The Bravest Woman in Seattle In Her Own Words

Rachel’s Team Pick:

In June, The Stranger published a series of stories on the horrific rape of Teresa Butz and her partner, which ended in Butz’s brutal murder. (As did we.)Her partner survived, and in the news stories that followed was referred to mainly as “Butz’s partner” in an attempt to protect her from any more violation than she had already suffered. She was also referred to as the bravest woman in Seattle.

Their rapist and Butz’s murderer, Isaiah Kalebu, has been found guilty and will be sentenced tomorrow. Now Butz’s partner has decided she’s ready to come forward publicly in The Stranger with her full name — Jennifer Hopper — and tell her own story and let the rest of us know what it’s really like to be “the bravest woman in Seattle” on the eve of the sentencing of the man who killed the woman she had just begun making commitment ceremony plans with.

Even if you haven’t followed their story, Hopper’s words are worth reading — it’s a beautiful account of what it means to have survived something unspeakable, to have survived things that people you love didn’t, what it means to be a woman in a dangerous world, what it means to be human. Jennifer Hopper would like you to know her name. It’s worth fifteen minutes of your time.

All I can say is that I think there is tremendous power in testifying, in saying, “This happened to me.” And if you can, showing that you have a name, a voice, and—hey, I know, this is one of the hardest parts because it’s more than I’m ready to do right now—a face.

So when people say, “Oh, you’re so brave,” I say, “I don’t know.”

I don’t think I’m special. I don’t think I’m this awesome, amazing individual. I don’t. I struggle every day. It’s taken bravery to make the choice to get up every day and not stay in my room and pretend it didn’t happen. And I’m proud of that… Finally—but, really, firstly—Teresa’s bravery has helped. When someone saves your life, and her life is taken in the process, how can you let it go to waste?

You can’t.


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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1141 articles for us.


  1. I read Jennifer’s article; what an amazing, courageous woman. The best definition of courage I ever heard was “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the realization that something is more important than fear.”

  2. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing this. Her words are extremely powerful. I wish for Jennifer both happiness and peace.

    • Yes, thanks for the update. I had read all the articles in The Stranger. I was going to skim them due to the content but I felt that would be a disservice to this woman (who was unnamed then) not to read every word she had the courage to speak. Now I have read the link, thanks to you and Jennifer I will never forget her name.

  3. Than you for sharing this. I saw it last night and it’s incredibly moving, she’s an amazing person.

  4. Thank you, Rachel for updating. Ms. Hopper impresses me with her eloquence, dignity and humanity. A good measure of her strengths is her continued happy, hopeful, engagement with the rest of the world. Some, many, would be embittered and cowed by lesser circumstances.

  5. I can’t really comment on this. I just have too many feelings to really say anything worth reading. But that’s okay, because Ms. Hopper’s words deserve all the attention anyway.

    Just, wow.

  6. Her bravery is so inspiring. Thanks Rachel, for keeping us up to date. She deserves all the happiness and good fortune in the world.

  7. There really aren’t words enough for this, I can only hope to live my life with an ounce of the courage, dignity and humanity she has shown in the face of horrific circumstances!

  8. amazingly articulate, yet her article felt like she was having a conversation with us. her second chance is already producing a worthwhile life.

  9. I think we should let him swallow that pencil now. I hope he pisses off the wrong dude in prison. Kudos to Teresa for being brave.

  10. “It’s impossible to describe in words how it has all been, but the closest I’ve come is this: It’s as if on July 19, 2009, someone grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, lifted me up, and dropped me headfirst into another life. Suddenly, you can’t go home. Your home is a crime scene.”

    god. i can’t even imagine. i could never be strong enough to deal with that. and to not have the woman i loved to keep me grounded…no. i couldn’t do it.

  11. Thank you for keeping us updated on this. It makes me cry everytime…I can’t even imagine what she is feeling but it amazes me how courageous she is and how stable her mind seems.

    “What I really want, I now realize, is peace.

    And I know now, after this trial, that justice does not bring peace. It only brings justice.”

    She is so right. I hope she finds inner peace someday.

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