On May 13, 2017 i had my first date with a guy. The plan was to watch this movie that i really wanted to go see. I gave him my address, but he got lost on the way. We ended up missing the movie, and so we decided to go and get something to eat. We were going to catch another movie after we ate. He suggested that we should go over to his apartment to watch Netflix instead. Being the naive person that i am i had agreed. When i got to his apartment all that i could see was a bed. There was no couch. I was a little uncomfortable, so i sat at the edge of the bed. He told me to make myself comfortable and that i could lay down if i wanted to. He was lying down on the bed. My back was hurting, and so i decided to lie down. He started to kiss and touch me. He touched my chest. I told him that it had made me very uncomfortable. He unzipped my pants and penetrated me with his fingers. I told him to stop, but he wouldn’t. I then decided to roll off the bed to get away from him. He grabbed me, my pants, and underwear and took them off. He then quickly go on top off me and raped me. I was very scared not knowing what to do. He threatened me that if i told anyone, something bad was going to happen to me. He took me with him to get his haircut to make sure i wouldnt tell anyone. I wanted to run, but i didnt know what he was capable of. I was afraid he would hurt me. He took me back to his apartment and raped me again. This journey has been very difficult for me. I have been trying to not lose hope, and be strong. Through this challenge, i ended up losing the case during court trial. My prosecutor failed to look up if the defendant was guilty, otherwise the judge would have convicted him. I am still trying to hold on. Although this has been difficult for me, i have seen many blessings from this. There were many people who gave me comfort, and support. The twelve step advocates, the sweet nurses, family crisis advocates, counselor, and most of all my family. They made me feel loved, and have hope. I learned that there are many woman who have been sexually assaulted. This happens far to frequently. During the time of my college internship, i hope to be an advocate for those who have had experiences with domestic violence, and sexual assault. I hope to give those comfort, and hope others can know there are people out there who can provide you with love and the support that you need. You might feel frustration, and anger by the process of the justice system. I did. The anger that i was feeling, has given me peace because of the love others have shown me. Although i have felt some peace, this experience has impacted me greatly. I want to share how it has impacted me because i didnt get the chance to read it. I am usually a happy, caring and trusting person but on Saturday, May 13, 2017 my life was forever changed. The day started out to be a beautiful sunny day but it soon shifted into a dark and miserable day, one that nightmares are made of. This was the day that I first met a person. That day you took something from me more precious than gold and without my consent that which I will never get back again. what you did to me that day was wrong. I didn’t suffer any visible injuries but you hurt me more than you can imagine, physically, mentally and emotionally. To you it was not a big deal, but to me I felt as if my world had collapsed. I want you to know my life will never be the same because of what you did to me. You took away my virtue, my self –worth, my time and my confidence that I once had. My semester at school soon became a semester where I would learn to become a survivor and a fighter despite all that you did to me. I was attending my spring semester at school when this all happened and it was so difficult for me to focus on my studies these past few months. I felt constant isolation & fear because of what happened to me. It became so unbearable at times. Because of what you did to me I became afraid to walk to school alone, afraid to go to the grocery store or anywhere by myself like I once enjoyed. I have become so paranoid of everyone and everything because I was afraid I would be attacked again. I would stay up late at night after my room-mates had come home to insure the door was securely locked. I always made sure it was locked when I was alone. My apartment, my bedroom and the streets around my apartment all became scary places for me because you threatened me that if I told anyone about this that something bad would happen to me. I became afraid to go to sleep at night because I was convinced that you or someone else would climb through my window or come busting into my apartment and hurt me again. I hated to sleep because of the re-occurring nightmares that came. I have suffered from flashbacks of that day. I constantly replay the events of that day over and over each time I have to re-tell my story, first to the police, the nurses & doctors at the hospital, the prosecuting attorney, my councilor and most importantly my family. Having to repeat the events of that day have been extremely stressful, difficult and have tried my patience. It was as if I had been hurt all over again. you made where i was living a very uncomfortable place for me. Every day that I was up there I wished that I was home with my family where I felt safe. Home is a safe place for me because I have a family who loves and supports me. My family has also suffered right along with me. My father has missed work several times to be with me here. My father took me to the police and sat with me there. My mother went with me when I went to the hospital along with the Crisis Center advocates. My family helped me to find happiness through the heartache and pain. My mother was a true example of this as she has not only had to endure and help me through the pain of what I was going through but she had to endure and get through 2 major surgeries during this time. My counselor is trying to help me heal and find some meaning in all of this. He is trying to help me to be able to find courage to move forward again. Your honor today, however, I feel as if the justice system has failed me and that I am being hurt all over again because he is not being charged with the crime I truly feel he should be tried for. One in which I have had no say or voice. I feel as if nobody has heard me. This process has kept dragging on because each new hearing has brought a postponement for a new date and I have to keep building up the courage to come back here and fight once more. I hope that today your honor that you will charge him to the full extent of the law that you are allowed to. Thank You. My counselor helped me to find meaning and what success meant. I had found the power of success of serving others around me. I found it rewarding. By uplifting others, i was able to see my strength and my love for others grow. I am successful because i have a great family who loves me. I want others to know who have had similar experiences that you are loved, and cared for. You are truly amazing, and dont forget that. Share your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your courage, and your warmth. Never let a stumble be the end of your journey. You are a fighter. Keep fighting your fight, and you will win this battle.
— Erika, age 22