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A Victim's Community

June 2018 Blog Post

In the early morning hours of October 29th, 2013, six armed men entered the home where my parents and I slept. For two hours, they destroyed our home and abused my family. My mom was shot twice when she tried to run for help, and then sexually assaulted. I was gang raped by 4 men. My dad was beaten with drawers.

It was, beyond a doubt, my worst nightmare. In fact, it was much worse than anything I could’ve concocted in my head (and I have a pretty vivid imagination).

After the home invasion, my mom and I were taken to a nearby hospital. We were almost immediately separated, as my mom needed treatment for her gunshot wounds and multiple scans because she was kicked in the head. I was in my own room in the emergency department, and although people were streaming in and out of the room, I was left alone a few times. In those moments, I started reliving the nightmare we had just been through. I did not want to be alone.

Shortly after I was left for the first time, a detective walked in the door. He said he wanted to ask some questions. He was so professional, so kind, and so attentive. I didn’t say anything to him about not wanting to be left alone, but when he left the room, I overheard him say to a nurse "make sure she isn’t left alone." He knew what I needed and said something. He probably thought that act was minor, but it is a story I tell over and over because it made such an impact on me. Next, a woman from Prevail came to my room. I had never heard of the service, but she said she was there for anything I needed. I asked her to stay with me even though I didn’t feel like talking. She sat quietly in the corner of the room while others streamed in and out, and her presence was so reassuring. Again, a seemingly small act that made a huge difference.

That morning would be the first time I saw how much my community — and often, total strangers — played a role in my healing.

After we left the hospital, the community outreach was stunning. We had foods, cards, flowers, and clothes streaming in from people we had never met. We heard that a local yoga studio was doing a donation-based class in our honor. My dad was given a car from a religious ministry. We were showered with kindness. Throughout every step of the criminal proceedings, from the first questions asked by our detective to the sentencing hearing, my family encountered new people that were so willing to do anything they could to help us.

This, sadly, is not the story many victims get to tell. They are often kept at arm’s length or even ignored. But as a community, we can have such an influence in victims’ lives. It takes so little to make a difference. Every member of our community can play a role in a victims’ healing. It can be as minor as listening to their story and saying "I believe you."

If we all took just a little bit of time to help, every victim could have a community like my family and I did. You may think that you have nothing to offer, or that what you can offer is too small. But every small thing can make a bigger difference than you realize. And if each of us did something, maybe then we could all begin to heal.

Allison Emhardt

Alli is a proud voice for victims in our community and a member of Prevail's Speaker's Bureau 

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