them to give me their names, ranks, and their police station. Nothing. One policeman choked me with his knee to the ground, and the other handcuffed my hands. My wrists are small, so they put self-tightening handcuffs over the regular ones. Every movement of my hands made them tighten spontaneously. And they jerked me so hard that even when I wasn’t moving, the handcuffs kept on tightening.
Agnes shows me their hands. There are still marks on them.
– The police has its own ways of bullying – they continue. – They aren’t going to stand in front of you and slap you in the face. They don’t have to. They will jerk you, hold you, press you to the ground. And much more. As they choked and shuffled me on the asphalt, one of them groped my buttocks. I said he was harassing me, I told them to stop. They didn’t react. As they threw me in the car, they hit my head on the roof. I had a huge bruise on my forehead.
What can The Police do during arrest?
In the recordings two big men, plainclothes policemen, are squeezing a small person on the ground.
– He seems to be holding them by the buttocks. Is it needed for the professional detention of a person half their size? Was it a preview of what’s going to happen next? – Agnes’s lawyer, Łukasz Prus, asks. He shows me some snapshots of the detention video, where one of the men clearly has a hand on Agnes’s ass.
– They used far too much force for their weight and condition – says a friend who was with Agnes at the time and who also recorded the detention.
– The police is authorized to use direct coercion measures, but not in every situation and only because it is the police. First of all, measures can only be applied in relation to legitimate actions taken by the police – that is, for example, when someone needs to be detained. However, measures must be proportionate to the situation. This means that only what is needed to achieve a very specific goal can be used. They must be proportional to the degree of threat, and the officer using them is obliged to choose the least severe measure. Even in case of detention, it may turn out that measures are not necessary – when the person obeys the police orders, does not run away or behave aggressively. Whether the use of these measures was justified must be assessed specifically in relation to each situation and circumstances surrounding the detention. In the described situation, on one hand, the police had information about the aggressive behavior of the person, and on the other hand, they had the opportunity to observe them before arresting them. Without seeing this situation, it is difficult for me to say to what extent the crippling grasp was necessary. In my experience as a defense lawyer it appears that very often the principle of proportionality is not respected and the police apply measures that are definitely more severe than they should in a given situation.
The first hospital
The policemen went with Agnes to the psychiatric hospital at Kraszewski street in Wrocław. Agnes said on site that they have borderline personality disorder.
– I was still anxious and I had another panic attack in the emergency room. I reported that I was taking a very large dose of medication every day – when I don’t get it, the next morning I have withdrawal syndrome. I kept repeating that I was under the constant care of my leading psychiatrist. The psychiatrist in the ward did not listen to what I was saying to her, did not ask any more questions. She said, “If you had just stolen bread and not vodka.” I heard it many times later as well. I understand that people would prefer me to steal something else – except that it shouldn’t affect whether or not I am treated like a human. The doctor wrote documents for the policemen to take me to sobering-up station, telling them that I don’t need to take any meds permamently.
The Dolnośląskie Centrum Zdrowia – Lower Silesian Health Center (psychiatric hospital mentioned above) didn’t respond to these allegations for a full week now, didn’t respond to press inquiries either, nor answer phone calls.
The second hospital
Agnes requested a forensic medical examination – as a result of the arrest they had bruised knees and scuffed knuckles.
– My chest, stomach, everthing hurt. I had wounded knuckles. Up until today when I am to write something I don’t write with my own handwriting. I’m not able to. I can’t hold a bottle with one hand. It was only recently that my hands stopped shaking. And it’s been two weeks. The swelling on my hands wasn’t gone until one and a half week after the occurrence. During the personal search I had to undress with those self-clenching handcuffs. Every move was extremely painful. My legs were in such a condition, that going up the first floor was a challenge. Still I can’t sit too long in the same position.
The policemen went to the emergency room in the hospital on Borowska Street for an examination. Agnes was all dirty, tearful, swollen and cold by that time. It was starting to get cold outside.
– The doctor just glimpsed at me and said “Well I see a bruised knee here”. And he sprayed it with Octenisept. At that point I already knew I couldn’t count on anyone’s help.
The emergency room by the Clinical University Hospital also hasn’t referred to these accusations for a week. Nobody wanted to give me any information in person, at the spot.
– Before entering the ER, one of the policemen lit a cigarette. I asked for a cigarette. We stood and smoked. Moment of normality. I’ve noticed that he had a tattoo on his arm. At first I thought it was a pagan symbol of Swarożyc, also used by fascists in Poland. It turned out to be a symbol used by Nordic racists as well. I asked if he was a pagan. He replied that he wasn’t. I asked if he was a Nazi. He smiled.
The policemen didn’t take Agnes to sobering station despite the fact that the psychiatrist at Kraszewskiego hospital told them to do so. They went to the police station at Traugutta street.
A room without cameras
– I was instantly pushed into the room without cameras. I found out about this during the first personal search. I had to undress and the policewoman told me not to worry because in this room there are no cameras anyways. The personal searches were carried out only by women. But there was a lot of contempt on their part. One of them said, pissed-off, that she had better things to do than watching me.
After the search Agnes was already very tired. Adrenalin levels started to drop and Agnes was falling asleep while sitting. The policemen were monotonously writing something on paper sheets.
– They didn’t ask me any questions – and this is necessary during wrting down the testimony. As if they didn’t need my version of events. I kept repeating that I have the right to a phonecall. “You have a right to shut your mouth” – I heard in response. Eventually I managed to tear off one piece of paper to write down my mum’s phone number because that’s the only one I know by heart. “But you still have to have something to write it down with” – the policeman replied and took the pen away from the table. I said that in my apartment there are two dogs that have to be walked and fed. “Do you also want to abuse the animals?”. They were ignoring me. I didn’t have any rights. They took away my human rights for 21 PLN and one smashed rear-view mirror, when I needed psychiatric help. They said that I was fucked up, that I was a lunatic. They kept becalling me. At some point I tore off my tights which were under my shorts, because they were soaked and tattered. It was raining and I had been sitting in those wet clothes and sneakers for many hours. They started to tug me again. “What the hell are you doing!?”
– At some point, the second policeman left the interrogation room. I was left alone with the one who had the neo-fascist symbol inked. He said he recognises me from protests. “You’re such an angry feminist because nobody fucked you properly before.” He picked me up, banged my chest on the table, pulled my shorts off and raped me. I started screaming. “He beats me, he’s raping me.” He quickly pulled on his pants, and my shorts. A female policewoman came in. I was all crying, blue, I couldn’t stand on my feet. The policewoman told me not to be hysterical. “He beats me and rapes me,” I said and asked her to help me. He left at that time. When I was done talking, he came back and wrote something on a piece of paper. I asked what it was. He said he was writing a libel statement because I said he was raping me. I turned to the policewoman: “Do you believe him only because he’s a policeman?” “Yes,” she replied. That’s what hurt me the most. At that point I already knew that no one would believe me.
Agnes requested a medical forensic examination again. They came to the ER at Borowska street for the second time.
– The policeman gave the doctor a five and we returned to the police station – they say.
The Uniwersytecki Szpital Kliniczny (University Clinical Hospital) did not respond to this allegations either.
– At the police station it turned out that at the first hospital they’ve handed out paperwork for the sobering-up station, not the detention. So we went back there. In the hospital at Kraszewskiego street, I could barely stand on my feet, I tried to tell the psychiatrist and the nurse what was going on. – Help me, I was raped and assaulted. – I said that I would take my own life, that I had the strength to do it. They weren’t even looking at me. They just looked at each other.
– I’ve recognized that nurse – Agnes continues. – Two years ago I was there because I had suicidal thoughts. And then they treated me like shit too. I had an attack of hysteria, I’ve unhinged door in the attempt to get out of there. She said she remembered me. That I’m fucked in the head and I need to calm down. It took 10 to15 minutes. They sorted out the paperwork and handed it over to the police.
The public prosecutor’s office
They went back to the police station. From then on, Agnes barely remembers anything.
– I was exhausted. I just waited for them to fag me out. Waited for them to finish me off.
In the morning, the policemen wake Agnes up and drive to the prosecutor’s office.
– I had a panic attack after a panic attack. During the attack, I have to ball up on the floor. They were yelling at me asking what I was doing. The prosecutor saw my condition. She ordered me to be uncuffed. “Why does this person has two pairs of handcuffs on their hands?” They’ve read my deposition from the police station and I said I don’t agree with it. I no longer had any strength. I tried to sign the papers but I couldn’t. I couldn’t hold the pen in my hand. They made me do it. I said that I plea guilty and that I just want to go home. The policemen pressed on the arrest, but the prosecutor ordered only the police custodianship. “I don’t want to see you in this place again” – she said.
– They released me – says Agnes. – I was standing outside of the prosecutor’s office in the rain, soaking wet, I wasn’t able to hold the phone in my hands. They handcuffed me at 6:00 p.m. and it was 1:00 p.m. the next day. 19 hours. No drinking, no pissing, no eating. Without any rights.
– The person was not taken to the sobering-up center, or to the so-called “slammer”, ie to the room for detained persons. The police cannot do such things, it is pointless and disproportionate to keep a person in the interrogation room all night – says Łukasz Prus, Agnes’ lawyer.
Reply from the prosecutor’s office
I contact the Wrocław Krzyki Wschód District Prosecutor’s Office. Małgorzata Dziewońska, a spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Wrocław, says over the phone: “Please do not call this case a rape. This is an alleged rape. At the moment, the Wrocław Fabryczna District Prosecutor’s Office has transferred the case to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, which will hand it over outside of Wrocław. On our part, I can only say that this is a person who is suspected of committing crimes “. In the e-mail, the spokeswoman lists the charges:
“The proceedings are conducted by the Wrocław District Prosecutor’s Office Krzyki Wschód. The decision was made to present charges against the suspect that:
– on May 26, 2022 in Wrocław at Kościuszki street in the Aldi store, they seized alcohol in the form of vodka and two grave candles for a total value of 21 PLN in order to appropriate the goods, in such a way that the person hid the collected goods in clothing, then crossed the checkout lines without paying for them, and then, immediately after the theft in order to remain in possession of the stolen goods, the above-mentioned used threats of deprivation of life and violence in the form of pushing Aldi employees away, i.e. for an act under Art. 281 of the Penal Code
– on May 26, 2022 in Wrocław at Kościuszki street, in the parking lot of the Aldi store, suspect damaged an Opel Zafira car by kicking the mirror with their foot, destroying it entirely, which caused damage for an amount not lower than 1.100 PLN, to the detriment of the aggrieved party, i.e. for an act under Art. 288 par. 1 of the Penal Code “.
The policeman who was present that day doesn’t want to say anything. “I have my opinion on this subject” – he declares. The policewomen claim that none of them were there at the moment. They don’t want to talk about it.
– Agnes called me right after they left the prosecutor’s office – says their friend Robert. – We’ve met in their apartment. When I saw them, they were kneeling by the bed. They were totally smashed. I hugged them. Among the first words, they said that they would rather be killed and that everything hurts them. “Why didn’t they just kill me?” – they asked. They showed me their wrists, knuckle marks, bruises. Looking straight into my eyes, they said he raped them. And that after the rape, they cried balled up on the floor, fell over, vomited, and the police stuck their head into that vomit and then wiped their face. I asked if they recognize the policeman who raped them. “The bald muscleman with the tattoo that was on the spot when the arrest was made”. I asked if they could stay with the person who had already been with them and I called my friends, anti-repression collectives. They agreed, I walked out in front of the building. I quickly found out that the forensic examination of a forensic physician is most important, I called every possible telephone number in Wrocław and nearby cities for half an hour straight. In most cases our request for help was completely declined: “But how is it possible – police rape? No, I will not help with it” or it was stated that soonest on Monday. After consulting with some friends who are familiar the law, we concluded that we need to find any trusted gynecologist to make a written down note, which will be the base for the forensic examination on Monday. In addition, we were to take pictures of Agnes, their clothes, in which they were raped in to gather evidence. I went back to the apartment, my friends were going to look for a gynecologist, and I would go to Agnes curled up on the bed in the other room and convince them to go to the bathroom with their friend to take pictures of their body. I hugged Agnes, saying that everything is going to be okay. They replied, “It won’t be because I took 20 pills of Xanax.”
– I wanted to take Xanax to calm myself down – says Agnes. – But my hands were rebelling me. All of the pills fell into my hands. And I swallowed them all. I just wanted to fall asleep, even forever. When Robert saw that I had taken all the pills, I cried out and asked them to take care of my dogs if I didn’t wake up. I accepted that I wouldn’t wake up anymore, so I took a handful of other medications. It worked quickly – I don’t remember the way to the hospital.
– We called 112 (polish 911) quickly. The ambulance would arrive too late, so we had to go with our own car. Agnes reluctantly agreed, but said they had to go to the bathroom alone first. They were just raped, we decided that we couldn’t go into the bathroom with them, so as not to traumatize them even more. We let them go on their own. After a while, they left the bathroom with their mouth full of pills. Without thinking much, I grabbed them by the belly and choked them so that they cannot swallow the pills – says Robert. – The other guy takes the meds forcibly from their throat. It lasted a while, Agnes was fighting it a lot. We’ve managed to get most of it out. They say: “Okay, leave me alone, I will go to ER” We released them and Agnes flushes it all down with wine from the jug on the table. We took the person by force to the car. We sat on both sides of them so that they wouldn’t jump out while driving.
– I just wanted to rest. Fall asleep and never wake up. I wanted to finish what the cop didn’t do. Kill myself.
Rape survivors often refer to rape as an unfinished murder.
They arrive at the ER at Fieldorf street. Gastric lavage. Friends attended to lawyers, gynecologists, look for a “morning after” pill, which is not available right off the reel in Poland. A growing group of people is gathering in the parking lot, making phonecalls all the time and organizing help.
Julia, who pretended to be Agnes’s sister so that she could visit them, hears from the doctor: “But tey told me they weren’t raped.”
– They woke up, the doctor asks if they were raped and Agnes, not fully conscious yet, responds: “What? Me, rape? No” – Julia tells me.
The discharge from one of the hospitals has a fragment: “The patient woke up, started speaking consciously, showed surprise that I asked them if they had been raped, they denied it”. All hospital discharges say that Agnes was talking about the rape. “They remember the event quite accurately – they gave details of a man who psychologically abused them (Nazi tattoos on his hands), the patient was secured with two pairs of handcuffs. Anal contact probably not protected by a condom, no ejaculation occurred.”
– I don’t remember now whether it’s anal or vaginal rape. I know for sure that it happened. I am not able to give any more details – says Agnes.
– It is a very typical trauma recation that memory functions differently. You may experience amnesia, you may not remember fragments of the occurrence. The body protects us thanks to this – so very often this most traumatic moment is forgotten. People remember traumatic events in many different ways. The attention is narrowed – to those stimuli that are essential for our survival. Often these details may later seem irrational to us – it is unknown why we notice some things and not others. But it’s controlled by those areas of the nervous system that don’t come into contact with our conscious thinking. It is very characteristic that we have holes in our memory after a traumatic event. You may not remember details or the whole event at all. – says Katarzyna Nowakowska, psychotraumatologist working at the Feminoteka Foundation.
Police to the attorney
After Julia’s visit, the doctors kept everyone out of Agnes’s hospital room. Nobody, except – as it turned out – a policeman.
– It’s a scandal! – says Agnes’s representative, attorney Joanna Mawrojanidis. – I came to the ER and said to the reception that I am a lawyer and I am asking to see my client. Under no circumstances should the police be allowed there before me. They promise not to let them in. I am waiting. After a long while, I’ve learned that in Agnes’s room there’s a police officer, a man, not a woman, even though the procedure requires that in such condition it should be a female police officer. Without my representation, with a semi-conscious person after reporting being raped by a policeman and after a suicide attempt. I approach the reception desk again and say that I have been waiting here for almost an hour and I have not been admitted yet, but a police officer walked in using a side entrance and started carrying out procedural activities with my client without my participation. I was immediately admitted to the aggrieved person.
I can see Agnes barely alive under the drip on the bed in the corridor, with a plainclothes policeman next to them. It turned out that quite a few testimonies were noted down, but they stopped when they were about to say that they had been raped. There was a policeman standing over them, two doctors, patients listening around – they had a big blockage to tell what had happened. I took the policeman aside and asked why they were being questioned by a man and not a woman. Why is the activity carried out in violation of the procedure – that is why there is no psychologist and appropriate conditions. But the officer insisted that Agnes had to say at least one sentence about the rape in order for the appropriate procedure to be initiated and for a gynecological examination to be performed. The situation generated a lot of interest among other patients who began to listen. I asked if we could provide Agnes with at least better conditions, for example in another room. “This is not possible.” So I forced the hospital staff into admission of two relatives of the survivor. The moment they began to open up, two doctors came. One of them asked “Will this go on for a long time?” I answered “Please wait, the person has just begun to speak.” “They have spoken long before!” – he blurted out.
– I’m walking in with the lawyer – says Robert. – The policeman announces he has to question Agnes. “How did he rape you, with what did he rape you, were you penetrated” – the policeman asks the person who, a few hours earlier, was reportedly sexualy assaulted by a policeman. Eventually Agnes bursts: “The cop’s cock was in my fucking ass.” And the policeman replied: “Oh, so it wasn’t a normal rape?”
– The lawyer halted: “Is that enough?” Policeman: “No. Did he ejaculate?” How is the survivor even supposed to sense it? The policeman is huffing and finally lets go. Then he loses the clothes that are one of the most important pieces of evidence in the case. After some time they were found.
– Often outfit, clothes are the silent witnesses of the crime which do not change their testimony. This is crucial – says Łukasz Prus.
The photos of the shorts I see have visible mucus and dark brown traces of blood or feces.
– The officer wanted to secure physical evidence, and he had nothing to do it with – neither zip-bags nor envelopes. And he asks us if we have any bag to take these things. Absurd. We took a garbage bag from the cleaning lady to secure it – says the lawyer.
The policeman didn’t need to take evidence at that specific time. Rape has been prosecuted ex officio since 2014. Therefore, a notification from the hospital would be sufficient enough.
At the Fieldorf hospital there was no gynecologist who could perform a gynecological examination. Agnes goes to another hospital, in Brochów, for an examination to secure evidence. After a lot of promting, the lawyer was allowed to go with them in the ambulance.
In front of the entrance to the gynecological room, apart from the policeman who took the testimony before, there are two policemen – one with a gun on his chest. This is confirmed to me by a lawyer, as well as by two people who were on the spot. Agnes didn’t, because they don’t remember much of that time. They were semiconscious.
The policemen brought sample collection packages.
– The gynecological examination to secure the evidence was carried out professionally – says the lawyer – The doctor has done the examination and secured the evidence. We leave and the police officer says to us: “Ladies, we are going back to repeat the examination because the wrong package was delivered.” This is an examination that can only be done once. An examination in which the traces that cannot be secured again have been collected. There aren’t any more. When the policemen heard our protest, they gave up. The doctor performed the examination correctly.
– The policeman wanted to come back for correct packages, but the doctor secured the swabs well. He didn’t push any further – the paramedic who was on the spot tells me. – The person was in a serious condition, in poor contact. But the lawyer and I woke them up and they agreed to be examined.
– It wasn’t a forensic examination, because only a forensic physician, for example in a forensic medicine institution, can do the forensic examination. I did a gynecological examination at the request of the police for the purposes of the procedure. The person arrived in the presence of the police – says doctor Marzena Koczorowska-Melaniuk. At this time, the medical forensic examination, which would be the best evidence in court, was unavailable. Additionally, it can be very expensive.
“In the vagina, mucous, milky discharge with three visible hairs. The material for the examination was secured ” – could be read in the description of the gynecological examination.
Agnes returns to the hospital on Fieldorfa, this time to the toxicology unit. Their lawyer is with them all the time, she says:
– I remember exactly one situation. At one point in front of the hospital, the female paramedic went to get a stroller. Agnes was handed over to the male paramedic. He was bald, he had a strong, large posture and he wanted to help. Agnes, melting away earlier, half-conscious, suddenly started pulling away from that paramedic. “Don’t fucking touch me!” – They began to shout. I had to take them over. It was a completely unconscious action, amuck. Reflex, immediate reaction of the body. They must have associated him with that man. After I took them over, they calmed down. They tripped out again after the meds.
Friends and activists are working all the time. Paweł says:
– I’ve started calling trusted doctors asking how much time we have if a person swallowed that much Xanax. A familiar doctor said that it was too late for gastric lavage, we had to go to toxicology. She told us how dying from so much Xanax looks like – so I tell the people on the spot that they can’t let the person fall asleep. People are dying from respiratory failure, so it is impossible to even tell the difference between the person dying or falling asleep. I have the impression that we, activists, are becoming experts in all this support on how to help someone after a suicide attempt, how to save people – for fear that a person will die before they could receive help from the NFZ public healthcare system (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia – National Health Fund).
It was a Friday night so all institutions were closed. I made a dozen phone calls or so, noone was answering. They come back to work on Monday morning. But on Monday morning the person would be dead. To get help quickly enough, you need connections or a lot of money. We have neither one nor the other. In theory, help is there – but in practice, if not for our actions, this person would be gone. We can only count on ourselves. I know that when a person goes to the ER or to a police station, they will likely need psychological help after treatment that they receive there. And as a rule, I am not mistaken. Unfortunately.
– The services in this country are very inefficient – Paweł continues. – That is why we support each other in situations when someone needs intervention. We help each other and beacuse of that we are treated as some kind of enemies. Because we see the system’s gaps and we talk about it. We have the courage to show our faces at demonstrations. This policeman recognized Agnes by their face. He could recognize me too. It could happen to me, to you. To every single one of us.
– We’ve already buried too many friends. Too many LGBTQ kids. If not for our actions, another person would have died – Paweł says.
Leaving the hospital
Robert has been staying the longest in the hospital on Fieldorfa street. When Robert leaves, he is reassured that Agnes cannot be released from the hospital until Monday for their own safety.
On Sunday morning, Agnes leaves the hospital – on their own demand. They say that they didn’t want to kill themselves at all and they’re fine. Doctors release them.
– We’re devastated. How is it possible that a person, after trying to take their own life, in a huge crisis, is released? It’s like a death sentence – says Robert.
– After leaving the hospital, we take Agnes in a group by the river, where we talk. We came to a consensus that Agnes will go to a psychiatric hospital, but better one. We are choosing a small hospital, University Center for Mental Health – Department of Psychiatry USK in Wrocław at Pasteura street. Until then, Agnes is ment to stay in their apartment, taken care of, resting with their dogs. As instructed by the psychotraumatologist Elżbieta Domański, we take away knives, forks and scissors from the apartment – says Paweł. – We are “on duty” in Agnes’ apartment 24/7. We give them medications that should be taken on a permanent basis and that are prescribed to people who survived rape. We do it even though we know it is beyond our depth and beyond our skills. We fail work, studies – because we can see the condition of Agnes. And the fact that at one moment in the hospital they declared that they don’t want to take their life anymore, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. We protect Agnes, not the system. Just not to let them die.
– We’re not going to let Agnes get killed. – says Robert.
Lawyer works hard too.
– On Monday, I was trying to find out where the case would be conducted. It turned out that the proceedings under supervision will be conducted by… Police Station Wrocław Rakowiec. So the police station where the incident could have happened. I got in touch with the prosecutor’s office, I found out that the files were not and will not be transferred to KP Rakowiec, but to the Police Internal Affairs Office. And that it is not known where the exhibits are.
Discharge from hospital
Friends call wherever they can. Thanks to their actions, it is finally possible to enroll Agnes in the hospital at Pasteura street. Agnes is released after two weeks.
– For the last few days before leaving the hospital, I had panic attacks every day. I was telling them outright that I was feeling bad. My condition was by no means stabilized. And suddenly I get the information that they are releasing me. Even though they said that I was safe here from the prosecution’s influence and I should not be afraid of the police, because they would not come here for sure.
– We haven’t got this excerpt yet. The psychologist’s note is still missing. But I know that the rape information is not in the excerpt. And that it was because of the rape that Agnes came to the hospital – says the lawyer.
– Nobody knows why Agnes was suddenly released – says Paweł.
Agnes’s friends moved heaven and earth to get them support. They found a private hospital – the only hospital in Poland that agreed to accept a person after a rape. One of the few with a psychotraumatologist on the team. At the moment, Agnes is there.
The Ombudsman and MP
The Field Operative of the Ombudsman (The Advocate for Citizens’ Rights ) is also on the case. Katarzyna Sobańska-Laskowska informed us, that she had requested an update on the proceedings from the Prosecutor’s Office as well as from the Police, regarding the status of the internal investigation.
MP‘s intervention has been submitted as well, by Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk. The MP explained:
– Violence is evil as such – but the violence from someone who is in charge of public security, who has an advantage of power over us in a given moment, who is responsible for whatever happens to us, is especially destructive. It matters not, in what capacity one may be taken to a police station – once there, one should feel and be safe from harm. I wish to live in a country, where one can report a rape to the police without fear of further trauma, not a coutry where one can actually get raped by the police. I submitted my intervention to make a clear statement, that this case is under close scrutiny. So that no-one so much as fancies sweeping it under the rug and foregoing any clarifications and consequences.
The Main Police Headquarters answered to the MP’s intervention with the following:
“On 30th May, I instructed the Head of the Control Department of the Headquarters to supervise the analysis of the existing evidence and provide a report of the findings. The outcomes confirmed a rapid response form the headquartes’ on both Municipial and Voivodeship level. The on-duty prosecutor has been notified and a superior of the accused officer has initiated clarification proceedings”.
Further we read:
“(…) I wish to emphasise, that it is of utmost concern to the management of the Police of Poland, to supervise the public service environment, also in the required ethical dimension, which should be free from any accusations that might suggest a possibility of a forbiden act having been committed by the officers”. [sic!]
In their closing statement, the Police Headquarters advised that further pursuit of additional supervisory proceedings would be inexpedient.
– In answering to my questions and phone calls, the Press Officer of the Municipial Police Headquarters in Wrocław claimed that he saw it necessary to talk to every officer on duty and collect information. He also needed to confirm with the Prosecutor’s Office, to what extent he can reveal his findings. He emphasised, how much he was devoted to make the case clear. I have not heard back from him for a week now.
What happens next?
– The case is on – said Łukasz Prus, the attorney – So far the proceedings regard it as a rape, not misuse and arrogation. One hearing has taken place. The case will develop, nothing is judged for now.
– I have no reason not to believe them – said Joanna Mawrojanidis, the attorney – I’ve represented rape survivors before and I know what they beheve like. There‘s nothing in Agnes’ behaviour that could suggest the rape had not happened.
– They are in deep psychological repression – said Alek, a friend of Agnes. The attorney and other supporters confirm the same.
The attorney continued – When I support people who had been raped, I notice how often they repress the experience or try to explain and rationalise it. When Agnes was telling me about the rape, they focused on the events before and after, while describing the rape itself with a single sentence. As if they were a witness, not the affected. When answering to a policeman they did the same, they shouted in his face: ” The guy’s dick was in my ass, fuck!” and collapsed on the bed.
– I was prompt to call things by their name. That was rape. I get irritated when people attempt to make it sound softer, like “That, what happened there”. We’re not in a Harry Potter story, we need no “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” kind of thing. I can see it’s helpful to be direct about things like rape, assault or systemic violence. That’s what we’re dealing with. And it’s nothing like soft and subtle. It hurts me so much, that things like that happen. Not just to me, it’s everywhere. And that we allow it. We allow them to happen on every single day.
Individuals with disorders face higher risk of sexual violence
– Throughout last week Agnes has been mocked multiple times about being nonbinary. People would abuse it to prove that they are nuts, a worse sort of human and that they cannot be trusted. It was the same with the borderline disorder and their mental crisis. And truth is, a nonbinary person with mental or personality disorders faces a much greater risk of violence. Because the perpetrators know, that such victims will be called insane when they tell their story, that they’d just as well hear shit like “You made up this rape just like you’re making up this nonbinary stuff.” The perpetrator knows he can get away with it, especially if he wears a uniform to protect him. – A friend of Agnes told us.
– It‘s all victim-blaming. Our culture often portrays male sexuality as an unstoppable drive and the role of the female is to avoid it. Victim-blaming is also a way of convincing ourselves, that such things will never happen to us, that we‘re not this kind of people. Thing is, this is bullshit. Everyone can be struck by violence. It‘s like we‘re trying to comfort ourselves by thinking “I have no disorders, I don’t behave like that, I don’t drink alcohol – so it won’t ever happen to me.” This is plain wishful thinking, and it results in blaming the victims for what they’d suffered, regardless of their mental CV. If you wanna lie to yourself, you‘ll always find a reason to “justify” a rape.
– When it comes to putting the blame on people with mental disorders, you don’t have to search further than the very legal proceedings. A psychologist is present during the hearing of the victim. Not to support the survivor, however, but to make sure if they don’t confabulate. And there are no psychologists there, when the case is a robbery. It’s rooted in the usual line of defense, the attorney would try to compromise the victim by questioning their mental health. Sexual violence happens predominantly with no witnesses. Due to this the defence try to compromise the credibility of the single person who actually knows, that the rape had taken place. This puts the survivor under pressure instead of the perpetrator. Mental, neurological and personality disorders are often abused to compromise the survivors credibility. Research swows, that people with mental or personality disorders face a higher risk of violence. It‘s an actual risk factor. Such people more often ifnd themselves in places, where they can easily fall prey to the perpetrators. They spark aggression in perpetrators more often too. The perpetrators assume, that thay can allow themselves more against a person with disorders; they believe the victim will not defend themselves or that no-one will ever believe them afterwards. There‘s reserach to confirm this. Disorders do not compromise anyone. On the contrary, they are a real risk factor. – Said Katarzyna Nowakowska from the Feminoteka Foundation.
– Where do you report a police rape? To the police? Where do you go with a rape committed at a police station? To a police station? – A supporter asks.
During that night a psychiatraumatologist accompanies them. She come over from the USA to support people who fled Ukrainie with the experinece of war rape. They happened on each other.
“I’d rather he killed me, instead of what he did to me.” – Said the 83-year-old Vera, having survived a war rape in Ukraine.
Police violence is not a rotten apple!
In 2016 Igor Stachowiak was killed as a result of an arrest. He was detained by mistake, having been confused with a runaway criminal. He was caught in the street, incapacitated, choked and taser-shocked. At the police station he was cuffed, undressed and taser-shocked on the bathroom floor by six policemen. He stopped breathing.
In 2021 a Ukrainian male died during a police intervention at the sobering station. He was beaten and choked, the police allegedly used batons and gas. Initially, the police claimed that he had been aggressive and “just got what he deserved” . After a month, footage was found to cinfirm that he was calm. The policemen who took part in his arrest were suspended.
In 1999 three policemen from Bytom were found guilty of multiple rapes on teenage victims. They were sentenced to 4.5 and 3 years. – “You open a door and you see someone raping a child, you wanna call the police. Only, it’s a policeman raping the child. And he’s your colleague, and it’s happening at the station, so someone probably turns a blind eye, the guy must have good backup with the brass. So you start thinking, she’ll be okay, it’s not her first time like that, and I don’t wanna no trouble” – said one of the policemen.
In 2005 a young woman accused a group of policemen of forced sexual intercourse at a police station in Wrocław. The media called the crime a “sex-affair” and the policemen were referred to as “playboys”. After a three-month suspension all policemen returned to work.
In 2007 four policemen in Poznań were suspected of forcing sexual behaviours on men in the sobering chamber.
In 2011 a policeman from Lublin was accused of raping a student at the police station. The investigators found out that the had sexually assaulted 8 other women at the same station. The women confessed he would masturbate in front of them and force them to oral sex if they wanted to smoke. Initially, the court decreed that he had forced sex on the student two times and molested three other women, and sentenced him to 3 years of prison. During the appeal the sentence was shortened, after abrogating one of the harrassement chrges. He has spent 2.5 years in prison in total.
In 2003 an 18-year-old girl was arrested by two policemen, who drove her out of the city, beat her and raped her. After 5 years of proceedings they were sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison. After 10 years the survivor was granted a recompense of 150,000 PLN, a precedent of assigning a state budget-compensation to a survivor of police rape.
In 2013 a policeman from Łódź was accused of raping a teenage girl during an interrogation. The case was remitted and the policeman continued to work with minors, only at another police station.
In 2017 a policeman from Brodnica was accused of rape at the station. Three years later he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and a compensation to the survivor and was banned from public service.
In 2018 a policeman form Warsaw was accused of sexual harrassement by a detained participant of a nationalist rally.
In 2021 an internal investigation has confirmed that a policeman has molested a policewoman in the Municipial Headquarters in Legnica. She was fired. He was monited and moved to another working position.
In 2021 a policeman from Częstochowa was accused of raping a women under his custody as a court curator. The court declined the request to arrest him and assigned custody. Agnes was also given police custody.
In 2021 a 15-year-old girl reported that she had been molested by two policemen following an interrogation. She claimed the policemen had taken her away to a forest and prompted her into oral sex and touched the genital area. The policemen were never even suspended and the teenage girl went missing.
In 2021 a parliament comittee was called to address the issues of mobbing and sexual harrassement in law enforcement. The Minister of Internal Affais and the Head of the Police never arrived to the session.
Over the years a police publication circulated under the title “Police Handbook for Women” and instructed women how not to fall victim to rape. It contained passaged such as “There’s an old, rude saying – a woman drunk throws the shame away” or “Do not provoke men with overly flirtatious behaviour”.
In 2018 the Police in Wrocław ran a series of workshops on the safety of women. “Codziennik Feministyczny” was there and reported that the trainer would tell jokes about a girl who woke up in her bed only to find out she was being molested by a strange man, and then she was unable to describe what he did to her, because she had drunk three beers. Other than this, policewomen were instructed, that high heels and a mini-dress increase the rape risk, and that the main threat is posed by the men dressed in sweatsuits. Men in shirts and ties were not to be worried about, since the trained has never heard of a suit-wearing man being accused of rape. We wonder if he’s ever heard of police uniform-wearing men?
“I’m still alive and there’s still a couple of things I wanna say“
– What happens now? I’m stressed. I find myself fearing men. I’m afraid of what should happen but won’t. I feel an abyss of sadness and helplesness. I suspect he’ll never face the consequences, cause he’s a guy in a uniform.
In a separate letter to their friends, Agnes wrote:
“It didn’t hurt me that much because it was me. It didn’t hurt me that much, that I got beaten up, raped and was denied my rights to be treated like a humen, a physically and mentally sentient being. Every human right I had was broken. We all know each other here and we know stuff like that happens every day, every-fucking-day around the fucking world. And I know I’m not the only one feeling helpless about not being able to change it, in spite of the everyday struggle against the violence by the police, the state and the patriarchy. What hurts me most, is that no matter how hard we scream, we can hardly outshout the police PR family picnic thing, and nothing changes, or only changes real real slow. This is where it gets me. This is what I wanted to get away from on Thursday, taking all the Xanax pills. I just wanted to go to sleep, and as soon as I got sleepy, I felt like I no longer want to wake up to a world where I can’t change anything, and to the realisation that, if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.“
“Police violence only goes big when someone dies at the hands of the police, but I’m still alive and there’s still a couple of things I wanna say. And I think this piece of shit might actually hit the fan. I need you in all this, united and kind to one another. I’ll need you like I never needed you before, because I know what you know and I know you can stand next to me.“
The hospitals and the police still have not responded, in spite of the repeated attempts to ask them for a statement. Both over E-mail or phone and in person.
The name of the title character was changed. For security reasons the names of friends of Agnes were changed as well. The names of attorneys, public officials and enforcers remain unchanged.