Iraida's Story

“I’m lucky and blessed that I had a very supportive family."

Iraida Torres was 14 years old when she returned to the Manhattan apartment building where her family lived, only to be kidnapped before she reached their unit. A man held a knife to her and forced her into a different apartment in the building, where she was held hostage with two other people. “He cut my hand and made threats to take my life….I tried to dissuade him from violating me. I told him false information, that I had an STI and that I was pregnant. These statements didn’t matter.”

When the perpetrator finally fled the building, Iraida ran out of the apartment to her mother—she was on the same floor. “My mom heard me screaming and opened the door. She started screaming too.” Her mother notified law enforcement immediately. “I ran in and I showered and bathed and scrubbed [before the police arrived]. I removed a lot of evidence, but it was my first instinct.”

It’s natural to want to go through the motions of showering, bathing, or other routines after a traumatic experience. While bathing can remove DNA evidence from the body, it’s still possible to have a sexual assault forensic exam, known as a rape kit, to document evidence of the crime. Iraida did exactly that—after law enforcement were notified, she was taken to a hospital for a forensic exam. Iraida spoke to law enforcement who were gentle and understanding about her experience. “I had a woman detective who told me she was raped also.”

 

It was nearly a decade before the the perpetrator of the crime was prosecuted and convicted. “There were three or four other girls who were raped at different times by the same man in the neighborhood I lived in back then,” remembers Iraida. “I remember the day the DA said, ‘we finally found a judge who has the [guts] to hold him accountable to stand trial.’”

Iraida found strength in her family following the assault. “I’m lucky and blessed that I had a very supportive family. My family was constantly around me: my brothers, my mom, my dad. They were a very good support system.” She was also able to participate in different forms of therapy, including individual and group counseling.

Iraida found another source of comfort - her faith and her church. “For me, my faith in the lord has helped. Everyone is different with faith. I thank God every day that I’m alive.”

Iraida had her first child at 15 and two more sons down the road. Throughout it all, she remained persistent in her studies, completing her high school diploma, Bachelor of Arts, and ultimately a Master’s degree in counseling. “After my experience, I was so fascinated by the mind and what triggers the brain to act in certain fashions.” Iraida is currently pursuing her license and contemplating a doctorate degree.

In her spare time, Iraida enjoys staying involved with the youth through ministry work and trying to reach people who may be hurting. “I know I’m in need all the time. And I want to be there for anyone else who feels that way.” She’s also a busy grandmother and traveler, with her eyes set on a trip to Cuba.

Seven out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim.

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