Tuesday, March 22, 2016

40 years later, and it looks like I won.

Friday is my 46th birthday, but this morning I am thinking about my 6th birthday. I got roller skates that year. And Mickey Mouse ears. It meant that I would get to go to school soon.

And it is one of my last memories of me before I was forced into the role of victim.

We moved to Glendale shortly after my 6th birthday. All of my memories from then on are marred by sexual assault. And even though I have moved from victim to survivor, my life's trajectory was irreversibly altered the day I was raped.

For virtually 40 years I've been seeking justice. For 40 years I've desired to have my voice heard, to have my day in court. For 40 years I've felt deprived of closure.

And now, suddenly, I am going to get it.

I literally have no idea what it will be like to live life AFTER justice. I know it will change me somehow, but how? Even though I pressed charges and have hounded the prosecutors to stay on top of my case, I don't think I actually believed that this day would ever come.

I've been working on my victim impact statement for the last few weeks. I've decided to let the 9 year old in me address him directly. This is no less than a (day)dream come true. While most 9 year-old girls are daydreaming about Disney movies and Barbie toys, I was dreaming of holding him hostage with an audience composed of our families and the police, decisively and deliberately enumerating the ways in which he hurt me, and revealing the secrets he held so powerfully over me. I wanted nothing more than to scream at the top of my lungs "He raped me!" but had no means to do so.

40 years later I will finally get my chance.

What happens to that dream? I don't know what it is like to NOT look forward to that day. I think that is why I am painstakingly putting together my victim impact statement; I want to make sure that when I relive the plea hearing in my mind, it is without regret. Nothing left out. The words I use must completely tell the story, they must paint for the listener a clear picture of the life he forced me to live.

How else will this change me? I mean, I have already moved from victim to survivor. I am even cocky enough to call myself an over-comer from time to time. But is there any place else to go? The reality is that whatever I become, it is the direct result of first being a victim, a title that I did not choose for myself. I did not get to decide to be a survivor, I was forced. I did not foresee myself becoming an over-comer one day based on the sheer value of being an over-comer. I was relegated to work my way up, and it very much was work on my part, because remaining a victim was unacceptable.

I think I can appreciate the amount of time God allowed the Israelites to wander in the desert now. After 40 years, whatever life you had before that time, it is pretty much erased from you memory banks.

But it's a whole lot easier for me to tell you what won't change on April 18.

I won't stop speaking out. I won't pretend it didn't happen; I've been to hell and back. Some of you have too, you just aren't ready to talk about it. I remember what it was like to want to talk about things, but I felt alone, isolated, broken. I will continue to be a voice for those who have been silenced by abuse.

I will still be hyper-vigilant. The rules that I developed to
1- cover your back
2- have more than one exit
3-know where the adults are
4-be ready to feign an accident or cause a scene
survive at age 6 are rules I still use today. Some of you have experienced these neurotic tendencies when traveling with me. If you were ever my student, you most certainly experienced rule #3, know where everyone is at all times. These rules are the reason I'm not afraid to wander the streets of New Orleans or San Francisco alone. These are the rules that have kept me safe. And while I recognize that the "safety" I feel by sitting in a restaurant with my back to a wall is only in my head, I will continue to choose the seat that has me face the dining room when possible.

I won't stop being an advocate. It may not be a role I chose, but it is something I've gotten pretty good at doing. I will admit I think it's a whole lot easier being an advocate for other people than it is to be an advocate for myself. I had to work at being my own advocate for the last 4 years. But now that my fight is (almost) over, I can see myself helping victims seek justice. It's a long and hard road, and no one should have to walk it by themselves. I have been blessed to have the love of my dear husband and the encouragement of good friends along this road. I have discovered that I have trauma-friends, people who are like me, who have been assaulted and abused in their past, and who understand the nuances of life after victimization. I have had an excellent, Godly pastor to guide me spiritually, and an empathetic counselor who helped me develop my voice. I am truly one of the lucky ones. Not every victim has these resources at her ready.

As April 18 draws closer, I am sure my emotions will continue to fluctuate. I have no idea how it is going to feel to speak in open court. I have already invited some of you to come along with me, to be part of justice as it happens. When the time comes, when I can make details public, I will issue an open invitation to the rest of you.


  1. Happy for you, friend! I am not a numberologist, but I can't help but think about how 40 is supposed to be one of God's numbers of completion.

  2. You know, I had that thought the other night when it all hit me, the night I was in crisis for having lost a year somewhere...It is profound to me, and I don't have words to adequately express what I feel. But thank you. Thank you for being so supportive over these last four years.

  3. Thank you Trish for speaking out. There are so many who've been through the same and your courage is going to inspire them to take back the power in their lives.. In response to Melissa's comment, actually 40 is the Biblical number of tribulation...7 is the Biblical number of perfection, completion.


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