Victim Impact Statement

Dear Your Honor:

I am writing to give my Victim Impact Statement for the assault that occurred by the defendant on December 2, 2017.

I was running north on Sixth Street between Monroe and Adams on the sidewalk.  As I approached Studio on 6th and Del’s Popcorn Shop, I noticed the defendant sitting on the bench and she started to point at me and say something unintelligible.  As I continued to run, I moved closer to the buildings to give her space.  She jumped up and ran directly at me, hitting me, while saying that I was an Aryan and she needed to kill me.  I am an experienced runner but I had to sprint at full speed and she was still able to assault me several times.  She was punching me and grabbing at my clothing around my neck to pull me down to the ground.  I was yelling, “No, no, no!” with my arm outstretched to try to keep her away.  She was hitting me several times, grabbing at my clothing, and trying to tackle me to the ground, all the while she was saying that she needed to kill me.  I noticed that she had something in her hand, but I didn’t know what it was until after she was arrested.  The police told me that she had a knife.  After several minutes, I was able to break away and run as fast as I could across 6th Street to Café Andiamo.   I screamed for help, told them that the defendant was going to kill me, and to call 9-1-1.  The staff immediately took me to the back and went outside to track the defendant.  The defendant immediately hid and changed her hat to avoid identification.

I sustained bruises and scratches from this attack on my arms, back, and especially around my neck where the defendant was pulling at my clothing to pull me down to the ground.  My clothing was stretched and ripped.

I suffered from nightmares and anxiety attacks for weeks after the attack.  I had to seek mental health counseling for the anxiety and PTSD I experienced as a result of the attack.  I was afraid for the safety of my children and my family.  My children had to see their strong, resilient mother upset and terrified.  My spouse had to hold me while I cried whenever the wave of fear would hit me.  I was afraid to run in my own city and I was afraid to run anywhere alone.  Running is a major part of my life, yet it has been tarnished by this attack.  I am afraid to be downtown, a place I loved, especially in the area of the attack.   I am afraid of people on the street.  I truly was traumatized by these events and I will carry them with me for the rest of my life.  This trauma was felt again when I learned of the defendant’s release.  I have to remind myself daily that the defendant will not be able to hurt me again.

To be honest, I am very upset that the defendant has been allowed to be released and to be assigned to the mental health court.  I understand that the defendant suffers from mental illness, but as the court is aware, this is not her first criminal offense.  She made the choice to stop taking her medication and she attacked a stranger on the street.  I am a mother of young children, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, a friend, a colleague, and a professional.  I did not engage the defendant in any way, yet she threatened my life multiple times while assaulting me and trying to tackle me to the ground.  I am still terrorized by the thought of what could have happened had I not been able to get away.  What if I had not been a runner?

I understand that the defendant has stipulations to her probation and I beg the court to be vigilant if she violates any condition of her probation.  She made a choice to stop taking her medication and she attacked a complete stranger and threatened my life.  Next time, the attack could be deadly.  I am speaking out to protect any future victims of this defendant.

To the defendant, I beg of you to make the most of this opportunity to be on probation and to seek treatment.  I beg of you to think how you would feel if you or your family member had been attacked, unprovoked, by someone on the street.  I know that you suffer from a mental illness and I do want you to get the treatment you need.  However, I do not believe your treatment should be at the risk of the next person who encounters you in a delusional state.  Please take your medication and live the best life you can!  Please do not ever terrorize or attack another innocent person.

You’ve been hit… Will you choose fear or love?

We arrived home from a wonderful, Thanksgiving dinner with all of my favorite family members when my wife commented that something was on the porch. I believe her comment went something like, “What did you order that was delivered on Thanksgiving?”

She stopped the car before pulling in the garage and said, “The glass is broken.” I jumped out of the car and yelled, “Call 9-1-1.” She said something cautious like, “We don’t know what happened,” to which I replied sternly, “Call 9-1-1.” All of my years of watching Dateline and Law & Order had prepared me for this moment. I knew what had happened. We had been burglarized and we needed help. I ran in the house through the hole in the glass of the door looking for the bad guys and to take inventory of our house, as if I were a crime scene detective. When my wife called 9-1-1, they immediately told her to get me out of the house. Oops!

I alerted the neighbor to see if he knew anything, which I also learned from my true-crime-TV-watching. He did not. We waited for the police to arrive, which seemed like forever, especially when I was sure the bad guys were plotting their escape. The police arrived and cleared our house with guns drawn. When they made sure we were safe, they asked us to enter and report anything that was disturbed, taken, or damaged. I felt so strange entering my own home, which was now a crime scene. They left all of the big items which I was expecting to be stolen: TV, wedding rings, jewelry, computers, etc. What did they take? They took away our naïve thinking that we were immune to a robbery.

For the first few days, I had a hard time feeling safe in our home. I set the whole house alarm that night, which had not been set since the day it had been installed. I did not sleep well as I worried that they would be back or that they might spread the word to other robbery acquaintances. Do they have a Facebook group?  We spoke with our nanny at length about the new reality of our house when she arrived a couple of days later. “This might seem like a nice house, but prepare for intruders. Here is your worst-case scenario guide in case any other tragedy might occur. We’ll be installing rooftop cannons very soon. We just haven’t had time, yet.” I am truly surprised she didn’t run for the hills, as we were clearly preparing for Armageddon.

As setting the alarm is becoming routine, I am feeling more safe and full of gratitude. We were not home or harmed when someone broke into our home. We did not lose any items of sentiment, such as those given to us from special people who have passed. We learned a lesson to use the resources we had (our home alarm) to keep our family, including our animals, safe.

What about the families who do not have the resources to pay a monthly fee for a home alarm? What about the families who live in neighborhoods were robberies are common, even inevitable? Are we surprised that low-income neighborhoods, where robberies occur daily, are full of guns? If you lived in a neighborhood where crimes and home intrusions are inevitable, would you feel comfortable or even safe without a gun?

Within minutes of arriving home to found our house intruded upon, I wanted to head to the nearest store to buy a gun for protection, as if an untrained woman with a gun would provide more safety than harm to my little family. This whole concept of wanting a gun for protection, in the midst of such fear for our personal safety, made me think so differently about guns and the desires to own them. As my fears have subsided since the robbery, so have my desires to run out and buy a gun.

How do we change the system? Are we a part of a system where people are separated into haves and have-nots? Are we easy targets because we live in a neighborhood where excess is more commonplace than “not enough?” If I were poor and without resources, would I feel like those living in places of comfort were easy targets as well? Are we part of a system where those who want to make better lives for themselves cannot and have to resort to a life of crime to feed their families?

I live in a neighborhood where a break-in is not commonplace, as proven by the response on the homeowners’ association Facebook page. The outrage and finger-pointing I witnessed by people in the neighborhood was alarming. They had even identified a suspect, who was a racial minority, and was later identified as a young man visiting his grandparents. Can you imagine being a racial minority and being labeled as a suspect for merely visiting your grandparents in a neighborhood where a break-in occurred? This speaks to me so profoundly about the true racism in America. If we want to change our nation, we should stop treating people who are different than us as threats.

We would not need guns as equalizers, if we treated every person as an equal. If we stopped acting out of fear and started acting out of love, would we change the way our country viewed guns? I spoke to a neighbor about my desire to go buy a gun and this was his response, “My friends who own guns never seem to have enough guns and always seem to have to buy more guns.” Do you remember the Wiley E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons where they would order more and bigger explosives from ACME to out-gun each other? No one ever won, they just kept blowing each other up. They were cartoons, but we live in real life, where we won’t return after being hit with a box full of explosives.

So, I’m choosing love, not fear.  I’m choosing to act out of love and gratitude that my family was not harmed.  I will not let fear win.

Don’t re-victimize your family in the name of the holidays…

Thanksgiving, Christmas, family dinners, family gatherings, family…
You can’t miss it at all: the expectations, the merriment, the love and laughter shared by family at the holidays is plastered on every commercial and advertisement proclaiming this time of year.
“Be merry! Love your family!
Forgive and forget so we can all get together and be happy! Don’t say or do anything to upset anyone and certainly don’t do anything to indicate that everything is anything but merry… and perfect!”
Do you know what is worse than being a victim of trauma at the hands of a family member? Being asked, forced, begged, guilted, and berated into attending a family function with your perpetrator because he/she is family and nothing is more important than family…
Did anyone force, berate, guilt, or condemn this family member when he was traumatizing you or your family? No, we wouldn’t want to intrude or stick our noses into a private, family matter. Yet, you, the victim, are being asked to sit at a table with someone who caused you harm, trauma, and years of mental, emotional, and physical torture.
Let me now say that I have invested years of my life in therapy and healing so many old traumas and wounds. I do not want to waste a minute of my life holding on to the pain of the past instead of enjoying the present. I have forgiven, but I will not forget, and I certainly will not put myself in a situation where my abuser can have access to me in the future.
So, why do family members who claim to love, support, and care for me ask me to sacrifice my mental, emotional, and physical safety so that we are all together for the holidays? Why do we, as a society, tend to overlook real pain and hurt to make ourselves feel better? Why are we so caught up in the picture-perfect holidays that we put those we love in harm’s way to accomplish it? Even if it is only emotional harm, are we showing our family true and authentic love by asking family members to sacrifice their boundaries and personal feelings for the greater good of looking like a perfect family?
I have had grandparents who know of the trauma caused by my parent ask me to attend family functions as a gift to them, a deathbed wish. I have had sisters who have personally witnessed the trauma ask why I won’t attend family functions with this parent? I want to know why we think we can ask someone who has been a victim to sacrifice for our comfort?
Would we ever ask a family of a murder victim to eat with the murderer? Would we ask a sexual assault survivor to eat with her rapist? Only if the rapist is family…
Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to re-traumatize your family. If someone is uncomfortable attending a family gathering, extend your love, empathy, and understanding. You may even consider not inviting an abuser to your holiday, family or not.

Why am I writing?

I have been writing since I was a little girl.  I have always used writing to make sense of my world and to communicate all that was happening in my very busy mind.  I want to share my experiences to help others.

When I share stories of my family of origin with people who I know and love, I am most often met with looks of shock.  I endured trauma and abuse at the hands of adults who were supposed to protect me.  I want to write my story to help those who have also experienced trauma feel less alone.  I think love and connection can heal all wounds.  If we are BRAVE enough to share our stories, we can connect with others authentically and allow the LOVE of these relationships to WIN over any darkness which may remain.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!  Be Brave, Love Wins!