Finding My Voice Made Me Stronger

Guest Blogger Danielle Tudor led the battle to overturn the statute of limitations on rape in the state of Oregon and require that parole boards spend more time with victims and their family members.

My name is Danielle Tudor, and I live in Portland Oregon, where I grew up.   In 1979, when I was only 17, I was raped by an intruder in my own home.

As recently as two or three years ago, I couldn’t possibly have introduced myself to you that way.   I didn’t have the courage to describe what happened to me as “rape.” 

For some years after I was raped, I felt the need to speak up about my attack.  But as opportunities arose to share what had happened to me, what I’d say out loud was, “While I was alone in my house, a stranger broke in”— and then move on. If I could, I wanted to help others, but I was still groping to find my own way.  I always felt that being a rape victim was something extremely shameful – certainly much too shameful to talk about publicly. 

It took me a long time, but today I don’t feel that way anymore.  That stranger who raped me in 1979 forgot that I would grow up!  From a terrified teenage rape victim, I have grown into an advocate for other women who have been raped or subjected to domestic violence.  (All too often, rape is part and parcel of domestic violence.)  I have discovered that speaking up, being loud, and helping other victims helps me, too, and makes me stronger.  This blog is part of my efforts to stand up for other women. 

Here’s what I am speaking out about:

Through my efforts and those of other victims we have managed to make significant changes in the legal landscape in Oregon that could be models elsewhere as well including the statue of limitations.

The man who raped me, Richard Troy Gillmore, known as Portland’s infamous “Jogger Rapist,” may have been responsible for more than 100 rapes but at the time the statute of limitations then for rape cases in Oregon was only three years, so he could be prosecuted for only one rape.  Today he’s up for parole every two years.  His next hearing will be in spring 2016.

I’ve started talking to groups of women around the country:  Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio, Idaho, Missouri.  As I travel, I’m learning how different states – or different parts of one state – treat rape victims.  For example, in Oregon, you may be treated sympathetically in Portland, but small rural towns may not even bother to prosecute a rape case.  I’m compiling a report card – which states are helpful, which ones not so much.

Although police in Portland suspect that Richard Troy Gillmore may have raped more than 100 women, only nine of us, including me, reported our attacks to the police.   All nine of us went to his sentencing hearing, and testified before a judge about what Gillmore had done to us.  

Gillmore’s case is not unusual.   Nationwide, barely 16 percent of rape victims report what happened to the police.  My message is always, “Report your attack.  Go to court.”  So often, rapists tell us victims, “Shut up!”  Gillmore certainly told me and his other young victims to shut up.  Rapists want us to stay quiet so they won’t be caught.   But if we are loud, we can make a huge difference for other women and girls.

As you’ll discover here, I found my voice and you can too.


10/13/14 blog "Finding My Voice Made Me Stronger"

Great job Danielle! Thank you for your hard work, your dedication to follow through, and your desire to see other women find their voice. Looking forward to your report on agencies that are part of the solution. The need is great and the time is now. We can't afford to go backward anymore ~ we must press forward; so keep pressing on Danielle we need you out there!

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