#ShowMeYourBrave: When Walking Away is the Bravest Part
This story must come with the most severe of content and trigger warnings. This is a story of rape, and the after-effects on the life of the victim. The backstory is this: https://www.thestar.com/news/
The sheer resilience and unbelievable courage of this woman blows my mind. It is truly remarkable what we can survive. Sometimes we need to fight, and sometimes. . . sometimes walking away is the bravest thing we can do.
After being raped by a stranger while on a business trip in Houston, Texas, my life was turned upside down.
I was a strong, confident 30 year old mom and entrepreneur – building my business – earning millions of dollars a year, travelling the world, and feeling like I had it all together.
Overnight – one horror – and I became a recluse who could barely leave the house.
I became a scaredy-cat.
I had to dig really deep.
Walking through the doors to the police station, I honestly thought I was going to throw up and piss myself, simultaneously.
Giving my statement. Going to the hospital. The doctor closing the door to the exam room sent a tide of terror through me – locked in a room again with a man. Getting the rape kit done by the nurse. Flash-backs – his foul smell, foul taste – hands all over me, vile penis entering me. Sheer terror. It was as if the ghost of him was all around me – haunting me. That didn’t go away for years….
Give my statement again. Go home. Try to function. Try to be normal to my young children – 3 and 5. Try to be normal to my clients. Try to be normal to my employees and teams that relied on me. Back to the police station. Video testimony. Waiting, waiting, waiting – months on end, waiting. Every single day – afraid. Afraid for my safety. Afraid for my family’s safety. My husband can’t touch me. He has to shower and brush his teeth every single night before coming to bed.
What if ‘he’ finds me? What if ‘he’ comes after me? I refuse to use his name – I didn’t know his name when he raped me. Why would I use his name now?
Months go by. I confide in a friend. She picks up the torch I am dragging behind me – beaten, broken, exhausted, spent. Photo line up.
Back to Houston – how the hell am I going to find the strength to go back there? Meet the Houston police – give my statement, answer questions.
Wait for the Grand Jury – waiting, waiting, waiting…. Three DA changes – repeat my story all over again with every one of them. Answer all their questions – same ones, again and again and again…
Grand Jury indictment – more questions from the Houston Police.
Sell my business. My baby. The highly successful business that brought me so much joy. I don’t care.
Gearing up for trial – I have to confide in a client, an old business partner – witnesses for the state. I want to crawl into a hole with humiliation and never leave.
Another trip to Houston – a new DA. Prep for trial.
A million times I want to jump ship – I am so afraid. I carry on – the strength that my only job is to tell the truth – I don’t own the outcome. I just have to tell my truth, and leave that with the jury to decide whether they want this person in their community. I don’t own the outcome. My only job is to tell my truth.
I say goodbye to my babies. Another flight to Houston. My husband, my friend, my counsellor, my client, my old business partner – standing behind me. Fully supporting me. Giving me the strength I didn’t think I had.
I imagined myself surrounded by white light. A protective bubble. Nothing can hurt me. I am truth. I am light. My only job is to speak my truth.
Arriving at court – his wife attacks me. Spits words in my face. Calls me names. I feel sad for her. I feel sad for her children.
I ask the bailiff to stay close. Entering the courtroom I have to face him for the first time. He looks like an old, feeble man. I don’t know how he ever overpowered me. It doesn’t matter. My only job is to tell the truth.
And I did. I got onto that stand. I spoke my truth. For over eight full hours over two days. I was asked how I was qualified to estimate the size of his penis – did I have so much experience with penis’s that I could categorize a small, medium, large penis? Yes, yes, I could. It was a plethora of random, and sometimes ridiculous questions. Questions about how many towels I used after showering? Was I homeless?
When you’re telling the truth – it’s easy. You just answer what you know. You can’t be caught on your words.
He was found guilty.
The State was going to 25 years. He got 8.
While doing his time in jail, he appealed again. He was granted a re-trial. Four years later, I found myself back in the same place – readying myself for trial.
And now for the brave part… The bravest thing I ever did…
I gave myself permission to take care of myself.
I walked away. I chose not to re-testify.
I had moved on. I had healed. I had held him accountable – spoke my truth.
Some might say that I was weak, or wrong. It was the hardest decision of all for me to choose my self care first – as a mother, business owner, wife – it wasn’t something I had much experience with – and now, two years later, I can honestly say, it was the best decision I made for me, for my family and the bravest thing of all.
The #ShowMeYourBrave Project asks people, “What’s the bravest, scariest, or most intimidating thing you’ve ever done?”. The idea of the project is to share stories of everyday bravery and human resilience to bring us closer together. In sharing, we not only find our voices, but we find support, allies, and others who have faced similar challenges. If you would like to submit your story, we would love to feature your bravery here.