Surviving Sexual Assault - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Surviving Sexual Assault


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC)--  Maybe the hardest thing about surviving sexual assault... is dealing with how you feel about everything afterwards.

For a long time, she kept it inside. It was in the shadows. She says it was the worst day of her life.

"The summer that I turned the broad daylight of my own home I was raped by three brothers."

The brutal attack was the beginning of a volatile existence that she says she endured for years.

"I ran away from home and I was homeless for a long time, ran with the wrong crowd and ended up being in a domestic violence situation where I was abused and strangled and stabbed. ended up in the hospital and in the hospital I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter."

Cresta Valentine made a decision, a commitment to change and move forward. At 17 Cresta became a single mother. she enrolled in college and graduated a short three years later.

Cresta says, "When you go through something like that it's almost like living on a deserted island. you can't imagine anybody else understanding what you've been through and so just having somebody there that can say you're not alone is so powerful."

Since the attack Cresta has found comfort and grown strong in sharing her story and helping others.

"You think you are just living one day at a time. there is no future at that point and I think you're so fragile because you feel like nobody will ever love you because of what happened and there's so much shame and so much guilt."

Cresta is now a volunteer with the victim's advocate program -- hoping to help other victims of sexual assault -- because when it happened to her she had no one to turn to... not even her parents.

"I tried to talk to my parents at the time but they didn't want to talk about it. that kind of thing just didn't happen to our family so it really created this cycle of feeling like I didn't have anybody to turn to or no one would listen to me."

A woman's chance of becoming a victim to rape--one in four. and expert say more than half of those go unreported. Whether because of the stigma of shame society has added the victim's unwanted feelings of guilt or shame. shock or denial total feelings of fear.

Cresta says, "I wasn't even to say out loud the things that happened to me for over ten years and you know got to a place for myself where I finally needed to start talking about it I needed to realize that this was okay and I could still be proud of who I was even though this happened to me."

Cresta says she realizes now that it's ok to look back at terrible things that have happened... it's part of her history... but she has to move forward.

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