The Hike of my Life
**warning**: this is the most personal & hard-core blogpost I have ever shared
I don’t know precisely why I chose today, but I did.
I decided to face my fears head on. I laced up my kicks with my heart in my throat and I drove to a hiking trail I haven’t hiked in over a year.
It’s called Wildflower Park and every turn on the path is covered in happy flowers that appear to smile and tell you they love you. I cherished the trail so dearly that I hiked it religiously for two years. I even “checked-in” my hikes on Yelp (bad idea, girls). It wasn’t physically challenging, but journey lifted my spirit supreme.
Then everything changed.
About one year ago, I was finishing my hike about noon and I was so close to the trailhead, I could see my car in the lot. And from behind, a man came up behind me.
He put his hand on my mouth and the other was tearing off my leggings as he tried to drag me up into the wooded area off the well-travel path by runners, hikers with dogs and the Police Academy cadets.
At first I was in shock. Was this someone I knew? What was happening?
Then I knew I had to fight. No one was going to save me and shit got serious. I screamed, I scratched, I bit his hand and I struggled as he pulled me up into dense brushy area. He ripped my panties and I could feel his erection against my skin. It was the most repulsive, violating feeling in the world.
I’d taken some self-defense classes, but you never know how you will react until you are in the moment. And time sped up. Fast. At least in my experience.
He ejaculated and I thought my ordeal was over, but he as soon as I began to surrender, he had my neck in a grip, choking me and dragging me up to the dense wooded forest. I knew he would kill me if I was taken off the trail, so with all the strength I could muster, I twisted my body while my head still in a lock and kicked him in the groin and he let go of the grip. I ran as fast as possible to the car park.
No one saw or heard anything. I called my best friend and she was a champ! She helped me call the police; speak with the most bad-ass sex crimes victims unit women (who deserve their own tv show).
The trauma was over. Or so I thought.
They asked if I would come to the hospital to do a rape kit. Of course I want to stop this creep from assaulting other women. It was “Law in Order: Special Victims” and I was the star. My bestie sat in the police car and stayed with me through the whole arduous process: collecting DNA, photos, taking STD tests, counseling. Humiliating is being generous for what I experienced in the hospital.
The next day, Law Enforcement requested for me to do police sketch – which was more difficult than I expected. The artist had to ask every detail about his eyebrows and every single feature before he revealed his final sketch. After 4 hours of recalling in vivid description his facial features, I had all the officers hold hands with me and pray before I could look at his face.
Then the investigation took place. The police were infuriated that this guy had the nerve to attack me in broad daylight…right next to the Police Academy where they trained. They vowed they were going to catch this perp. I looked at countless 6-pac (photos of 6 men, one possible suspect). I rode around in the police car for days looking for him.
The fact that the police were sincerely there to serve and protect initially felt empowering. I never had a protector as a child – or even someone that believed the things that adults were doing to me. But then it felt like too much attention was on me and the investigation consumed my entire existence. I was scared all the time, I did not feel confident and even when they caught him and he was prosecuted, I still felt damaged. Permanently.
His trial was over and mine had just begun.
It is no surprise that rape is grotesquely an under-reported crime. The assault doesn’t just happen once, but over and over again. It can make the strongest woman break.
Yes, the police were exceptional, my friends were supportive, I had a fierce boyfriend and I have an unbelievable team of healers (and years of recovery/healing) under my belt.
But it took work, time, therapy and lots of dancing to reach this point.
For some reason, I choose to still have a sunny attitude and keep wearing my heart on my sleeve, but this a choice. My life has been filled with a wonderland of trauma and I could easily have chosen to live a different path.
But I know women around the globe are violated daily in varied degrees. Most don’t have the resources or the will to fight back. Perhaps a stranger or a loved one has violated some of you. I took that hike today to reclaim my power as a woman and for all the women around the world who do not have a voice or the strength to know that they too can heal.
To all of you out there...keep on hiking!
Posted on Sun, January 26, 2014
by Ms. Dolphina filed under