WOODSTOCK – It was 9 a.m. August 2008.
Bridget Hummel was asleep in her room at the Crystal Lake Motel where she lived and worked.
She woke up to a man on top of her from behind, breathing the words “this is going to happen” into her ear.
The rope he tied around her neck left deep burn marks as she struggled underneath the weight of him.
For a painstaking 37 minutes, Hummel watched as the clock next to her counted the time it took for her intruder to brutally beat and rape her.
All she kept thinking was: “Please don’t kill me.” And “please don’t let my mom find me like this.”
Hummel’s rapist eventually was caught and prosecuted. He is serving a 20-year sentence in Big Muddy River Correctional Facility.
“I got my day in court, and no one will understand the satisfaction that comes from that day,” said Hummel, now 29.
She’s is no longer afraid, yet – as she says – she can’t leave the scene of the crime. There still are moments that trigger her panic and anxiety. Her heart races if she sees someone who resembles the offender. She can’t wear scarves around her neck.
But through it all, she’s become an outspoken advocate against sexual violence, often partnering with VOICE, the Pioneer Center for Human Services’ program for victims of sexual assault. She’s speaking later this month at Take Back the Night, an awareness event and candlelight vigil for victims of sexual assault.
April is sexual assault awareness month.
According to the national statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, one in six women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
Still a majority, an estimated 60 percent, of those attacks go unreported.
For every outspoken woman like Hummel, there are plenty more who aren’t as vocal about their experience.
“Sexual assault is a very private issue. It’s something that nobody looks at. It’s a hush-hush issue,” VOICE Advocate Sarah Mathe said. “... For every silence that is broken, it paves the way for someone else to break their silence.”
Using simple math and national statistics, VOICE estimates there are at least 13,000 women in McHenry County who have been the victim of some form of rape or sexual assault in their lifetimes.
“The reality of McHenry County is that it does happen here,” Mathe said.
Sexual assault advocates can be reached 24/7 through the McHenry County Crisis Program at 800-892-8900. VOICE Sexual Assault Services provides free or low cost counseling, and medical and legal advocacy for victims of rape or sexual assault. They can be reached at 815-759-7066.
If you go What: Take Back the Night. When: 6 p.m. April 16. Where: Conference Center, McHenry County College Information: Call MCC Student Life at 815-455-8772 or email MCCspan@gmail.com.