In my mind’s eye it’s as clear as if it happened yesterday . . . only in slow motion.
On the morning of that sunny California day, life seemed wonderful and bright. I was one month away from turning 21, a junior in college with a great summer job at Disneyland, and I was preparing to go away the next day with friends on a four-day water-skiing trip. But in 10 minutes of pure terror, all my hope and enthusiasm for life shattered.
I was home alone that afternoon. My parents were at work, and I was doing laundry before leaving for my waitressing shift at 4:00 P.M. I spent most of the afternoon going back and forth between the laundry room in our garage and the family room where I was folding clothes. I’d just sat down to watch a TV show when the door from the garage burst open. It happened so fast, all I saw was the man’s white pants and large black shoes. He had a cloth over his head, which he immediately flung over mine. I never saw his face. I was sitting a mere five feet from the door he entered, so I didn’t have time to respond. He gripped my neck with his thick, firm hands, nearly choking the breath from me. I must have screamed loudly because he kept yelling, “Shut up!” I remember his voice to this day. The neighbors heard me scream but didn’t respond. With great force, he knocked me onto the floor and threatened to kill me with his knife.
I pleaded for my life, offering him money, my brand new Minolta camera, the stereo. I didn’t care what he wanted, I just wanted him to leave me alone. I kept begging, “Please don’t hurt me.” He poked my back and shoulders with the knife and hit my upper body. But his plan wasn’t to steal; his plan was to rape.
The Immediate Aftermath
Even in this moment of sheer terror, I silently prayed, Lord, let me live. Dear God, I want to live. When he was finished with me, he walked me around the house, his hands still gripping my throat, the blindfold over my face, the knife to my side. Evidently he was looking for a place to stash me. (The police later said I was fortunate. Usually when a perpetrator moves a victim from one room to another, his plan is murder.) He finally stuffed me in a kitchen cabinet.
As quietly as possible, I took the cloth off my head and listened. When I felt fairly certain he was gone, I carefully opened the cupboard. I feared his return, or even worse, that he might still be in the house. Crying helplessly, I reached for the phone and dialed my dad’s office number, almost on instinct. His secretary answered the phone, and I had to compose myself enough to ask to speak to my father. When I heard his voice, I came unglued. “Somebody broke into the house and raped me,” I said. He told me to call the police and said he’d be right home. So I dialed 911 and told the woman who answered the phone that someone had broken into my house and raped me.