Courageous – Guest Story by Tony Hixon
Some of you might recall Tony Hixon appearing on my blog where I gave him a personal interview on his book, Retirement Stepping Stones™️. Today, I am highlighting his story, Courageous, to usher in International Women’s Month coming next month. Throughout March, I will post on topics that are meant to educate women and celebrate their contributions. This story, by Tony, raises awareness of a too common threat women face today and one young entrepreneur’s efforts to mitigate it.
The flickering streetlight reflected on a puddle into the slit in the Young Girl’s eye. The other eye, too swollen to open. Laying in a back alley of The City, the Young Girl roused from her beating. Foggy, yet coming to, the pain started to register in her brain. How had she gotten here? What situation had led to this? Who had done this to her?
Staggering to her feet, her legs felt like jelly. The pain first felt in her head, now felt in her wrist, likely broken when shielding her body from a hard fall. Gaining consciousness of her surroundings, the Young Girl looked left, then right down the abandoned alley. To the right, darkness…to the left, light. Holding her left arm with her other hand so as not to allow her broken wrist to move, she staggered forward. Movement hurt. While she ascertained that nothing else was broken, everything hurt. She knew the beating she had received was severe, she knew the cuts were bleeding fast…she knew who’d done this to her.
It was Friday, and before school let out, the Young Girl was with her group of friends.
“Hey, you going to the Party tonight?” the Friend asked.
“Got nothing else going on.” the Young Girl responded.
“K. Meet you at 8. We’ll walk over together.”
Upon arriving at the Party, the Young Girl and her Friend began to make their way through the crowd in hopes to find their familiar friend group, but also checking out the party’s vibe. The familiar cocktail of smells ranging from vapor to weed to incense filled the air. Cans littered end tables and shelves, many already emptied into the bellies of those wanting to either drown their problems away, or to be cool in front of their peers. Neither were good reasons, but with the parents out of town, the bonging would continue to the wee hours of the morning.
Making their way through to the back of the house, they stepped outside and spotted their friends. Snaking through the crowd, the Lost Boy made eye contact with the Young Girl. He made his way over to make an introduction. Shyly, she introduced herself back as their eyes engaged and she felt important…alive…free. Having done this many times before, the Lost Boy had other plans for his evening and as the Young Girl peered over the crowd to locate her Friend, he slipped a Drug into her drink. Her night was over, his…had just begun.
The Young Girl had almost made it to the end of the dark alley and into the street. She could make out figures ahead of her, likely pedestrians going home from their own wild nights. Finally appearing into the full array of street lights beyond the alley, she collapsed from loss of blood, and pure exhaustion. Flitting in and out of consciousness, she remembered the Store Clerk rushing to her side, she remembered the flicker of red and blue lights, she remembered the chatter of doctors and nurses as they rushed her through the hospital corridor, she remembered wondering if she’d make it through this…alive.
Two weeks elapsed as slowly, yet purposefully, the swelling her brain had undergone from blunt force trauma began to subside. Her eyes now mostly healed from the ordeal, she opened them to discover her Mom sleeping on a couch near her hospital bed.
“Mom?” the Young Girls voice scarcely muttered.
Mom, immediately roused from her sleep rushed to her daughter’s side.
“Honey! Are you ok?! Oh my gosh, I love you so much! What happened? Who did this to you?”
Sensing she had asked too many questions too quickly, Mom grabber her daughter’s hand, placed her head on her chest and began to cry.
Through her tears…“You’re ok… Everything’s going to be okay…”
Moments later, a Police Officer entered the Young Girl’s room, pen and pad in hand.
“Hi, I know this is sudden, but I need to ask you a few questions. We need to find the person who did this to you.”
The Young Girl nodded in agreement, and the questioning began.
Ten months later, the Young Girl faced her perpetrator in the courtroom. The Lost Boy’s crime spree had come to an end. He would face countless charges and be kept in prison for a long time. A moment before announcing the verdict, the Judge looked at the courtroom filled with his victims and their families. The Judge’s eyes locked gaze with the Young Girl.
The Judge began, “To the victims of this man’s crimes, I’m sorry. What you’ve gone through is more than I could imagine, nor ever want my daughter to endure. Thank you, each one of you, for having the courage to be here today as you see justice enforced. I’m curious, is there anyone here today, any victim of this evil, that would like to speak to other young girls who’ve been impacted by rape? They are out there, they need you to be their voice. Would anyone like to speak?”
Empowered, the Young Girl rose from her seat, almost involuntarily, drawn to the occasion by providence and purpose. Walking toward the middle of the seated section, the Young Girl looked over her shoulder for strength. Her Mom and Friend smiled and gave her the loving nod and motivation she needed.
The Young Girl took a deep breath. The words that followed, etched on the hearts of every victim of this gruesome act.
“Once a woman falls into his trap, she feels helpless. A thief will not steal unless the opportunity presents itself. Courage cannot be acted upon unless there is something to be Courageous about. In the event of rape, the perpetrator seeks opportunity. Once it has been found, the thief steals the Courage of a woman. Rape is a gruesome crime, and it is shocking to know that some women think that they are deserving of such treatment. Due to this, most victims will not speak out.
After an occurrence of rape, can you guess what the number one question everyone has? ‘What was she wearing?’ In a travesty of twisted logic, many believe that women bring this horrific crime on themselves by the apparel we choose to wear. And, in so doing, dismiss the behavior of sick and evil men.
I stand here today, on behalf of victims everywhere…those in this room and those who’ve chose to remain silent. May today, your silence be lifted. May your tragedy be brought to light. No longer may you feel the need to hide in the dark shadows of the alley, but may you walk boldly into the light. May you receive the help you need, and may your perpetrator be dealt the justice they deserve.
My fellow Friends, women who’ve endured this horrific crime, may you stand up today. You were made on purpose, for a purpose. And that purpose is to claim victory over the darkness, and to reclaim your courage. May you step boldly, as we have, into the light. And may God heal the wounds of your heart and the scars on your soul of what’s been done to you. He’s done it for me, and He can for you.”
The Lost Boy wept as the Officer placed him in handcuffs and led him to his fate. The Young Girl turned. She made eye contact with the victims, and their families who were there that day. She smiled, knowing justice had been served, and her Courage had returned.
Note by Tony: This short story was inspired by a Shark Tank episode that featured the invention by then 16 year old Shirah Benarde. Her product, NightCap, is a drink spiking prevention product that covers the opening of a cup. The idea came to her in a dream after hearing about the horrors of drink spiking from friends who experienced it after going off to college. Check out her product at www.nightcapit.com. If you or someone you know has been a victim of this horrific crime, please contact local police and/or a qualified professional.