New Feature: Kristen Bakalar

In this compelling story about the moment that Kristen was preparing to testify against her attacker, Kristen acknowledges a number of difficulties that many survivors encounter,  including the reaction of parents and loved ones, the seemingly unavoidable barrage of memories of the attack, as well as some of the physical reactions one has to memories of the attack. Wonderfully descriptive, this story allows even the most far removed reader to really experience exactly what Kristen was going through during that very difficult time.

“The dam behind my eyes continued to build as each second passed; I was nervous it would break. The sweat was consuming my body, but it wasn’t a normal sweat.  There were no drips running down my cheek, no beads forming on my forehead, and the color of my shirt hadn’t changed under my arms.  This sweat was more agitating; I was squirming and fighting to get it off of me.  I was panicking and felt under attack by the silent sweat that was steaming out of the pores of my skin.”

Continue reading Kristen’s story.

New Feature: Taylor

In this moving account, Taylor describes surviving an attempted rape. Her words bring light to the important reality that attempted rape can have many of the same effects on a survivor’s physical, mental, and emotional health as rape. Here is an excerpt from her story. Make sure to read the full account, and check out the other stories, poetry, and art posted on the site.

“My reasoning behind keeping it a secret at the time was that I was afraid no one else would believe me. I had no proof (the cuts and bruises had faded away), there were no witnesses, and it was just my word against his. I only told one person: my best friend. Of course, she believed me, which brought me great comfort. I never told my mother. Even to this day, she does not know because I don’t have the heart to tell her. Above all else, I did not think what he did was as serious as “attempted rape”. I tried to blame myself, and dumb down what happened to make it seem as if it was not a big deal. But it was. It took my best friend, and my therapist, years to convince me it was ruining my life by not addressing its severity.” Read the rest of Taylor’s story.

 

SAAM Feature 24: Candace

 

The Child Within

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I don’t love you anymore.”

she said to me one night.

That’s how it all began,

the phrase that sent

my ten-year old life

into a downward spiral.

Exiled from our home

one cold December twenty-sixth

my father, brother and I

sought residential refuge

in a rat and roach infested apartment

on the rough side of town.

The seductive dance

of my father’s cigarette smoke

sentenced our lungs

to respiratory complications,

for open windows were forbidden.

The awful memories

that continue to haunt me,

The room where it happened…

“God won’t forgive you.”

he said to me.

“I’m trying to teach you something.”

he told me after many nights

of creeping into my bedroom,

my cries silenced by his brutal slaps.

She did not come to rescue me

but she returned, instead, for my brother.

She knew I had been ruined

and she blamed me for their divorce.

Like a soldier on the frontline alone

I plunged into the world in secret

leaving everything behind.

College was my only way out of

the living hell that was my life.

 

“God, please, make the nightmares go away.”

I’d pray everyday.

What was it that kept

my steps going anyway?

I am the rose

that never blooms

its roots

destroyed by decay.

I am the little girl

trapped behind

the eyes of a woman.

And I, a woman

fear for the safety of my daughter

and greedily guard the love of my husband.

“God, please, make the nightmares go away.”

I continue to pray.

I can still feel his tongue

And his scratchy beard

Violating my virginal youth.

The awful memories

that continue to haunt me

As I hold my daughter close

Promising never to leave her,

never to hurt her

and to love her unconditionally.

What is it

that has replaced my smile?

“God, why won’t the nightmares go away?”

I ask in despair of the seemingly vacant air.

I am the rose

that never blooms,

the broken soul

in need of repair,

the eyes of a child

trapped in the body of a woman.

- 12/20/2008

SAAM Feature 16: Lin

Sidewalk Poem

by: Lin

_

Note from the Author: I wanted to share something I wrote when I returned to the street where I was abducted when I was 12.  I was abducted there,  raped and beat up in a car someplace I could not see.  The man who took me did the same to 16 other girls before he was caught. It was 1976.

I wrote this as my personal declaration when I went back two years ago. I wrote it in yellow chalk on the sidewalk so it would be there forever. When rain erased it, I know part penetrated the earth and made its home there.

I did not come here
so you could tear off a piece of my life
beat the warmth from the smile on my face
still, then silence my voice

I came back to find and embrace
the beauty strength and grace
that is all my own

And to declare:

That I can warm the world
when I smile with my whole body

And I am learning to speak
from my heart without saying a word

I did not come here
so you could tear off a piece of my life

I came to sample the taste of freedom
and know how it feels to be whole

Visit Lin’s blog to see more of her writing: www.dealingwithhealing.blogspot.com

SAAM Feature 15: Rachel

Dirty Little Secret

by: Rachel Sherwyn

_

When I was sixteen
I used to lie on my back
Under the sunflowers quilted together
Sanctuary with the lights out
It was then only me, Fiona, and the knowing
Calm under the waves in the blue of my oblivion
Singing along with a sullen girl
Just like me in those times
But she was brave enough to write about her rape.
Some understand
Most do not
And when I was raped months later
After falling deep into her world
I knew then that I had been changed
Made into one of them
Those who understood
Because all who remain have no choice
But to group together and hold tight
To stand strong enough
In the face of so much ignorance.

The first time I was raped everything blurred blessfully
Drugged out of my skin
So high that I watched my best friend
As he pulled the tampon out before he plunged inside
I felt nothing.
Later
Hooked up to an IV pumping saline into my veins
Icing my bruised swollen and cut up lips
Still I felt oddly numb and removed.
Only days later did the nausea come
Flashbacks hit me like windstorms without warning
I could taste his perspiring salty skin
Glandular balls in my mouth
The fat of his stomach pressing
Kept pressing and pushing me down
All of this real like it was happening all over again.
Just memories though
Come and go and now mostly gone
As I moved on
Became a leading activist in the fight
For freedom from violation
Never faltering from my quest for five years
Until now
Because you see
Lightning does strike twice for some
And the second time hurts more
Cuts much deeper
So here is my story.

Walking into your house was surreal
I should have been scared
But I wasn’t
The moon and sky came in close
Into the kitchen that was once there and whole
Fascinating me with its emptiness
But I have always been stupid like that
Paralyzed by beauty that is still and simple.
I could not have known then
That what I felt looking up
Up and out through the wood beams
That what I felt was not just admiration
Or an acknowledgement of architecture progressing
But a warning
Because the house was once lovely and humble
And now broken apart organ by organ
Only to be put back together again
Remodeled like Frankenstein’s monster
Reeking of falsified power
The only way some men know how to show prowess
Violent deconstruction
Solely because they can
Again and again; over and over.

After the quick tour of the ruins
You showed me to your bedroom
Offered me a drink
When I had only wanted the guest bedroom
The haven you promised
Somewhere to sleep off my inebriation unfettered
And now I wonder if there ever was such a place.
Comedy on TV
I sat awkwardly at the foot of your bed
Not sure what I was doing there
Because I thought we were friends
But you were acting so suddenly strange
Mute and blind to me
So I nervously sipped
Coke mixed with a foreign rum
Tasted like Costa Rica
It’s not strong stuff, Rach. Don’t worry.
Minutes passed and I felt the lethargy fall
Felt my body fall next
Fall right next to you
And I tried so hard to keep my eyes open.

The lights blinked off
Shivering so I mumbled for a blanket
Curiously cold on this late summer night
You pulled the covers closer
Snuggled down
Wrapping black muscled arms encircling
Maybe you meant to comfort me
But all I felt were chains
Thickening and tightening
Holding me in place too close
And like an animal you rubbed against me
My back was to your front
And I could feel your cock hard against my thighs
Yes, the inevitable was coming
‘Cause I was too listless to stop it.

In some quick few motions
You got up
Walked to the dresser
Pulled something out of the top drawer
Stripped down
Put it on
And pulled down my jeans as you climbed on top
My mind was not working fast enough
I was missing things
Moments out of sequence and order
You never asked me
If I liked you
If I wanted to
How we got to this place
Where you are on top of me
Fucking the hell out of me
When we have never even kissed.

I was shocked and still half dressed
Because all you needed off was gone
You turned me over
My cunt not enough
And before I could cry out
To say I had never done this before
You were in
Doing that hateful thing
Dehumanizing me.
In my whole life
Sexual and otherwise
I never once thought about it
Never had any desire to try
Anal sex
Sodomy
YOU DID NOT ASK
YOU TOOK AWAY MY CHOICE!

It was in
Too long and too much girth for the act
Attached to a six-foot-four long body
Entirely composed of muscle and lean fat
A machine of a man
To ensure there would be no escape
From the in, out, and the endless pain
Unbearable almost
And soon I could not control my sobbing
Begging you to stop
Choking out no! over and over and again
But you kept at it
Pushed my face down hard into the pillow
Pinned my wrists
As I write this I look down
There are bruises now
Like hospital bracelets.

Turned me over
Fucking me from the front again
I am really crying now
Stop!
No!
Please, no!
Until you covered my mouth
Panicked as you whispered close to my face
Quiet, my dad is sleeping!
I wonder now
Maybe you thought I was moaning
Crying out in ecstacic pleasure
As you proceeded to tear up my insides
Move your cock around greedily
Forceful circular motions
Stretching out whatever virginal tightness I had left there.

I lost count
How many times you flipped me over
Back to front to back and then again
All I could think of was disease
Bacterial infections and viruses
You were likely bestowing upon me
And how you were so lucky
Covered and protected
Latex shalacked
And only open exposed vulnerability for me.

Fast so fast and hard
One God damn thrust after another
I gave up fighting
Turned my face away along with my thoughts
Asking God
Someone
Even the voice inside my head
To let this end soon
Let me survive
Keep my intestines in place
And let me run
But as I lay as still as I possibly could
Showing you only my wet cheeks
Bloodshot eyes
You must have known the power you had
With my tears dripping
Pools in the palms of your hands.

You sped up
And when I played the logic card
Last desperate attempt
When I told you we had to stop
That I could not keep going
That my body was dying and drying up
You started to moan
Make noises
Whispering urgently
Just one more minute, Baby!
I wanted to kill you
And I didn’t think I had one more minute to give
So you gave one last push towards the abyss
Either came or gave up trying.
I watched the condom peel off
Land on the bed
Followed by a towel you threw in my direction
Clean up crew.
I carefully watched you walk away
Made sure you were out of sight
Then stared at the sheets
Tried to wrap up the blood, sweat, tears, and shit left behind
The massacre.

You walked back in
I hurried up with shaky limbs
Zipping my jeans
Thinking of the condom
If it stayed on the whole time
I asked and you said it did
That answer was the last thingI would ever need from you
From then until death do us part.
I practically ran for the door
But you followed after me
As the pain between my legs raged
And you hugged me
Told me how to find my way home
Home
Please, yes, home.

Once inside my car I lost it
Tore rubber and tore out of there
As the sobs racked my body
Chills crawled all over me
With no regard for the fact I had to drive
So I got lost three times
Took an hour to get back
Long minutes of the burning swelling and spreading
Up and throughout
Until my entire lower half throbbed as one.

In my bathroom
Blood began to seep out
Menses
From a place where no life flows
From a place where only unwanted
Unnecessary things left the body
And I was thankful
Because my body knew you were not welcome
Your time inside was coming to an end.
The water raining down in the shower stung
But I would have cleansed myself in acid
If it meant purity would follow
And I sucked in a deep breath
Blew out a sigh of relief
While watching your noxious remnants swirl down the drain.
Examination and cleaning commenced
My fragile vaginal lining was scared and scarred shut
And I tried to coax open
The spaces you nearly destroyed
But soap and water did little good to soothe
Too many little cuts and swollen tissue patches
Red and angry like cancerous lungs.
So I stood under the showerhead
Until I felt sure
Your strong sweat stench was banished from every pore.

I slept as best I could
But every few hours I woke
For urges not normally present
Back and forth I padded across the hall
Bedroom to bathroom
It hurt to walk
To sit
To use my body
But I had to because it would not stop
So much blood
Did not stop for twenty-four hours
And now, two days later
I still bleed sometimes
It still hurts to move
And the cuts and swelling yet wound.

So here it is
Six years after the first rape
The only rape I thought
Sullen Girl by Fiona Apple plays loudly
Writing in my bedroom
On a different quilt
In a different time
With too much just the same
But unlike the first time
I don’t want to avenge my crime
Don’t want love and support
From family
Friends
Other survivors
Don’t want to be the martyr and fight
As always before
I only want to bury
Bury any knowledge of you
In my life or in this world
This will be a secret I hold
Not to protect you or even myself
But to protect the loved
The ones I will not endanger
With your heinous act and this wretched story
My pain is my own
And need not darken any other door
You may lay claim to my waking thoughts
Haunted sleeps
But it ends there
Because no part of you will reach out
To touch the ones that matter
Never.

Like the little earthquake that ate up your poor little house
This was also a man-made mock natural disaster
Used to service empty needs and a weak ego
To tear down and cover up
In the name of triumph
Conquest.

Give me life
Give me pain
Give me my self again
Let it break
Let it bleed
Let it wash away
And let me go.

SAAM Feature 14: Laura

Whistler’s Mother at the Farmer’s Daughter

by: Laura Tattoo

Lincoln City, Oregon 3/31/09

 

Always pulling in just before 10,

always on the edge, always phoning

and confirming, yes, we’re on the way,

wait for us, please, we’re just around the

bend between right now and then, we’re

driving fast as wind gusts pummeling glass

and we’re hungry and tired and pressed to

 the max of our endurance, we know

we’re on the clock, we just need a bed

and breakfast, our needs are few but

we require your patience, we’re

old and slow and and one of us is ill

and can’t seem to think out loud when

it comes to packing bags and the odd

stuff it takes for a weekend south of

us where me mum lives all by herself.

 

Now at the Farmer’s Daughter, the hotel

renamed for its Los Angeles twin, and

that is what I don’t get at all, it’s

some kind of joke, right? and yet it’s the

same room as before, a West Bester, a certain

je ne sais quoi, beachy charm and ultradeep

European tub and a porch outdoors where I

can smoke my heart out, and I’ll need it too

because Moineau does not sleep in hotel

rooms, she sits on the bed with the TV on

and sweats, under cover, incognito in a

hooded vest, she’s shy and unassuming,

tries hard not to draw attention to herself

as she shuffles down Hall A to Room 123

but in the end can’t swing it because she’s

Moineau of a secular order, who sings

odd songs in the morning, then acts out

a play with multiple characters and it’s a

sham of a spectacle of a dance with a stranger.

 

Up all night in the streetlights with red-hot

poker eyes, she hears footfalls and wild

animals, she’s shivering frost and then burnt

as toast, what the fuck difference does

it make when you’re shaking in your fuzzy

slippers in the bush, searching the dirt for

your lost little girl and someone shouts,

“Look out below!” and you fall down a rabbit

hole like some paralyzed Alice and you can’t

wake up out of the nightmare you hate and

every time you find yourself in that bitch of a

room, they’re all the same, the kitchen, the

bed, the carpet, and nothing will help, not

warm milk, not chocolate, not spooning in

the bed, no, thank you, no touching, please, i

think I’ll leave my body for a bit and go and

have another cigarette, it’s so hot, isn’t it?

damn, I’m like a lobster in a pot, a sparrow in

a cage, and oh god, the hotel is on fire!

“Just joking,” I say, as you put back the ear plugs

and pull the mask down over your face.

 

Ok, i have to tell you flat out, the bastards had

me on that motel shelf and I became fœtus:

I curled myself onto the center of the bed, no

blankets, sheets wet and just slept and slept

and slept and slept, until one came back in and

said, “I’ve found you a nice place to sleep tonight,

i found you a place, in the bushes!”

 

Suddenly it’s morning, and a wakening light begins

to stream through the long, wide blinds and

gold-yellow curtains, and Moineau knows she’s

survived another night by staying very quiet

and just giving herself over to tv movies and

poems and, even if her cough is bad, heck, even

the cigarettes helped, and somewhere down the

hall a man begins whistling, no tune at all, just

a shrill, long, proud noise, and now, Moineau is

opening her throat, she’s wetting her mouth and

out comes a whistle from hell, and there’s laughter

between us, like, where did that come from?

“Whistler’s Mother at the Farmer’s Daughter!”

and before you know it, there’s a comedy

routine and a crazy song about Willy Nelson on

democratic principles and the weird women who

adore him, and now we’re hysterical, repacking

the bags and eating fruit snacks and checking

every nook and cranny for our socks and cash,

leaving the maid a fat old tip, and then we trip on

out the door until the next time we need dreams

and succor at the Farmer’s Daughter.

 

~ 4/4/09

SAAM Feature 13: Clara

Dec 1, 1979

by Clara

 

Dec 1, 1979, I was sleeping when suddenly my dog barked. I shushed him then he barked again. I looked up to see a man standing over me in the darkness. I let out a light scream. He pounced upon me, put a knife to my throat and said, “I’m going to kill you, bitch!” I said, “Who are you….what do you want.?” he kept fighting me, as I tried to scream louder, with no response from anyone. This was about 5 a.m. He kept after me, choking me with his hands, putting the knife to my throat. I would pull the knife away from my throat. He shoved my face into the pillow. I got down to the floor. He started hitting me in my stomach, the first pain I felt. I finally asked him, “Do you want to..(have sex)..? He said, “Yes”. I stopped struggling, and he stopped hurting me. I participated. Then as he left, he said he would be back. He had taken my TV, stereo, $18 from my wallet. It scared me that he went through my things and knew my name.  I actually convinced him to turn on the light. His face is forever embedded in my memory. I brushed my teeth, but did not use the bathroom, not wanting to lose any evidence.

I calmly called the police. I felt that i had caused it because I’m the one who had to ask. I knew that was the only way I could survive. The police pointed out that my hands were bleeding and that I did the only thing I could. I called a friend who accompanied me to the hospital. The rape kit did prove that I had indeed bee raped. I had surgery that afternoon to reapir some tendon damage. I assumed I would return to my apartment, but quickly realized I would never be able to go back in there.

While I was in the hospital a friend and my brother moved my friend and me into a shared apartment. I was terrified of the dark, and being alone. I finally left that apartment, and stayed in my car for about three months. I would go to someone’s door as it got dark, and ask if I could stay that night. I had two dogs. I knew I was in no condition for that responsibility. So my brother took them to stay with hi until I felt stronger.

My mother was in a nursing home. I knew she probably would not survive knowing I had been hurt so badly. My brothers said they would support whatever I chose to tell her. I lied to her and said I had fallen on some broken glass. I still live with that lie, 29 years after she passed on.
I was recommended a therapist who turned out to be miraculous. I saw him for several weeks. I then decided to stay with a friend in Florida for a few weeks. While i was there, the use of my paralyzed hand returned. I was joyous. I also got some reprieve from reliving the nightmare daily as I went about. I started keeping a journal, which I left with my therapist. I don’t want to read it again. I resumed therapy when I returned from Florida. I also found a job, working as a nurse in a small hospital. Then I found an opportunity to share a woman’s home, very close to the hospital.  I worked very hard to restore my trust and confidence. But I was determined I would not let some insignificant piece of dirt ruin my life.

I have no idea where this man is today. I would be willing to bet he is not alive. A lifestyle like that does not assure a lot of longevity. I have long since risen above the incident, but it never leaves. I am infuriated every tinme I hear of someone being raped, especially children. I was 35 at the time. I am thankful I wasn’t a child, nor an older person. I knew I would recover. With excellent loving support of family and friends, an excellent therapist, and my own will and determination, and the grace of God, I have grown from the experience, more every year. If my story can encourage others, I will have served a meaningful purpose. Thank you for reading my story.

Clara

SAAM feature 12, Anne

Victim Impact Statement

by: Anne Heck

_

Victim is not a word I use to describe myself.  Even then, I viewed myself as athletic, strong, perhaps even invincible.  My rape came as a surprise; I was aware of rape, but it was one of those experiences I had never imagined being part of my own life.

That was the summer of 1990 and my case, until recently, remained unsolved. In January of this year, through an unusual series of events, the National DNA database identified the man who raped me. In preparation for a trial and sentencing, I was asked by the prosecuting attorney to put into words my statement about the impact of this incident.  Victim I was not.  Impacted I was.

Impact aptly describes much of my experience.  There was the initial impact of his fist hitting my face, the impact of him throwing my bike into the bushes, the impact of his body forcing itself into mine.  Then there were the blazing sirens that delivered me to the hospital, my body becoming the source of evidence, my swollen face in the mirror, and the pain in friends’ faces.

But there was something much deeper.  Now, 14 years later, I was faced with the task of communicating this impact; it was not easily put into words.

Statement
– my statement – a declaration to the court of how this incident has affected my life. I played with the idea for three months.  How could I share the impact of this heinous crime without participating in the role of victim?  How could I focus on the positive outcomes without minimizing the act?

Once I became clear on my questions, I was gifted with answers.  One afternoon in April as I spoke with the District Attorney, he shared with me the story of the other women, raped just one day prior by the same man who had escaped from a “road gang” of prisoners working in West Virginia.  She was relaxing on her porch swing.  She, too, was hit in the face, raped, and her car was stolen.  Her young daughter witnessed the act and managed to climb on a stool to reach the kitchen phone and dial 911; she then hid in the closet.

The words struck deeper than replaying my own drama. It hit some emotional treasure chest that released some long-held gifts.  This story gave me the opportunity to view myself with true compassion.  It also enabled me to open my heart to receive just the words I needed to express.

I was raped in July 1990.  It was a beautiful summer day and I was enjoying a road trip on my bicycle exploring back roads.  I loved the freedom I felt on two wheels with the sun on my back.  What a stark contrast this incident was to my intention for that day.

As one can expect, this crime has had a huge impact on my life. Without this experience, I feel I would have missed out on much of the richness available in life.  While I don’t believe this richness need come only when faced with adversity, I do believe this horrific event provided a background of contrast that created a more vivid palette for my life.  At age 40 and 14 years beyond this event, I can honestly say that I’m grateful for the growth that this path has provided me.

While I do not condone Mr. McDonald’s act and feel he should receive his just sentence, I have come to accept this as a chapter of my life that has provided me with the potential for my personal healing and development.

There are many facets of this growth that I believe serve witness to the impact this rape has had on my life and I’d like to share a few of those:

The day I was raped, I learned about friendship and kindness when a stranger picked me up along that dusty road and took me crumpled and terror-stricken to the closest paramedic unit.  A rather new acquaintance made calls to dentists for me.  I had two teeth that were knocked out of place and a kind doctor agreed to stay late to help me. Unfortunately, the teeth were irreparable, the roots damaged.  I would eventually have to have root canals and other reparative work done to them.

I learned about letting go as I had my favorite blue biking shorts and shirt, stained with blood, bagged by police and taken away for evidence.

I grew into new ways of viewing my freedom as I had my trusty touring bike covered in black fingerprint dust returned to my apartment.  It sat untouched for weeks.

I remember with disgust the volunteer at the hospital who came into my room to read scripture and tell me I could be forgiven for my sins. I experienced what it felt like to be shunned at the health center when I went in for a pregnancy test and shared that I had been raped.  I quickly learned to trust my own knowing that I had done nothing wrong.

A dear friend of mine drove to see me the day after the rape; he loaded me in his car and drove me to my parents’ home.  My parents were mostly silent, unable themselves to process the emotion of what had happened.  I learned that those who love you often have the hardest time expressing their hurt to you.

At the beginning, I remember with some fuzziness passing many days in deep fear, jumping at the smallest sounds, panicking at daybreak, dizzy from my lack of breath, unable to face crowds or put myself in the presence of strangers.   I learned to give credence to my intuition and listen to my body.

Months passed and I had the opportunity to participate in group and personal counseling, both of which I abhorred as it was extremely challenging to get to the emotion of my experience when that emotion was mostly trapped in my body.  I learned patience with process and had the opportunity to look closer at my own character.

I woke many nights with a vivid picture of the perpetrator in my head and often drew pictures of him hoping that putting it on paper would somehow purge my body of my relentless fearful thoughts and feelings.  This taught me to let my emotions flow through me.

I learned about patience and trust as I waited 10 days to receive the results of my HIV test.

I experienced my lack of readiness for learning self-defense when I broke into uncontrolled tears at my first class; I learned how to be kind to myself.

After several more months, I did complete a self-defense class that allowed me to release lots of the emotion I had packed in my body.  My women colleagues where I taught high school all came to support me at my graduation.  I learned how deeply all women are affected by acts of rape and abuse and I learned wherever women come together, there is intense power that can be created.

A year after my rape, I left Manassas, hoping to leave my intense emotions behind and find a more peaceful environment in which to heal.  Initially panic set in and I gradually learned how to build a support system for myself.  I had the good opportunity to find a wonderful group of supporters at a local Rape Crisis Center whom I called on periodically when my body was remembering the trauma and my mind didn’t know how to process it.

After much more counseling and lots of tears, I undertook training as an Advocate at the Rape Crisis Center and also served on their Speaker’s Bureau.  There I learned how very many women shared my horror and I learned how to respond appropriately to those who were healing as well as those who had never experienced rape.

Within a couple of years, I had received training in women’s self defense from a number of programs and began teaching assertiveness training to young women.  I had great passion for the topic and quit my teaching position at a local high school to devote my time fully to this endeavor.  Through this I gained confidence and strength and a deep admiration for women.

As time has passed, I have thought about that horrid day less and less.  What has remained has been a fairly constant and often severe pain in my pelvis and hips. This pain began in the year following the rape and has most certainly been my most constant reminder that there is emotion that has still not been released – it’s my body’s reminder that I still have some growing to do.

I have met with all types of medical, psychological and alternative health professionals over the years, always hoping to find the path that would relieve my pain.  I’ve gone through too many months of feeling tired and frustrated from this drain in energy and weeks of being unable to walk.

I have two young children now who are vibrant with life’s energy and I long to experience my own peak health and fully enjoy my time with them.  Indeed, I’m ready for that piece of growth that provides me my freedom.

The time for that growth is now and my intent for participating in this sentencing is to close this chapter of my life, to release whatever negative emotion I’m still holding in my body and to feel the freedom and joy that I so clearly had that morning 14 years ago when I left home to enjoy a day of biking.

Some people tell me I’m courageous for appearing in court. I believe I’m blessed to have the opportunity to experience this part of my healing process.  This event is for me a symbolic statement of hope, justice and my own personal freedom.

On August 23, 2004 Terry L. McDonald, who is serving a 48-year sentence for sexual assault in West Virginia, pleaded guilty in Prince William County, Virginia Circuit Court to rape and abduction with intent to defile.

Anne returned to Prince William County on the sentencing date to read her statement to the court.  She took her bike to declare her freedom on those dusty backroads in Virginia.  She shares more of her story and welcomes your comments at www.anneheck.com