Help My Mom After Assault
My name is Barton Brooks, and I live in Woodstock, NY and I'm writing to help my mother, Carla who lives in Southern Utah. Please help her if you can - and share with your friends if you will - I want her to feel all the love and support we can muster!!
In the middle of the night on April 17th, a man entered my mother's home, crept into her bedroom, and started stroking her hair. She awoke to this stranger looming above her and began a fight for her life - absolutey terrified as he gagged her, slammed her head against her headboard, and held her down as he brutally beat and sexually assaulted her. My beautiful mother - who turns 80 in less than a year - violently joined #metoo at age 79.
I can't type any more of the horrific details, because even though it's been a month since it happened, my heart and eyes continue to weep for her. My fellow adventurer, my kind, dignified, and resilient mother - we've cried more tears in the past month than we may have cried ever before.
Instead, I want to focus on her strength, because my God, this woman is strong!
I got on the first flight home I could - sobbing the whole way - and when I finally made it, the reality of her bruises and tears absolutely broke me. This is MY mother, and listening to her talk about the attack, what he did, and her rape kit - is something I'd wish for no one.
However, as we were talking, she looked at me with a little smile and said, "He didn't break me though, I FOUGHT LIKE A TIGER the whole time until he left". I was weeping - "I'm so proud of you Mom, I'm so incredibly proud of you." To this day, I am so incredibly proud of her.
The emotional roller coaster between pride for her and her strength, mixed with rage and vengeance at him and what he did, with gratitude that she's still alive, and hope that she will heal, continues to this day. This roller coaster has created an overall numbness that's hard to shake, but I can't get her strength out of my mind. She fought for roughly 20 minutes, and with her "battle scars" starting to heal, we've been talking about her life moving forward.
Over the past month, we've come to learn a few things, and are quickly realizing that the best way to heal, is to help others in need. My mom had a crash course in injustice the past month, and through her experience, she is wanting to make a difference.
She's learned about the backlog of rape kits, and thinks it's an incredible injustice. Even though they are collected at the darkest of times, they hold hope for resolution, yet often sit on a shelf, never to be even tested. According to http://www.endthebacklog.org, there are 2,700 untested rape kits in her home state of Utah alone.
She's learned about senior sexual assault, and that it's more prevalent than you could ever imagine, and she wants to talk about it in order to raise awareness, and help groups like https://www.dovecenter.org
in her home town.
She's also learned about victim shaming. Although my mom will never be faced with insinuations that she had anything to do with her assault by getting questions like "what were you wearing" etc, she did have some very well meaning friends speak to her in hushed tones, with "you don't have to tell anyone" or "you're too dignified to talk about it" type of statements. I watched her when people said things like this, and she'd get a bit smaller as they spoke. I'd quickly interject - "Nope! Silence breeds shame, and there's no place for shame in my mother!" On the other hand, I also watched her when people said, "tell your story," as she'd sit up a bit with confidence and dignity.
My mom is visibly different every time she says, "I fought like a TIGER!" and I want to keep her in that strength.
Despite the horror of her attack, she's aware and grateful that she's had fantastic support (an aggressive police force and detective unit rushing DNA and other things), supportive friends and family that have helped her get home with me, and access to proper health care and counseling. So, when we've asked her what she wants to do next, she's said that she wants to help other women - to raise money and awareness for those who have been through something similar. At this time, she's narrowed it down and wants to focus on a few things she's learned about.
-Rape Kit Backlogs
-Senior Sexual Assault
She wants to help groups that are addressing these issues, and work with them later this Summer and Fall. She knows most women who have been through this may not have had the same support that she has had, and is looking to make a difference however she can.
I'm asking for your help. I've raised money for those disadvantaged around the world - everywhere from Africa to Asia - but this one obviously means the most.
Please help if you can - whether it's $5 or $5,000 - 100% of every contribution will be recieved by her, and donated to local or national groups that help sexual assault victims. As she learns more about various needs and organizations, she'll write every check on your behalf to those that make a difference. Then I'll account for it here with reciepts from each donation.
Every single donation she will be able to make on your behalf, will add a bit of wind to her sails, help her stand a little taller, so please add your name to hers to stand next to her in support of her new mission.
Please support her if you can. She knows I believe she's remarkable for her strength in the face of adversity, so please let her know that you do too. I'd also ask that you share this on your social media - tell your friends how wonderful she is, and let's make her feel powerful again as she aims to help other victims. She wants what happened to her become a catalyst for good, and even if you can't contribute - please just send a note of support and we'll print them out for her!
We're going to fight like tigers to help others how we can, and we look forward to updating you on all the wonderful things that have been done because of your support.
You’ve all been so generous and kind with your thoughts and contributions, so most importantly, I want to say thank you. You all gave my Mom purpose when she was the most broken, and your support has meant the absolute world to us. I’ve read your comments to her numerous times when she’s been feeling low, and every time I do, she feels humbled, grateful, and thankful for your support. Truly, you lifted her up and made her feel like she had an army of supporters, and you’ve given her tremendous strength.
The biggest update is that the sentencing of her attacker occurred a few weeks ago, and after pleading guilty, he received a sentence of Five to Life in the Utah State Prison. At sentencing, our family was able to finally see him, and to tell him directly how his actions impacted us. It was overwhelmingly difficult and surreal to see the young man that caused her so much pain. Sitting across from him, trying to explain to him through tears how his attack affected my mom and our family, was one of the most difficult moments of my entire life. It’s all resolved now, so we move forward with purpose.
We had an outpouring of love with a court room full of supporters from the community, and as my mother sat in front of the judge and addressed her attacker directly, I couldn’t have been more proud. She was beautiful and gracious, strong and calm, and this picture of her sitting in court describing the attack (and then forgiving her attacker), is the epitome of strength to me.
We also heard his mother speak of the struggles they’ve been through due to his actions, witness her pain, and then we listened to him apologize to my mother (while taking full responsibility by pleading guilty). It’s just been a tragedy for all involved.
While grateful for justice and knowing he’s behind bars for the next five years (at least), we in no way wish him, or his family, ill will. As MLK said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” So that’s the direction we’re going. My mother would much rather have him succeed in prison, and get the rehabilitation needed to live a productive and honorable life when he gets out. It would be so much easier for her to know that she was the first and last attack from a man who did a reprehensible thing, rather than to know she was just the first of many who felt fear and pain because of him. That’s one of the reasons why she wants him to succeed. She’s also become friends with his lovely mother, and wants him to do well in order to provide his mother with peace in the future.
Yeah, my mom is a gracious and beautiful woman… The local paper did an article on the sentencing.
After sentencing, she slept 14 hours a night for four nights in a row, and her smile is returning to full sparkle! THAT makes me so happy, and in regards to this GoFundMe, so far she has donated around $35,000 to End The Backlog, the Dove Center, UCASA, Children’s Justice Center, RAINN, and the SGPD to fund additional rape kit processing. She’s also donated to individual women after hearing about their assault, and has a little left over for when she hears about a woman in need**.
She’s still hoping she can continue to help by raising more money and donating to more causes, promoting needed legislation, while meeting and helping other survivors - just being the wonderful woman that she is.
She also really wants to make sure that rape kit legislation is passed on a national level - requiring every rape kit be processed within three months of the attack, as all women deserve the same justice that she has received. If any of you have connections to Senators or Congresspeople that would be interested in championing legislation like that - she’s ready to help!
I’m truly so proud of her.
Again, thank you all for your kindness and support - it takes a village, and thank you for being part of ours..
**Full disclosure, she asked if she could use a bit of the GoFundMe money for costs associated with her Dr.’s appointments in Salt Lake to address health issues exacerbated by the attack, and then for the out of pocket costs for the resulting upcoming surgery. I said I was sure no one would have a problem with that as the donations were meant to help her after the attack, but if for some reason you do, please reach out and I’ll refund your donation.
She's made a few large donations to things she's learned about and found to be important to her, and she's on a mission to learn more, raise more money, and help other women. My mother - the 80 year old sexual assault activist - who knew this would be part of our story?
Thank you all for making her feel loved and supported, my deepest thank you for those who have contributed to this GoFundMe to give her the opportunity to help others, and an enormous thanks for all your love that helps her stand strong.
Much love to all..