A Letter from a Survivor in South Carolina

Governor Haley,

I just watched the news concerning your cuts to the rape victims budget cuts and I have to say I am VERY angry. In 2010, I woke up with a man standing over me. That night he raped me. I was taken to the hospital where I was examined, and tested, and the most horrifying photos were taken of me. That is a night that STILL lives in my memory, a night I DEEPLY wish I could forget. My mom came, and my aunt came that night. But do you know who I wanted there the most, NO ONE. Though I knew I needed them, I did not want them there, because I had to look them in the eye after I had been brutality assaulted. Though I did not WANT this and though I did not know this man, I was ashamed. I wanted to hide, to disappear, to not be seen by ANYONE I knew. I didn’t want my family to grieve for me. How could I help them grieve their pain watch them cry for the pain they felt for me when I was struggling with OWN DEEP PAIN MYSELF. But I DID have someone there. I had a woman from the rape crisis center there. She didn’t ask me questions, she didn’t talk, she just SAT there. You may wonder what that matters, how DID THAT HELP? From the time you make that 911 call until… well, many days, weeks, months after, people are asking you questions. What did he look like? Can you describe him? What exactly happened? How are you? What can I do? The whole time WISHING you would just wake up from this nightmare, shocked, numbed that this ACTUALLY happened. But that night, that woman from the crisis center helped greatly. If I WANTED to talk, she would listen, if I NEEDED to be left alone, she did. If I just needed her there to have someone in the room with me, she was there. The nurse kicked EVERYONE out of my room that night before she examined me, and as much as I love my family I was glad. I felt ashamed and I couldn’t bare the thought of them seeing me naked, examined, tested. But that woman stayed when I needed SOMEONE to just be there. Someone that didn’t know me, wasn’t asking questions, wasn’t taking pictures, examining me, crying for me. In moments I was to embarrassed for her to be there, she gracefully stood outside my door. I KNEW she was there. In times I needed just her presents, she sat quietly by my side. And that gave me comfort. She was there to provide me with whatever support I needed.

But the support didn’t stop there. I was seen by the local rape crisis center. Therapists who helped me deal with my fears, my anger, my pain. They called the investigators when the investigators wouldn’t call me back on the progress with my case. They provided me with skills on how to begin to start my life back, to handle the fear, to stop feeling guilty over something I had NO CONTROL over, to stop being ashamed for an act that was FORCED UPON ME!!!! The man has yet to be caught, but when he is caught, I KNOW I can call the rape crisis center and they will be with me as I identify him. They will be with me as they prosecute him. That gives me COMFORT. Comfort KNOWING that these individuals witness the pain of women EVERYDAY who are raped. The comfort that they are out there HELPING individuals gain back SOME of their normal life. They help women become survivor, not victims as best they can.

I did NOT choose to be raped that night. I was ASLEEP in MY HOME, yet you are cutting a budget for people that did NOTHING WRONG!!!!! They did NOT choose this pain, they were forced upon with this pain. HOW CAN YOU TAKE WHAT HELP, COMFORT, SUPPORT they have????? How can you take that away from them, from me, for a mother and father’s daughter????? If you want to make changes, MAKE IT TO THOSE MONSTERS. Make the sentences harder, the laws STRONGER, the results of individuals, HARSHER!!!!

My attacker has not been caught yet, but my faith in God gives me the peace that one day he will be. I am STILL dealing with that night, the emotional aspect and the physical aspect. My dream, my passion is to one day be able to help others who have suffered and survived, even if the only way to do so is to STAND UP for them!!!

I am ASKING you to think about this. To look at what this is doing to women who NEED this. To think about your children and what you would want for them. No one THINKS that this could happen. But I now KNOW it can.

Thank you for listening and I HOPE and PRAY this will make a difference in your decision.

A Survivor in South Carolina