A Victim's Story

Sexual assault is a crime like none other, leaving behind emotional and psychological scars that, for some, never completely heal. Many victims end up suppressing or even denying the fact that they were assaulted.

Such was the case for one woman in Montgomery still recovering from being raped 28 years ago. "I was stopped at a traffic light and a guy approached the driver's side window. It was midnight. When he got to the window, he pulled a gun out and told me to open the door and I just absolutely froze and I opened the door and I did exactly what he told me to do....."

It happened in May, 1973 and Patsy Watson was 19-years-old, but today she still has vivid memories of that summer night. "(He) got next to me with a gun in my side and made me drive to a vacant lot and he raped me." Not until recent years could Patsy say those words publicly.

While her rapist was serving a life sentence, she was doing time trying to pretend it never happened. "I thought ' I can pretend this didn't happen and just get on with my life.' It doesn't work that way, because very rarely a day goes by that there isn't something that reminds you of that."

Patsy never received counseling until three years ago, when she was preparing to protest at her attacker's parole hearing.. And she contacted the "Council Against Rape" for help. Now, Patsy works for the council coordinating volunteers to be there for others who are assaulted and devastated.

As for her own healing, speaking on camera was yet another step for her, since at first she didn't want to reveal her identity, but then reconsidered. "I thought if I was in silhouette and you didn't show my face and distorted my voice, I would be portraying the message that I'm ashamed of what happened to me, and it's not my shame. It's the shame of the perpetrator and that's what I want victims out there to know."

The rapist in Patsy's case is due for a fourth parole hearing sometime this year. Patsy plans to be there to protest his release