CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - I feel a little like a traitor. For years I always called myself a 'survivor of violent crime' and now I'm writing this as a 'victim'.
What has changed?
Nothing really, but I know first-hand that to get to a place where you feel like a survivor takes work, and the help of others.
If you watch our news you know, I talk about crime for a living. Unfortunately it's a big part of my work as a journalist. To get through sharing the painful stories of victims I have to remove myself to some degree.
But there is a kinship between victims of violence. We share a common walk, the tiny and sometimes painful steps through the aftermath into a place where we feel whole again. Maybe you know what I'm talking about.
I learned the hard way violent crime changes you. Crime changes you the second it happens. It changes you the moment it ends, and you feel the world changing around you the first time you tell someone.
The violent crime I endured is still changing me all these years later as I write this story.
Why talk about it now? I can hear the cynic, "It must be ratings time" well in fact it is sweeps, but that is just pure coincidence. This is Victims' Rights Awareness Week.
I wanted to make sure you know of the resources available in every county across our viewing area if you or someone you love needs help after the crime scene tape has cleared.
Navigating through life after violent crime is like walking around wearing someone else's prescription glasses. You feel foggy, made dizzy but the swirl of action, or even numbed by the lack of resolution to your case. Every one reacts differently. But going through the process alone is never a good idea.
There are agencies to help you find your way through the criminal justice process. Believe me, seek justice, fight for it, and be dogged. Don't let your case go cold. There is a serious measure of solace once justice is served.
Twenty-six years ago, I woke up to a knife to my throat and to the words, "I'm going to kill you." I won't go into too many details, but I'll tell you it was awful.
The five-plus hours of fear were more than I thought I'd ever be able to survive. The man who raped me was caught. He is behind bars right now, exactly where he should be.
The anniversary of the crime that transformed me from a 'local morning anchor' into the whispted comments 'that's the anchor who was raped' passed two weeks ago and I didn't even notice.
That's a big deal, a really big deal to me.
It means that April 3, 2012 was a day living in the present. I smiled at my daughter, enjoyed my family, peeked in on the bluebirds in the bluebird house, and never even thought about 26 years ago.
This milestone means I win. I beat the bad guy. But I didn't go it alone.
My faith in God, my deep belief in counseling, hundreds of shoulders to cry on over these decades, all mean I sit here today, on the other side of victim.
I sit here today, Maureen O'Boyle, survivor.
You can find help in every county of North and South Carolina. The web sites for both the North and South Carolina Coalitions Against Sexual Assault are listed on the side of this story. Each site lists agencies in every county in both states. I checked and most hotlines are answered 24/7.