She stared at the floor, startled easily, and ate her lunch alone in silence—but her body language spoke volumes. The mere fact that Sue attended that sexual assault survivor gathering in the fall of 2013 revealed that she had taken a great step forward. A staff person from Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault approached Sue, acknowledging her great strength in coming to the meeting as she began her journey of recovery.
Sue’s story is sadly familiar for those in the sexual assault field: abuse from a family friend as a small child, the use of drugs and alcohol to cope, the unwillingness to go on. It was after her last rape, when the man looked at her as if she was already dead, that she became angry enough to act. After a referral to therapy and support, she realized her abuse was not her fault. She did not just survive, she thrived. Holding her head high, she has embraced self-worth and shares her stories.