"I know in my heart who it was. This man is still stalking me," she said.
Heloise was severely beaten by a man in New York five years ago. She pretended to be dead, "but he raped me anyway," she said.
"Because he was on drugs, I had to be HIV tested," Heloise told an audience of about 100 people, many clients of Women In Need.
"I live in fear that when this man gets out of prison he will finish the job of killing me," she said.
"I can't remember when I became a victim-in-training," said one woman who did not give her first name. She recalled being raised to be polite and quiet "even when inappropriate things are done."
The woman said she eventually became "my assailant's best ally," but has since learned to stand up for herself.
Women in Need provides advocacy, counseling and other services for victims of violent crime in Franklin and Fulton counties.
According to statistics for the 1996-97 fiscal year, WIN provided services to the following:
- 250 victims of sexual assault, their families and friends.
- 1,138 new domestic violence clients.
- 483 children, including 230 new clients.
- 158 adult victims of personal injury crimes.
WIN also housed 198 women and children in its shelter. The staff and volunteers fielded 3,532 hotline calls about domestic and sexual violence.
Clay R. Yeager, the director of the Governor's Partnership for Safe Children, recounted episodes from his work. One was of a 31-year-old woman who'd had 17 children that were born crack-addicted or with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Yeager said too many children grow up "alienated, disconnected and disenfranchised ... all to often a life of doom and despair."
He said 10 million children in this country are regularly exposed to family violence and many will grow up to become victims or perpetrators of violence.
Yeager said the key to breaking the cycle is adults and communities who are committed to children.
Another woman who survived an abusive relationship may have said it best. Holding her 5-year-old son, she said he will be taught to respect women and reject violence.
"The buck stops here," she said.