Janesville56.6°

Woman found inner peace after years of anger

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
April 16, 2012
— Suzie’s brother-in-law started molesting her when she was 4, and the sexual assaults continued until she was 12.

He also molested his own daughters.


“My sister told me it was my fault since I let it happen for so many years.


“I’m the oldest, so I should have known better, and if I would have said something, her daughters wouldn’t have to be going through the same thing I did,” Suzie said.


She is among a growing number of Rock and Green County women seeking help through the Sexual Assault Recovery Program. She spoke on the condition that her real name not be published.


“We served 193 clients in 2011 between Rock and Green counties,” said Anna Johnson, program director.


That’s up from about 165 in 2010, she said.


During the first quarter of 2012, the program served 62 clients at his offices in Beloit and Monroe, Johnson said.


Johnson doesn’t think the growing numbers indicate sexual assault is becoming more common.


“I think it’s a case where people are finding out what resources there are and where they can go for help, because we serve not only primary but secondary—family members—victims who also experience trauma due to sex assault of a loved one and needing support, too.”


For more than three decades, Suzie was able to block the sexual assaults from her mind. Two years ago, something triggered a memory of the physical pain of the assaults. They began playing like a horror film in her head.


She had panic attacks and suicidal thoughts and eventually sought help from a private counselor, who referred her to the Sexual Assault Recovery Program.


Through the Beloit recovery group, she found information, support and an environment that allowed her to begin healing emotionally.


The Sexual Assault Recovery Program creates a safe environment, which is important for traumatized victims, Suzie said.


“You just need a safe feeling because that’s what’s taken from you,’’ she said.


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month when the Sexual Assault Recovery Program will be participating in Denim Day, Wednesday, April 25, to create awareness and show support for ending sexual violence in communities.


With help from the Sexual Assault Recovery Program, Suzie said, she has found inner peace after years of anger.


“I didn’t know where it came from, but as I worked through the program, I understood,’’ Suzie said.


She regained her self-worth.


“That’s what they give back to you: that you are important, you are unique,” she said.


“Now, I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do.’’


DENIM DAY

Rock County employers can participate in Denim Day on Wednesday, April 25, by collecting a dollar from each employee who wishes to wear jeans that day. In exchange for their dollars, employees will receive a sticker reading, “Ask me why I’m wearing denim.”


Proceeds will benefit the Sexual Assault Recovery Program.


Employers interested in participating can contact Mandi Bordner at (608) 365-1244.


FOR HELP
People suffering from sexual abuse can call the Sexual Assault Recovery Program 24-Hour crisis hotline at 1-866-666-4576 or go online to sarpwi.com.

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