Angela Kempe was sixteen when her boyfriend began sexually and emotionally abusing her, causing her to suffer from symptoms of PTSD. He slowly isolated her from her friends and family until she finally ran away from her loved ones with him shortly after her seventeenth birthday. Alone with her perpetrator, she lived on the streets for eight months.
The Justice Department estimates that 1.6 million youth run away each year. One of the issues that many runaways face is sexual violence; this is why Kempe is sharing her story now, during National Runaway Prevention Month.
“I never realized what he was doing to me and that it was wrong until after we were separated and I began having symptoms of PTSD. I almost lost my life to suicide, but I realized that I have to love myself and be strong everyday,” says Kempe.
Today, she has a healthy relationship with her spouse, speaks regularly about her experience through RAINN’s Speakers Bureau, and operates a website where victims can be connected with resources like RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline and post their writing, art and music as part of their recovery. “I think that reaching out to people is important,” she says. “Sometimes we can't even fathom what is happening, let alone find a way to heal or escape from a sexually abusive partner.”
Kempe continues, “Being a part of the RAINN Speakers Bureau allows me to belong to an organization that helps others. Being raped can leave a victim feeling alone and hopeless, but RAINN gives me the chance to stand up and tell them that there is hope. You can have happiness and heal.”
The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) helps runaways who have experienced sexual violence. Runaways can also get help from the National Runaway Safeline (800.RUNAWAY).