Battling sex abuse makes this survivor stand out
It was nearly 30 years ago when Annie Anderson felt like she died. She really didn’t, but what she experienced that night has set off years of torture and torment mentally, physically and psychologically.
At times, Anderson, the advertising director for the Dodge County Independent, wonders if she would have been better off dying. Her life as she knew it ended that night in 1989 when a rapist with a violent past broke into her residence and raped her. Life has never been the same again for Anderson, and perhaps understandably so.
The stranger attack wasn’t the only time Anderson found herself dealing with sexual violence. She has been sexually assaulted at the hands of no less than three individuals all on different occasions—two of them by family members, including her own father, and the stranger who escaped from juvenile lock up.
To see someone go through the pain and suffering that Anderson has endured is heartwrenching. In my 35 years of experience in both journalism and law enforcement, I have never come across a sexual abuse victim with such disturbing and harrowing experiences.
Anderson just opened up publicly about her story within the past five years. I have had the opportunity of interviewing her about her unpleasant abuse for hours. We’ve called the story, “The Invisible Scar,” and it details the distressing and agonizing torture Anderson endured from people she at one time loved and trusted, and yet another one who she never knew. She has come forward to share her story as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which was noted throughout April, in hopes of teaching others about sex abuse.
At the very best, it has been a long and lonely journey through life for Anderson. She was first assaulted by her father at 12 years old, then by her brother at 14 and finally by a stranger at 15. The violence set her down a path of panic attacks, depression, attempted suicide, troubled relationships and perhaps the most noticeable a weight problem. It goes without saying that Anderson has experienced an agonizing life.
“It has been a nightmare for me,” Anderson says. “It has been a very challenging and uncomfortable journey.”
The effects of rape are long lasting and never go away, according to Anderson. Even after 29 years, such is the case with Anderson. “It’s an on-going battle and it’s something you can’t get treatment for and be cured,” she said. “The emotional scars are for a lifetime.”
Her greatest hope through sharing her story is that people will become more understanding of rape victims.
Despite as tragic as this story is and the feeling that she died at the hands of her stranger abuser, Anderson tries to stay upbeat about things. She says with all adversity comes blessings. She is confident that everything happens for a reason. “There is always a reason for the things God puts in front of you,” she said.
If there is any silver lining to Anderson’s ordeals with sexual violence, it’s that the last attack against her finally set her free from being continuously abused. There is irony in Anderson’s story. Though her stranger attacker threatened to kill her, she looks at the attack as saving her life.
“I didn’t have to endure any more abuse from my family (after the stranger attack),” she said, noting her mother did nothing about the attacks with family members. “I probably would have ended up killing myself if the last attack hadn’t happened,” she added.
Anderson hopes her abuse story will serve as an inspiration for other victims. She has incredible internal strength that has allowed her to go in hot pursuit of surviving sexual violence not just once, but three times. She is definitely a true survivor in every sense of the word.