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"One year ago, I locked my door and went to sleep; like we all do on any given night. Unfortunately, this night was like no other before and was one I will never be able to forget. I woke up that night to a co-worker who had undressed himself, crawled into my bed and raped me. "
Kathleen, rape survivor

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In the moment Kathleen decided to report it, she knew that the healing process and reality of rape was far bigger than her. At first her fight was against her assailant and her crime. Then, when Kathleen saw society's silence on the matter and the closed door for survivors in the judicial system, she knew that her stand would be a much bigger fight; and one she could not ignore. Kathleen started her fight with the judicial system, joined our online support group and chat room for rape survivors, and will continue with her voice for years to come. This is her story.

      I am angry. One year ago, I locked my door and went to sleep; like we all do on any given night. Unfortunately, this night was like no other before and was one I will never be able to forget. I woke up that night to a co-worker who had undressed himself, crawled into my bed and raped me.

      What I didn't realize at the time was that he not only raped me physically, he raped my life. In the time it takes to run to a Burger King drive-through and back, he had broken into my home, where most of us feel safest, and changed my life forever. I woke up that night without a choice of being the same person or living my life as I had known it, ever again.

Most of us, when asked to describe our self-concept, will include our job or that we are a hard worker; that is what we do, we work. After that night, I went from a completely functional person who worked sixty hours a week and went to school at night, to dead inside. To wake up one day, as an adult, and realize that you are no longer in the driver seat of your life and have no control over your capability to perform normal every day tasks, is not only a foreign reality but frightening one. Instead, you are now someone who is unable to simply walk into work, clock in for 8 hours, perform your tasks, and clock out; all because it takes everything you have, to keep up with your body's natural reaction to trauma and to process all that is different in you, and your life. What made it freaky for me, was the unknown. You have absolutely no way of forecasting when you will be back to "normal", nor do you realize at the time that your concept of normal is outdated because you will never be the same. This mental, physical, and emotional process is one you could ever prepare for.

      I had a few choices in front of me; my choice was to report the crime. Even though the company I worked for knew what he did, they kept him hired on and I had to quit my job. It was no longer the job that I knew, day in and day out, for over six years. I tried but I couldn't work with him there, especially while we were in the middle of a judicial battle... especially ever. Because I reported it and he was a coworker, people started finding out and taking sides fast. It is a huge wake up call when you see what every single person in your life is really made of; in their values, in their ability to face serious things, and in their moment of truth in choosing to be an honest person or a weak one.

      On top of dealing with my personal trauma from the event, everything in my life being different and uglier, losing my job, and the explosion of people's reactions to me being raped, I was experiencing our judicial system. As if I wasn't already thrown for a loop, I started to learn what women are up against, in society and the judicial process. When I reported it, I thought... "That is what you do, right? It is cause and effect; he did a crime and should be punished." It's a good thing I had so much evidence because I learned fast that rape and sexual assault is the hardest felony to convict anyone of. It all stems back to how our culture views women and the stigma around sex in our society. Organized religions also affect this and both genders are guilty of it.

      The court's process and society mesh into one for me. What I have learned in experiencing both has hurt me deeply to my core. I am disgusted and sickened, not just as a victim of a horrific crime, but as a human being. I learned the hard way that most people don't report being raped or assaulted, and why. This is not to say that I would change how I handled it by any means, because I would not. I just wish the world was a prettier place. The whole judicial process ended up being about how the defense could discredit me. Your rapist knowing the tiniest bit of information about you, your life, or anyone in it, is a huge obstacle you are up against in an acquaintance rape and a marital rape.

      In the 5 months it took to get to end the judicial process, I lost about 90% of the people in my life (not an exaggeration); from my best friends to acquaintances. Some immediately took a rapist's side and some already ran from their own issues in life, so there was no way they wanted to face something as raw and intense as this. Turns out women can be your biggest enemy and you have to watch out for women jurors; so much for girl power. People want to find reasoning for it, so they blame the victim. Lord knows, if any of these women realized that I wasn't to blame and didn't bring it on myself, then it would be a random act and that would mean it could happen to them!

      The most hurtful of all were the women who were raped before, as they were challenged by me reporting it and by their demons about their own rape. Every single woman I knew who had experienced it (not that I had known that they were raped until they found out that I was) turned on me, blamed me, made up vicious lies about me in statements to the judge, and were willing to commit perjury on the stand by misconstruing things about my past and lying about things that had never happened in my life. They could not believe that I was doing this to him (by reporting it), or that I would "ruin" his life. And then turned around in the same conversation to say how "messed up" they still are from it. These women, along with other coworkers of both sexes, would hold weekly "I hate Kathleen" meetings to plot how they were going to take me down in court.

      So, everything around me, people, and the judicial process, became about discrediting me. I was accused of everything under the sun and called "crazy", "nuts", "losing it", "pimp", "sl*t", anyone that knew me knew that I wasn't an honest, trustworthy person, and so on and so on. My whole life became public, including the things about me or my life that were not true and never happened. In fact, most everything was a lie! There was not one thing in my life that was my own, not myself in who I was before that night, not any part of my life... I was the one on trial.       Since then I have lost a few more people. People are not who you think they are; at least not when it truly matters. Most are not willing to face their demons, but in my situation, they showed them to me in the end.

       It came down to two choices for me: #1. I could stay dead inside. I could turn my cheek to myself like the majority of society by pretending nothing happened. I could choose not to address my pain and risk my potential to be happy by inviting bad people and unhealthy dynamics in; which happens naturally when you do not care enough about yourself. Or #2. I could ensure a full and healthy recovery by facing and accepting it, fight for my life and my health, stand up to fight with truth against statistics, our society, and judicial system, and dive inside myself to face, process, and let go of every ounce of pain. I chose the latter. It takes everything you have to be healthy again, and is a losing battle for a lot of people. It is that huge. I am sick of accommodating others' comfort zones because they don't want to talk about rape - what alienates me day in and day out - when I'm the one that actually has to deal with it. Where was my comfort zone that night?

      He may have that night and he may have what he made different, BUT I am making sure that he will NEVER have my quality of life or mental health in the end. He does not win. They do not win.

Kathleen Mary FitzPatrick


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If you are in a crisis situation we urge to contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional.

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