News & Events

Stories Published

SAAV founder and director, Jane Piper has recently had two stories about her experience with violence published in two different books. Each book is a collection of inspirational stories told by various authors.

Proceeds Donated to SAAV

Rhobbin Alexis graciously created Raising Humanity as a fundraising tool for SAAV. She is contributing 10% of book proceeds to SAAV so please purchase this book and tell all your friends!

Thank you in advance!

Story From 'Conscious Women, Conscious Careers'

Below is Jane Piper's story from Conscious Women, Conscious Careers by Darlene Montgomery (which also includes a piece by renowned writer of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron)

Connecting to a Higher Purpose
by Jane Piper

Published in
"Conscious Women Conscious Careers"
By Darlene Montgomery

A collection of life changing stories by a collection of authors including Julia Cameron
(author of the bestselling "The Artist's Way")

"Be the change you wish to see in the world…"

The Universe works in mysterious ways and sometimes in the mystery lays darkness and terror. But hidden in the shadows is the potential for light. A new path, an unexpected journey, a fork in the road… I discovered that even lost in the fog of fear, I had to trust that everything was still meant to be. I had to let go.

It was my father's birthday, August 2003. I had planned my afternoon to fit in a few minutes of down time so I could call him and wish him a happy birthday. My family is in Canada and we're not really the long-distance-gift-sending sort of family so the birthday call is top priority. Not just for a chat but also for the obligatory Birthday song sung in the most creative and often embarrassing way possible. Using a cell phone in public, singing at top volume, off key… makes for an entertaining moment for some lucky passer by.

I was working as a personal assistant in Los Angeles and after running a few errands, I decided to speed through some grocery shopping before I had to pick up my boss' kids and take them to their tennis lesson. There I'd have a spare moment to call my dad and with the time change, hopefully catch him at home. I had it all planned.

But I never made the call. I never picked up the kids.

After loading the back of the car with groceries, I climbed up into the driver's seat and arranged my purse on the center console. When I turned to close the door, there was a man standing in the doorway. In a matter of seconds, he pushed his way into the car and locked the doors. He shoved what I thought was a knife against my side. I'd later discover it was a corkscrew. This upset me since I figured he couldn't do much damage with that, but the stab wound scar on my leg will always remind me I was wrong.

Sadly, we've all heard stories and news reports. Many have nightmares: Mine came true. I was forced into the furthest back seat of the Suburban with no windows or doors to open for escape. I tried my hardest to defend myself but after being severely beaten, my blood splattering across the seat before my eyes, I realized that if I did not comply, I would no doubt be killed right there, in broad daylight, in the parking lot of Ralph's Grocery Store. The man raped me while repeatedly punching me in the face and screaming at me. When he had finished, he announced that we would be going for a drive. I knew he intended to kill me. The enormity of the SUV with its tinted windows had made for the perfect prison until this point but finally opportunity came my way. There was no way for him to drive and keep me in the back seat at the same time. It was 3:30 on a sunny afternoon in wealthy Brentwood, California. The parking lot was far from empty, so he decided he better get out of there fast. He chose to leave me in the back, commanding for me to stay put. As soon as he got to the front, I leapt into the center seat and desperately tried to get out of the car. At that point I was so hysterical that I couldn't even figure out how the door locks worked. I pressed every button on the door in despair, and as though a beacon was suddenly showing the way, the window began opening just as the car began to back out of the parking spot. I barely remember jumping out but somehow I squeezed through the opening and as he tore out of the parking lot, I ran for my life into the super market.

The police were called immediately and an ambulance took me to the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center. Fortunately, the beast left his DNA behind and although it has yet to match any other in the databanks, I have hope he will someday be found so no other woman will have to endure his torture and terrorizing.

My life changed that day. The life I'd lived before getting into the car was over. I used to think the person I'd once been was dead and that with her died her independence and self-reliance. It's true, that woman was gone but I've come to discover that those thirty minutes in violent captivity were in fact what led to my rebirth. I wasn't dead, I was very much alive. But I wasn't me anymore. The 'Me' I'd known my whole life was obliterated. Physically: a mess. Emotionally: destroyed. But I had survived and survivors have that rare opportunity to start over.

It took a long time before I believed I could rebuild, but I caught a glimmer of the hope that would be the source of my healing only a few days after my assault.

I was taking my first shower since I'd left the hospital. I'd been afraid to and in far too much pain. It'd been a couple days and I was putting it off since the shower at the Rape Treatment Center had been so awful: I could barely stand up; my hair was falling out in clumps and had been so matted there was no way to wash it. A nurse had to cut a chunk of it out. This was my last shower memory and I was afraid to wash away more of myself. As if bathing might cause me to lose the last part of my identity I was grasping onto. The funk I lived in those first couple of days comforted me somehow. Or maybe just distracted me. I wasn't really living, just going through the motions. Ice on the face, ice off the face… Look at the bruises; stare at my unrecognizable face in the mirror. I replayed the attack uncontrollably in my head like a skipping DVD. (I always say, "attack", like it seems less scary, more general than the "'R' word"… doesn't make people feel so uncomfortable, like they should do something but know they can't…)

I wanted out of the funk I guess, because I finally took a shower. What happened in the shower changed my life. The cleansing of the water opened up something in my consciousness. I'd had visions before that guided me to do things in my life but this was a vision that connected every vision I'd ever had together. As if everything in my life had been leading up to this one moment.

Standing there with the water running over me, something besides two days of dirt was washed away: Sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, helplessness, loss of control, terror, self-pity… Everything: for a brief moment. I came to an understanding and it was instantaneous. Clarity washed over me and I suddenly understood why I'd had this horrific experience: why I'd been chosen to be victim of such brutal violence. I remember the moment; as if I'd been watching a movie of the future of my life. The movie seemed to play on fast forward so I don't recall specifics but as they replay as reality in my life, I remember them from that moment in the shower.

I got out of the shower a different woman. I immediately told my boyfriend that I realized I'd been raped and assaulted in order to do what I needed to do with my life. I told him that I would someday write and perform my story and I'd be able to relate to other women's similar experiences around the world. My story of being "victimized" would one day empower me to help others come forward to share their experiences. A new collective voice among women and all of humanity could be created where until now there has been far too much silence. I envisioned creating an organization to bring together survivors to express their stories and the feelings experienced through the healing process. In empowering women to rid themselves of the shame and secrecy that surrounds rape, we would create a new population of women strengthened by our experience instead of victimized. In uniting, using all forms of creative expression, we would together address the notion of violence and begin to tackle the great feat of ending it.

These moments of clarity brought me joy and even excitement. I had always felt like I had a mission in life but so many pieces of the puzzle were missing. Then suddenly after experiencing trauma like I never imagined, something happened and my whole life made sense. Everything fit into place, even if just for a moment. I wish I could say that my healing progressed steadily from there but the clarity soon clouded.

It has now been two years and the healing has come in waves. It's a strange thing to feel your identity splinter and have to work madly to keep yourself together. Some days I run errands without a care in the world and others leave me crying in a parking lot because someone walked too close to my car. It's a challenge but I have seen the potential of my own courage and I look forward to a day when I realize I have moved on and all that lingers from this experience is the strength it has brought me. I tap into that strength to draw from this terrible event the power to manifest my vision from that day in the shower. I have struggled, I have cried, I have screamed in frustration and anger but each day I move closer to creating the reality of my vision. I have now founded Survivors & Artists for Abolishing Violence (SAAV), an organization dedicated to developing a collective community voice using creative expression to empower survivors to share their stories, and spread awareness on the issue of violence.

I am startled but ecstatic as I become more and more aware of the synchronicities that have led me to today. I have been an actor since I was a young girl and also spent years working as an events producer. I have poured countless passionate hours into political and social activism and did all sorts of public speaking. All of these experiences create a solid foundation for my new career as founder and executive director of SAAV. I look forward to producing events and performances as tools to spreading awareness of violence against women and against humanity. For years, I have dreamt of being part of a movement that unites artists with the belief that through creativity, we connect to our higher purpose.

After my horrific experience my life now has a purpose greater than before. Somehow the most terrifying, horribly negative experience of my life has become a gift, teaching me positivity and compassion. This potential lies within each of us: not just to turn negative into positive, but to trust that we are always being drawn to our calling. We all have the power to change and we certainly don't have to experience tragedy to do it. As a survivor, I feel a responsibility to follow a calling of service. I have experienced something that I must use to help others or else I remain a victim. I am not a victim. I'm a survivor. Being raped did not destroy me. Before it happened I might have thought it could, but I have somehow gained power from the experience. We all have access to this power. We just have to figure out what to do with it.

This story is dedicated to my Mom, who lived and breathed Creativity, and supported me endlessly in my pursuit to do the same. I miss her every day.

Conscious Women, Conscious Careers, published by White Night Books.

Also available by Darlene Montgomery: Conscious Women, Conscious Lives, Book 1 & 2