Healing the Latina Within
Dearest Ms. Walden,
I was very excited about this final project; here I was already to begin my journey in my letters to my daughter. I went to the bookstore purchased the book by Alexandra Stoddard, “Things I Want My Daughters to Know,” and each time I was ready to start; there was something bigger holding me back.
A big part of me has always felt very spiritual; I wouldn’t call myself religious since I seldom attend church; however I have a strong spiritual sense in my essence. I know it is going to be a very difficult journey, in all the healing I have to do to allow the free spirit that lives inside me to breathe. However, I decided of the many tasks that await me, beginning to heal the Latina within is the place to start. Always keeping Gloria Anzaldua’s seven stages of conocimiento in mind, I was aware that my personal struggle needed to be shared, as every soul has struggles of their own, my wish is to connect in some way, whether it is a lesson to be learned, an insight of a feeling born, or maybe just a glimpse of reality.
I was brought up in a very private way; problems were not discussed in the family, and even
more so were not discussed to the public. My culture consists of, denying pain; and therefore pain doesn’t exist. I decided first to face the reality of what happened to me. I then decided to share my short story on my personal blog, via the very popular http://www.myspace.com
http://www.myspace.com/thevagabondwillalwayslive (Public Display necessary for final grade)
I knew in doing so, I would be confronted with additional issues I would need to address which would be just another part of the healing process. I realize my story is a very complicated read especially for those who know me personally; I had plenty of personal feedback explaining so.
A few could not even finish reading, a few had to read a little at a time, and a few have yet been able to finish reading my story. I was overwhelmed by those who were truly affected by my story and realized with their feedback alone, my story in fact needed to be told. What really bothered me though was the possibility that my family and friends would look at me different, feel sorry for me; that is the last thing a victim wants to feel. As a victim, I am a survivor; I have the power today and I am proud to say so. I knew I didn’t want pity, I knew I didn’t want people to look at me any differently then they did before, I knew I didn’t want people to feel I was looking for praise, I knew I didn’t want people to think of the rape when they see me, and through it all… I knew those were all possibilities. I was basically going to have to deal with the unwanted aspects of the self.
Growing up I was often labeled a rebel because I did what my gut told me to do, I stayed true to myself, even if it meant going against what every body else believed. My motives were not always clear to others, but I always believed in myself and my choices and going against my loved one’s wishes were a struggle a lot of the time. As a grown woman, I still battle; I want to be that “good girl,” who never really existed, only because I refused to conform. On this healing journey I often contemplated, allowing a bit of ignorance in… “take my personal story off; it really isn’t making a difference…” Assimilate, Assimilate, Assimilate! That isn’t me though, so
here it goes…
Every horrible word that comes to mind just doesn’t do justice, so I will leave it at
San Antonio Police Department Offense Report
Offense: Bodily Injury Sexual Assault
Location of Offense: 500 N. Santa Rosa
Date of Occurrence: 12-16-92
Dispatched to the above location for a rape in progress. Upon arrival I contacted victim who was crying and very upset. She was shaking and looked very scared. I asked her if she was ok. She said “Yes, I think so!” I asked her what had happened. She said, “I was raped.” I asked her if the actor was still around. She said “Yes, he is in my truck!” She then pointed to the vehicle that was parked in the Santa Rosa (Soap Works) apts. parking lot on the west side of the complex across from bldg 3. I and another officer approached the pickup observing the windows were fogged up as if from body heat. We looked into the vehicle and found it to be empty. The victim began to walk toward the vehicle and I began to obtain a description of the offender, when she said, “There he is!” We looked up and saw him in the doorway of apt 302. I saw offender push his way into the apartment then attempt to close the door. I ran over to the door and grabbed offender before he was able to close the door. I yelled he was under arrest and me and the other officer attempted to obtain offender to place under arrest. He began to yell, and struggle to keep from being handcuffed and read his Miranda rights. He was told he was under arrest for sexual assault. He looked at me and started to laugh, and said, “It won’t stick, I’ll get out of it.” He was then walked to my patrol car and placed in the rear cage area. I walked over the victim and asked her again if that was the actor? She replied with “Yes, (and started crying and shaking and said) that is him!” I went back to my vehicle to begin to write my report and offender started yelling… that he was going to find out where I live and butt fuck my wife. “?.” He continued yelling threats of violence toward me and my family. He said he had something for me when I least expected it. Victim had settled down some and I asked her to tell me how and where she first came in contact with offender. Victim’s eyes became tear filled and said she stopped to get some gas at a downtown service station between McCullough and Bonham St. She got her gas and attempted to start her truck, it would not start and several people offered her help. That is when the offender appeared who started working on her truck; he played with the battery and climbed into the truck into the passenger side with victim in truck. He reached over to help victim start the truck and when the truck started he closed the door. After a while he grabbed victim by the hair and neck and told her to drive. Victim was scared for life and began to drive and offender told her if she didn’t do what he said he would break her neck. Offender told her where to go but got lost or acted as if he was lost. He finally told her to drive to his friend’s house (above location). Offender then pushed the victim down onto her back and unbuttoned her blouse. The offender then yanked her pants down and began to perform oral sex on her. Victim began to fight offender, then he grabbed her by the neck and began to choke her, until she feared for her life and stopped her struggle. He then attempted to penetrate her vagina but failed. He then flipped her over on the stomach and attempted to enter her vagina again and failed. He became very angry and attempted to penetrate her anus and failed. He then lifted her up spread her knees and made penetration into her vagina at this time. He then began to slam his penis in and out of victim’s vagina. He then forced her to do oral sex on him and stated she does not know if he climaxed she just started crying. He then asked her what her problem was. She told him she needed to go to the bathroom; he told her it was ok for her to go to the bathroom. She exited the truck and ran for help. Note: While offender was sitting up in the CID office he stated. “Ya, I fucked the bitch real good, and gives head real good” He laughed and stated that she is a real bitch!
“Today the terms criminal sexual conduct, sexual assault, and rape are often
used interchangeably. These terms all refer to any type of sexual contact
without consent between two or more people, regardless of their sex or
marital status.” (Ledray, 1994)
How will I begin this journey?
Setting: I plan to work on this journey when I am alone that is when I feel
safe to explore my feelings.
I will have a candle lit.
A lit candle for me represents hope, positive energy, and the smell reminds me of my faith in God… which reminds me, I am actually not alone after all.
I feel the safest in my home or at my grandma’s house.
As I begin, I feel a little sick to my stomach, unsafe, and vulnerable. I am proud though that I can at least acknowledge my uncomfortable responses rather then ignore it and change this project. I am proud of myself today, proud that I am willing to face all these anxiety provoking memories and that I have found the courage to stand up to them. For now I will start slowly, yet I will push myself, but I will always make sure I am safe.
Have I ever felt safe?
I grew up in a private school environment, I always felt very safe with people, even strangers. I was an extremely friendly child, who often scared my mother with my warmhearted ways. There was such a concentration of viewing people as good, and being taught to be good to people. I felt safe because I believed… if I would never hurt a person, then a person would never hurt me. It felt great to believe that everyone is relatively good.
In the beginning of this healing process: I am afraid this will bring out fears that I have tried to ignore, I want to be strong for my children, and I want to be in control of all of my feelings. I am terrified of facing “the night of the rape” and wonder if it will bring out the torment that will be too hard for me to handle. In the past when I have tried to face the feelings of that tragic night, I find myself, “getting busy” and pushing it all away again and again.
So as I begin, I will attempt to face head on any excuses that prevent me from healing the Latina within.
My Healing begins…
I begin with intense feelings of anger at myself. Why, why did I go out at night? Why did I not run into the convenient store and just tell them to call the police? Why was I so afraid to grab the steering wheel lock that was on the floor and try to bash him on the head, I thought about it during the attack, but I was frozen? During the attack I had moments that my adrenaline had me believing I could conquer him. I would hit, scratch, bite, punch, with all my might, I kept telling myself to fight. He would come back so much stronger though, it seemed his biceps were made of steal. I felt like such a failure as a human being. Each time I fought all it did was cause him to punch harder, choke harder and longer, I knew many times I was near death. How could I not defend my own body? That is when I decided to fly, fly away from myself, fly away from the rape. Anger always came back though, how could I stop the fight, and why did I? What kind of wimp was I? I had no more fight left in me, I just wanted it to end, I had to fly away in order to survive. I had two choices fight or flight, and the fight was an unequal match. That is when my moments came, the moments during the attack that I actually went a way from my body. The moments when my brain took me to another place, a place I don’t remember, but it kept me from feeling the physical pain, I would come back into my body and tell myself I had to battle again, I would reason with myself so I would believe I could live. I would think of different strategies to escape. I am a smart person; I knew I was going to need to use my brain, not my strength to survive. I did, I pretended I needed to get out of the vehicle for just one moment, and when I opened the door.
Everything had been taken from me already. I had a gust of energy and used it all to run; I have never ran so fast before. I started opening tons of apartment doors, and finally barged into a family eating dinner; I had no idea if he was behind me. As the police were being called, officers were arriving; someone had reported it. I was taken to the hospital after the rape so I could be examined. I was interrogated while all I wanted to do was go home and shower, scrub my body so well. I was examined from head to toe, even samples from my nails were taken, I was photographed, and my clothes were taken for evidence.
In the meantime, I finally got a hold of my boyfriend (at the time )Juan, I wondered if he would believe me, I wondered if he would be angry, I didn’t know who to call; I just knew I needed someone there with me. When he walked up, he hugged me and I felt so safe in his arms; yet I felt so dirty. The volunteer rape counselor talked to us both. She told us, that usually relationships won’t last under such circumstances. She explained how it was going to be hard for both of us to get past this assault. She explained to him how many men know that it is not the victims fault, but still have a part of them inside asking themselves whether the victim really wanted the rape, if the victim really enjoyed the rape, and if the victim was really to blame. The significant other usually suffers from a lot of guilt because they were unable to protect their loved one. During recovery it is important to remind each other, it is not my fault, it is not your fault, and the important thing to do is be there for each other, help each other cope. We both knew at that moment that this rape was going to affect our relationship from now on, and we had the will to contend together. Juan was very supportive to me through the whole recovery process and he continues to be to this day, the only difference is, he is my ex-husband now.
During the process he became very protective of me going out at night alone, and I don’t blame him, that is risky behavior. I don’t want to live my life as a prisoner to what happened, I don’t want my fear to control me, but at the same time I have to realize the world we live in is a real risk. Unfortunately, working on my recovery will be for the rest of my life. I still live with fear today, but at a different extent. I remember when I would feel sorry for panhandlers; give them a few dollars if I had any at red lights, etc… Today, it makes me angry when they approach my car. I am angry because I am scared. What gives them the right to walk up so closely to my car or even to me and my children when I am alone in a parking lot? I will live with fear forever, the rape will always be in the back of my mind, and a part of me will forever be loss.
It took me months to realize, I had to stop being angry with myself. The only way to get through it, I had to love myself, and be thankful to—me, for doing whatever I needed to do that led to me being alive. I still have to realize and believe that everything I did was right that night, because I am alive today! I didn’t deserve to be taken, raped, choked, punched, and to fear so desperately for my life. I certainly don’t deserve the intense fear that I will now carry for the rest of my life.
I decided to write this not only for a grade, not only for therapeutic reasons, but if this occurrence stops and makes a woman understand rape is real, if this helps someone deal with their own sufferings whatever they may be; then I will know my story can have a good ending, over and over again. I may not have control over what happened, but I have control over the end.
From that day I learned, in reality we can all be helpless, we can all be drained of our innocence, and the only thing left to do is make it worth the pain. According to Ledray (1994) on average one woman is being raped somewhere in the United States every minute of every day. There are many women out there who need support; one out of every four women born in this country will be raped at some point in her life.<=””> I don’t like the statistics, I have two daughters of my own, and I have many women I love, too many friends and too much family who are at risk. I feel it has become my mission to tell those around me, that it really can happen to them. One does not have to be out at night or in public to be raped. More women are raped in their own home than any other single place. Rape is not a crime of passion it is a crime of violence; It is controlling, humiliating, and degrading. Women who are raped are the target for the rapist’s anger that is why we as victims can sense the powerful anger, the anger that can lead to murder. It doesn’t have to be a man lurking in your bushes; there are many different kinds of rape: stranger rape, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, ritualistic abuse, sexual harassment, and office rape. If you have experienced or ever do experience any type of violation by another person please report it, all rapists are serial rapists they will do it again. The rapist who raped me was only sentenced to thirty years because he pleaded guilty. If I would have been raped 6 months earlier he would’ve gotten a stiffer penalty because I would have been considered a child. I am upset because in prison every year counts for doing approximately three years, so with “good behavior,” he could be paroled in less then ten years. Every so often he had parole hearings and my family and my closest friends who I selectively told, would fight to keep him in prison, at least till his time was fully spent. All the letters worked, letters were written explaining the severity of rape. Letters were written describing the change in me, the change in them, and those letters kept him in prison, he was there till the end of his sentence, and when he got released, there were my issues all coming to be again.
Late last year 2006, I was watching the news and his face (the mug shot above) flashed on the screen I was paralyzed, I was in a state of shock. I didn’t hear anything that was said, I couldn’t move, I just saw his picture. Later that night I logged into the news via internet, I decided I was going to face him, and find out why his picture was on the news. Apparently he broke into a woman’s apartment, he asked her for sex, and she beat him with a baseball bat she had with her right on her couch; when the police arrived they found him hiding in an outside shed in a bloody mess… I wish it could’ve been me with that bat, or I wish I could meet the lady who did it and give her a big hug.
I realize this tragedy happened and it gives me the opportunity to share it, liberate myself, and hopefully encourage others to set free their pain, especially those who are/have been in similar situations. I haven’t until today, written about the situation because it would have forced me to think about the night, and it is something I have continuously trained myself to forget for the past fourteen years. The mind is miraculous; I actually can’t remember the details from the night of the rape. I live with the horrible bits and pieces of the memory; I live with the fear, and see some scenes very clearly during occasional flashbacks. I actually had to get a copy of the police report (that is where the intro to my journey came from), and reading it alone had me feeling I was being raped all over again.
As a survivor, today I suffer from anxiety; to overcome my anxiety I will work through the attacks by learning to understand my fear better. When I am feeling anxious I feel dizzy, my breathing is rapid, I feel very scared almost suffocated, I feel powerless, lost, and even angry… angry at the world! My first step in learning how to work through Anxiety is… First learn to understand Anxiety.
There are numerous Anxiety disorders, there is:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder with or without agoraphobia,
Specific Phobias, Social Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
After researching the anxiety disorders I find I have suffered from Panic Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the rape. Panic Disorder with/without Agoraphobia, sudden onset of physiological symptoms occurs in the individual, such as rapid heartbeat, perspiration, dizziness, dyspnea, trembling, psychological experience of uncontrollable fear, etc.). The panic attack is unanticipated and appears with no warning. Some individuals deal with these events on a regular basis—sometimes daily or weekly, so they will try to avoid another attack at all cost, and in turn lead a life of agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is when a person is so fearful of experiencing an embarrassing episode, they chose to stay indoors and limit their daily life. Although I don’t suffer from agoraphobia today, I think I did in the beginning of my recovery. During the first two years after the rape, I was afraid to go outside. I was afraid to check the mail, what if a man came to get his mail, what if the mailman came, and I found myself getting extremely paranoid of any male. I think what really helped me overcome that was I enrolled in a class at San Antonio College called Personal Adjustment, it concentrated on Coping with Life Challenges. In the class we learned different coping strategies after the class I was able to lead a more normal life. I admit on occasion I still get scared sometimes if I am alone with a strange man in an elevator, in a parking lot, and even certain men can bring the horrible memories alive again.
I also suffer from neck pain, from the brutal choking; that is also when my migraine headaches started, which I have today. Rape not only leaves emotional scars but can cause permanent physical damage and you can live with both forever; long after he is paroled and able to rape again. I am not the only person to get raped, but I still feel it is my responsibility to share my story.
There was a boy named Jacob Wetterling, he was kidnapped in Minnesota when he was eleven years old.
His parents fought and formed an advocacy group for children’s safety. In 1994, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act, which required states to establish a sex offender registration program. The law was amended a few times, Megan’s Law in 1996 stated that every state has to develop a procedure for notifying concerned people when a person is convicted of certain crimes released near their home. Sex Offenders now have to register with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). I use the database frequently; I am always logging on to see the sex offenders in my area, and the area’s of all the people I love. I think it is our right to know that information so we can protect ourselves and our family. If I am at the store I am aware of the men around me, and I want the women I love to be also.
The database isn’t foolproof, there are many loopholes being discovered, and there are still many enforcement issues. There are many sexual offenders who have yet to register even though it is mandatory, there are many offenders who move and wrong addresses are displayed. We should all understand this issue though, the issue of keeping women and children in our society safe. We need to let our Members of Congress know our views on this important issue.
We should all be aware of the sexual offenders in our area!
Please go to this website:
It is Texas Department of Public Safety…Sex Offender Registry
Once there, there are many ways you can search…
Name & City/Zipcode
I usually go to City/Zipcode, agree to the website terms, and then put a zipcode in of the area I want to check. I live in the 782** zipcode. It shows there are 22 results in my area. I then can click on the names of the individual, see their picture, and read about the age of the victim…etc.
Here is a couple more websites
I also searched Higher education (College), from the first website & I was
We actually have 8 registered sexual offenders here at UTSA
Higher education can be searched (UTSA—or other colleges)
I am forever grateful to the San Antonio Police Department, never before did I realize how important their job is. As soon as they came, I felt safe, I will forever be thankful for those who chose to live their life protecting others; I know that helped me realize not all men are bad. The police officers who first came to my aid were men, and they let me know I was safe with them; they let me feel it too… The Volunteer rape survivor who came to the hospital to let me know I was not alone; I wish I could thank her today…it wasn’t as if she did anything to undo the pain, it was just another human being giving her time to let me know she was there for me because I needed that. Thank you to all the special people in my life who took the time to write the parole board over and over again, to make sure justice was served the best it could be. To the other survivors out there, especially “Magnum PI,” (you know who you are) for sharing the essence of you with me, and allowing me to do the same, you can only understand if you have been there. Most of all though to my wonderful ex-husband who rushed to the hospital, held my hand, and never left my side through this painful journey. Finally, thank you Lisa, for giving me the opportunity to heal the Latina Within!