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?