It was only a few weeks after this week a year ago that I got that dreaded phone call that Bradford had committed suicide in his jail cell - one of the most awful moments of my life. Pure shock, heartache and devastation are the only words I can still use to describe that day. How many more obstacles in this journey could I handle? I would say I questioned my faith the most during this time. Flowers and words of encouragement arrived at my door non-stop, and it would make me smile for a little while, but the pain was still there. There was NOTHING anyone could say or do to make the pain go away. For a few weeks, I had a major pity-party but one day woke up and came to my senses and realized I couldn't let the unfortunate death of Bradford get me down...once again, I'd have to jump back on my feet and remember why I'm here on this Earth, and I needed to use my voice and help others. I couldn't let anyone down, I needed to continue to fulfill my purpose.
Fast-forward to Crime Victims' Rights Week 2011 "Reshaping The Future, Honoring The Past" - what an awesome "theme" for this year! I have now accomplished and overcome so many obstacles, and strive to continue to do so on a daily basis. My attack is something that happened going on 21 years ago, but changed my life and perspective on crime, forever. I have done many speaking engagements, and met many people and continue to feel inspired to share my story and know I am making a difference, which makes me feel truly blessed. I know I am doing what I was called to do, and that is an indescribable feeling on so many different levels.
In March of this year, I was invited to attend and present alongside Detective Cromie in Austin for the annual TAASA conference, and what an extraordinary experience that was! I became a TAASA member last year, and this was the first conference I had ever attended, and it was full of amazingly insightful experiences. I went to several workshops throughout the days I was there, and learned so much about being a better victim advocate and learned more about the unfortunately "real" statistics on sexual assaults in our state. All of the information I learned just added more fuel to my fire, and has me striving to continue fighting for others and speaking out.