How music helped save the life
of a survivor of sexual assault
I remember clearly the midnight phone call from the local police department letting me know there was a young woman in need of a sexual assault exam and evidence collection. As an advocate, this was not my first time for this type of call, and sadly, it has not been my last. However, the memory of this night resonates to this day.
“Melody” was in tears when I picked her up. She climbed into my car, clutching her guitar and few belongings, her face etched with emotion and pain from her trauma. The drive to the hospital never seemed longer as she recounted her assault and the moments leading up to this day. Her story involved being homeless, her battle with depression, and my heart could not help but stop as she recounted attempts to kill herself. “I would have tried again tonight. I wanted to end this pain. But I called the police instead. And now, you are here.”
While I drove, she began to strum her guitar, clearly her prized possession. She spoke of her music and how at times, singing and playing were all that kept her alive. I asked her what it was she liked to play and sing while she spoke of her first upcoming gig, and I listened in awe as she then fell naturally into song, filling my car with chords of heartbreak and hope as tears streamed freely from our eyes.
The next hours were devastating. I never once left her side through the night as the compassionate team of caregivers collected evidence, telling her repeatedly how strong she was, how brave. Her sobs were deep and full of pain as she lay there, curled up with her knees to her chest. “Why?” she said. “Why did this happen to me? No one cares about me or what happens to me. I don’t even know why I am here anymore.”
I knelt beside the bed and looked her in the eyes. “I care what happens to you. I see you for more than your pain. I see you for you. I see your potential. I see your ability to never give up and I believe in you. If you ever doubt that, you call me.”
Three weeks later at a local club Melody took the stage with her beloved guitar and she gave everyone the gift of her music. As an advocate it makes my heart sing to witness a survivor transform and take control of their pain and live their dreams. Melody’s last words to me linger.
“That night I was determined to do whatever was necessary to make the pain stop. But you showed up. You reminded me of my potential, my worth. You believed in me. I am alive because you were there that night.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem. Nearly one in five women in the US have experienced rape or attempted rape at some time in their lives, and one in sixty-seven American men have experienced rape or attempted rape.
Learn more: www.nsvrc.org/saam
OURTURNisapublicserviceseriesbyTurningPointsNetwork(TPN)servingallofSullivanCountywith offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.
For information contact 1.603.543-0155 or www.turninqpointsnetwork.org or find us onFacebook.