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Stories

Erin

At the age of 26, I was a victim of a drug-facilitated abduction, beating, strangulation and rape perpetrated by three men. The three men, who were strangers to me, left me barefoot in a dark alley with little more than a description of the car to identify them to the police. After the assault, I faced law enforcement officers who doubted my account and medical personnel who were not trained to perform the rape exam. These conditions led to lengthy ongoing legal proceedings. I am fortunate to have amazing legal representation supported by the SAU detective, my advocate from the District Attorney’s office and the Assistant District Attorney assigned to my case. Since the incident, I have struggled with anxiety, mistrust of those closest to me, and fear of leaving my house. Today, seven years later I am able to live a full life with strength and courage and love. If you or someone that you know is a victim of sexual assault let them know that they have your support and the support of a network of advocates.


Jessica

When I was six, my spirit was temporarily broken. This was my earliest memory of being sexually abused by three relatives. I did not feel loved, cherished and protected. I spent years learning how to survive daily sexual abuse. This was my reality until I was sixteen and somehow found the courage to disclose what was happening in my life, thanks to wonderful friends and an intuitive teacher.

Many people asked me: "Why didn’t you say anything during all those years?" Well, nobody asked. After I disclosed the sexual abuse, several people in my family came to me and told me that they thought something was happening, but weren’t sure. They didn’t want to get involved. What if they were wrong? I don’t blame them: I hold no anger towards them. But, if just one of those people had the courage to speak out on my behalf, I may have been spared years of abuse. So many people are afraid to talk about it because they fear their suspicions might be wrong. Well, what if they’re right? Weigh the consequences. It’s time to talk about it!


Pasco

For 22 years, I unknowingly hid the mental anguish and destruction caused by a Roman Catholic Priest. This priest began a full year of sexual abuse that fastened my childhood to feelings of shame and abnormality. I hid these feelings from my ten year old mind, in order to survive. Not until I was thirty-two years old did begin to relive my childhood abuse in utmost detail. This process was prolonged during a twelve year lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church. Even though my abuse was tied directly to a religion institution, I came out of this determent more in Love with God then I ever have been in my entire life. In addition I learned my silence was devouring me and that it was important to speak out about the abuse. I later learned through speaking with other survivors of abuse that I was not alone.

If you are the victim of sexual violence, talk with a survivor and learn you are not the only one who mentally suffers the way you do. You are not the only one who engages in dangerous behaviors. And, you are not by far the only one who has thoughts of killing yourself. Please talk with a survivor and realize you are not the only one...


Robert Giron

As a Law Enforcement Advocate (LEA) my job is to reach out to the public and overcome the barriers of silence. By educating survivors on the criminal justice process, I strive to remove many misconceptions and provide individuals with accurate information. It is imperative that survivors as well as the general public are made aware of the criminal justice process in hopes that accurate information will allow individuals to feel safe in coming forward.

As advocates become more prominent in police departments throughout the state, I hope the general public will become better aware of our important role and purpose. LEAs are an integral part of the process for many victims and I strive to create a seamless transition as the process unfolds. Collaborative efforts with other agencies, members of law enforcement, and the courts help mainstream the process for victims as they travel the journey towards justice.


Denise A.

I was raped. I was 35 years old the first time I was able to say these words. Once the words came out I knew it was my life. I could no longer pretend it was someone else’s life that I was watching like a movie. I had endured sexual abuse the first 17 years of my life. Like so many girls who are sexually abused at such a vulnerable age, I became isolated and withdrawn. As a result I fell victim to other offenders who target what they perceive as easy victims.

Healing was not an event for me, but a journey; a journey that has taken me on a nine year adventure. At times the memories are still there, but each day I find more peace in myself. I am not a victim but a woman, a mother and a survivor. Now, I am working with One Voice to share my story and healing journey to hopefully plant a seed of healing in others. My journey started by using my voice.


Inglish Morgan-Gardner, Ph.D.

Day One touches many aspects of my life. After being on the Board of Directors for six years, I find myself talking about the agency and the issue often. As an educator of social and community public service leadership at Capella University and an adjunct professor of psychology at the Community College of Rhode Island, I talk regularly with learners about the prevalence and effects of sexual violence on our society. As a multicultural competency consultant, my hope is that we move beyond silence and cultural barriers, and become well informed and better prepared to recognize the signs, intervene and prevent sexual violence. Know this, sexual violence does not discriminate; we must stop the silence, shame and isolation and start talking! As a wife, mother, daughter, lifelong learner and advocate, I’ve come to know there is power in our thoughts, words, attitudes and actions. I hope you will join me in talking about sexual violence.


Jane Johnson

After I was brutally raped by someone I knew, I kept "my secret" from my friends and family for more than a year. I was embarrassed and ashamed of what happened. When I finally called 911 to report his crime, I had no idea how much my life would change. The legal system made me feel less like a victim and more like a criminal. I learned not to trust anyone. Some of my friends called me a hero for going through the grand jury process and two trials. I don’t consider myself a hero, just a strong woman who was determined to prevent a dangerous man from harming another unsuspecting woman. After a long legal process, my assailant plead guilty to first-degree sexual assault after serving 3 ½ years in prison. This was not the outcome I had fought so hard for. It’s important for our leaders to work harder to protect victims’ rights. It is my hope that survivors of sexual assault can learn from my journey and realize that you too can heal but you need to reach out and share your voice.


Kelsey

I was an honor student from a good family and a good town. Bad things weren’t supposed to happen to me. But that all changed when I was sixteen. When studying abroad in Chile for my junior year in high school, I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by my older host “brother.” To make matters worse, three months after my return to the US, it happened again. While out with a friend, I was raped by a man we had met that night. Overcome with guilt and shame, I told absolutely no one of the assaults. I became self-destructive, turning to alcohol and self injury, and developing Bulimia. After years of intense treatment, I made a decision that changed everything. I decided to survive. I want everyone to understand the importance of talking about sexual violence, which is why I’m working with Day One. Will you join us in the fight?


Mary Byrne

I was molested…

When I was four years old I was molested, first by a neighbor then a member of the family; both of whom I trusted completely. The neighbor’s abuse ended when we moved at age six but the family member continued to molest me until I was fourteen years old.

I was the ideal victim for the disturbed pedophile, left alone with anyone my mother could find to watch me while she worked. They took my childhood, my innocence, my self-respect and my trust, and left me always feeling as I though I was less than others. There was, however, a part of me that always wanted better for myself.

Just before I turned forty I grew tired of carrying a burden that shouldn’t have been mine. I desperately wanted to be able to live my life without the abuse controlling everything I did and felt. I reached out to the former Rape Crisis Center, now known as Day One. Going through their program totally changed my life. I no longer allowed myself to be victimized.

After a great deal of work I have regained my self-respect and now work to encourage children to speak out when they have a problem or are being abused. I want to help them avoid the long road back to self esteem.


Bo

I was raised in the 1950's in a small, blue collar oil refinery town in Texas—a time and a place where sexual abuse did not happen, or at least it wasn’t talked about. My life has been profoundly affected by this abuse. The lens with which I view the world is stained with an unyielding sense of shame, worthlessness, confusion, distrust, and despair. I have struggled with drug addiction, shattered relationships, abandoned careers, homelessness, isolation, and grief. Thankfully, I've acquired some tools to help me deal with these feelings. This has included talking about my story. In September 2010, The Oprah Winfrey Show selected me for a segment on male sexual abuse survivors. It was a blessing and an honor to be graced with the gift of sharing my experience and message of hope, and to encourage others to never, ever give up. That’s why I've joined Day One in the effort to get everyone in our communities talking about sexual abuse and shine the light on a very dark issue.


Tricia Gilmore

All I ever wanted was a close-knit, loving family steeped in tradition. At the age of four my sense of safety and security was abruptly shattered as I began being molested. I was forced to face my abuser on a daily basis. He said if I "told", he would make sure no on believed me, so I played along and kept "the secret" for years. As I grew older, I began having flashbacks of my childhood but convinced myself they were not real. I finally realized that my flashbacks were not dreams. I met a therapist who helped me understand the severity of what I endured. I learned how to free myself from the burden of my “secret.” With years of therapy, a loving husband, three fantastic children, and a successful reunion with my biological family, my circle is finally complete. I am no longer ashamed of my past because I did not ask for this to happen to me. My sexual abuse does not define who I am, but I am committed to helping others realize there is hope and help on the other side of pain. I tell people to ask questions when things seem odd, listen when children speak, and pay attention to changes in behavior. Confronting an awkward situation could change a child’s life.


Sandy

I was abused by someone very close to me; someone I should have been able to trust. I felt un-worthy and insecure. I used to pray night after night that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. To escape the pain I married very young. Too young, and as a result I made some bad choices that had negative effects on my family and on me. I used alcohol and tranquilizers to numb myself -- I even took a pill once in the hope that I would die. Eventually I started seeing a therapist. I really liked her and in time began to trust her. During one session she asked me if I had been sexually abused. I sobbed uncontrollably. I shared with her my experiences and the abuse I had endured -- it was an enormous relief. That’s when my healing began. In time I was able to open up to a family member and it became easier to share with others. After many years of therapy and contemplation, I confronted the perpetrator and asked him to attend one of my therapy sessions. He consented and subsequently spent months coming to my sessions, acknowledging the memories, the torment, and the scars he had inflicted on me. Although it remained my own therapeutic experience I came to learn that he had been abused at several phases of his own life. And while I know there are no excuses for this type of violence -- ever, I know that hurt people often hurt people. That is why as a survivor I am speaking out to end the cycle of violence. As a society we must work together to end this horrendous epidemic that destroys our families and our communities.

 

 

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