Author Archive

Thank you, Jon Stewart.

October 16, 2009

Senator Al Franken proposed an amendment that would deny defense contracts to companies that ask employees to sign away the right to sue if they are raped. It passed by a 68-30 vote in the Senate, all 30 “nay” votes coming from members of the same party.

Although Jon Stewart is an entertainer and comedian, he tackles news and events with refreshing candor (and, of course, sarcasm brilliantly intermixed with video clips). He didn’t let the 30 “nay” voters off the hook on this one.  As Stewart so aptly puts it, ‘if ever there was a time for the unanimous passing of an amendment, the Franken anti-government contractor rape liability bill would seem to be that. ‘

This isn’t a blog about politics, but don’t you think we’ve gone a little over the edge when we can’t agree to protect women from rape? I have a feeling if those 30 senators had family or friends who were rape survivors, they would have voted differently.

I don’t think I can express my outrage more lucidly or calmly than Jon Stewart does in this clip, so please watch and enjoy.

Love to you and yours.

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What about the boys?

August 16, 2009

Our fearless SOAR leader, Kellie, sent me this great op-ed piece from the New York Times.

Women At Risk, by Bob Herbert

In the article, Bob Herbert focuses on several current events that shocked the country: the 2006 Amish schoolhouse shooting of 10 little girls, the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, and just a few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh-area shooting in an aerobics class. What do these three attacks have in common? Shooters with a hatred for women.
Somewhere in their lives,  these cowardly men were each shot down (no pun intended) by a woman or multiple women. They felt rejected, and wanted to get revenge for the pain a woman caused them by causing pain to females at large.

What have we done wrong? How did our society get to a point where getting turned down for a few dates causes a man to go shoot an entire aerobics class with a pregnant instructor?!? Whelp, here’s my opinion:

I constantly hear experts, police officers, and even groups like SOAR educating women on how to be safe, protect themselves from attackers in a dark alley, and defend themselves if they are being attacked by a crazed man.  I even remember being in elementary school (I was 10!) and taking a self-defense class. While those are all well and good, I have to ask:

Why aren’t we teaching our boys and young men to respect women? Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but perhaps if parents didn’t tolerate disrespect toward girls/women, our women wouldn’t have to worry (as much) about being attacked while on a jog.

In the grocery store the other day, I actually saw an older brother (about 13 years old ) hit his younger sister on the bottom repeatedly (she was probably 5ish). Despite her screams, the mom just told him to “be nice”. She didn’t tell him that was inappropriate  for him to touch her daughter like that or that hitting a girl isn’t okay.  Now, you might argue, as the mom did, that this is just “boys being boys”. Since when has behavior like this become acceptable? Personally, I’m tired of the “boys being boys” argument. Boys can still roll in the mud, play sports, and even eat boogers without disrespecting women. There has to be a line, and parents need to step up and teach their boys respect.

Now, I’m not saying that parents failing to teach their boys respect for women is the cause of all violence against women. Obviously, that’d be a “fallacy of a single cause” — there are far too many reasons to list for why women are victimized.  All I’m trying to do is point out that while it’s great to focus on educating girls and women, we also need to be teaching our boys respect.

Isn’t it at least worth a try?

Anger Management anyone?

June 12, 2009

I realize this post might take this blog in a different direction. (Whether this is good or awful is yet to be seen. . .) The last few posts on here have been awe-inspiring, joyful, and really powerful testimonies of the incredible women of SOAR. I’m in awe of the caliber of the women in this group. Honestly, I don’t feel worthy to be among Team SOAR, especially during spells like the one I’m in now.

Over the past sixish years since I was attacked, I’ve been through the typical gamut of emotions — sadness, loneliness, fear, self-pity, self-loathing, pure survivor’s bliss— you name it. Through hundreds of hours of counseling and personal development, I thought I had gotten past the “bad spells”. A few weeks ago, I started to realize I was in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. Much like a mid-life crisis, I was having feelings of worthlessness,  feeling generally lost in life, and feeling as though I didn’t measure up to my own (and society’s) ridiculously high standards. I finally have come to the conclusion that it’s more than a quarter-life crisis: I’m in an “angry” stage of my life-long recovery.

I shake with anger when I think of my rapist (who has never been brought to trial) still being free to attack again. I cried angrily when I read the horror that Debbie (see previous post) had to go through to find some semblance of justice. I even vomited a few weeks ago when I heard about children as young as a day-old being raped because of the myth in Africa that raping a virgin will rid a man of HIV (read the CNN article here).

I’m a straight-laced businesswoman all day, but lately I have found myself lacking eloquence and composure even in a professional environment, where I normally excel. I used to handle telling my survival story with ease, but lately, I’ve struggled to get the words out without shaking. I started to tell a co-worker who runs a self-defense studio (as a side-business) about SOAR and how valuable his practice is, and I couldn’t finish. I literally couldn’t tell my story because I was so angry!

When does this anger subside? I abhor being an angry person (Yup! I’m angry about being angry) I’ve tried to refocus the anger toward doing positive, results-oriented actions, but am I just covering up the real issue?

Before I was raped, I used to run when I was emotional (hmmm, maybe that’s why I ran so much 🙂 ), but I was attacked while I was out running. To this day, I still can’t run longer than 5 minutes without freaking out. The sensation that someone is following me is just too much for my body to handle. My attacker even took one of my biggest passions away from me. . .you guessed it! That makes me even more angry!

It’s not just running that’s been taken away from me. Virtually every area of my life has been affected – my worldview, my health, my brain functioning (I sustained brain damage from the attack), my ability to get insurance from aforementioned drain bamage, my education and speech – again, drain bamage, doctor’s visits, my ability to run, my sex life (overshare?), my goals, my faith, my family and friends. . .I know I’m not the only one here. I know you’ve all been through this anger stage! ARGH!

So what do you think? What helps you get through the angry days? Am I ridiculously emotional? (okay, maybe ‘yes’ to the last question 😉 ) Will this stage pass like all of the others have?

Bravo if you made it all the way through this post. I know so many of you have experienced or maybe are currently experiencing anger as a result of the trauma you’ve experienced; I sincerely appreciate any ideas, advice, or commiserating stories you can offer!!

Love to you and yours.


Making News and Making Laws: Team SOAR Member Makes History

June 11, 2009

Thanks to Team SOAR’s Debbie for this powerful guest post!

Before I tell you the rest of the story, I would like to give a little background so you understand what a miraculous journey this has been.

About 4 years ago, a group was formed for Cold Case victims whose cases had been reopened. The Victim Advocate Coordinator, Pat Keaton of the Dallas Police Department in the Crimes Against Persons Unit could see these women (me included) were facing new and old emotions relating to their case.

Our support system we had 20 plus years ago couldn’t understand why we wanted our cases solved. It felt, as no one understood what we were going through until we met and found comfort in each other. We would talk about our lives and how people reacted to us but most importantly, we wanted to learn how to be strong.

As the years passed, we did just that, we became empowered and our involvement with the public grew, we were breaking new ground. In 2005, a reporter told us our interviews with the media showed a face for the first time in Texas. We felt it was important to make the public aware and educate them about sexual assault. In 2005, I interviewed with CNN and my story went national. Then in 2006, 2 more ladies went national with their stories. One of our ladies has been on Nancy Grace more than once and is a resource for the show when sexual assault issues come up. Six of us have appeared on local T.V. and three of us more than once. We made a Documentary with UNT students to raise awareness on college campuses in the spring of 2007. Then I got a surprise when I told my story to the Voices and Faces Project and this organization took my story and many others from across the globe, international. It helped opened a dialogue for women to discuss problems in their Country at the conference in Taipei, Taiwan. The Voices and Faces project was awarded the 2008 Making a Difference for Women award from the United Nations and they thanked me for participating. Wow, educating women across the globe, a dream come true.

We watch the news closely and as a group we were dishearten about the fact our D.A. was getting convictions overturned for those falsely accused. No one should be imprisoned for something they didn’t do but why couldn’t DNA evidence be put on our offender’s criminal history for Law Enforcement to use. Our next step was to contact the D.A. and he met with us so we could ask him our questions. He promised us he would check into the Law and the Constitution for what we wanted to do and get back with us. We had a second meeting with him and his staff in the conference room of the Chief of Police and now things were beginning to move forward. Our Facilitator Pat was diligent about getting our group heard in Austin. We wrote letters to committee members and learned we had an Author of our Bill. It was incredible since we had just started this around the first of the year and now we were going to Austin to speak to the committee.

On April 1st, the room was respectfully quiet and somber as four of us told our stories. It was the first time I had heard two of our ladies tell their stories in detail and their first time telling it in public. I was so moved by the courage they showed it brought tears to my eyes including those of the committee. At the conclusion, they voted unanimously to send it on to the House of Representatives. The House voted 145 yeas, 0 nays and 1 absent! Next, it had to pass the Senate so we made another trip to Austin on April 19th and spoke with the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. This time 5 of us told our stories and the recall of what happened to one of the first time speakers was bringing tears and needed consoling, but what a great job these courageous women did! We were assured this Bill would not be debated and would soon be voted on and the committee did not see a problem for passing it in the Senate. The committee voted unanimously to pass it through to the Senate. We went out into the hall of the Capitol crying tears of joy and hugging each other. Senator Corona’s Assistant Preston said, “Ladies, you are making history here today.”

On May 29, the vote in the Senate was 141 yeas, 1 nay, and 1 not voting. Now we are waiting to hear when the Governor will sign it into law and we hope to be there for that signing.

You can see the history of our Bill on the internet just go to Texas Legislature Online and click on Bill lookup, put in HB 2932 and put in history for the information type.

Thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, well wishes and shouts of joy. I love you all!

– Debbie

For more information about this bill, go to:

Witnessing History

April 10, 2009
Our fearless leader, Kellie, with President Obama

Our fearless leader, Kellie, with President Obama

April 8, 2009 was a historic day in the fight against sexual assault. For the first time in history, a Presidential Proclamation was issued to recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  As a survivor and advocate for sexual assault awareness, I am proud of our President’s decision to formally recognize the terror so many women (and men) face and join our fight against this brutal crime.  No matter your political affiliation, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that executive recognition of this month is another step toward eradicating sexual crime and improving public awareness.

Below is an excerpt of President Obama’s proclamation:

“Sexual assault scars the lives of millions in the United States. To increase awareness about this issue, prevent future crimes, and aid victims, this month we mark National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. . .To make continued progress, my Administration supports efforts to help Americans better understand this issue. Working together, we can reduce the incidence of sexual assault and help all who have experienced this heinous crime.”

To read the  Presidential Proclamation in its entirety, please click here.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about upcoming SOAR events!

Love to you and yours — Amanda

Welcome to the Team SOAR blog!

April 1, 2009

Team SOAR began in 2007 as a group of 23 women who span the country, making a difference in our communities by speaking out. True, we are all survivors of sexual crimes, but we aren’t much different than your neighbor, sister, best friend, or mom. To read more about the incredible women of Team SOAR, visit here.

So, why a blog?

• Team SOAR’s blog is meant to be a resource for survivors and their loved ones. While everyone’s story is unique, sharing in each other’s journeys to recovery is empowering and healing.

• We want this to be an educational forum for the public. We want the stigmas associated with victim/survivor to change; the general public needs to realize survivors are real, normal people just like their family, friends, or neighbors. We aren’t merely statistics!

Blog topics will range from projects SOAR is working on to issues that survivors deal with to legislation and current events that we feel passionate about. Got something we should talk about? Be sure to leave it in the comments section. We want to hear from you! Along the way, you’ll get to know our bloggers pretty well.  We are just three of the 23 members of Team SOAR, but we will have guest bloggers along the way to keep things interesting.

I’m Amanda. I work in Human Resources/Recruiting in beautiful Colorado. I’ve been married for almost two years, and we bought our first home last November. I love card-making and cooking and embarrassed as I am to admit this at times, pageants. The heavy stuff: I survived a brutal attack and sexual assault about six years ago while on my daily run. I underwent a lot of brain therapy counseling to get through it, and still deal with side effects of the trauma today. It’s a reality I live with happily, because I’m living.

My motto is “Do Something”, because I believe every person should find a cause they care about or a problem they see in the world and do something about it. That’s one of many reasons I joined SOAR  (This won’t be as the last time I mention ‘do something’ on this blog!)

You’ll get to meet the other lovely bloggers in the following posts. They’re phenomenal women and I’m privileged to know them! We’re kicking off this blog April 1, and it’s no accident. April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Stay tuned for the many events Team SOAR members are participating in this month!

Love to you and yours —- Amanda