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Stronger on the Other Side: A Survivor Tells her Story

A closeup of a woman's hand writing in a notebook next to a coffee mug.

Content Warning: The following story includes details of sexual assault that may be triggering or difficult to read. We encourage you to care for your safety and well-being if you continue to read.  

 

Heidi was sexually assaulted by someone she had never met before. This is her story: 
 
A stranger forced his way into my apartment. When I realized what was going to happen, I tried to call 911. He grabbed my phone and quickly threw it across the room. He pushed me back against the coffee table and put his hands around my throat. I tried to get away. I said “no” and “you don’t belong here.” 

 Thirty minutes went by. Before he left, he said, “Good girls don’t tell anyone, they just go take showers.” I immediately called 911 and reported the rape. During the assault, I was able to take note of several tattoos on his body, including one that would lead to his capture and ultimately his conviction. Police took him into custody about 24 hours after the incident.  

Approximately three years and several attempted trials later, he was found guilty on eight counts and sentenced to 150 years to life in prison. I am grateful for the result, but the process was incredibly frustrating.  There were delays due to issues with his legal counsel and his mental health. Luckily, my therapist was very supportive and understanding.  

Counseling with my Family Services therapist gave me a safe space to discuss and process what I went through with a professional. I knew I needed expert support in addition to my personal support system. It helped to have support from a caring person that did not have the same involvement in my life as family or friends. I worked through my feelings and learned how to express myself. It helped me understand that I am not a victim but a survivor. I don’t need to feel ashamed of what happened.  

From this experience, I have gained a greater respect for therapists who treat survivors of these types of incidents. My martial arts and writing have provided an outlet for healing and helped me focus to recall details. I have a great amount of respect for those who have been through trauma and come out stronger on the other side.  

I share my story to encourage others to be more informed and understanding. Those who have experienced this type of trauma should be able to speak up without feeling shame, blame, or fear. 

Get Help
If you or someone you know needs support dealing with a sexual assault, please contact our 24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline at 559-732-7273 for confidential crisis counseling, support, and referrals to services like free counseling. 

Thank you to our generous sponsors.

  • The Sence Foundation
  • First 5 Tulare County
    First 5 Tulare County
  • The Law Office of Afreen A. Kaelble
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