Yesterday

So, yesterday was the day I testified in court on the details of my rape.

A little background, for those who may not know.  On December 10th, 2002 as I was walking toward the train station for school, I was attacked and raped by a man I do not know.  The attack happened around the trails behind Shoshone Park.  I was 15 at the time of my rape.  My mother helped me call 911 when I got home and I went and had a rape kit done and everything (including taking way too many pills for various things.)  DNA was found in that rape kit and as a result we had two breakthroughs on the case.

The first was in 2007, when the DNA connected my case to another assault case that occurred on the Buffalo State College campus.  The woman in that case was not raped, but she fended off the attacker and he got away, leaving his hat behind.  The hair found in the hat matched that found in my rape.

The second was in February of 2010.  I was working overnights at the time, so I slept during the day.  Halfway through my phone goes off, once with a text message, once with a phone call and once to alert me that I had a voicemail.  I ignored all at the time, thinking it was probably unimportant.  When I woke up, I checked my text message first.  It was from my mom and it said that a woman named Jackie was about to call me.  She was the detective on my case at the time.  Apparently the DNA had finally hit in the database and they had his name.  The voicemail reiterated that.  After 7 long years they finally had his name.  They finally found him.

From there, they went through the process of putting him through the justice system.  I had an ADA from the Special Victims Bureau in Buffalo offer a deal the accused turned it down.  In July of 2010 I went and testified in front of the Grand Jury as to what had happened.  They returned with 6 indictments.  From what I gather, 3 of them are of forcible rape of some kind (I am not sure whether or not a sodomy charge has gone into this) and 3 of them are for statutory rape (since I was 15 at the time.) The trial date was then set for May.

And here we are.  Yesterday was the most nerve-wracking, scariest day of my life.  It’s hard to describe to anyone what sitting up on that stand and telling a room full of strangers (with 4 exceptions: the ADA, my dad and my sister, and the CAC advocate.) about the worst day of my life.  I went through the entire ordeal, I specified as much as I could.  I went through the direct aftermath and the immediate aftermath (what happened to my grades, how I handled other people, the effects of all the medications that I had.)  I was shown several photos and aerial views of the location of my attack and asked to point to the locations where it happened.  I had to mark my intended route on a map and mark where exactly everything occurred.  I had to view photos of myself from the hospital afterward.  I’m grateful I didn’t have to answer any questions about the 911 call (which I’ve heard.)  And I had to be cross-examined.  To which I will give the defense attorney a lot of credit.  For the most part, I was asked questions about protocol (although I can’t really give much for that) and he only asked one question that would make someone uncomfortable.

I was told that my testimony should be videotaped to teach others how to testify.  That’s how good I was.  To tell the truth, it was only the need to see justice done that kept me composed enough to testify.  I cried for a lot of it.  When I would stop, I’d look over at my sister and the site of her in distress just made me start again.  I was so nervous I kept rocking in the seat I was in because the movement kept me calm.  And anyone that knows me won’t be surprised to hear that I had my Pooky bear with me the entire time.  I don’t know how I would’ve stayed calm if I couldn’t hug my bear the whole time.  It’s not an experience I would wish on anybody.

I have no way of visually identifying my assailant.  I never saw his face.  I have only the DNA (tested at least twice, once on the defendant’s request) that tells me that this is the man that did this to me.   I hope to God it’s right and that he can never do this to another girl again.

My mother testified today.  Under NYS law, I am not allowed back into the courtroom until closing arguments and for the verdict.  At the very least, I don’t want to be working when I get the phone call with the verdict (though I pray it’ll be the answer I want to hear.)  My ADA has 8 other witnesses (including my mom) left to testify.  Yesterday was the DNA expert and I.  Today at least was going to be my mom and the nurse present when I showed up at the hospital.  My father and sister wish to see the whole thing.

I want to say thank you to all those who have known/read my story and support me, either in person, words or in spirit.  You are all so kind and I can’t thank you enough.  I have the most amazing friends, even if I’ve never seen their faces they support me through it all.  Waking up this morning and seeing all the well-wishes that I had for yesterday lifted my spirits more than I can express.

To anyone that wishes to know details, I’m just a message away.  I don’t wish to post them all here for anyone who might be a little squeamish.  But if you truly desire to hear my story in its entirety, I will never mind telling it to you.

I love you all.

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