There are moments in our lives that we recall with total clarity no matter how much times passes. I have two such moments – and both involve the same incident. The first happened at 5:30 am on the morning of July 1, 2007. I was awakened from a sound sleep by the ringing of my cell phone. The voice I heard when I answered… the words I heard… will remain imprinted on my mind and in my heart forever. “Mommy, mommy, help me. I’ve been raped.”
A maintenance man with a master key had entered my daughter’s apartment. He brutally beat and repeatedly raped her over a three hour period. He carried a machete and pressed it tightly against her cheek to guarantee her cooperation. Somehow her life was spared. I ask not why.
My second moment of clarity happened within ten minutes of the first. My husband and I arrived quickly at our daughter’s apartment. When we opened the door, we found her huddled in a corner in the dark. Her father quickly lifted her in his arms and carried her to the sofa while I turned on a light. What we saw… I spoke, but only to myself. “Dear God,” I said, “she looks like the Elephant Man. She will never be normal again.”
Thankfully, she is normal once again. Her body healed itself, as bodies are want to do. Mentally and emotionally, she had help – lots of help – in the form of support from the many victims’ advocates who came to her rescue.
Now, four years later, we are hoping to "pass it on." We are about to launch a website and a support group -- www.feelnoshame.org. It's purpose: to give sexual assault victims a place to meet in safety and talk and talk and talk because talking frees the mind and heals the soul.
Eventually, we want to raise enough money to help victims with relocation costs should they be unable to return to their homes. In the two months immediately following my daughter's attack, my savings account was depleted to the tune of many thousands of dollars in medical and moving costs. We were lucky to have had the money to protect her... but what of those who don't?
I speak at women's luncheons on a regular basis and there isn't a time that I leave these functions without someone tapping me on the shoulder and asking, "Can I talk to you?" There are so many women who have lived in shame; so many women who have never told anyone that they have been raped. If I do nothing else before I die, I want to give those women the strength to come forward, to stand tall and proud, to shout at the top of their voices "I was once victimized. Now, I am victorious!"
We must educate society that rape has nothing to do with sex. Rape is about power and pain. Where violent crime is concerned, some criminals will punch their victims. Some will bite, or slap or kick. Some use their hands, their fists, their teeth. Other use a bat or a knife or a gun. Rapists use their penis. It's a weapon - NOTHING MORE!
Help us to help women in need grow strong and independent. Help us to give them back their lives. Our family thought it could never happen to someone we knew and loved. We could never have been more wrong! Safety is an illusion but it is an illusion that can be shattered with education and support. Please visit and support: