It's A Celebration!

August 10, 2010.

Twenty years ago, this day could have very well been my last one on Earth; however, a little bit of strength, a lot of prayers, and a children's game of hide-and-go-seek twelve to fourteen hours later, I was found and survived what continues to be the most traumatic and horrible experience of my life.

There are some who don't understand why I find it so important to spread my message, and who have expressed what happened to me was so long ago that I should just move on with life and leave the the past. But, thankfully, there are also those who know my passion and see my drive in continuing to share my story, and know that my heart hasn't fully allowed me to move on from this experience...and truthfully, never will. After being so blessed to have lived through an abduction, rape and attempted murder, I feel that I have a responsibility to encourage other victims to use their voices, and it's something I'll continue to do, loudly and proudly, all the rest of the days of my life. No one can ever persuade me to do otherwise, as I'm following my heart, and doing what I know is not only the right thing to do, but what I'm destined to do. THIS IS MY PURPOSE!

Every year on this day, I have tried to do something special in celebrating my life, and have tried to make it a joyous occasion, but every day of the last nineteen years, I've also had one lingering question that has "eaten" at me, and that was simply "who?" Who could have committed these awful acts toward me? Now, twenty years later, to the day, I've got a smile on my face, and my heart is beaming a bright I have no need to question any longer. This year, I am not ONLY celebrating life, but also, a victory!

To my two heroes, Detective Tim Cromie, and SA Richard Rennison:

I know I've said it at least a hundred times, and I'll say it a hundred more, THANK YOU! If it weren't for you two, using your knowledge and experience in doing what you both felt was appropriate for my case and me, this would have been another anniversary where I'd be sitting here wondering who did this, who else had been a victim at the hands of this person, and when the time would come for me to get answers. Thankfully, this year, I've got all of the answers, and together, we've potentially saved the lives of others and together we've been able to make a difference in the lives of thousands of victims all around the World...I cannot express to you enough how much you both mean to me, and the pride I feel just knowing you two. I hope that others involved in law enforcement will learn from your mannerisms and work, because you are both the perfect example of what those in law enforcement should be. You both work not only because they are your jobs, but because you really and truly care, and want to make a difference. Thank you over and over, not only for giving me answers, but for putting your hearts into my case, and changing my life forever. This gift of peace you've both given me, has been the greatest gift I've ever received.

Peace this August 10th. No longer do I go to bed at night wondering who, or worrying about this person attacking others, as now we all know Dennis Earl Bradford was arrested October 13, 2009. On that day, nineteen years of prayers were answered. I would like to also take a moment to tell everyone, incase I've never said it, that I am still brought to tears at the many self-less acts of those who prayed and continue to keep me in their prayers, those who helped search for me and distribute fliers when I went missing, the cards and flowers I received in the hospital in 1990, and last year on the day of the arrest, the fundraisers that members of the community put together for medical expenses all of those years ago, the work of the officers that responded to the scene back in 1990 and everyone involved; including the officers and investigators at Dickinson PD, Galveston Co. Sheriff's OFfice, FBI, and the Texas Rangers. And, a special thank you to those at the North Little Rock PD who helped prepare with Cromie and Rennison and aided in the arrest of Bradford. Also, thank you to those supportive family members, friends, and my Jonathan, who have all guided me along at different points throughout the last twenty years...thank you for listening to me talk endlessly and openly about my experience, thank you for having open hearts and minds, and thank you for allowing me to smile, cry, and at times, yell if needed...all without judging me, and knowing how important this was to me to keep seeking an answer until an arrest was made.

I say that my heart will not ever allow me to fully move on, because there are countless victims out there, afraid to come forward, so I will forever use my experience as motivation to do what I am incredibly passionate about, and that is sharing my story and fighting to make a difference in this sometimes-cruel World we all live in. I have seen the need to share my story even more in the last year, as I've received many e-mails and phone calls from different organizations and advocacy centers, locally and out-of-state, asking me to share my story with their communities and help them in getting support, because there are still those that do not like hearing about or changing the horrible things going on within their community. I've received e-mails from victims in different countries, telling me either that they don't know how to go about telling someone what's happened to them, or asking if it's too late to speak out, or about their unfortunate and unfair experiences with law enforcement when trying to report the crime.

Rape is REAL! It's happening, unfortunately, all over the World. Every hour, of every day. It's something that no one should ever have to experience, but sadly, many experience it repeatedly. It is never too late to speak out! I will do whatever I can to help save others from having this happen to them, and encourage those it has happened to in using their voices to speak out against it.

Today, while I should be preparing myself for going to trial this Fall, and Bradford being sentenced, I will instead be sitting at Dennis Bradford's grave, reading my victim impact statement. Eventhough he is no longer here, I have to do this, it's something I've wanted to do for twenty years now, although I didn't plan to do it in this manner. If you are a victim of a crime, or know someone who is, please let my story be a reminder that we are all really not victims, but victorious! Please continue to use your voices to speak out, you never know the difference you may make in the life of someone who may just need to hear your story.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your support!!

Now, off to celebrate: life, love, happiness, peace, and above all, VICTORY!


Laura said...
August 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I'm so proud of you, Jennifer! Using your voice is making an impact far beyond your own healing. God is good!

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...
August 11, 2010 at 6:33 PM

You are such an incredible woman! And such an inspiration. I was raped and nearly killed last year and my case was just turned down to go to trial. Even with photos, dna, witnesses, injuries... Thank you though. So much.

zhu said...
August 12, 2010 at 1:03 PM

I hope you will share more with us

Anonymous said...
January 1, 2012 at 5:00 PM

I so truly admire your story. I have a daughter who was raped in high school and never told anyone except her best friend (but that's another story!). My daughter has lead quite a journey through addictions, multiple suicide attempts etc. So now I share with young girls find someone to tell your story even having to repeat it many times so maybe this will happen to one less person. Keep on sharing your story, Jennifer!! You are amazing

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