On Jan. 12, I became a victim of sexual assault. At around 3:30 in the morning, while I was at home sleeping, a man I did not know came into my house and attempted to rape me.
The police were able to identify him as my neighbor and arrest him with the help of a DNA match. Unlike many of the stories I had heard, the detectives at the police station in my district were nothing but kind, efficient and dedicated ― they apologized if the tests were taking too long and called often with updates.
During this time I contacted the Korean Sexual Violence Relief Center and the U.S. Embassy. Both organizations walked me through every step of the process. The KSVRC sent an advocate to attend court with me when I had to testify and explained how to submit court statements. Without the victims’ center I, as a foreign woman who speaks little Korean, would have had no idea what options were available as I dealt with the court.
I deal with the effects of the attack on a daily basis. I sleep with my living room light on because total darkness terrifies me. Harmless pranks of sneaking up behind me can lead to panic attacks.
The sight of a black and orange winter jacket makes it difficult to breathe. I sleep little each night. Sometimes I can’t sleep because of nightmares, often memories of the man’s face and the way he looked at me; sometimes it’s because I’m stressed from dealing with the incessant contact from the perpetrator’s family, begging me to accept money in exchange for a lighter sentence ― he has been sentenced to 1½ years in prison.
Even now, during the appeals process, the friend who assisted me receives three to four phone calls a day on my behalf from the offender’s family or friends.
Despite all that, I feel that one day this will all be over. Some aspects of the attack I may have to deal with for a long time, or even forever. And the case is far from over, now entering the appeals process. However, someday, with help from counseling and the support of my friends and family, I will be able to get a good night’s rest, and I won’t jump at shadows anymore.
More than that, I hope that other victims can learn from my experience and from the article above that there are resources available. And you are not alone.
By Emma Kalka (firstname.lastname@example.org