I am officially back in America again after my amazing Irish travels. It was rainy and bleary most of the time, but I still took advantage of every moment letting the Irish customs and landscapes help heal old wounds. When I got back to America I found out that there was a disastrous storm that hit the twin cities on June 18. When I heard about this, the first thing that came to mind was maybe God was reminding my rapists of the storm they created in my life one year previous on June 18, 2011. Maybe He was trying to tell them they can’t outrun His justice even if they can outrun the Justice System.
In reflecting on the past year of my life, it has been one of the hardest years for me. As a result of the gang rape, I had to force myself out of bed everyday; I was subjected to a hostile work environment by one of my lead teachers due to bias and judgment toward sexual assault, ultimately resulting in my changing schools; I lost a lot of friends; many times I had to force myself not to throw in the towel and give up on myself and everything I’d worked toward; I battled a debiliitating illness for 3 months; and finally I experienced defeat when my case was denied prosecution.
It would be so easy to focus on the bad days and difficult times, but I know there were a lot of good things that happened too: I got to change schools and was mentored by an amazing team of teachers working with remarkable kids; I started dating a great and understanding man; I was awarded a full ride scholarship to graduate school and relish the opportunity to achieve my Master’s in Education starting this coming year; I found out my true friends while still meeting new people; I have a loving family; I have found amazing support and encouragement from my new BWCA.com friends and others who have reached out to me, and I am now blessed with a strong support system.
All in all, I have learned a lot from this experience. It is not okay what happened to me and it is not okay that these things are STILL happening. However, I choose to grow from this event. I choose to shine the light on what happened to me to help others. I choose to get closer to God with each step forward. I choose to hope that I may help and encourage even one person who may be suffering in his or her recovery from a sexual assault. I choose to live fully and embrace each day.
Let freedom ring!