It happened to me.

I realize most people wouldn’t post this on a public forum, but I’ve thought about it and decided I have nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve just joined a certain club no woman wants to belong to, but it could be a lot worse. I could be badly hurt. I could be dead.

I am visiting with a friend in the Washington DC area right now, in a suburban community that’s supposed to very safe: bucolic is the word for it. Two days ago I met a man on a bus. I was very tired and very upset at the time as I was having trouble with the public transit system, everything seemed to be going wrong. The man seemed sympathetic and friendly, and my defenses were not at their best. He saw an opportunity and took it. He talked me into leaving the bus with him, telling me a walk in the fresh air would do me good and we were only a few miles from my friend’s apartment complex. (He was correct, incidentally, about the proximity.) He lured me into an isolated area in the woods as darkness fell, then attacked me.

I quickly figured out that the man, although he punched me several times and knocked me on the ground and choked me, wasn’t interested in hurting me. He wanted something else and I decided I didn’t have much of a choice but to give it to him. I had no idea where we were or how close civilization was, it was dark, and running away from him would have involved going uphill through trees and roots and rocks and things which I was barely able to see. He said he had a knife, although I never saw it, and he said he could easily kill me and nobody would notice, nobody would hear me screaming. And he was right. He had chosen his spot very well. I wanted to come out of this alive so I did what I had to do.

He raped me and committed acts of sodomy several times on two different occasions as he lead me through the woods, always out of sight of the road and far enough away from houses and people that it wasn’t worth the risk to try to get away from him. I gambled and decided if I was very passive and cooperative and civil — the man was one of those types who wanted to think that I actually liked him — he might just let me go. He kept saying he would take me home, that he wouldn’t just leave me in the woods because “it wouldn’t be right.” And finally, after several hours, he did take me to a parking lot near my friend’s apartment complex and left me there.

I went back to my friend’s place, told him what happened and called the police. It was after ten-thirty by then and I spent the rest of the night talking to the cops and getting examined at the hospital. The police response was quite impressive. They launched an all-out manhunt, with like twenty squad cars and a helicopter even. The fact is that they haven’t found the rapist, which makes me very uneasy, both for myself and for other women he might prey on. But they are looking very hard and I had a good description of him and I can only hope he will be behind bars very soon. I am not really worried for my safety. I am well-protected and will be returning home early next week. But obviously this man should not be out in the community. I hope he gets a long sentence so he cannot harm other girls and women. But they have to catch him first.

I am actually feeling pretty okay. Physically, I’m not too badly hurt, and the rapist used condoms so I don’t have much chance of getting pregnant or catching anything, though of course they gave me drugs to prevent disease. I am very apprehensive, but I have decided I will come out of this intact, that I must. I can’t let this piece of scum ruin my life and I’m trying not to let him ruin my vacation. In a day or two, I’m resuming my vacation activities, arrest or no arrest.

The important thing is that I’m alive, and I used my head and remembered things from books and articles I read and talked him out of killing me or seriously hurting me. I could have ended up a missing person myself, but I’ve come out of it okay. I’m actually sort of trying to look at this as being like a scary root canal or something — very unpleasant, but no reflection on myself and just try not to think about it anymore. This was a bad thing that happened, but it’s over now.

27 thoughts on “It happened to me.

  1. Bonny June 18, 2009 / 1:49 pm

    I have been reading your website for quite some time and should have thanked you before this, but reading your post today moved me so much. How amazingly brave and strong you are, Meaghan. You somehow kept your head and did everything right. And not letting it ruin or deeply affect you life shows amazing strength. Having not been is that type of situation, I can only imagine the continuous work that will take. But you give the impression of someone that can truly do that. You are above it.

    And so thank you for your dedication to helping the missing and their families. I would imagine that these families find your work invaluable and quite a blessing:)

  2. becky June 18, 2009 / 3:19 pm

    Hi Meaghan, I am so sorry this happened to you but very, very glad you are doing OK and are going to go on with your plans!

    Thank you for your great site and for sharing. You are an inspiration.


  3. Donde June 18, 2009 / 3:19 pm

    This makes my stomache hurt reading it. You don’t hear from me much but I am an avid reader. If there is a good side to this (other than the fact that you’re alive) it’s the impressive and the, quite frankly heroic way you are dealing with this. Stay strong.

  4. Lisa June 18, 2009 / 3:49 pm

    Oh Meaghan, I am so sorry you had to experience this. You are a very strong woman and I appreciate you sharing your story with us. It is a reminder how vunerable we all are. I can’t imagine the thoughts that were going through your head, possibly of all the cases you have written about and here it was happening to you. I am so glad you are alive and please remember we are here for you. Stay strong Meaghan.

  5. orla June 18, 2009 / 4:17 pm

    i have no words except to say that my heart is broken for you Meaghan.

  6. Emily June 18, 2009 / 5:12 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this. You’re in my thoughts and I think it’s wonderful that you’ve come out of this so strong and resolved to speak honestly about what happened. I survived something similar several years ago and unfortunately kept quiet about it, a response I regret now. I hope you continue to find inner strength and attempt to turn this awful incident into something positive by continuing to speak honestly and without shame. And remember that you did everything right in this situation and be proud of your clearheaded response.

  7. Sheri June 18, 2009 / 6:58 pm

    Meaghan: I have been coming to your website for years, and often.

    I was in a very bad marriage for a long time, and your website is a place of comfort to me, weird as it sounds.

    It validates my reality. That being I was right to get out of the marriage, hard as it has been raising 4 kids alone, and that if I hadn’t, I’d have joined the countless other women who’s husband’s claimed they walked out the door and never came back.

    It keeps me thankful and it keeps me just mad enough that I would be willing to reach out to others who are in similar trouble.

    From what I’ve read of your life, personality and hobbies, I think we have a lot in common, although I’m way older than you.

    I wish I would have posted earlier to tell you what an amazing and important resource you provide.

    My heart goes out to you, and your strength is a testimony to others who are too afraid to speak out.

    If this person is ever found, there’s a whole lot, possibly thousands of friends you’ve never met who’d love a few minutes alone with a pipe wrench and this piece of s**t.

    Fight like hell, girl.


  8. Tami June 18, 2009 / 9:56 pm

    I am terribly sorry to hear about what happened to you. I have visited your site daily for years and appreciate what you do and the efforts you go to so very much and I am sure the family and friends of the victims feel the same way. You are an amazing young woman and your strength is an inspiration. Please enjoy the rest of your vacation, you deserve it.

  9. Aimee June 18, 2009 / 11:13 pm

    I am so sorry. I wish this had never happened to you. Not much to be said now, is there? I’m just so sorry.

  10. Pamela June 18, 2009 / 11:19 pm

    Very sorry to hear about this. But your strength and courage are truly amazing.

    • Meaghan June 18, 2009 / 11:23 pm

      What about it?

  11. KateC June 19, 2009 / 3:56 am

    Is there a police sketch that’s been released? I don’t live on that coast, but I’d think women would want to be alerted. What suburb? Does the local media plan on doing anything?

    Since this blog is so well connected with various police depts, etc., I’d think the law enforcement agencies would want to catch this monster sooner rather than later.

    What can we do to spread the word? Is there anyone we can contact for more info?

    How horrible for you, and how brave you are to post!

    • Meaghan June 19, 2009 / 4:18 am

      The police haven’t really talked about releasing a sketch. I can’t say too much, but we basically know who this guy is. It’s only a matter of finding him. The suspect is homeless, so somewhat difficult to track. But some interesting events happened today and there are more witnesses now.

  12. Aimee June 19, 2009 / 4:26 am

    I will be closely watching the Washington Times and the Post online. And I will be following the TV news from the Fox affiliate in DC. I hope to see news of an arrest soon, or at leas ta warning to others to be on the lookout for this mystery man.

    • Meaghan June 19, 2009 / 10:17 am

      I just looked at the Washington Post website myself and I don’t think he’s on there. I have no idea whether this has made the news or not. Perhaps they won’t do any articles until after there’s an arrest.

  13. emma l June 19, 2009 / 9:37 am

    F**king hell Meaghan. I feel worried for you and we’ve never even met. I don’t know what to say to you. I’m sorry? Seems a bit trite, but I am. I wish this hadn’t happened to you. I think you are ridiculously brave for posting about it.
    I’ve been coming to this site, well for more years that I can remember to be honest. I read every day, even if I don’t post. We’re a similar age, reasonably similar backgrounds from what I can gather. I live in the UK, but I know if we met and hung out we’d get on great. And I don’t really like people if I’m honest, so thats a lot for me to say.
    I hope they catch the b**tard. I’ll be thinking of you- which also sounds trite. But its true. xxxxx

  14. Kath June 19, 2009 / 1:20 pm


    I’m yet another of those who visit your site regularly but don’t generally say much. I’m so sorry this happened to you; I’m glad there’s progress in tracking the guy down, and I hope they have him in custody ASAP, for your sake and others’. I’m amazed by the strength and straightforwardness you’re showing in what has to be a miserable situation.

    Thank you for all you do.

  15. T.T. June 19, 2009 / 1:59 pm

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Meaghan. I commend you for your courage and strength; your bravery can serve as an example for other women who have gone through such an awful experience who feel guilty and shouldn’t. I really hope you’ll be okay and that they catch the POS that did this to you and he has the book thrown at him.

  16. Donna June 19, 2009 / 4:34 pm

    I am sorry about what happened to you, and I appreciate the fact that you wrote about it. What a creten, trolling public transit. They need to put the $#%^&*( !#@%$^& away for the rest of his life.

  17. Elena June 20, 2009 / 2:40 am

    Meaghan, I am so so sorry!!!!! What happened was just horrible. My stomach was all knotted when I was reading it, cannot even imagine living through it. Sadly, so many women have to though……. My heart goes out to you.
    Thank you for all you do for other people,

  18. Court June 24, 2009 / 8:55 pm

    I am been an avid follower of your website for some time now and I am horrified to hear to read what has happened to you. What a brave and incredibly strong woman you are to have lived through one of the worst acts of violence perfromed against women.
    I admire your straightforwardness about such a horrific situation and will keep you in my thoughts.

  19. Peggy June 27, 2009 / 8:09 am

    Hi Meaghan, I just happened to stumble upon your story today. You are indeed strong to write about your experience and I am glad you have someplace safe to be.

    Something very similar happened to me, but in my own home. This loser had a knife too, and he used it, but fortunately, I was not seriously injured. This happened in the wee hours of the morning on March 1st, the day after a leap year. I did not find my way to a friend, but the least likely of my friends found me three days later in my shower with the water still running. I only remembered bits and pieces at the time and later the memory hit me full force. By the grace of God, I was stopped by the same female liaison officer who had been summoned to my home. I was driving and I was way over the limit for alcohol. She drove me home and her partner silently took my car back to where I lived. But there was a catch. I had to go to a group meeting with her the following night. I thought she was going to introduce me to AA. Instead we pulled into an area hospital. The little sign on the door said Rape Survivors. She was a member of the club too, not one we like to join, but I cannot say enough about how much help and support I got. Nor how badly, I realized, I needed it.

    There is an expression that God does not close one door, but He opens another. Twelve years later, on March 1st, the day after a leap year, I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful girl.

    In the early days, I measured everything by how long it been since. . .but now it is my daughter’s birthday and that is all. Keep your chin up and please know I think you did all the right things. I did the same, just determined to live. Do not be afraid to ask for help, either professional preferably, or from your readers. . .YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Those of us ‘in the club’ are here for you, just reach out.

  20. Julieann June 29, 2009 / 3:52 am

    I hadn’t checked your blog for a couple weeks and was deeply saddened to find out what happened to you. All I can say is that I will pray for you to be strong and pray that justice is served.
    The Charley Project is an important site and I have always admired your commitment to it. Although I do not know you, I have counted you as one of my “heroes” – a person dedicated to giving a voice to the lost.
    There are many people, people who only know you from your work on TCP, who realize that only a TRULY DECENT human being could devote themselves to this.
    Thank you for all you do,
    Cleveland, OH

  21. Michael July 2, 2009 / 2:07 am

    Meaghan: I have been with your website since its beginning, and have always read and kept abreast of everything you mentioned. First of all, I need to congratulate you on the tremendous job you do on this; I am sure many families rely on this site to keep their hopes of finding their loved ones some day; others hope for closure to long drawn out hardship. I feel as though I know you because I have shared so much of your writings on here.

    I was deeply saddened to read about your receny assault and rape. I admire the strength and courage that you have demonstrated and assure you that this was not your fault and you acted correctly in the situation. You have showed great intestinal fortitude and will hopefully get through this. Do not let this animal rob you of your love of live, concern and trust of others, or your desire to make the world the better place. There are many people in this world who appreciate and respect you for all that you do and represent.

    It is shameful that someone acted this way and I am confident that the legal system will work its ways, perhaps not as quickly as we hope, but justice will prevail. Patience and strength and the knowledge that millions of people are pulling for you will help you rise like a Phoenix from these ashes.

    My complete support and thoughts are with you.
    Michael Giammarino
    New Jersey

  22. danielle July 6, 2009 / 10:14 am

    I hope they will find him, and that he will be raped in jail every day. Jail is best place for him.

  23. deja826 July 18, 2009 / 4:41 am

    I can only hope you will not let this sicko control your life. I’m glad you are getting psychological help and writing about the attack. By doing that, you are helping yourself and showing how strong you are because there is nothing to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong. You have lots of people who appreciate what you do for charley project and how you help so many families.

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