Any reader who has hung in there and read the majority of my posts knows that a) they should get a medal/monument of some sort and b) that inexplicably it seems divine intervention has been a theme for me, appearing at the darndest times/places to once again remind me that all this happened as it should and that I am God’s child.
As I mentioned last week, I’ve been a little antsy about answering ‘What Next?” since concluding my story here (all 115 posts of it). It’s been a long road and until I began this blog, most of it was very lonely in a way that I am rather suited for but don’t necessarily love. I wrote about feeling like a misfit because I wasn’t raped and my crime happened in a faraway place and I was really quite consumed with controlled blood lust for my attacker – none of which seemed a good fit for a victims support group. And I had tried to reach out to the Office on Violence Against Women for some direction, but also to perhaps figure a way to make the Embassy experience a little more welcoming for sex assault victims who are in dire need of a hug instead of thick bullet proof glass to shout their assault details through. I know I worked really hard on giving myself the best possible chance I could to succeed with getting justice. And now that so much of that is in the past, I’d like to work for others, give my time to them more than through a magazine article or a few TV episodes on sex assault.
So, last week, during a long plane ride, I began brainstorming some ideas that revisited my earlier thoughts about improving the first point of contact experience for Americans assaulted overseas while also exploring my other areas of expertise: media/journalism and college athletics. I have some ideas and had begun vetting them with some trusted colleagues soon thereafter. Still, that feeling of “How can I possibly figure this all out on my own?” started to creep into my thoughts. I hate that feeling.
Well, I was at the Discovery ID shoot on Saturday. And we were running late. Almost three hours late. And I wound up staying longer so I could see some folks I didn’t think I’d get to see at all (Erin, Jose and Melissa). At around 3:30 p.m., a man was introduced to me who I had never seen in my life. His name was Roger Canaff and he was very striking, and welcoming, and he had a solid handshake (it’s all about the handshake as far as I am concerned). The producer explained that he was a legal expert on prosecution of sexual assault and child abuse and involved with an organization Ending Violence Against Women International, among others. I had never heard of that. But it sounded fantastic. In fact, much of what the producer said, and then, what Roger himself described about his work, sounded absolutely wonderful. It was a moment where I thought “Oh my God. Here is a person I can ask questions to and learn from and…Thank you God! This is so awesome, the timing of this!” The photo below was taken by Aly Charles (associate producer) right at the moment I was thinking those words. In fact, soon after this photo, I might possibly have quasi-manhandled Roger with my exuberance and said, “Where were you four years ago?? This is great! So great!” Poor Roger. That’s a lot to throw at a stranger.
Me, realizing how awesome this moment truly is. Roger had no idea I was thanking God for him.
But then, he sat with me while Melissa was being filmed, and we talked some more. Excited, words tumbled out of my mouth in a less than graceful way such that I am not sure I made a whole lot of sense to him. He had such a good vibe about him and displayed such understanding that I couldn’t shut up. I could tell he had heard much of what I was thinking many times before; it was in his face. That is so comforting. You see, for sooooooo long, everyone has wanted to talk to me about the escape itself. The fist fight with Marco. The rooftops I crawled and jumped on and off. But I have craved to talk about the legal stuff and the politically correct stuff like whether my belief that more women should report is offensive to women who are unable to. Or if my having not been raped renders me ineffective in my arguments for such things. Also, I want to talk to someone – anyone – about the differences and similarities of US vs. Italian law and the processes I had to understand about civil vs. criminal cases. And I hope someday to learn where else I might find others like me, who have done what I did. I want to know if I can help in any way, if showing my papers and documents is helpful whether at my blog or to others I might be steered to. If I can help a woman avoid searching through new/used bookstores - dozens of them - for books on Italian legal procedure, sign me up.
Roger showing me some organizations I should get to know. And me, covering my shirt which tends to flash America when I lean over too much.
I don’t expect Roger to give me the solutions but the fact I am now aware of his organization and work as well as VoicesandFaces.org and feel that he’d at least point me in the right direction is just a very important and timely occurrence. And I don’t think that is just chance. By now, I know better.