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Survivor Stories


"Porchlight Counseling Services has made a tremendous impact on my transition from paralyzed victim to empowered survivor. I learned the difference between “getting over it” and “coping” and now focus on the latter. I feel stronger, healthier, and more beautiful because of this."

-Anonymous Porchlight Client

"I was attacked in my room in college in my junior year. I was lucky to get away, but it was still very terrifying. I received no support from the college but was instead labeled as a target, since my attacker was a star player on the hockey team. I was stalked by other members of the hockey team. Eventually I had to be moved to another dorm as my attacker tried to kill me. I got little support from family, faculty and other students. The police referred me back to my college."

-Barbara M.

"The ability to talk to someone about being raped without having to do so much explaining has made a huge difference. I don't have to explain to my therapist why I'm still affected years later. I don't have to explain what a flashback is like or why it takes me time to recover from one. I don't have to worry that my anger or my tears are going to scare her away or that she won't be able to handle them, handle me. Seeing a therapist who's trained in sexual assault recovery has allowed me to focus on the parts I need to focus on without worrying about the person I'm telling my story to. I don't have to do the hand holding here; it's a place where someone finally takes my hand in hers and let's me know my experience is not too horrible to be discussed."

-Anonymous Porchlight Client

"It took me three years to finally go see a counselor. I thought I could handle it all on my own--the aftermath of my rape. And I could for awhile. I thought I was fine. But I never dealt emotionally. I never cried. I never got angry. I never let myself see that what happened to me was a personal trauma. I needed counseling in order to open up that part of me. I needed a safe space, with a person who I knew could handle my feelings, my breakdowns. Porchlight helped by giving me a therapist. They helped me to feel again."

-Anonymous Porchlight Client

"One day in December, my life as a relatively happy-go-lucky college sophomore from Wilmette, Illinois, was forever altered. I was raped by gunpoint, on the outskirts of my college campus... or at least, that is where it began. I was taken in his car, to someplace I didn’t know, in the middle of a cornfield, convinced this is where I was going to die.

I didn’t know this man. I had never seen him before, nor did I ever see him again, except in my nightmares and flashbacks. But he took everything from me that night. He took my sense of safety and security. He took my self- esteem. He almost took my life, but decided not to... and left me off by the place where I worked, many hours later, covered in dirt, and completely destroyed inside.

At the time, I thought it was a really good thing that I didn’t have many bruises, in that I wouldn’t have to tell anyone. No one would have to know, but me. I mean, I was only raped, or so I thought. I thought I could get over it, and live my life as before, continue college, etc. I had always been pretty good at disguising how I really felt about things, so this wouldn’t be too difficult. Again... so I thought.

Now it is many years later. I can’t say that I am completely "cured"; I don’t think anyone ever is. I still have moments of feeling the grief. I still have anniversary reactions. I still have moments where I’m afraid of the dark. I still have moments period - but why wouldn’t I? Rape is something that one never forgets. It is part of my identity, but I am now able to share this part of who I am with others, in hopes of helping them. Trying to help those, to not make the same mistakes as I did....such as not talking about it, and not getting professional help.

There is a saying that a person is only as sick as her secrets. I became as sick if not sicker than my secret. It was only when I decided to speak my truth regarding my assault that I began to heal from it."

-Colleen Nathan

"I was a campus chaplain at a community college for 5 years. Many girls were attracted to campus ministry because it gave them a place to talk about their lives. About 60% spoke of date rape or attempted date rape as a common occurrence. It was a very traumatic event for each I spoke with.

These rapes clearly affected the young women’s academic lives. The sexual abuse caused them to have problems focusing, and therefore studying was very difficult for them.

The sexual abuse made daily functioning a real struggle for the students I spoke with. It caused problems with social functioning and created a lack of ease with others. The trust factor was gone from their lives as a result of the attack, and that migrated into all sections of their lives and their decisions about the future. I did hear some girls say they had trouble sleeping and had fearful flashbacks.

It was clear these young women would be left with wounds they would carry throughout their lives. A very small percentage of them ever reported incidents or sought out help from professionals to heal their wounds."

-Diane Weber, Former College Chaplain

"When I was raped there weren’t any resources anywhere. So to me, ANY resources are better than no resources. Had there been something, I may not have ended up in the shape I did emotionally. I kept it to myself, pretending it didn’t happen, because I didn’t know what else to do. If there had been a walk-in center off campus I may have taken advantage of it. I would not have though, if the center had been on campus, as I didn’t want anyone to know, or blame me, or think that I had been assaulted. Had I had a place to talk about what happened, how it happened, I can honestly say I would feel differently about probably everything."


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