As our nation collectively reflects on the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, we think about the lessons the day taught us, and recall the strength and resolve we showed in the days and months that followed.
Eight years earlier, on the very same day, another tragedy unfolded. After a joyful evening outing with her young children, Donna Palomba retired for the night; she was soon awakened by a masked intruder. The brutal sexual assault that followed was, remarkably, only the beginning of her odyssey.
Donna was re-victimized by an incompetent police force that compromised the investigation in more ways than anyone ever thought possible. Because police did not believe her account of the home invasion and rape, her perpetrator remained free for another eleven years; during that time, John Regan continued to commit crimes against women.
Donna’s strength and resolve carried her though those eleven years, which were marked by successful legal action against the Waterbury police department, tremendous uncertainty, and a commitment to changing the way police officers—and society as a whole—respond to victims of sexual assault.
Throughout those eleven years, Donna was—like other sexual assault survivors—known only as Jane Doe. In 2007, she became Jane Doe no more, when she told her story on NBC’s Dateline, and where she announced the formation of the national nonprofit organization, Jane Doe No More.
Today, Jane Doe No More works to end the silence surrounding sexual assault. We work to empower victims, and embrace our role as a strong voice for survivors of sexual assault. We are truly improving the way society responds to victims of sexual assault.
Today, there are new towers at the World Trade Center site. They grew from the conviction that our nation would not accept the role of victim—we are survivors; we picked ourselves up and came back stronger. Just like Donna.
For more information about Jane Doe No More, visit our website at www.janedoenomore.org. Like us on facebook or follow us on Twitter @janedoenomorenp