Would you be willing to tell the world about your most painful, humiliating experiences? It’s hard to imagine having that kind of courage -- and I am deeply grateful that Kimberly did.
In 2004, while serving time in a federal facility, Kimberly was raped repeatedly by a prison official. Like most people behind bars, Kimberly felt completely powerless to stop the abuse. Not only did the officer literally hold the keys to her freedom, he also knew where her family lived and threatened to harm Kimberly’s children if she ever told anyone about his crimes. Kimberly was terrified.
Incredibly, despite her fear and trauma, Kimberly reported the abuse, which meant reliving every painful moment as she shared the details with investigators. After she came forward, other women who had been sexually assaulted by the same official did so too; eventually, he was convicted.
Today, Kimberly serves on JDI’s Survivor Council, a group of people who have dedicated themselves to ending the crisis of prisoner rape. The courage of these men and women – as activists, as spokespeople, as policymakers -- has, over the past three decades, transformed the way that Americans think about rape behind bars.
Here’s what Kimberly had to say about the council:
The Survivor Council is so important to the fight against sexual violence in detention, and to me personally. We battled for years for national standards to protect the right of each inmate to be safe -- a right that we were denied. But we don’t define ourselves as victims of a horrible crime. What defines us is our commitment to making sure that it doesn’t happen to others.
We will end the crisis of prisoner rape. And when we do, it will be because of the courage of people like Kimberly, who survived this abuse and refused to stay silent.