|English: Moon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
My guest blogger this week is Brynn. She is a LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) who specializes in victimology. Check back later in the week for another post by Brynn.
I look back on this month, March to be exact, and cannot help but think about what happened to me nine years ago. Nine years ago I became a victim, a victim of sexual assault, a victim of kidnapping, a victim of torture, a victim of human trafficking- modern day slavery. Essentially, nine years ago I felt as though I had become a victim. I was labeled that actually and referred to often as the “victim.” My name was never used by the police, or really any advocates, I was just “the victim.”
What a derogatory adjective. The victim. Never once during my four day captivity was I called anything remotely human- instead often being hollered at using inexcusable language. I was called “fresh meat, live bait, the white one,” and so on. So by the time I was called “the victim,” I was almost accepting of the title. Almost.
And then I began realizing something, very, very slowly. It took almost nine years. I am not a victim. Yes, some awful things happened to me, something that many people will never experience, yet I still have a name.
To the three strangers who abducted me at gunpoint and promised me as they held a gun to my head that I would never see my family again. I did. I do and you taught me something and it wasn’t to fear people. Instead you taught me that every single second is something that can be cherished, that you won’t realize what you can lose until that is taken from you. Now, every day, I tell my family how much they mean to me. Thank you for that.
To the man I now know the full name of, the man who died in prison. I am free and I am alive. You died after being caught by the people who you thought you were smarter then. The people you vowed “would never find you.” You died in a small concrete cell, I am alive and living my life without any barriers. Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of freedom.
To the literally hundred or so men and women who paid to “see me.” You did what you did, I have no way of changing that, but you taught me on valuable lesson. That there are cruel, cruel people in this world but regardless, I am still me. You took away nothing from me, instead gave me strength to speak out against people like you and create awareness of the crime you commit. You gave me strength to vow to put you behind bars, and get the justice I deserve. And as every day, one more of you is arrested I know I am doing the right thing.
To the counselor I first told about my experience and did not touch me, thank you. You gave me the courage to begin to heal; you believed me though this horrific experience and offered to fly to the trials with me. Thank you.
To the federal investigators who began addressing me by name and provided personal cell phone numbers should I need it, thank you for seeing me as a human being not just a victim.
To the university police department who after a bomb threat at school where I was named as the target, thank you for protecting me, and reassuring me that you would protect me.
To my friends who see me as me, not a victim, but me. Thank you.
Thank you to everyone who has allowed me to realize that I am not a victim. I am a survivor, an advocate, a social worker, a daughter, a friend, I am Brynn- and I have a name.