It feels like a heartbeat ago. Recognizing that 30 years has passed since I last felt like the girl in this photo reminds me of the grieving that has been required of me since that day in 1993.
I look upon her face in awe. She was so young and hopeful. There wasn’t anything she didn’t believe she could do, and she was determined to work hard and earn everything that awaited her. She’d survived so much, waiting and believing that the best was just around the corner. I want to scoop her up and protect her. I want to get in a time machine and prevent the moments that are about to claim her life. There wasn’t an obituary when he took her life. Nobody but the two of them knew that he’d murdered her when he drugged her and repeatedly raped her throughout the night. Each time he took a little more of her light, a little more of her soul, until she was a shell that only resembled her. He stole everything from her.
I have grieved for you every day. I will grieve for you for the rest of my life.
I spoke about my rape for the first time on FB in a post on September 14, 2019. Here is that post:
Twenty-six years ago today, I was a freshman in college enjoying a night of music and dancing in the student center. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would never be seen again. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would be stolen by a man who was selfish and desired to claim one more virgin for his collection of rape victims. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment would soon be drugged and raped repeatedly throughout the night. I didn’t know that the person I was in that moment, the eighteen-year-old young woman in purple sweatpants and a worn t-shirt, would wake up the next morning fearful for her life, trying desperately to piece together all that had happened to her overnight so that she might begin life anew as someone who carried the burden of her assault. Oh, sweet girl, if I could go back and change just a few moments of your night. I pause tonight to think of you and remember the girl who didn’t survive that night.
I speak out now because I could not do it then. I speak out now in the hope that I may offer some support to a woman who needs to hear a voice that understands. I needed it then. I speak out to normalize the act of listening to those who have a sexual assault story to tell. I speak out to help foster a world where there is no shame in speaking out about rape.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: a service of RAINN
- Telephone hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)