I don’t often get very personal on my blog, because I value my privacy, and I blog because I want to help others, bring awareness to issues, and educate people in any way I can. Helping and educating others helps to empower them, and that’s what I love to do – empower others.
My life has been hard, wonderful, complicated, wonderful, scary, and, yes, wonderful. Today I’m a different person than I was 6 years ago. Two things happened that year. One, on the night of the 4th/5th of February, a very old friend with whom I had reunited about a year prior, invited me to her boyfriend’s rambling house to have drinks, hang out, the usual. Long story short, her boyfriend raped me. Repeatedly. Someone must have slipped something in one of the two drinks I had, and I have very little memory of what happened.
I tried to move on. I couldn’t. I was terrified. I was being stalked by my ‘friend,’ and then also by her friends. I changed my facebook name, and made a new page. Even still, I had to lock it down tight because then she had her friends stalking me on Facebook. We were supposed to move in the summer to accommodate my husband’s new job, and we jumped through hoops to move that date up so I could get the hell out of that town. But then, she started emailing my friends, family members, companies I worked for, organizations I volunteered for, making up stories, telling my employers that I had a long and violent criminal record. Every time this happened, a huge plethora of paperwork and phone calls ensued. The police would not put a restraining order against her. I literally had stacks upon stacks of paperwork and had hired a lawyer. I hadn’t pressed charges right away for my own reasons; I was concerned about the payback. I couldn’t figure out why they would keep ‘kicking a sleeping dog.’ I had no intention of being the one to step forward and go over, and over, and over what happened in court. When I did report it, I was shocked when the Officers I spoke with said ‘don’t worry, we WILL take action, we all know this guy is a scumbag.’ I almost fainted. I couldn’t believe he was known for this kind of behavior and was still wandering around.
Things escalated until one day, in my new town, I was attacked and severely beaten. The harassment continued. She even contacted my friend, a lawyer with the law firm I hired to pursue the case, after seeing her name in a court document, saying, ‘I don’t know what your relationship to her is, but I’m interested in collaborating with you to put her away since she’s so dangerous.’ She did the same with my best friend, not knowing that we were best friends. I still have no idea where she got the idea that she could call me dangerous, as I did NOT have a criminal record, had an excellent employment record in sensitive sectors and a NATO-secure clearance, and had not seen them since the incident. Organizations I volunteered forgot their own lawyers involved to issue cease and desist orders. Companies I worked for did the same. I had an incredible reputation as a very devoted, giving, dedicated fundraiser and employee, and they all supported me fiercely during this difficult time.
After the attack in my new town, I stopped working. I had gotten a German Shepherd when we moved, as I was a triathlete at the time, and I did not want to go on runs alone. Unfortunately, I had a very serious accident during a triathlon that landed me on life support with a brain stem injury and a diffuse brain injury. Even while I was in the hospital, intubated and unconscious, my young teenage son was getting harassing emails claiming that I had done ‘something’ that week. (He wouldn’t tell me what I was accused of doing). My son, being the strong individual he was and still is, immediately cut off contact with the person that had contacted him (one of her friends).
The harassment was almost non-stop for about 2, maybe 2.5 years.
The head injury had triggered a seizure disorder that originated in my brain stem. Sometime after I came home from the hospital, my husband noticed that my German Shepherd pup jumped on me, barked at me, and pulled on my clothing with his teeth frantically a minute or two before a seizure hit. We realized the potential of training him as a Service Dog, and so after he finished basic obedience, advanced obedience, and some other training, he was sent away for training. When he came back, he was incredible, if not a little scary. He had grown up – now over 2 years old, he was bigger, stockier, and sure of himself. More sure of himself than I was of myself.
The reason I’m writing this post is because almost every female I talk to tells me a story of sexual assault or rape. And also because the stalking still has not ended. As of last week, she was searching for me on my LinkedIn account. I blocked her. I’m sure she’ll have her friends search for me on LinkedIn and all my other social media, but I don’t care anymore. After years of therapy with an amazing therapist, the love and support of my friends and family, and especially my GSD Service Dog (who was not only trained in seizure response, but also in PTSD management) I’ve learned. I’ve learned who I am. That I am strong. That they lost. They didn’t take my life away, and no matter how many of her friends or relatives they have following my online life, I simply don’t care anymore. I have a rich life, and a wonderful family. God has blessed me in so many ways that I feel it would take me a lifetime to give back to others what God has given to me.
To any of you, male or female, who have been sexually assaulted or raped, I want you to report it immediately. I want you to record every single incident that occurs afterward (stalking/harassment). I want you to be strong even when you don’t feel strong. I want you to send the message that rape and sexual assault will not be tolerated! If you are reading this, and it has just happened, please report it – go to the hospital to have a rape kit done. Contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre near you. Get counseling. Don’t bury it. Everything that gets buried eventually makes it to the surface, like so many rocks and stones heaved up through the soil after the frost of winter.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Let me repeat that – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Even if you go through a full trial, and nothing comes of it, you have sent a message. And if that individual re-offends, it will be a lot harder for them to get off scot-free a second time. Don’t let these assholes win. You deserve your mental freedom and peace of mind. Make them face what they did. I’m glad I did.