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Katie

How old were you at the time of the assault (s)?

I had just turned 28

 How old are you currently?

31

Where did the assault(s) happen?

At my home in Washington DC – I lived in Shaw at the time

Did you know the person(s) who committed the assault?
I did not

Did you tell anyone about the assault (s) at the time?

I immediately called police and in the following weeks told all my friends and family. I later shared my story with co-workers and even strangers as part of a fundraising effort. Sharing my story enabled me to raise more than $20,000 for an organization called Operation Freefall.

Did the assault (s) go to a court trial?
Yes

Was there a sentencing? 
There was a sentencing – my attacker had also raped other women so the sentencing was for two of us. There was strong DNA evidence in both cases. He received 30 years in prison. The sentencing and having to face my attacker again was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but the fact that he was punished with 30 years was huge. A very rare thing in our justice system.

Do you think they will commit sexual assault again?
There were additional cases that they were certain were linked to the same person – more than 5 that the police new of. Unfortunately, there was only DNA evidence in two of them. I am certain that he would assault other women if he were still free. I am very hopeful that by the time he leaves prison he will be too old to hurt any more women.

What would you like to say to people about sexual assault?
I think it’s important that survivors are there for each other. To listen and help one another heal. I also don’t think that society understands what sexual assault can do to a person and how greatly it affects you. I also think that as long as it is something people do not want to talk about or are uncomfortable with, it will continue. Sweeping it under the rug ensures that men will continue to feel that they can get away with it. It has to stop.

What is your story?
On Sunday, April 6, 2009, I was at my home in NW D.C. that I rented with my boyfriend (now husband). He went out of town to help a friend move and I decided to have some girlfriends over for a dinner party that night. I grilled burgers and we had a great time and by 10 p.m. everyone had left for the night. I went to bed fairly early because I had to work the next day. A noise woke me from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I looked at the clock and it was 3:33 a.m. When I saw the door to my bedroom crack open, my subconscious sleepy mind assumed it was my boyfriend coming home. I said “babe?”. I got no response. Moments later a man barged into my room holding a bright flashlight in my face so that I couldn’t see him. He told me that he was going to shoot me – and told me a lot of other things that aren’t very easy to write (or read). He forced a pillow over my head and violently raped me. Afterwards he searched the room and began taking any valuables. I heard him yelling down the stairs to someone else who was robbing the downstairs level of our home. I was certain that he was going to kill me, but after making threats about me telling anyone, he went downstairs. I don’t know how long it took me to be able to move. I realized he had taken my cell phone, but had not noticed my work blackberry. It was not phone enabled, but I was able to call 911 from it. I crawled to our walk in closet as quietly as possible as I wasn’t sure if they were still in my house. I quietly called 911. The operator who answered had the same accent as my attacker so it took me a while to be able to speak and know that I was safe. About 20 minutes later the police arrived and detectives began working on my case. I had amazing people working on my case and in about a month, they were able to find my assailant and link the DNA. He ultimately was found because he continued to use my cell phone. About two and a half years later, I attended the sentencing for my case and spoke to the judge and attacker about what I thought his sentence should be. I also asked family and friends to write in on my behalf. I was obviously extremely lucky that the judge in my case gave him almost the maximum sentence for all of his charges.

How have you healed since the assault?
I will be completely healed, just like any other survivor. I have worked hard in counseling and support groups. It has helped me to share my story with others – for me that is cathartic.

What advice would be helpful for others going through the same experience?
Every person’s experience is so different and so are everyone’s needs. For me, being around other survivors and sharing my story with a lot of people really helped me. I would say that no matter what you are comfortable with, know that there are many resources out there to help you. From RAINN to other local rape crisis centers – those are great resources. Also, when your inner voice starts getting you down – remember that it is NOT your fault! I also found that helping other survivors either by raising money or volunteering has really helped me in my own healing a lot.