My name is Dyanie, and I was sexually assaulted by someone impersonating a police officer. I constantly blamed myself for it all, as I was a student studying criminal justice. “I should have known better” is what I kept telling myself. After a two-week investigation by the police, they switched from treating me as a victim to a suspect. They decided after speaking with the Sheriff that the best course of action was to charge me with a misdemeanor of filing a false police report.
A day later, I woke up to my mugshot plastered in news articles and on their police department’s Facebook page. I was not in the right head space for the next following month. I remember the constant blame I put on myself. I’ll never forget the messages I received for the next week after that Facebook post from random people.
I had my first trial appearance in April of 2021. The judge found me guilty of filing a false police report, basically stating that he’s sorry that this happened to me but that he simply doesn’t believe me. I felt so hopeless afterwards. My attorney reassured me that it wasn’t over, and we appealed immediately. In my head, I truly felt like it was over. What would make me believe that the appeals trial would be any different?
The appeals trial was in August 2021. I remember feeling so uneasy and nervous. It was very upsetting to think about the possible outcome, and to be honest, I didn’t have much hope because I didn’t want to be disappointed. After a FULL day being in court, from 9 in the morning to 6 or 7 in the evening, I was so drained… We all waited for the judge’s verdict. I remember my attorney and I held each other’s hands tightly. The judge started off with, “I believe this is a very tough case. I don’t believe that the police officers are the bad guys, but I also don’t believe that Ms. Bermeo lied.” I felt as if I could finally breathe again.
It took me a while to identity as a survivor. I truly felt like I wasn’t at first because of everything that happened after I reported to the police. I’m taking it day by day with my healing journey, and if it wasn’t for the love and support from my friends and family, I don’t know if I’d be here today. I will keep telling my story, in the hope for future reforms and for people to start taking accountability within the system and be the change we need.