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home : readerswrite : yourstory July 9, 2014

I am strong
"I determined that the pain and trauma I had been through would no longer define who I was. That was when I truly began to heal." -Meg Blaine Corrigan

by Meg Blaine Corrigan

Forty years ago, I fled my home in Colorado Springs, Colo., following a sexual assault that nearly cost me my life. Young and single in 1972, I ventured to a mountainside park filled with people. Absorbed in sketching the scenery, I was not aware that the people in the park had begun to pack up to leave before dark.

A man wearing a bandana over his face jumped from behind a rock. He had a gun and forced me up the mountain where he sexually assaulted me. He then pulled a heavy chain from a bag and told me to move to a large pine tree.

I knew I had to do something fast. Not believing in divine intervention, I desperately cried out, "In the name of God, don't do this!" The man's face contorted into a look somewhere between fear and cowardice. He slammed the chain into the side of my head and I fell backwards into the brush.

"Don't talk about God!" the man screamed. And then he fled.

Driving myself to the sheriff's department in town, I found the investigating officer less than compassionate; among other perplexing questions, I was asked what I had done to provoke the incident. The same treatment prevailed at the local hospital; the attending physician refused to see me and had me sent home without a physical exam. Even in 1972, I expected better treatment.

The assault and the unconscionable treatment afterwards brought years of fear and uncertainty. Those brief moments of terror at the hands of one person changed my life so drastically, made my heart beat differently, and rendered me incapable of trusting anyone, least of all myself, for a long, long time.

After many years, I determined that the pain and trauma I had been through would no longer define who I was. That was when I truly began to heal.

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Healing came full circle when, this past summer, on the 40th anniversary of the assault, I met with five members of the sheriff's office in Colorado Springs. None of them was there in 1972, but each of them treated me with respect and compassion. After listening to my story, three of them took me to retrace my steps to where the attack took place four decades before. When I walked off that mountain and rejoined these three new friends, I knew I was supposed to survive.

It also gave me a sense of recommitment to help other survivors of assault.

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of "Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother's Daughter to God's Child." A recently retired counselor from Century College, she lives in Lake Elmo, Minn. www.MegCorrigan.com

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