Darlene — Violated and Tossed in a Dumpster
Volume 2, Issue 2
Written by Tammy Leigh Maxey   

(Editor’s note — due to the sensitive nature of this article, reader discretion is advised)

CapDcrime-scene-rapearlene awoke in a strange, dark place.  It was small, closed-in, and it stank.  She tried to move, but pain sliced through her body, and she fell back against something that felt like it shifted beneath her weight.  Her head throbbed and she fought against a dizzying haze.  As her mind slowly cleared toward focus, the awful smell assaulted her senses.  She felt about in the dark, horror dawning as she realized exactly where she was…

Earlier, Darlene had enjoyed an evening out with friends at the local bowling alley, sharing a few drinks and some laughs, before calling it a night. After she left, she garbagebinwent to visit with her niece who’d just gotten home from work, to drop off an early Christmas gift before heading home herself. It was about midnight when she arrived. A half hour later, she told her niece goodnight before heading back downstairs from the second story apartment. She descended the familiar stairwell, unsuspecting and unaware.  When her foot landed on the last step — it happened.

Darlene felt overpowering arms seize her from behind.  She saw the flash of a metallic blade before she felt the knife pressed threateningly against her.  Her initial instinct was to fight, to wrestle away, and to run.  Driven by that instinct, she almost escaped.  However, the assailant was too quick.  He caught her before she was able to get a substantial distance between them, and laid a stunning blow across her face.  He dragged her into the nearby laundry room, his hand clamped across her mouth to prevent residents from hearing her screams.

The attacker began to snatch at her clothes, pinning her body with his own.  Darlene fought back, hard.  Yet, the harder she fought, the more it seemed to fuel the man’s sadistic anger.  He met her resistance with repeated stinging blows, and pressed the cold blade of the knife against her bare skin.

For more than an hour, a stranger, a man she’d only seen in passing before that night, violently raped and sodomized Darlene. Darlene slipped in and out of consciousness, the moments of darkness a blessed escape from the gripping, unbearable pain.

MoonWindowThe laundry room was on the ground floor of the apartment building with a small window that afforded a limited view outside.  During the vilest moments of the attack, Darlene turned her focus to that window.  She could see a sliver of moonlight pouring in, and leaves rustling about on the ground.  While begging for her life, she watched the window.

“God was out there.  All this stuff was happening to me in one room.  Outside that window was my family and God and life,” says Darlene.

Bruised, torn, battered, bleeding, and wondering if she would ever make it back outside that room still alive — for the rapist never once spoke during the entire attack, leaving Darlene to guess at his final intentions as how it would end for her — she slipped into the darkness, into unconsciousness.

Later, Darlene regained consciousness.  Dizzied and confused, she fought for focus.  She wasn’t quite sure where she was, it was completely unfamiliar.  It was dark, confined, and it smelled awful.  She couldn’t stand up, the surface beneath her was bulky and unstable, and the pain — oh the pain! — was unbearable.

She felt around, her heart sinking with realization.  The stench was overwhelming, and all telling… Darlene was inside a dumpster.

Raped, sodomized, beaten, and left for dead with yesterday’s garbage.  The hour was roughly 2 AM.

She tried to claw her way out, but the pain was too severe.  She could only lay helpless and cry out to a hopeful passerby.  She waited praying for someone, anyone, to come along and help her.  In the 4 AM hour, a resident leaving on his way to work heard Darlene’s desperate cries coming from the dumpster and immediately called for help.

Relief washed over Darlene.  Finally, the nightmare was over — or so she thought.

dumpster greenPolice and emergency crews rushed in, carefully helping Darlene out of the nasty green dumpster and into the clean safety of the back of an ambulance.  She was whisked away to the local hospital where she relived the grueling details of her attack again and again while being subjected to the necessary humiliation of a rape kit and endless questioning.  Her injuries were so severe that Darlene had to have 42 stitches plus an emergency hysterectomy.

Darlene remained in the hospital for almost a week before being released on Christmas Eve.  Her church family had taken care of her five kids, ages: 2, 3, 4, 6 & 15, during her hospital stay.  They had also taken care of the kids’ Christmas.  Darlene was freshly divorced (April of that same year) from an unhealthy marriage.  Multiple health and emotional problems ensued from the rape that would take years to overcome.

DNA evidence from the attack allowed police to identify Darlene’s rapist.  He was arrested and brought to trial within six months.  The case, however, was dismissed on a technicality, (he’d confessed without his lawyer present).  Darlene obtained a protection order and told police that if he was ever arrested again for hurting a woman, she wanted to be called as a witness.

In 2005, she got a call.  It was the Saginaw Police Dept.  When she answered, she asked the detective on the other end if he was calling about… and she stated the rapist’s name.  He asked Darlene how she knew.  She knew because she’d been waiting on that call for almost nine years.

As it turned out, the man who attacked Darlene was a serial rapist.  She’d been the third on his list of thirteen victims, which included a 13-year-old girl.  The victims ranged in age, walks of life, and even body types.  What they did all share was darker tanned complexions and long dark hair.  Darlene is half Native-American, another victim was Puerto Rican.  That was how he chose his victims.

The first time Darlene heard her rapist’s voice was from the witness stand when she walked into the courtroom during the pre-trial proceedings.  At the trial, the first case was dismissed because the women jurors all got up and left the room when the photos of Darlene that were taken at the hospital after the rape were shown for evidence.  The gruesome, horrific images of her injuries were more than they could take.

Darlene showed up at court every day during the entire course of the trial, praying for justice, praying for freedom from fear.  This time around, the justice system ruled in Darlene’s favor.  The rapist was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in a maximum-security prison.

It was a step toward healing for Darlene, a healing that had waited a lifetime to begin.  That attack in 1996 was not the first time Darlene had suffered sexual abuse, in fact was not the first time she’d been raped.

At the tender age of five, Darlene’s maternal grandfather began to molest her, and continued to do so for the next two years.  He had a reputation for molesting girls in the family, including Darlene’s own mother.

At fifteen, Darlene found herself at the mercy of a new sexual abuser, her mother’s boyfriend.  For years, Darlene and her younger sister suffered while their mother denied their accusations.  He would force sexual favors from Darlene, and rape her sister, who was two years younger than Darlene.  That abuse lasted until Darlene fled home at eighteen, leaving a tearful and pleading younger sister behind.  She would ask Darlene, “How could you leave me?  You know how he is, what he does to me!”

It was harder to forgive herself, she says, for leaving her sister, than it ever was to forgive her rapists.

The other rape occurred when Darlene was just sixteen.  She was walking home one night when a young man stopped and asked her if she wanted a ride.  It was small town, Michigan.  She knew the fellow, knew his family even, and thought it was safe.  He drove her out to a field and raped her.  He left her there, naked, where she was forced to walk more than five miles to the home of a friend, for her options were limited in her nude state.  She did not allow them to call the police, she was afraid.  It was a different era, the 70’s, and blame for sex crimes was often slanted toward the victims.  Unfortunately, that is many times still true today.

It was later discovered that the attacker from that rape was also a serial rapist.  He was struck and killed in a hit-and-run incident a few years after Darlene’s attack in what was speculated to be an intentional homicide.  Several women came forward after his death, he’d raped them too.

Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and God — after a lifetime of devastation and abuse, Darlene has learned and embraced their fullness and reality.

In that laundry room, where the harshest of her attacks occurred, Darlene says of God, “He was my comfort.  I felt like He was looking down on me, and that I would be okay.  Knowing that He was there, that He was watching me, was the only comfort that I had.”

“I have forgiven him,” says Darlene of the rapist.  That forgiveness came for her in the fall of last year. 

DarleneToday, Darlene shares her heart, her story and her faith to inspire and encourage others.  She tells anyone who will listen, her desire is to bring people to Jesus, the healer, her healer.

She volunteers with victims of domestic abuse and rape victims.  “My heart goes out to these people that other people shun, to give them hope,” she says.

Darlene is also active in her church and volunteers for the American Cancer Society.

Darlene’s  sister was diagnosed with  a rare form of cancer in July, 1999.  That October, the cancer claimed her life.  On the day of her death, Hospice called Darlene and told her that her sister was asking for her.  Darlene ran to be with her right away.  When she got there, her sister, Robin, asked her to dance with her, for she loved to dance.  Robin went to be with the Lord while dancing in Darlene’s arms.  She was a fellow victim of sexual abuse, and ultimately taken by cancer, however she left this world dancing, an example of strength and grace.

Our lives are but a day on the calendar of eternity.  Our tragedies, our struggles, our joys and our triumphs, how will we use them in that window of time to reflect and honor Christ?  For Darlene, that is her challenge, and her mission. PivotPointEndingBug

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