Laura Washington: Budget stalemate hurts survivors of rape
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Deyon Myles was more than scared when she was raped four years ago.
“I felt suicidal,” she said last week in an interview. “If these women can’t get the access to much needed help, they might be suicidal as well.”
Myles, then 23, was staying at a friend’s high-rise in Chicago. As she walked to the apartment, the building’s maintenance man accosted her, forced her into the unit, and raped her. She fought back, but felt trapped.
Then he left. “He went about his day, continuing to work as if nothing happened,” she recalled.
Myles was afraid to leave the 25th floor apartment. She called her boyfriend, eventually got out. She reported it to the police, went to the hospital.
She later found out her attacker was on the sex offenders list and “had done this before.” But Cook County prosecutors declined to file charges, saying it was a case of “he said, she said.”
Some friends blamed her for not doing enough to escape. Others wondered if it was consensual.
She was always scared, on the street, on the train. “I thought I saw him everywhere.”
“I had stopped talking to people. …I was in a downward spiral.”
She was a DePaul University freshman, with no money for private counseling.
Her mother helped her find a south suburban rape counseling center run by the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. The services were free, and for Myles, priceless.
“I think that, without these counseling services, I would not know where I would be today.”
The YWCA center was a friendly, safe space. She still attends regular, one-hour sessions with her counselor, Addie Johnson, who “helped me to branch out of this shell, that I have to put all this into context,” Myles said. “I could still do things without him having power over me. I got my power back.”
Myles is shocked by the finger-pointing and rancor in Springfield. “To even think that something like this is on the table, to cut this budget, is mind boggling.”
Today, a press conference will bring together state legislators and supporters of rape crisis centers to appeal for an end to the budget battles.
Myles has courage. If only our “leaders” in Springfield did.
Follow Laura Washington on Twitter: Follow @MediaDervish