Reading through all of the entries on my guestbook, I decided to touch on a few things...
This whole traumatic incident has been a long journey and I've fought my way to get here. I have fought from the very beginning, and never given up. I fought for my life, my voice, my recovery, my sanity, and now, I'm fighting for justice for not only myself, but others. I have said it many times, and I'll say it again, I am here for a reason...which is to USE MY VOICE, and encourage others, and I won't give up, because...
I feel as though I could take on the World. After what I've been through, and all I've fought for and overcome, why should I be afraid? I will NOT live my life in fear. I am so incredibly blessed to have had a normal childhood and adult life, and I want to be a leader for others. I want to encourage others. How would I be encouraging to others if I was scared to speak out about my story, scared to go in public to run daily errands, or show my face when talking about my story?
Someone wrote an entry on my blog about my cheerfulness on television possibly being a...
The definition of facade is: a superficial appearance or illusion of something.
Understand that what happened to me, happened 19 years ago. I have had years to overcome this event in my life, and empower myself with strength to fight back.
I WAS scared, for a couple of years after this happened.
I HAD nightmares.
Every year, I thought that he'd come back for me...and "finish me off."
BUT I REFUSE TO LIVE MY LIFE IN FEAR.
What you see, is what you get.
I am NOT in mourning, why would I be? I have a beautiful, healthy life!
I am NOT sad & grieving, I've got many, many, things to be thankful for.
I am passionate about helping others, because THIS is MY PURPOSE in LIFE.
Over the years, I have tried to transform, to the best of my ability, a negative, traumatic event...into one that is positive, and can encourage and educate others..by speaking out. Growing up, I would hate when I would tell my story to someone, and they'd respond with "I'm so sorry you went through that, I understand." I've never wanted anyone to "feel sorry" for me. You shouldn't. I am alive. I feel so sad for those whose lives have been taken. Those that weren't lucky enough to have children find them while playing. And, saying, "I understand" when you really don't...that does more damage than good. There isn't anyone that ever fully understands until they've been through it. What you CAN do, is join in a person's journey. Fight the fight with them, and be supportive. What has made me who I am, is spending all of these last 19 years of my life talking about my traumatic experience to help in my own healing, and try and encourage others to speak out along with me and keep up The FIGHT, and BE FEARLESS!
Please do not take me for being superficial, because JENNIFER SCHUETT is not superficial, but instead a SURVIVOR.
Justice For All,
It was 6:45 p.m., on Saturday, and time to head out. I finished clipping my dainty earrings into my ears, gave my hair one last "spray" of wax, and waited in the car for Jonathan in the driveway. He tends to take longer than me to get ready...but I'm not complaining, it's great to have a man by my side that cares about his appearance; although, sometimes...I secretly think he may care too much. Here it is 2 days later and he's still complaining about how his hair looked in the pictures we took that night. Anyway, we backed out of the driveway, made it a mile down the road, and of course there was traffic. We were supposed to be at the restaurant by 7:00 p.m. to meet some of Jonathan's family and a few friends to view my story debuting on AMW, so I started to feel an anxiety attack coming on. I hate being late, and I like to plan things out, and when they don't go as planned...I tend to freak out a little. As we weaved in and out of the traffic, I clutched onto the door handle and looked out the window, biting my bottom lip. Thankfully, with Jonathan's skillful driving, we not only arrived in the packed parking lot of the restaurant at 6:59, but we even arrived there still alive!
Did I mention the parking lot was packed? Yes, I did. Well, as we walked in, I realized why. A Mystery Dinner Theatre was taking place. Now, this would have been great ANY OTHER night..but not tonight. In one hour, my voice was going to be heard, much to my amazement, all over the World. This is the moment I've waited for...for 19 years, and I started to regret watching it at a restaurant, as there was so much hustle-and-bustle going on, I was terrified I wouldn't be able to hear the show as it aired. As friends and family arrived, we made our way through the slow-moving buffet line, and up the stairs. All I could think about was how surreal this moment was, the long wait I've waited, and how it was finally here...and then...the piano music started.
As we all talked and laughed and dined on a variety of delicious foods, we couldn't help but try to tune out songs from the movie "Titanic" and of course the ever-so-popular "Happy Birthday" being played on the piano downstairs. I repeatedly had the waiter reassure me that I would be able to hear the show when it was to come on in less than 30 minutes. I started to get so nervous about being on AMW that I couldn't take another bite of food. As much as I knew what a great job AMW had done on making sure my story would turn out as accurate as possible, I couldn't help but think more about why I was really doing this. Why I am using my voice...and then, as I sat there, looked around the table, and saw the love of my life and his family on my left side, and my closest, dearest friends on my right, I calmed down, and thought of all the little princesses getting kissed goodnight by their parents and falling asleep in what is supposed to be the safest place of all...their beds...and I was ready to have my voice heard, LOUD and c-l-e-a-r.
It was now 8:00. Showtime. I heard John Walsh's voice over the television, and my heart started to race. I thought of his son, Adam, and what courage and strength John Walsh has had to fight for justice for his son, who was murdered all those years ago. We moved our chairs closer to the television, and the waiter turned the volume up the loudest it would go. I watched in disbelief as I heard the story of Alexia Lopez, and wished I could hug her mom, Sandra and tell her how much I admire her for never giving up seeking justice for her daughter. About 16 minutes into the show, my story started. I clenched my sweaty palms together, and my eyes were glued on the television. Everyone was quiet...except for the bartender (she decided to start crushing ice for frozen drink orders during the show). As my story played out, and then ended, and a commercial break came on, I was crying tears of joy. I felt the stress lift off of my shoulders, and I could only hope I had made a difference in someones life by using my voice to tell my story, with the help of AMW.
The ride home was very calm, and I didn't know what to say, really. This time, I looked out of the car window into the darkness, and instead of biting my lip and clenching the door handle, I was smiling and the nervousness had subsided. My cell phone was going off what seemed like every few seconds with phone calls, e-mail notifications, and text messages. At this point, I started to realize the answer to the question I had earlier about how many people were watching AMW right along with me ...and I became pretty convinced that just about everyone in America had their televisions set to watch AMW that night.
Over the last couple of days, I've received e-mails from ALL OVER the World, from Massachusetts to Japan and what seems to be everywhere in-between, thanking me for sharing my story.
What do I say to that?
If only you all knew how THANKFUL I AM TO YOU!!
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for watching.
Thank you for calling in tips.
Thank you for opening your hearts.
Thank you for spreading the word about my case.
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for sharing YOUR stories with me.
There are some people that I know personally, that could care less about what I'm doing. People that are very negative when it concerns my case, and I won't name any names because that doesn't really matter. People that don't want me to talk about what happened to me, and think I should just "move on" and don't understand how I can't "get over" what happened. (Yes, I've had people actually use those words)...Unbelievable, I know. Basically, there are those people still in this world that cannot manage to find happiness within their own hearts, much less happy and supportive of others, which is why I've learned to ignore the negativity, and keep up my fight for justice over the years. My promise to myself and to you all...is that I REFUSE to give up, and let this just be a case that gets swept under the rug, and forgotten about. If I did that, I would be no example to other victims that there is hope and that you can fight back and live and LEAD a normal life.
So, with that said, having such great, honest, heart-felt support from all of you wonderful people all over this World, is beyond amazing to me. I hope that I HAVE indeed been able to encourage at least one person out there that has been harmed by one of these worthless creeps to take a stand, speak out and fight back against these horrible crimes that are being committed in this World, and I also hope I scared the shit out of at least one predator out there that was planning on preying on a child. I hope that criminals will now be scared to seek out children. I think that criminals believe children are easiest to prey on because they think of children as being weak and too scared to fight back. I hope that I've shown criminals that they'd better think twice before committing senseless, disgusting acts against children and realize that I am using my LOUD VOICE to encourage others to not keep quiet and feel threatened by these sick criminals any more!
You all have given me even more motivation and drive. I feel like, with all of you behind me through my journey, we are now on a World-Wide Manhunt together!
If you have any information about my case, the FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest! Call the AMW Hotline at 1-800-CRIME-TV or submit a tip online.
And to the person that kidnapped me and attemped to murder me...I have one question..."Whatcha gonna do...When We Come For YOU?"
You Can't Run Forever...
After lunch, and only somewhat quenching my thirst, I went in and out of some shops, bought a few little things and also visited one of the oldest standing structures in the nation's capital, The Old Stone House, built in I believe 1766. I took some pictures, and it was really neat to see such a beautiful place still standing, right in the heart of Georgetown, in the midst of D.C., where everyone probably forgets about this historical home because of all of the "big" tourist sites, and shopping there is around. I must admit, while walking through the house (it was 3 stories tall) I felt a little eery-ness going on at times, but got some cool pictures. Hopefully no orbs show up in them or anything when I get them developed! From there, I headed to a little French bakery/cafe we even have back home in Texas. I knew they would NOT let me down. =) I found my DP, and even got some great pastries...and the guy behind the counter complimented me and told me "You are so beautiful" and proceeded to ask me if Jonathan "knew how lucky he is" to have me. I definitely reminded Jonathan how lucky he IS to have me in his life, and then got accused of flirting with the baker and wanting to open a bakery with him! Oh how Jonathan cracks me up at times! As I walked back to my hotel with my paper bag full of to-go boxes filled with pastries, and that Dr. Pepper in my hand, I felt like such a confident, happy, and not to mention, lucky gal, ready for the night...my big moment, meeting John Walsh, and letting the world hear my story.
After I rushed up to my room, locked the door, and sat in my hotel room, stuffing my stomach full of pastries made of chocolate, fruit and pudding (sounds gross...but it was oh-so-good), and quickly gulping down my wonderful drink I'd waited over 24 hours to get my hands on, I kept in touch with friends and supporters online anxiously awaiting news of how I was doing, and giving me words of encouragement for the night. It is so nice to know that there are still so many kind people in this world that are willing to take the time to walk in this journey for justice right along side me, and send me personal messages filled with their own experiences, and such heart-felt words. On the news, this world is made out to be such a horrible place, filled with murderers, rapists, and terrorists of every kind, but I will tell you, I've been so incredibly blessed with meeting, knowing, and having some of the most wonderful friends and supporters in the world as a part of my life.
After having dinner again with the most-amazing Cindy, and laughing and sharing stories outside of her favorite French cafe, the time had finally come, a car picked us up, and took us to the set. It was about 9:45 p.m., and we pulled up to a set outside filled with smoke, and police cars with their lights on, and I immediately felt the weight coming down on my shoulders. I had to take a few deep breaths. Was I really ready for this moment? My heart felt as though it was lodged in my throat, and momentarily, I started to question myself...and as I stepped out of the car, onto the gravel in my heels, I knew I could do this, and HAD to do this...not only for myself, but for every other little girl, innocently and peacefully sleeping in their beds at that very moment, that could possibly be taken by this creep that had hurt me over 19 years ago. From that moment, I no longer questioned if I was ready, or what I was doing there, and I felt stronger than anyone on Earth.
..I can honestly say, I know I was there for a reason, and this was one of the most defining moments of my life.
When it was time, I met John Walsh, one of the nicest men I've ever met, and a man who I look up to because he stands up for and fights for the lives of people like he and myself, who have been hurt and had part of their lives effected in one way or another, by even in his own words, a "coward" who gets enjoyment out of harming others. For weeks, I felt like I would have a huge emotional breakdown when I met John Walsh, and I was so worried that I would make a complete fool of myself, but meeting him was one of the most natural, heart-warming experiences of my life, and it's definitely one...I will never forget. There I stood, FINALLY, face-to-face with someone that could actually feel and understand my pain and my passion, and as he put on his famous black leather jacket and then shook my hand, he assured me one day, the identity of who did this to me would be known, and justice would prevail. We talked, we walked, then we sat on the set and filmed what I feel will lead to a break in my case. Here it is a few days after filming, and it still baffles me that millions will be watching, and listening to MY STORY...and knowing John Walsh is on MY side...wow, words can't even explain how grateful and indebted to him and his whole team of people at AMW I am, for allowing me this amazing opportunity to help others by USING MY VOICE, and possibly save them from having to encounter something no little girl should ever have to.
As they say... at AMW, "You Can Run...But You Can't Hide!" Let's see if this guy stops running on September 12th! Tune into Fox and watch America's Most Wanted at 8 p.m. CST, for the season premiere show, and please tell everyone you know, because like I've always said, you never know...that one tip that you may feel is nothing, could be the tip that solves my case, and prevents other little girls from being harmed!
Using the voice so graciously given back to me,