Things to Tell Erin

While I waited for April 22 to arrive, I worked with a friend on getting my story told. Since the night of the assault, I knew deep in my heart that I was supposed to go through the ordeal of prosecution and ultimately, telling women what I learned so that I could be a resource for them. As a publicist of almost 10 years, one would think I’d have a sense for how to reach women with my story. But strangely, I found it all vexing and unclear. I could not decide if, when or how I should go about it. And I did not have a great desire to be on TV or in any situation where I did not control the message because I was intent on telling everything exactly how I knew it.

A few months after the assault, I was riding the PATH train home from Manhattan when I had a sudden thought:  “Erin Zammett Ruddy. I need to contact her. ASAP. ” A light went on in my head and I just knew I had to find Erin. She and I used to play volleyball against each other in club league and she had gone on to be a writer at Glamour. A few years previously, we had worked together on a piece about an award winner for a prestigious honor granted by my company. Erin is just ridiculously tough. Soon after she graduated college, she discovered that she has leukemia. She chronicled her entire experience for Glamour over the course of several years. She even wrote a book about her experience as she had been put through the wringer by the general public – especially women –  when she decided to have children and go off her medication while pregnant (today, she has a beautiful family and her cancer remains under control).

As far as I knew, she was still writing in heavy rotation for a variety of top women’s magazines. So, I decided to track her down to ask her advice on what I should do and if my story was magazine article worthy. In hindsight, it was the best move I ever made in the whole Italian Incident.

Thanks to Facebook, I found her. Erin and I had a lengthy conversation whereby I spilled out every possible detail about what I was going through, how frustrated I was at the lack of information on overseas prosecution of sexual assault and how I knew I was supposed to use my story to at least start a dialogue. I sent her documents, photos, emails and anything else I thought would help her shape a pitch letter and, eventually, an article. I even kept a running document on my computer titled, “Things to Tell Erin” as new thoughts would pop into my mind during the day and I’d scramble to record them.

If you think about the position she was in, I’m amazed she signed on. I was basically putting my very personal and serious matter into her hands with blind trust and the expectation that she’d get it right. She never flinched once. Erin found a home for my story and from there, we crafted the article until it was a finished piece just waiting for a print date.  So, it was a waiting game and April 22 would determine a lot. It’d be the difference between an article about a case that got dismissed or one that followed me to Rome for trial.

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