Director of Victims Services Susan Schuenemann is putting her own story into a book. Here is an excerpt from her writings.
I wish I wasn’t so aware of it. I dislike the sick feeling in my gut when I see potential danger. But it’s there, that nagging dread, especially when it concerns those I care for.
The 15 years after my assault, I lived in constant fear. I had to eventually embrace it for my sanity. I hated it for so long and was bitter about fear’s continuous presence. I would cry and curse it. I gave up so many things that I once enjoyed because of it. My entire existence was changed by the mantle of fear that cloaked my heart and spirit. Fear changed me.
After many years I could finally embrace fear and then discovered its gift. When I could see fear’s gift, the constant hypervigilance of fear released its grip and taught me to trust myself and my instincts. Fear no longer dominates me, but I control it. I make it work for me. It became as big a part of me as breathing. I can’t unsee it. I can’t unfeel it. So I now choose to use it. I currently live aware. Every day and in every situation. And that gift of fear has kept me safe for nearly 40 years. I am grateful for it. But it came at a hefty price.