I started reading Insurgent this week (the sequel to the best-selling book, Divergent, by Veronica Roth), and the opening quote really stuck with me: “One choice can destroy you – or it can transform you. But every choice has consequences.” Many of us have that one event that changes us forever. For me, it was when I was brutally gang raped while canoeing with three female friends in the Boundary Waters on June 18, 2011.
Here’s the video aired by WCCO (Liz Collin) on Wednesday May 17, 2012. Click here to read my full story.
Veronica Roth goes on to write, “Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged.” I agree; but the truth also has a way of changing a person’s plans and shifting one’s priorities. My journey as I continue to recover from this sexual assault has left me surprised and outraged, hopeful and bereft. It’s a roller coaster ride that I never wanted to take, but now that the case has been dismissed, finding peace and restoring trust (and my sense of humor) is essential for my healing and contribution to society. I am already emerging with a more wizened perspective and a faith stronger than before. I step into each day secure in the knowledge that God has overcome the situation and knowing “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
I feel called to a vocation and to serve in a way I never imagined. I am convinced that it’s what we do with the experiences we didn’t ask for that determines our ability to move forward and have the lives we dream about. I want to share my story with you to take back control and to retain my power to live my life on my terms. I want to use my story and to shape it in a context of my choosing, allowing me to live my life in a way where rape does not define me.
My hope and prayer is that in sharing my story, I proudly stand beside my sisters and brothers who agree that sexual violence is an outrage to society and a national epidemic that must be stopped. I acknowledge that the current process in which sexual assaults are dealt with through our legal system does not work and needs to be changed. I lend my voice to the collective consciousness that believes that together we are stronger and that there’s no shame in the truth. I believe I can be redeemed by the very act that harmed me, and somewhere along this journey, I hope to forgive.
If I have learned anything during this horrible ordeal, it is “be not afraid.” There will be days of unspeakable rage, grief and anxiety. I try to remember this is all part of the journey to healing and forgiving. Important to my recovery is continuing to move forward with my life. Never let what happened – whether it be a violent crime, loss of a job, loss of a family member – define you or become your life by default.
Please join me in following my recovery blog to build a social media network of support that will remind all of us, whatever we are surviving, that we stand together.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27