Betsy was the survivor of a serial rapist 27 years ago. Her story is difficult, yet she talks about the healing that began when she met a rape crisis volunteer from The Women’s Center.
“On the morning of April 3, 1986 I was a victim of a brutal sexual assault. A serial rapist known as “the pillowcase rapist” broke into my apartment. He physically overpowered me, threatened to kill me, and then sexually assaulted me. During the hour-long attack, there was never a time that I was not in terror and fear for my life. When it was over and he was gone, I was in shock and disbelief that this had happened—but I was lucky: I survived.
That one hour in my life completely changed me forever and in the hours, and later weeks to come, I did not know how I would get past the fear and shame that I felt. Although in shock and still afraid, I made the decision to report the assault. I was questioned by the police and a crime team and then taken to John Peter Smith Hospital for a rape exam. While I was waiting to be examined, a Rape Crisis Volunteer from The Women’s Center of Tarrant County came in to talk with me. The first thing she said to me was ‘I’m here for you. We’re all here for you. This was not your fault and we will get you through this.’ Her words immediately provided the comfort I needed and I felt less ashamed of what had happened to me. From that point forward, I knew that I was not alone and that someone genuinely cared about me.
The volunteer stayed with me until I left the hospital and she gave me information about the Rape Crisis Program services and their support. Because of her words and the Rape Crisis program referral, I received exceptional counseling, loving support and educational guidance throughout my complete recovery. The perpetrator was arrested and the case went to trial. At the trial, Rape Crisis counselors, volunteers and the program director were there to support me at every phase of the process. During my testimony, I felt a power of strength, caring and compassion from them all. Their support gave me the courage to carry on and endure a week-long trial process. In the end the perpetrator was found guilty and 27 years later is still serving a life sentence.
Since 2006, every three years, he comes up for parole. Even after all these years, The Women’s Center’s Rape Crisis staff and volunteers are always there for me. I think it took me about a year after the attack to assimilate this event into my life and move beyond the pain, fear and shame.
Today I live a happy, productive life full of family, friends, and I have a variety of hobbies and interests. I am also a volunteer for the Rape Crisis Program at The Women’s Center. Even today, I will never forget those first words the volunteer said me, ‘I’m here for you….’ This is how my recovery started…and how I got my life back. “
Victim Advocates are called to the hospital for all rape exams, to give comfort and information to the survivor and their family. Learn more about becoming a Victim Advocate; attend the Volunteer Orientation Saturday, September 7th. More information available here.