It was May 19th 2000 when my world was changed forever. Living alone in a small apartment in Seaside Heights, N.J with my two children 1 and 2 at the time I had gone to sleep as usual not knowing the horror that was about to happen.

My apartment was very small only a one bedroom but I was happy to be on my own with the babies. Living with my parents was beyond stressful and I liked having a sense of independence, being such a young mom and all. It was raining that night. I remember because I had one of those older TVs with the antenna sticking out the back and it sat up against my bedroom window. I had put something over it so the lightning wouldn’t come through. I know unrealistic, but that just shows how young I really was.

It was about 3am and I was asleep on the couch when I heard my bedroom door crack open. I instantly woke up thinking one of the kids had climbed out of their cribs and was coming to me. I walked into my kitchen and saw a man standing in the doorway. When I asked, half asleep who it was I was attacked and strangled on my kitchen floor. I was kicking and fighting for my life not having a clue what was really even happening as it all happen so fast.

I was strangled, sexually assaulted and all in front of my 2 year old who had come into the room. They say that when things like this happen your life flashes before your eyes and I always thought it would be of all the things you have done and seen. It wasn’t that way though. For me it was all the things I was going to miss. My babies first day of school, first break up, who was going to raise them, will they even know who I was? I begged my attacker not to kill me that I was only 18 and didn’t want to die, that I couldn’t die. I needed to be here for my babies they need me , I was all they had. I must have said this what felt like 100 times.

I was able to escape having to make a choice to leave my babies behind to get help. Once the police arrived the reality started to sink in of what had actually just happen. How this trauma would effect the rest of my entire life I had no idea. What he took from me I thought I would never get back and that may be true for some of it but there did come a day when I decided not to let him have anymore of me. I suffered with PTSD and severe chronic anxiety for years. I wasn’t able to stay alone for a long time. My panic attacks began and the nightmares are still with me today. I never fully dealt with it, I pushed it back. It ruined relationships and I became scared of everything. I was a victim of so much more than just my assault.

Today, I am healthy and happy and plan to use my attack to help others as I have healed and began to take my life back. To show them that they are not alone and things that happen out of their control are not their fault. I was defending myself for a long time. People will always talk. To me I was a mom who went to sleep on her couch someone came into my home and took what he wanted. This wasn’t my fault. I am grateful to be alive today and still raising my babies only now there are 7 of them!

My wedding day 2015.

I don’t believe that what has happened to us defines who we are. Survivors are set apart from others. We become strong when we thought it was our weakest moments and somehow without even knowing it we are able to inspire others just by telling our stories. Just remember you are not alone. What happen to you does NOT define you and you will get through this!