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


Home — 41 Comments

  1. Beautiful. Talented. Driven. My Julia Q.
    Sunshine to my everyday. Inspiration to many. Hope for all.
    Cue the lights. It’s your stage now!
    ..”Only thing ‘2-2-2’ do is jump over the moon.”
    Sing. Dance. Love. Live. Smile.
    I love you into forever.

  2. It’s sad that the act of 3 weak individuals will forever impact the life of one strong individual. Keep your chin up Julia, in your struggle to help see the truth brought forward you will find that you have a whole new support group to lean on.

  3. Please, concider taking down any personal information including photos. Be not afraid, but also be not ignorant about your safety. From one survivor to another.

  4. Julia,
    I just wanted to share something with you that someone once shared with me. A very good friend of mine that I have known for many years told me about her childhood and the horrendous things that happened to her, she shared some details that make my stomach turn to this day. I asked her how she felt about bringing back those memories and sharing them to which she replied, “I am not ashamed or afraid of things that happened to me that I had no control over.” At that point I realized how strong a person she really was and have had a deep admiration since.
    I do not know if you will find any inpiration in her words but maybe someone will. I wish you great strength and an iron will. Take care.

  5. Julia,
    You are strong without having lost your gentleness and open heart. Good for you. I know every day you must fight the inner fight to keep you heart open and allow the hurt and pain to be transformed. -May you have justice some day as well. You are an inspiration to the old and young – victims and nonvictims.

  6. We heard your story last night and we both were angered and dismayed that something like this should happen. You are a very strong young lady for bringing this to light and standing up for yourself. I as a man am ashamed of those of my gender that think this behavior is ok. I am also ashamed of our legal system that dragged things out so long that evidence was lost of just not pursued.
    My God grant you peace and love in the years to come.

  7. As a survivor of rape I thank you for sharing your story. So often the blame is shifted onto the victim of sexual assaults in our society and the legal system should take some of this blame.

  8. I read your story and am horrified. I take trips to the BWCA yearly and am absolutely speechless as to what happened to you. I hope you get justice because know one deserves what you had to go through.

  9. Yes, they say justice will prevail. It sounds like there are multiple conflicting stories, which is absolute nonsense. Keep moving forward with exposing those who raped you, and their day will come. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it will come. Having my own experience where the justice system failed me, it is true that what goes around comes around, just never give up hope. Just keep moving forward!

  10. I was in bwca approximately 2 years ago this upcoming Labor Day w/a good female friend of mine (I am also female). We were without men and when it came time to find a campsite we canoed past our planned out site only to be disappointed 4 young men (mid 20s) were in it. They commented on my friend’s dog, acknowledging us & we exchanged pleasantries but that was all. We camped on same lake that night – and as soon as the sun went down we were threatened and harassed all night long by them as they became drunker by the hour. It continued on and off until sunrise when we awoke to continuing screams at us. We. NEVER spoke one word back the entire 12 or more hours thinking ignoring them would cause them to become bored & this did nothing. They got into their canoes and paddled toward our site but never made landfall. This was my first and last experience into the bwca without a man to accompany me. Never again, but it’s sad to say that it’s not safe for woman/en alone even in this day and age. The law is not on our side right now. Thank you for sharing your story and not being afraid. You will give others strength and maybe in future times women will have a stronger voice against sexual violence in the future. May God protect you and hold you and keep you always.

  11. I’m very impressed by your strength, Julia. I know the good that will come from this may not always be seen, but will forever be there.

  12. Dear Julia,
    I am so proud of you for standing up for yourself and reporting your rape. It takes great courage to make that phone call or walk into the hospital. My heart broke when I read your story and the outcome. My daughter was raped 14 months ago at college. She stood up for herself and reported it as well. The outcome was the same, not enough evidence to prosecute. It has been a long hard road for her and us, but there are more brighter days than dark now. Please know I am praying for you and you are not alone. Lean on your family and friends, don’t be afraid to talk. Keep strong sweety, you will make it!!! Your title says it all, There’s No Shame!

  13. Rest assured the guilty men will be judged. They my not serve prison time this side of eternity, but justice will prevail. Please read Psalm 37, I think it will give you great comfort.
    Thank you for trying to do what is right. A man that loves the BWCAW and hates evildoers.

  14. Julia,
    I sobbed when I read your story and then sobbed again when I watched the video. I admire your strength and your faith and will pray for you. I also will pray that the men will one day tell the truth.

  15. Julia, I am outraged on your behalf. NO ONE should have to experience that!! I am so sorry those scum bags cannot be brought to justice. Are their names on the public record anywhere? We know they are guilty regardless of a prosecutor’s ability to convict. There’s not a doubt in my mind. I’d love to tell the world what vile men they are. I hope for your healing and thank you for your bravery.

  16. Julia, You are one of the bravest women I know. God bless you for trying to help keep others safe. My prayers for you will NEVER stop! I hope and pray that other victims of rape come forward to stop this ugly violence. I will also pray that our justice system comes up with new ways to stop this. Like others have already said the rapists will never get away with this…whether this life or the next… I hope guilt comsumes them. You are loved! xo Cheryl

  17. So saddened to read about what happened to you in the BWCA. I am sorry and hope myself and others can take some of your burden from you. You sound like a strong, good young woman with a loving heart. I expect that you will rise to a higher rung than you ever would have imagined. Those that have done you and yours, themselves, everyone who cares about them, and the community wrong, have lowered themselves. Let the weight of their lies and silence be punishment and the eyes of their daughters, sisters, and mothers remind them to ask for forgiveness.

  18. I admire you Julia for being strong and keeping your head held high in the face of what happened. I’m sorry to say there are just too many threats in our society today. That is probably why I see so many women taking self defense and small arms training when I’m at the range. From a retired military man’s perspective – it might be something to consider. Either way we’re behind you!

  19. In remote areas where there is essentially no law enforcement, your life is in your own hands. You must have the means and ability to defend yourself when no one else can. A legally possesed firearm along with proper training can be the difference between life and death. I would advise anyone (especially women) who plan to visit such remote areas to obtain a permit to carry a firearm and proper training, and to avoid any contact with any strangers, no matter how nice they may seem. Assaults like this one are becoming far to common, as you can see.

  20. There are no words to express my deep disappointment in the “system” that is made up of good people who allow their busyness to get in the way of their justice seeking… I have no words to take the pain away, nor the power to provide justice.

    I DO have the words to express my gratitude for your courage and for taking a stand, inviting conversations, and for putting your talents and intelligences into advocating for others. The words I have for this are: Thank you.

    I promise to do my part. I promise.

  21. Julia, as a woman and as a mother, my heart broke when I read about your ordeal. You are an amazing young woman and I am in awe of how you are taking control of this terrible situation.

    I love the outdoors and the Grand Marais area has been one of my favorite areas to visit. As a family, we spend most of our summer in and around the BWCA, in fact we were on the same lake as you just a few months later! I am outraged that the Cook County Prosecutor Jim Scanell failed to seek justice in this case and frankly makes me leery of vacationing in the area again, knowing that it is an area where criminal acts go unpunished by the local authorities. My kudos to deputy Julie Collman for all her hard work on the case, however!

    Seems to me that when something bad happened in the ELY portion of the BWCA, they took it seriously and prosecuted. Perhaps we will take our tourist trade there this summer, as they seem more willing to insure the safety of those in their area.

  22. @dennen23: “Justice denied for any individual is justice denied to us all.” MLK

    Thanks for including more details, and keep moving forward. Also check out the verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9…

  23. As a woman and a mother I too am outraged at how the state handled this entire situation! We as citizens of the state of Minnesota can help Julia. For heavens sake last night on the news they talked about the fines they are given someone for fishing. These savages that brutally raped Julia are walking away free no fines, no jail time. Julia’s life will NEVER be the same again.
    We are farmers and if we get stopped for an overweight truck the fines are insanely high. Yes, we are overweight which is against the law. However, all we are doing is trying to make an honest living.
    These so called “men” who did this to Julia were bothering her and her friends, smoking marijuana, excessively drinking (both are drug abuse), and then gang raping a woman. They get away with nothing? I think all of us need to help Julia by writing letters to the papers, contacting officials who so called “handled” this case. If anything like this happened to a friend, daughter, sister, mother, aunt, niece how would they feel?

  24. I want to get across my love for your kind-heartedness giving support to persons who really want assistance with this one matter. Your very own dedication to getting the solution across had become remarkably significant and have always made men and women much like me to reach their goals. The warm and helpful useful information denotes much a person like me and further more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from all of us.

  25. Dear Julia,

    I believe you. I thank you for coming forward. I stand with you.


    Sue Hakes
    Cook County Commissioner

  26. I like the valuable info you provide here Julia. It’s things we need to know and share – relevant to us all given the incidence of sexual assualt. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  27. Wonderful goods from you. I have understand your situation and I really like what you are doing here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. Your telling makes me strong and you still take care of to keep it smart and relevant. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

  28. I wish to express some appreciation to the writer just for bailing me out of such a predicament. Just after looking out through the online world and finding ideas which were not helpful, I thought my entire life was done. Being alive without the strategies to the issues you have sorted out by means of this posting is a crucial case, as well as ones which may have adversely affected me if I had not discovered your web page. Your expertise and kindness in dealing with every item was very helpful. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t discovered this. I can also now relish my future. Thanks so much for the skilled telling of your story. I will not be reluctant to refer the website to anyone who will need assistance about this situation.

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