Sara Macneil of the Shreveport Times wrote an amazing story on JiDedjra Williams, an amazing advocate for PCI and the work the PCI does for SA survivors in our community.
We couldn't be more proud of the strong, compassionate advocates who bring their best to the table everyday for survivors. Please read Sara's amazing piece below about JiDedjra's brave journey!
JiDedjra Williams saw a look of shock on the man’s face when she walked into the courtroom to testify against him.
Williams, 32, used to walk with her head down before she took the stand and pointed at the man who raped her when she was 14 years old. Two years after she testified, she has the courage to tell the story from a microphone.
Williams has been speaking at events this month for sexual assault awareness. Tuesday, the City Council is scheduled to declare April 2019 Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to statistics compiled by the Shreveport Police Department, incidents of forcible rape went down by 19 percent from 2017 to 2018. There were 122 incidents of forcible rape in 2018 and 150 in 2017.
“I want everyone to know who he was and what he did,” Williams told The Shreveport Times on Monday. “It’s like everyone knew but no one said anything.”
Williams’ neighbor, Steven Darnell Robinson, sexually assaulted her the summer before she started high school. Most sexual assaults happen within a 20-mile radius of the victim’s home, said Angela Henderson, Sexual Assault Program Director at Project Celebration, Inc.
Williams was quiet about the assault for over a decade. She blocked it out.
“Our brains are super amazing. They help us during traumatic events. Our brain holds little files like a computer. When it's time to heal, it takes them out,” Henderson said.
In Louisiana, perpetrators can be prosecuted for rape when the victim reports the assault years later. There’s no time limit on criminal prosecution for first degree rape.
In 2016, the Shreveport Police Department didn’t receive any reports involving a victim who reported the rape more than 10 years after it occurred. The "Me Too Movement" went viral in October 2017.
In 2017, the Shreveport Police Department had two cases in which a rape was reported more than 10 years after the assault occurred. In 2018, there were four rape reports that were made more than 10 years after the assault.
Traumatic memories flooded Williams' brain when Robinson’s face popped up on her television in 2015. An anchor reported Robinson had been accused of molesting two children. She couldn’t sleep. She said she felt like it was her fault.
She told the father of her children about the rape after he noticed her anxiety. He reached out to Project Celebration, Inc., an advocacy organization that provides services to sexual assault victims.
Henderson said Project Celebration served over 300 people last year. There are ten Project Celebration employees who go to the hospital to assist victims when a sexual assault is reported.
Project Celebration provided Williams with free counseling. Eventually, she reported she too was a victim of Robinson and testified against him in Caddo District Court. In 2017, Robinson was sentenced to 50 years in prison for multiple charges of sex crimes against children.
After facing Robinson in court, Williams started volunteering for Project Celebration. Whether she’s organizing, speaking at an event or assisting another victim of sexual assault, she said being an advocate has helped her heal.
Victims of sexual assault can call the 24-hour confidential hotline for help at (318) 227-7900.