Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Am A Veteran Of Veteran's Day - By Vicki Polin

I don't think of myself as a victim, survivor or thriver of child sexual abuse or sexual assault.  I see myself as being a veteran -- just as those who served in the armed forces -- who have fought to protect the civil rights of Americans and citizens in foreign countries. I am personally a veteran of the war against humanity -- the war against allowing anyone to destroy souls.  
Twenty-seven years ago today I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew.  After I was raped I had learned that John assaulted a nun in his uncles parish.  Because of her religious beliefs and perhaps political pressure -- and because she took a vow of forgiveness, this nuns refused to work with law enforcement to have criminal charges press charges against the individual who raped her.  
I always wondered if this nun pressed charges, if I would not have been raped?

One of the things most people don't even consider is that when a woman is raped, she not only risks the possibility of getting some sort of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), she also might have to face the possibility of becoming pregnant from the assault.  
I was one of the 4.7% of women who became pregnant from the assault.  Like many other women who are faced with this dilemma, I had to decide what I wanted to do with the pregnancy.  I guess on some levels I was fortunate.  Within a few weeks of learning I was pregnant, I learned I had an ectopic pregnancy.  I no longer needed to decide what to do, because the choice was between life and death.
After the rape I used the legal system, yet the assault occurred in November, 1983 -- a few months before the sexual assault acts of 1984 became law.  Nothing happened to the rapist, except for getting a year of supervision for harassing calls after the rape.  
The first anniversary that the supervision was up, the man who raped me some how got my unlisted telephone number -- and left me a threatening telephone message on my answering machine.  He wanted to let me know he was going to come back to do it all over again.  I was fortunate that I happened to be out of town on that day.  I have no idea if he stopped by where I lived or not that night?  Emotionally I didn't call in to get his message until a few days after, the date he said he was coming back.
Jon the rapist stalked me for several years after the assault.  During this time there were no laws on the books to protect me, nor a legal definition for his stalking behavior.  Can you imagine being a young female in her twenties, with no family support trying to cope?  This was one of the most horrendous times in my life.  I was fortunate, because a few years had passed, and there finally were rape counseling centers.  When I called the police to report the phone threat, I was referred to a rape crisis center.  
My rape advocate who was a licensed social worker -- with highly specialized training, helped turn my life around.  It seemed she knew exactly how I felt, what I was thinking and knew all the right people to help protect my civil rights.  Helen G. saved my life and is one of the reason why I've dedicated the last twenty-six years of my life to helping others.  
If it wasn't for Helen and those involved in creating the first rape crisis centers in Chicago and around the world, I would not be here today, nor would The Awareness Center ever have been created.  
My dream for many years has been  to raise enough funds for The Awareness Center to have an international summit/conference to bring like minded people together -- and so that not only could a dialog really get started in the Jewish world, but also so that we could honor the individuals, with whom saved my life -- and in-turn saved the lives of every survivor, parent, community leader who has ever contacted myself or The Awareness Center for help.
The Awareness Center is not unlike any other non-profit organization, we are struggling to stay afloat.  We need your financial support Today! 
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