In Their Own Words

“Words seemed to make it visible… Speaking, even when it embarrassed me, also slowly freed me from the shame I’d felt. The more I struggled to speak, the less power the rape and its aftermath seemed to have over me.”

Nancy Raine, After Silence, 1998

Tracey began playing tennis at the age of six. She entered college on an athletic scholarship to play varsity tennis. She became the captain of her team which was ranked as one of the top three college teams in the country.

“At my college, all of the athletes – men and women – shared training facilities. We got to know each other very well. In my junior year, one of the star football players invited me to a party at his apartment that night. When I got there, no one else had arrived yet. He told me that our friends would be there soon. When he offered me a glass of wine, I decided I would have just a few sips and then, if no one else came, I would leave. The next thing I remember is waking up 10 hours later on the floor of his living room, on my back, completely naked. I had no memory of the preceding 10 hours. There were used condoms on the floor. My clothes were rolled up in a ball in the corner and I felt sore in certain parts of my body. I was mortified. I knew I had been raped.

“I put on my clothes and as I walked to the front door of the apartment, I saw my friend’s roommate – another star football player – asleep in the bedroom. I realized that during the night he would have had to walk over my unconscious body to get to his room. He probably saw what was being done to me and did nothing to help me, or maybe he even participated.

“I went back to my dorm. I told no one. I kept my silence. I felt humiliated and ashamed. When graduation came, I could not bring myself to attend. Three years later, I went to the wedding of one of my teammates from college. I sat next to my former roommate. I told her what had happened to me. She told me that the same guy who had raped me had also raped her. Both of us had remained silent afterwards, afraid of the consequences of telling.

“Still struggling with the effects of the rape six years later, I finally told my family. They brought me to the Rape Treatment Center. There, I found my voice, so long silenced. I committed myself to doing everything in my power to help convict this rapist and to help prevent anyone else from experiencing such a nightmare. I returned to the city where my college was located, and I reported my rape to the police.

“I can never erase this nightmare completely from my mind, my life. It is a part of me. What I learned at the Rape Treatment Center is how to confront and cope with the aftermath of such violence. I learned there are people who take this crime so seriously that they dedicate themselves to researching, treating, and trying to prevent rape as a full-time profession. There are no acts of thanks great enough to express the gratitude and good fortune that I feel for having been so blessed with the opportunity to come to the Rape Treatment Center. It changed my life – it saved my life.”

Annie was working in a high-end clothing store. Near closing time, a man walked into the store. At first, Annie thought he was a customer.

“As soon as he said, ‘Go in the back,’ I thought I was going to die. His hand was on a gun and he had it pointed at me. What flashed through my mind was – ‘I’ll never see my family again.’ He was only there for 20 minutes – but he changed my life forever. Afterwards, I was numb. It was like – I had lost my “self.” I was split in two – my physical self was there, but my soul was missing… For the first year, I had constant nightmares. I couldn’t be alone. I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Two things in this experience saved my life: First – my boss – who was smart enough to run out of the store and get help. And second, the Rape Treatment Center. I would have never made it without them. When the ambulance brought me there – I was hurt and I was bleeding and I was in shock. They took amazing care of me – they treated my injuries, they collected all of the evidence, and they started to help heal my shattered self. They also took care of my ten friends and family who descended on the place – they were traumatized, too. In the weeks and months that followed, my Rape Treatment Center therapist helped me reach deep inside of me. And I found my “self” again. I am stronger now than I ever was before. After surviving all of this – I feel indestructible.”