Olivia's Story
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Olivia's Story

"I was actually in between classes, going over to Whole Foods to get food, to get dinner. ... The policy at the [dance] studio at the time was that you couldn't walk through the studio, walk through the classes. The rule is that you'd walk around the studio. I chose to take the [W&OD Trail] path, because around the other side of the studio there is a vacant lot β€” there's no sidewalk, there's no light, and it's a blind corner for drivers. ... The path was much more lit. I had seen all kinds of women jogging and doing things on the path, and it really wasn't that dark yet at all.

"I went over to get food, and on the way back, someone came up behind me. He was very strong, and he grabbed me by my upper arms.

"I was too little to know what to do and didn't really fight back at that point. He dragged me over into the woods, and there's a creek. It's kind of a ways from the path, but not too far. There's a lot of brush there. ... There's a wall that encloses the bank parking lot. ... He dragged me back there, and then two of his buddies arrived with a car and came over the wall. ... Another guy pulled out a knife, which they used repeatedly as a threat and to show their power.

"The three of them repeatedly raped me, and they had planned to take me to their other friends and then kill me. This was over the span of about an hour and a half or so. As part of the plan, when they were done, they were going to lift me over the wall β€” the two guys had already gone over β€” and the main guy who was the strongest and kind of the ring leader, he was lifting me over the wall. ... In the course of passing me to the next guy, for the first time his grip loosened. That was when I clicked in to what I was doing. I didn't scream or anything, because they had too much between the knife and the strength, there was no point. I felt like my arms were going to break off. In the course of passing me over, I kicked him twice and his grip loosened, and I ran and got away."

"I SPENT ABOUT an hour back at the studio cleaning up and covering up the cuts, because there were so many, and went back to class. ... Everyone was in class by then.

"They had threatened that if I would tell anyone, they would come find me and kill me, and kill my friends and my family. From then on, there was enough fear in me that I didn't tell anyone for a year. No one had asked, and I guess I covered up and went on with life.

"I didn't know what was wrong with me, I had no idea. ... I didn't remember until the year anniversary, when I had the first of many nightmares. ... I came to school and was uncharacteristically very extremely upset. I had a friend that knew something was wrong. ... 'What's wrong, what happened, did someone rape you?' and that caught my attention and psychologically made it incredibly difficult to say no. That first broke the ice. It took me another week later to come forward to my parents.

"The whole thing had definitely impacted school. ... The depression had disabled my ability to concentrate and to focus. ... Grades plunged, it ultimately destroyed my dance life, and any dreams that I had up to that point ... but now, I've made peace with that, or am trying to, and grades are a lot better.

"I would like to say, all of my friends were great, they were incredibly supportive. I couldn't ask for better. It definitely strained, but also strengthened, every relationship I have with family and friends. ... Overall, I hope I've won. ... I hope that even though I've killed the possibility of being able to really do anything about it, again part of the purpose of this is to warn anyone else. ... I have little doubt there are other victims out there ... and they're probably not coming out for the exact same reasons I didn't."

"I no longer was afraid to tell anyone, because for me, this is something in society that's never going away. I realize that, but the best that I can do and that the surviving victim can do is to help future victims. And I can do that by whomever I tell, that heaven forbid, if they ever meet anyone else this happens to, they will better know how to help that person, and they will know the first person to call.

"FOR ANYONE who's helping a victim, never stop listening. Even though the victim won't take your advice, it doesn't mean they're not listening, and they won't use it later. They listen to everything you have to say. ... If they are actually able to open up and talk to you, let them do that, that's the greatest thing you can do.

"For victims, you do get better, you do win. You can rebuild. And no matter how deep in the hole you think you are, you will get out. And once you do, the feeling that you're done ... each step of that winning is the best feeling you'll ever know.

"The feeling I have now, the compassion and the wanting to protect anyone I can is so great, that I absolutely can't believe it. There are few people that I wouldn't do anything for. I'm here to warn people that there are plenty of people who take that path all the time. ... It's not just pretty, perfect Vienna. Go in pairs, take someone with you to fight back, be alert that this could happen.

"If this happened to any other victims, if they're not speaking out for the same reasons I didn't, for the past few years, I didn't speak up for the fear they had laid in me. If there are any of them out there, to please come forward because I would be overjoyed.

"The thing that will get you through is that if you believe you can believe in yourself, or in some higher being, if you can believe in your friends, that there's a reason for it, and that there's an end, you will get there. But you have to keep believing that.

"Guard your dreams. Guard your friendships and your relationships with your family. Guard them with your life. Because the friendships, and the relationships with people, once you lose those, those are very hard to get back. So guard them, and never stop fighting, because it will be worth it. ... I definitely wouldn't be here without friends and family."