By Doris Rivera-Black, CCASA Guest Blogger
When people think of a sexual assault victim, most people think of someone else, not themselves. I thought that way once. I was one who said, “That would NEVER happen to me.” Yet, on June 26, 2006, I found myself staring down a barrel of a gun, being forced into a car and sexually assaulted by my own husband. What is most ironic about this is that I was a Deputy Sheriff when this happened. Yes…a law enforcement officer but, is it ironic?
I became a deputy while married to this man, which opened my eyes to the abuse going on in my own home. He didn’t start out abusive. He was handsome, charming, and treated me and my daughters like princesses. His abuse began subtly and then spiraled out of control into a destructive relationship.
I’m a fixer. It’s what I do. I solve problems. This is why I became a law enforcement officer. I love to help people. I thought I could “fix” my abuser. I was wrong.
The psychological manipulation escalated. It was never direct. He was clever in the ways he manipulated me. He threatened suicide numerous times, threatened to ruin my career, and monopolized on the fact that I had been molested as a child. He often made me feel I was the one who had the issues and needed help.
After five years in this marriage, I finally gained the strength and courage to end it. One week after filing a restraining order, he did the unimaginable. He caught me off guard in front of my own home, kidnapped me at gunpoint, and sexually assaulted me. My own husband raped me; the man who vowed to love and protect me. There I was, a cop trained to protect and serve, but I could not even fight back. I laid helplessly and reverted to that sweet six year old girl I once was, whose innocence was too quickly stolen from her.
There was no doubt my husband’s plan was to kill me, but I refused to allow him to leave my daughters without their mom. I cried out to the Lord desperately. I hadn’t prayed in years. It was my only chance of survival. Not long after, I was able to escape. It was truly a miracle! I felt God’s presence like never before that night.
Back to the irony of this, was it ironic? I’ve been asked numerous times, “How could this have happened to you? Did you not know any better, being a cop?” (Yes, victim-blaming at its best.) I used to allow these questions to infuriate me. Now, I use it as an opportunity to educate. You see, there are no demographics when it comes to sexual assault. It happens to men, women, children, cops, professionals, military service members, rich, poor, and to people of all cultural backgrounds.
I was a good cop and performed my job with excellence, but let me enlighten you about the woman behind the badge. Behind the badge, was a real person. Behind the badge was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Behind the badge was a woman with human emotions. In a sense, behind the badge was also a six year old little girl who never healed from the sexual abuse during her childhood. I was strong, yet fragile; tough yet, vulnerable. Ironic? Not so much.
My offender now sits in prison and nine years later, I stand strong. I live the most beautiful life imaginable. I live with a peace and joy like no other. I live with HOPE instead of hopelessness, with LOVE instead of anger, and with SELF-WORTH instead of shame. I am happily re-married with a God sent man, have three beautiful children, and have been RESTORED!
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, I want you to know and believe, there IS life after sexual abuse. There is hope for healing. You are not alone. I see you. I feel you. Although I may not know you personally, I care about you.
There are many resources available for you. I am grateful for organizations such as the Colorado Coalition against Sexual Assault who can assist you on your healing journey. You can also reach out to me through my Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In pages. Reach out, speak out, and never ever lose hope.