At a college-area apartment in Greeley, CO in the early morning hours of May 12th, 2006, stood a man determined to conquer his prey. Though he had visited the exterior of the building many times over the past week, hunting the girls inside under the cover of darkness, this was the night he studied the ground-level window and made the decision to force it open just wide enough to slither inside.
As he silently crept through the living room, finding his way to the end of a narrow hall, he slowly opened the door facing him. There, fast asleep in her bed, lay 20-year-old Kimberly Corban, oblivious to the threat looming over her.
Just as this stranger had fantasized for so long, he knelt over his victim’s body, carefully placing a dark shirt over her face. Startled from her sleep, Kimberly tried to sit up, but he pushed her back into her pillow, whispering coldly into her ear, “Shut up”. He could feel the fear washing over her as she struggled to draw short, jagged breaths.
He knew his time had finally come.
He held all the power.
He was in control.
At 6:56AM on May 12 th , 2006, I made my first desperate, crackling phone call to dispatch screaming for help, asking officers to please hurry—to save me.
The prior two hours had been the longest and most terrifying of my young life. At only twenty years of age, I was forced to look at the pure evil ignited in the eyes of a stranger and try to accept the fact that my life was in his hands.
This man, a man I had never met, had broken in to my home, covered my face, and proceeded to rape me. No amount of pleading or protest could have stopped him. I was overpowered and vulnerable in the one place I was supposed to feel safe — in my own home.
As I watched the sun rise outside of my bedroom window through a 3-inch opening in my blinds, I could see the backside of the garages, the green spring grass, even the sidewalk. They were right outside my window, just beyond my bedroom wall, yet seemed worlds away from the horror I was trapped in. I prayed for someone—anyone to appear outside my window and miraculously save me from this nightmare.
Quick thinking and the ability to convince my attacker his crime would stay within the four walls of my apartment is what ultimately tempted evil to leave my home.
But my ordeal was far from over.
I called police, submitted to a sexual assault examination at the hospital and was handed a blue brochure with a list of things I may experience. I stared at it blankly, not able to identify with any of their warnings. My mind was screaming, “This is not me!” Anger seared my chest as I tossed it aside, furious and feeling defeated at the realization that suddenly, my identity had been relabeled: I was now a victim.
I burst into tears in the police department bathroom and slid down the wall, crumpled into an empty shell of myself. As my mother tried to comfort me, I whispered through my tears, “Mommy, I don’t want to be this girl!”
In the months that followed, the things I needed to say came out as crying, panic attacks, binge drinking, seizures, sleeping, PTSD and depression. The road was rough, filled with pitfalls and detours, but I knew where it was heading and I knew I had to get there.
Just over a year later, that road finally lead me to my day in court. I stood in front of the judge, the jury, my attacker, the prosecutors, and a packed courtroom of supporters to recount the most horrific experience of my life in painstaking detail. Three hours later, I took a seat in the front row where I stayed anchored the rest of the week, intent on barring this evil from preying on any other women.
At that moment, the realization was so clear to me: becoming a victim may not a choice, but becoming a survivor is.
I was blessed with an incredible support system on my journey to heal. I would not be who I am or where I am today without them. From the Greeley Police Department to the NCMC emergency room staff, to the Weld County District Attorney’s office to Alpha Phi, from the University of Northern Colorado to my amazing friends and family.
This victory has not been without struggle. So many times, I failed in so many ways, but every stumble only made me work harder.
Although I was forever changed, I did survive that morning. I immediately reported the crime, identified my attacker upon his arrest, actively participated in the court process, and testified at trial one year later.
Now, ten years later, I stand outside that very same apartment bedroom window I stared out of that morning. In my mind’s eye, from my bed 10 years ago, I can look out see and myself today – standing tall on the sidewalk where I prayed a savior would appear. I’ve come full circle, realizing that over the past decade, I became my savior. I saved myself.
Today, I am the person I so desperately needed in 2006. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a partner. I am a friend. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. Beyond myself, I am also a voice for others who have been victimized and stand as a powerful force against those who wish to take away our power as individuals.
Please, I beg you: if you take nothing else away from my experience, I want you to remember my story.
Not of what happened to me that morning ten years ago, but what that morning made me.
Brave. Determined. Strong. Courageous.