“I thought I knew how to take care of myself…”

Dear Friend,

What a difference we make together.  Here is Sarah’s story in her own words. 

I have been living on my own for over five years, travelled alone in local and foreign cities, and thought I knew how to take care of myself. I am 22 years old, live in a quiet residential neighborhood and work two jobs. On August 28th, I was walking home from work when I was approached by a man asking directions to the bus.  After a minute or two of trying to help him figure out where he was, the situation changed. He said he had a gun under his jacket and wanted my money. He put his arm around my throat to keep me from screaming and walked me into a nearby driveway where, under threat of a gun, he raped me.  When I cried or made any noise, he would quiet me by shoving his thumb into my throat or eye, threatening to kill me if I didn’t shut up.  I did not know if his plan was to kill me after he was done. I could not see him just walking away. I was very lucky.  Someone heard my cries and called the police and the police were there before he finished.

They took a hysterical me to the hospital and as I waited to be seen, a nurse offered to call BAWAR. I didn’t know how a stranger could help me, but since I could not seem to make any decisions myself, yes, certainly another sympathetic voice, hand, and smile could not hurt.  I knew I needed someone to help me call my mother and father. I was terrified of calling them, knowing their pain would remind me and I would lose the “calm” state of shock I had achieved.  The BAWAR advocate came to the hospital at 2:30am.  I had been wary at first of some falsely, overly sympathetic, ultimately unhelpful person, but she just knew. She stayed with me through the questions and the exam. She listened to my fears about calling my parents and called my mother for me. She sat with me, listening and talking with me in the hospital emergency room until my mother arrived.

Yes, a nurse might be able to do those things with me, but aside from the special understanding the advocate had, there is a continuity of service that BAWAR provides.  She called the next day to see how I was doing.  She said, “I’ve been thinking about you.” A person calling, saying, “I’m here, I care and I’m going to be here as long as you need me.”

I am lucky also that I have family and friends to support me, and yet I still need BAWAR. What about someone who doesn’t have family or friends?  I don’t know what I need right now or in the future but it keeps me sane to know there is a place I can always go, to yell or just to say, “I don’t know what to do.” I don’t know what happens when you keep this inside. But I’m not going to keep it inside me.  No one should have to.

Please support BAWAR with your kind donation which will help ensure that BAWAR is there for the next survivor, like me, who needs them.


24-Hour Hotline in English and Español:  (510) 845-7273

Bay Area Women Against Rape
470 27th Street
Oakland, CA 9461

Hours: M-F, 9am – 5pm PST (Excluding Federal Holidays)

Office: (510) 430-1298
Email: bawar@bawar.org