This photo may seem a little revealing, but that was my point.
The caption with the photo is what I really wanted you to focus on.
I shared the most terrifying moment of my life with this photo. A moment in my life that I wanted to hide from for so long. A moment that I blamed myself for, for a very long time.
I didn't post this to "get attention" or to make you feel sorry for what we went through. I posted this to show that I'm not afraid anymore. Nor do I blame myself for what happened. When this happened, my best friend and I (both of us were 22 at the time) refused to sleep in our own rooms. We both slept in our living room with all of the lights on and with mace in our hands. We would wake up almost hourly due to panic attacks, bad dreams and paranoia. I posted this because I know we are not the only ones that have had to go through this. We're both a lot better now. We still have our moments, but no where near as bad as they used to be. Because of that night, we both learned how to shoot a gun. We both learned gun safety, got our conceal carry permits, learned self defense and so much more. I know what you're thinking. "A gun? Your only alternative was to turn to violence?" Let me ask you...What would you do in this situation? A county prosecutor just told you that they cannot protect you. You have to move in order to be safe. Would you stock up on firecrackers and strobe lights to cause a distraction? Or would you arm yourself with the knowledge, ability and power to protect yourself? Don't judge someone based on their current situation. Until you've been there, you will NEVER know that fear.
The night this all took place was a very strange night in general. I felt incredibly uneasy the entire day but could not, for the life of me, figure out why. Truthfully, my grandmother had just passed away and I genuinely thought it was her way of trying to tell me to visit her grave.
So I did.
But I still felt weird when I returned home.
I stayed up later than usual that night. Before I finally went to bed for the night, I walked through the entire house to make sure every single door and window was shut and locked. (Which I never used to do before bed.) To this day I'm still convinced it was my grandmother watching over us.
This waste of space stalked us for countless days. (He admitted to doing this.) He knew enough about us and our home to know how to try and enter it without being seen.
He kicked in the door to our 6 foot privacy fence, went into our garage, grabbed a putty knife and proceeded to cut my bedroom windows out at 1 in the morning.
The police said the ONLY REASON he was unable to enter my bedroom that night was because my dad drilled my windows shut when we moved into the house. He didn't trust how old they were.
My sweet little attack dog of a CAT! Binx, heard the person trying to open my window, jumped on my chest and started growling until I woke up.
I immediately called 911.
When he realized the windows weren't going to budge, he walked to our kitchen door and tried to kick it in. By this time, the police were arriving.
The police were there in less than 6 minutes. But those 6 minutes felt like a life time. I remember being told to hide. I remember being asked if I had anything to protect myself with. I remember hearing the police yelling. I remember telling the 911 dispatcher that I needed to get to my roommate. I needed to make sure she was safe. But they insisted that she was safer where she was. Especially if the person trying to break in was on my side of the house. So I hid until I was given the all clear.
The police found this A-Hole hiding under my best friends car in our garage. They didn't even need to ID him. They already knew who he was.
When he was asked what he was doing on our property, he lied a few times before finally admitting that his "Intent was rape."
I want it to be known that the police officers that were on call that night and the following 3 weeks after that night were some of the most incredible people I have ever met. When they arrived on scene and arrested the man that tried to rape us, they stayed with us until we were calm enough to function. I was the one that had to open the glass door to let them in so they could secure our home. As soon as I opened that door, I collapsed into the officer while the others on his team swept through our house to make sure no one made it inside. That officer was a parent. He was a parent first and an officer second that night. He held me for what felt like forever while I hysterically cried and hyperventilated. I couldn't stand on my own. He continuously told me that I was "safe now" and that they wouldn't leave until we knew that.
Those officers waited outside of our house EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. for 3 weeks, until we moved. Those officers. All 6 of them that responded to the call. Will forever be my heroes. Those 6 men responded to our alarm system faulting 2 days after the attack, they responded to hard shelled beetles hitting our windows at 3 am one week after the attack. They were there for us. I would love to find them just to thank them one more time.
This is why I decided to share my story. The police KNEW this man. They have had multiple issues with this man. And yet, there we were. The court system not only failed us; they failed this man. He CLEARLY needs help. But they kept letting him go with the hopes that he would change.
*NEWSFLASH* You can't just throw a criminal back out on the streets and expect them to just change. They need mental help. They need to be held accountable. YES! THEY CAN CHANGE. But they need help getting to that point.
Floyd County failed us all that night.
My hope in sharing this with you was that it would catch the eye of the right person and things would begin to move in the right direction. The only way to change something is the first recognize there is a problem.
Consider this as someone presenting a problem to the world.
The comments that I got back on my post were so sweet and needed. The messages were even sweeter.
But then....Then there were these guys.
After someone pointed out the strange comparisons in the comment above, this person did apologize. So that was nice.
Thankfully, this upset more than one person. Which spurred these comments.
THIS is exactly what the prosecutor told us. Because we dressed like we were in our 20's. Meaning we wore shorts, dresses, tank tops, clothes....we were targets.
THIS IS NOT OKAY!
My choice in clothing should not make me a target. It should not make me a victim. I should not be called a "whore" because I chose to wear a dress that made me feel beautiful. I should not be compared to a "ham sandwich in the middle of the Sahara surrounded by hungry lions." People who REFUSE to see that there is a problem in our world THAT CAN BE FIXED but don't want to make the effort to help fix it are why we will never get better.
What if this was your daughter? Or your wife? Or your sister? Would you react differently?
Would you like to talk to my parents? Would you like to know how helpless they felt knowing that they couldn't fight the monsters that were in my head, tormenting me nightly as I laid in bed wondering when or if these people were going to come back? Would you like to be on the other end of the phone EVERY TIME I hear a noise at 3 am and panic?
MOST of the people that are attacking women are repeat offenders. They are people that were offered 2nd and 3rd and 10th chances to be human. But they just couldn't do it. THESE PEOPLE; Specifically the man that attacked us need to be held accountable for their actions. They deserve more than a slap on the wrist. They don't need to be the first to be released out of jail due to overcrowding. They need serious help from a mental health specialist and to be locked away from society for a very long time.
The system failed us. They failed all of the other women, INCLUDING CHILDREN, that this man attacked after us.
They failed their community and it feels like nothing is being done to make this stop. What is it going to take?
To the man that turned our world upside down. I want to say this.
You stole any sense of safety that I ever had. You stole my home. You stole my life for what felt like forever. You made me fear the dark. You made me fear my home. You made me fear everything. But you also forced me to be more vigilant for myself and others. You forced me to be a stronger person. You opened my eyes to things I thought only existed in "bad parts of town."
You forced me to use my platform to help protect others that may fall victim to the same thing that we did.
You attacked the wrong girls.
For the longest time, my mom kept telling me that the light was gone in my eyes. She said she hadn't seen a genuine smile from me in years. Until now. Now, I have people supporting me, helping me learn from our attack. I have people teaching me how to cope with the PTSD you caused. I have a best friend that encountered the same trauma that I did because you attacked her too. We have an unbreakable bond that you only made stronger. I have a man that loves and understands me enough, he purposely sleeps on the side of the bed that is closest to the window because he knows they still give me nightmares. I hope you never see this. But if you do, I hope you know that you didn't steal my smile. It's back. I'm back. I'm not afraid of you anymore.