Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Justice Systems and Battlefields

It's been almost 3 1/2 years since I was sexually assaulted. When I decided to press charges I knew I would be dealing with the outcome for as long as this case was considered active. The sentence for the man who raped me was 7 years in prison for sexual assault. He took a plea deal, which reduced his sentence to 4 months of shock time(county jail) and 5 years of probation. His probation guidelines are random polygraph tests, drug and alcohol screenings, sex offender classes, no use of pornographic material. He was put on a 9pm to 6am curfew and is not allowed where alcohol is present, he is not allowed in contact with minors without adult consent or allowed contact with me or any of my family members. He was not allowed to get in trouble with the law and had to pay all court costs. He was charged with a domestic assault charge and avoided having to actually be on the sex offenders registration list. The guidelines stated that if any of these rules were violated, he would get charged with his original sentence.

Because most of you have never sat in one of these court sentencing's I'll explain a little more. When a defendant agrees to take a plea deal, they actually have to admit what they are pleading guilty to. So, in this case a rapist admitted in front of a judge to sexually assaulting his victim. Then he was not charged with that crime, but a lesser one.

Since his sentencing, he was granted work release and school release while serving his 4 months in jail. So he basically just slept there. He has violated his probation twice that I know of. The most recent was a few weeks ago when he threatened his neighbors life numerous times while trying to break down their door. That victim has since filed an abuse stalking charge against him. 

When I became aware of all of this I thought this was it. This was a huge violation, I was sure (and so was everyone around me) that this was going to be what would wake up the probation and parole and finally get him charged with his actual crime.

I have learned throughout this experience to never have high expectations and I have become pretty good at it. But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get my hopes up. My advocate broke the news to me a few days later that the probation officer was not considering this a violation. And to put a little more icing on the cake, they are considering him for early release from his probation completely.

When I heard this, I was the closest I had been to the kind of depression I've fought so hard to overcome. For two days, my emotions where all over the place. I would start sobbing and wouldn't be able to turn it off. I was devastated, I was absolutely heartbroken. For the past 3 1/3 years my disappointments and heartaches haven't come from another single person, like a significant other. They have come from our justice system that is supposed to be protecting me. I have to thank the few people who knew and helped pick me back up, because I can honestly say I couldn't of picked myself up alone.

After this last experience I know that I can't keep holding onto this. I am tough, but there are only so many disappointments a person can handle and my quota is up. I think I held on for so long because this was my fight. This case was my voice. I felt for a long time that if I let it go, I'd some how be letting him win. But, I can't let this one battle get me down to the point where it's taking away from the war. I have honestly done everything I can do and I realized that my own fight ended a long time ago. I have been fighting against something that is so much bigger than myself. It has been filled with money and politics and so many other things stacked against me. And I came out standing. That is enough of a victory for me.

The law is full of corruption. It always has been. But, it took me being the one taking the blunt end of the stick to see it. And I honestly think that's how we all are. We have our eyes sheltered to what's reality until we have to face it ourselves. Which is said, but reguardless... It's the truth. 

Now that my eyes aren't covered, when I hear of people hurting or going through hard times, I really take the time to listen. I make sure they know that someone hears them. I give a damn. I give a damn because I've been exactly where they are. I know what it feels like to feel like there is no winning, like there is no hope. I know what it's like to feel like my voice isn't being heard. I know what it's like to want to give up and I know what it's like to not look forward to tomorrow. But I also know that there is a fire that comes from all of the above. All that these people need is someone to help them see that fire, which will help them get through their days and looking forward to the ones to come.

So now my fight is for those people, who haven't quite found their voices yet. And the war is against anyone or anything that makes these survivors feel like they can't speak up. 

With that being said, this blog page is going to go under a bit of a transformation, so stick with me and stay tuned.

"And now you finally know what it feels like to risk everything and still survive. When you're standing on the battlefield and all the pain is real. That's when you realize, that you must have done something right because you never felt so alive."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Where Compassion Comes From & Kindness Grows

Now that it is a new year I feel like it is the perfect time to reflect. The past year I have learned so much about myself as a person. I have learned little things and a few major things.

As far as the little things are concerned, I've learned that I am hands down the worst at cooking chicken, I officially have one dance move (but it DOES change with the tempo... so there's that), Slash on the guitar really soothes my soul. I will never be able to play the piano but I really like Coors Light.

As far as the major things... I've learned that I have some of the most amazing friends around me that I truly believe will be my forever family. They are the people that have survived with me, they have held my hand through my struggles and celebrated in my successes with this journey. I have recently learned that I am by far my toughest critic. I pile work on to myself, worry too much that I won't be able to back up all my dreams, and in end... I'm terrified to fail.

In 2015, I want to live and experience while helping other, without shackling my feet to the ground with my own crazy expectations. My heart is what has gotten this far, and sometimes I tend to forget that. My heart is what helps others, it's what draws people to me, to my words, and to my passions. It will be what gets me to my dreams as well. The only goal for 2015 I have is to experience life with my all of my heart. To feel everything.

I want to take pieces of my heart and leave them everywhere I go, with all of my experiences. If you think about it; it makes sense. Everything comes from your heart. Love for your partner, love for your friends, love for your family, love for strangers. It's where compassion comes from and kindness grows. It's where you find your strength. I'm basically doing the opposite of what most people try to do. I'm breaking my heart into shambles to make it whole. Call me crazy but I fully intend to live and love everyday of my life while I'm in it.

Helping others is what makes my heart happy. So this year I will take my heart and hand it out and will to use it to make a difference. I want people to continue to look at me and if they see nothing else, the only thing I want them to truly see, and feel, is my heart.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inside Feelings, Outside Looks

If there is anything I have learned in the past three and a half years I've learned that looking at things with a more positive mindset can not only change the way you see things but the way you feel. I've mentioned that I went to a pretty dark place after what happened that night and I lost myself for a while but until this post, have truly come to terms with just how negative I looked at life and how I looked at myself.

Recently, I sat myself down and I searched for that me. The lost me... and I shockingly found her. I found pictures of that time and the only pictures from that time, are me drunk and so deep in depression that it showed on the outside too. It showed with how lost in alcohol I was and how much my body had suffered in a few short months. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised but I was. I am such a positive person now, to look back and see that I was so lost is pretty scary. But I can also say that it is motivation to never view something as precious life the same way again.

Yes, something bad happened. But I have learned now, that this life is made up of so much more than one bad experience. That one bad experience almost cost me everything... and I almost let it. Until one day I realized that I didn't want to live like that for one more second. So I didn't. I started looking at my bad experience as my turning point, to figure out who I really was. Then, when I started realizing who I really was, I started to like what I found. I started writing and helping others and fell back in love with life.

The next thing I knew, my weight started falling off, and drinking no longer was used for me to escape, I used my goals instead.

The saying really is true... how you feel on the inside will surely manifest itself on the outside. I can safely say at this point in my life, I love who I am on both, the inside and the outside. And I have never felt better.

"The woman I was yesterday, introduced me to the woman I am today; which makes me very excited about meeting the woman I will become tomorrow."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Give Me Truth

Honesty is a funny thing. Sometimes it can be more cruel than any type of lie. Most of the time, the truth hurts... it stings because you know without a doubt that it's real.

Throughout this process I swore I would do nothing but speak just that. Regardless of how it makes me look, or if it even makes any sense to anyone who reads my words. I can say that I know in my heart that it has given me more honest friends and supports than I could of ever imagined. It also save some.

A couple months ago I reconnected with my life long best friend. For the past few years we had not been the greatest friends to each other. We got mad about pretty pointless thing, on top of doing our fair share of talking bad about each other and had just begun to patch it back up. After hanging out a few times we had jumped right back into our friendship, like it had never left.

One night, I got a text from her saying, "I have to tell you something. When I first found out about you getting raped, I didn't believe it. I don't know why I would doubt you but I did. I want you to know that I am sorry. After actually listening to your story I feel completely different. It was wrong of me to judge and I have been feeling guilty ever since. I just read all of your blogs and I feel like a shitty person. I got sucked into all the shit talking and it was awful."

After reading that my heart sank... there it was, the sting. But it was honest. I understood, and there was not one ounce of anger that I felt. I felt grateful for the truth. I knew I had a life long friend again, because she honestly felt compassion for someone who she once disliked. To feel compassion for someone you dislike shows your heart. I'm lucky to have a friend, who has exactly that.

I don't know what is about rape and why it is the number one thing that is held over my head. I've had people who dislike me say things to my face like, all I'm good for is being a human f***doll to having people call me disgusting for it. But most of the times, its behind my back. I understand not wanting to show me compassion. I wasn't always the best person. But, from all of this I have found out what type of woman I want to be. After going through this journey, my heart got to heavy to hold on to any more hate. I have no hate, and I do my best to be as kind as I can. Sometimes I may fall short, but god knows I mean well. So all I can say is, give me truth. Give me all the truth I can handle.

"You don't think you'll live past it and you really don't. The person you were is gone, but the half of you that is still alive wakes up one day and takes over."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Big Family, Bigger Secrets

It is important for all family and friends to pay attention to details. Behavior changes, emotional changes, everyday changes that might seem normal but, taking a closer look might just save someone from going through trauma alone. It might just save their life.

There are three response to major stress and trauma. Fight, Flight, or Freeze. Fight is clear- the victim fights back, physically and/or mentally. Flight is when you can run from the situation, which at times can go hand in hand with Fight. The freeze response is different. The freeze response happens when the victim feels like there is not a chance to get out of the situation. The victim might also be in shock of the situation and feel in ways they are "frozen" from fear. You can find more information at

Today a survivor shares about her experience along with the effects of keeping such a big secret. This girl is a strong one and I am lucky to call her my friend. <3

My family situation is very complicated because of how mixed the generations are. I am one of 5 kids for my father, but we do not all have the same mother. My father was married once before having my sister and I. The older 3 siblings are much older (~30 yrs). Old enough to make me a very young aunt to some older nieces and nephews. However, we grew up together like we were cousins.

I was experiencing the happiest time of my life…childhood. I was your typical 9 year old girl tomboy. I played sports, hung out with guys, cut my hair short, hated dresses, loved being outside and getting dirty.

He was 14 or 15. I looked up to him like I would an older brother, but he was my brother's son. I don’t really remember exactly when the first time he sexually assaulted me was, but it went on for ~4-5 years. I felt completely shocked. I had no idea how to react or what do to, so I didn't do anything. Whenever he got the chance, he would force me to touch him or force himself on me. It was like being in an outer body experience. I could see and feel it all happening, but couldn't control myself to even speak. It happened when no one was looking. Playing games outside, inside, anywhere. I can't even remember all the times it happened because it was too frequent and they all just kind of ran together. At first it was 'simple', but then it became more intrusive until it couldn’t go any farther.

He would either take me out of the room we were in, or have everyone start playing a game. Literally just do anything so everyone was distracted. I remember a couple times where there would be people in the exact same room while it happened, but none of them were paying enough attention to see what he was doing. Considering, the other people in the room were typically kids my age and we were usually playing video games, 'house', hide and seek, etc. But yet there were still times where someone could/should have noticed.

He told me not to tell anyone because what we were doing wasn’t bad. I believed him and took his word. Even though I had a bad feeling about it all I still trusted him because I loved him. I still love him. We are family.

I remember being down at the lake one time when I was about 11. I was showering and my mom was getting ready in the same bathroom. I remember asking her how girls got pregnant. I was worried and scared that I was pregnant. At that point, I kind of knew how it happened, but what I didn’t know was that your body wouldn't allow it unless you had started your period. She talked to me about it a little, but never asked me anything about my curiosity. I was alone with this GIANT secret and all these questions.

At some point after about 4 years it stopped. I was so relieved. My body had started to change and it made me feel so uncomfortable. I would have nightmares about it. I became so paranoid, not just about him but about all men.

We were at my older sister's house on the lake for a weekend with the entire family. I was 13 and he had just turned 18 going into his senior year of high school. There were over 10 of my family members sleeping in my sister's house. So people were on couches, air mattresses, and pretty much all over for sleeping. Everyone had gone to bed but I was laying on the air up mattress, with my sister. I was pretty sure she was asleep. He was sleeping on a couch just in the other room. He got up off the couch and came and laid down next to me. He started to touch me and move my hands to him. I retracted my body from his, hoping not to wake up my sister. I grabbed my cell phone and typed. "Stop. I don't want this." He saw my screen and got up then walked out of the house. It was roughly mid-night. I started to get really worried when he had not returned. He was gone for around 15 minutes and I had told myself, if he didn’t come back in 5 minutes, I was going to wake up my brother. Of course, he came back in the house before that time was up.

It freaks me out that I can still say that I love someone after all the awful things they forced me do. I know that I can't really change how I feel about that. Encountering what I did for so many years and keeping the secret, changed me. Some days it is hard to convince myself that what even happened was wrong. Some times I think it was okay.

The saddest part is that I am okay that it happened to me because it didn’t happen to somebody else. I wasn't okay with the new me, but I have learned to cope. I probably didn't go about recovering from this the best way but I managed.

I never told anyone about any of this happening until I was a sophomore in high school and we had a section of health class discussing sexual abuse. I told my friend and she convinced me to tell my parents. When I told my mom, I was so upset that I only told her about the time at the lake a few year before. I saw how much it hurt her and my father, so I thought there was no reason to completely crush them. Of course there were no charges pressed.

I got a hand written apology letter on a sticky note over a year after telling my parents from him.

I can't even remember who I was before I kept the worst secret of my life. I hope that young girls have more courage than I did, to tell the truth and don’t ever let the feelings of other obstruct from telling everything. I know that I have only made it that much harder for myself as I continue to hold this secret inside of me. But I see the effects of that night I told my mom everyday in her behavior…that night changed her.

I almost always think I shouldn't have told anyone because all it has done is create more pain for other people. But then my brain kicks in because I know I tried to do the right thing.

It took awhile for my to get through the flashbacks, months of no sleep because of nightmares, paranoia, but the day came. I can't say that the demons don't come back every now and then, but I am stronger now than I was before. I will never feel safe in the dark or by myself again. But everyday is another day that I have survived. That day gives me more strength to be stronger for the next.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hope for Humanity

I have reached out to other survivors and offered to help them tell their stories without having the backlash of victim blaming. Being comfortable enough to tell your story and getting everything out is one of the most important steps to healing. The survivors journey your are about to read will leave you with chills. Her amazing heart and strong will to fight back is truly unbelievable. Here is her story.

In the early weeks of summer 2009, I was enjoying newfound freedom as a young woman following my dreams. I had moved into my first apartment, I had a great summer job, and I was still coming down from an emotional high after completing my first year at Missouri State University. My days were filled with work, pool time, exploring and relaxing with friends I had made the past year, and singing in a graduate choir (I was majoring in vocal music education). I was finally achieving the things I had dreamt of while in high school, and (I thought) I was well on my way to becoming a well adjusted adult (at least what a 19 year old thinks an adult is).

Everything changed in the early hours of June 15th.

The night started off how most nights usually did. I got home from working an afternoon shift at Express and called my best friend (who is incidentally my husband now-we'll call him Steve for the sake of anonymity) and asked if he wanted to swim in my apartments pool. When he showed up, he called another friend over (let's call him Bob) and the three of us swam for a couple hours and then decided we would go to "Bob's" apartment and watch a movie. When we got there, it was probably 10:30. We watched a movie, the guys drank a couple of beers, and I had 1 glass of some God-awful boxed wine and decided I did NOT want anymore of that crap. Somewhere along the line, I realized I had to work the next morning and told the boys I needed to leave. "Steve" thought it would be funny to pretend to steal my car keys and take my car. I knew he was joking, so I ran outside without my shoes-laughing all of the way-to get the keys back. As we were laughing, our friend "Bob" came out and-I'm just guessing here- thought we were actually fighting. He then proceeded to try and yank the keys from "Steve" and they got into a ridiculous argument, which I honestly have no recollection of because it was literally stupid. I right? Anyways, it all ended up with "Steve" deciding to take a walk down the street. Again...boys. Of course I followed him, with NO SHOES ON. I thought he would eventually turn around, but no. I followed him about a mile down the street...across a busy intersection, and to another friends apartment. Once we got there, I realized I had no phone, and I had no idea what time it was. I knew I had to work in the morning, so I BEGGED "Steve" to walk me back to my car because I knew if we slept there, I would be late. Being 19 and from a small, relatively crime free town, I made the decision that would change my life forever. I decided to walk the mile back to my myself... around 3 in the morning.

I almost made it.

I was about a block away from my car when I was followed, attacked, dragged off of the road, and raped in a backyard by a complete stranger.

I consider myself lucky because in that moment, I was 100% positive that I was not going to be alive when the morning came. By some miracle, my attacker did leave me alive...and ran off. As soon as I could, I got up and started knocking. I knocked on the first answer. I knocked on the second answer. I ran across the street. I knocked I the third door...a light switched on. As soon as that light shone in the darkness I lost it. I'm sure opening the door to a young woman sobbing uncontrollably and falling on the ground would come as a shock, but as soon as the word "rape" came out of my sobs, I was ushered inside and given a blanket and sweet calming words by the most amazing people. I didn't know until later, but I had knocked on the door of a firefighter and his wife. After we called the cops, he walked the neighborhood for 15 minutes looking for my attacker. Gives me hope for humanity.

I was taken to the hospital and underwent a rape kit. Let me tell you now, they are terrible, and demeaning, and scary. A police officer took so many photos of my naked body and of my private areas. Don't get me wrong, I know they needed those photos, and I willingly agreed to anything and everything they asked because I knew it would help...but it was still awful.

I was questioned that night about a million times, and when I FINALLY got in touch with "Steve" and he showed up... It felt like I could breathe for the first time. He took me home, and I immediately got into the hottest shower I could handle and stayed in there for what felt like forever. I couldn't get clean enough.

My parents came... and we all mourned together for a while. I told them to go home early in the evening because I knew everyone still needed to process everything, and I didn't want to go home with them and leave the life that I had been trying to build. That felt like giving up. I was NOT going to give up.

I could not be left alone for weeks. I'm pretty sure "Steve" didn't get a good nights sleep for months, considering all of my nightmares, anxiety attacks, and the fact that I had to be touching him at all times during the night to feel safe. When I was finally strong enough to let him go home a few nights out of the week, I slept in my locked closet with a pair of scissors, SO sure that someone was going to come for me.

I talked to a detective a few times, and they told me they would do everything in their power to find my attacker.

It was two years before anything happened.

After I was raped. I changed. I was not ready to be back in college in the fall and I struggled rejoining my friends. I started going to parties and drinking. I didn't go to class drunk or anything like that, but it was no big deal for me to go to a party during the week instead of studying.

On Halloween I found out I was pregnant, and I left school two months later. It was hard. It was really hard... But... I pulled through.

I can honestly say that my daughter saved me. I gave birth to her the summer after I was raped. She gave me MORE than enough reasons to pull through and be myself again. I will be forever thankful to her for that.

Two days before her first birthday, I got a call. THERE WAS A POSITIVE DNA MATCH!!! One of the FIRST matches using the CODIS system for DNA matching in the state of Missouri. Sadly, it was another two years before the state had enough evidence to make a case...The wait was torture.

This past year, I had about 6 court appearances. I was lucky to have a WONDERFUL advocate and an equally wonderful attorney.

No one can prepare you for court. Nothing hurts more than hearing the defense attorney drag your name through the mud and blame the rape on you. I heard everything from "it was consensual" to "she must have been drunk" (which FYI-I wasn't...and even if I still wouldn't have been okay). We offered plea deal after plea deal after plea deal. He declined them all, and never once took responsibility or apologized. In the end, we held the final trial with a jury of 12. It was unanimous- guilty on all counts. 45 years. With the new laws, he has to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. As he was being led out of the court room, he yet again proved what the mentality is for a lot of rapists, he said I was "ruining his life" and called me an awful name that I will not repeat...trying once more to exert power over me. That's what rape is...the illusion of power. Guess who has the power now?

I'm doing pretty well. There is a good chance he will appeal for a retrial, which may or may not be granted. You never know in these cases. I'm prepared to fight until the day I die, if that's what needs to happen.

I just wish I could have that girl back. She was so spunky, and free, and inspiring, and passionate, and, and, and... I could go on forever. She was stolen from me, and no matter how strong I get, how happy I choose to be, or where I end up... I will never get her back. I would have liked to see where she would have ended up in her life. I see glimpses of her sometimes in my daughter, and I know it will all end up okay. I know that I'll get out of this life what I put I'm going to put in so much good that it's overflowing. I'm going to fight for other girls out there, so they won't be lost like I was. I'm going to try and do my part to spread the word, so we can end rape. For good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This weekend I went to pass out flyers for the benefit concert at O'Malley's on the 21st. I got a lot of mixed reactions which was expected. Some paid no mind to the poster or anything that it said, others were uncomfortable, and some were extremely nice and willing to help. But one caught me completely off guard.

I won't say where or who but I have to speak my mind with this because I want them to know how their actions and their words can effect other people. I walked into a place and was greeted by three males. They saw a part of the poster which consists of a hand holding up the rock sign, along with the title of the benefit show which is 'Rock Against Rape' along with details of when/where the event will take place. They told me how blunt that is while laughing. Then they went on to tell me that there was no beating around the bush about the topic, making jokes like "get it, no beating around the bush." They told me that alcohol is the leading factor with rape, which was bashing the concert for providing beer (because having beer at a concert is such an oxymoron concept). I was clearly uncomfortable with them making a complete joke out of not only my hard work, but at rape as whole. What made it even worse was the fact that I grew up with one of them. His personality has always been some what of a smart ass guy which he will take complete credit for. I think he likes to use "joking" as an excuse for his actions at times, which from the reaction I received-- his friends were the same way.

Let me speak directly to him for a minute. I grew up with you and have not once shown you any kind of disrespect. In return, you took what I have been working hard for and my experiences, and shit on them. Does degrading people do anything for you? Does it make your ego bigger? You could clearly see I was shocked by the welcome I received form you and you didn't let up, not even for a second. The part that really gets to me is that your pea brain didn't even consider the struggles I went through to get where I am, and that maybe I didn't deserve your smart ass comments as a side dish. Would you of treated me differently if I were your family member or your girlfriend? Or are you just that great to everyone you come in contact with (sarcasm)? I took a bad situation and made an outlet to help myself and to help others, what have you done? I have a few suggestions of what you could do. You could start by growing up, maybe that will open your eyes to see that your words can hurt just as much as actions can. Then, go back to the people your words have hurt and apologize for acting like nothing more than a bully.

I am pretty good with keeping my comments to myself to be professional but this was just something I could not let go without addressing. I have had no help with media as far as newspapers and new stations. Which I get, the topic is a hard one to tackle. Word of mouth is all that's left.

So, if you don't want to help me face it then don't hang the damn flyer... but don't you dare get in my way. This non profit was built from my experiences and I refuse to let anyone make a joke out of it. BTW... ROCK AGAINST RAPE is blunt, it's supposed to be. Also, people should really do their homework before telling a sexual assault survivor that drinking a few beers is what will get/got her raped. Alcohol IS NOT the leading cause of rape... rapist are.