My Name Is...

**Trigger Warning** This is the statement I gave at the Pinal County Child Abuse Conference in March of 2018.

My name is Samantha Wood.

My middle name is Jordan and my mom tells me it’s after the Jordan River that Jesus was baptized in.

My name is Samantha Wood, I am 18 years old and I have lived in Arizona for all of those 18 years, and I still have not seen the Grand Canyon.

My name is Samantha Wood.

I am a senior at Penn Foster online high school soon to be a student at Penn Foster online college.

My birthday is in October.

My favorite color is red.

I have a dog named Lani, and a bunny named Lula.

My trucks name is Jackie and I like to color with big markers, outside of the lines from time to time.

I like to take my dog for walks down to the park and let her run around.

My name is Samantha, and I don’t have a whole lot of friends anymore and part of me thinks that it’s because we’re all grown up and just don’t have time, the other part of me thinks it’s because I’m afraid to make friends because I’m afraid of being taken advantage of.

My name is Samantha Wood and I am a victim.

I was 14 when I went and stayed the night at my best friend’s house and when all the kiddos were asleep, including my friend, Jason Rothlisberger beckoned me into his room and told me he wasn’t going to attack me.

And in that same room he told me how soft my breasts were, and how yummy I tasted.

My name is Samantha and I feel guilty for running away from my best friend and leaving her with that MONSTER she HAD to call DAD.

My name is Samantha and I was almost 16 when I slipped up and angrily told a classmate that my best friends dad had done “stuff” with me, and on that day my worst nightmare came true.

I told the school resource officer what happened to me.

Two weeks later school let out for summer and after a week or two maybe, I remember going to an office that reminded me of the waiting room in the pediatric wing of a hospital and I remember telling a really nice lady everything about what happened me.

Every last little detail.

From the grinch boxers he wore, to the way mint toothpaste and musky aftershave burned themselves into my brain.

To the way his dried cracked hands felt on my body.

I told her everything.

My name is Samantha and I was okay for a little bit after that.

And then someone reached out to my parents and told them, who in turn told me that I was not the only girl who had been violated by this pathetic excuse of a human being.

And thats when I got, really, really angry.

To say the least, I was no longer okay.

I had to testify now.

There was no way I wouldn’t.

He had to be put away.

Justice had to be served.

And that took a long time.

Two years later, I started to prep for the trial.

And I remember watching videos from when I told the officer what happened and when i told the really nice lady a great deal of detail.

And I remember feeling something different.

Like it wasn’t me in those videos.

That was a younger insecure girl who needed to be protected and I wanted to protect her and help her.

The following Monday I testified.

I got up early in the morning and did my makeup and sat in the courtroom and told strangers what had happened to me.

I don’t remember ever making eye contact with Jason, but I could feel his eyes on me. And I could sense his smirk, like he too remembered what happened, and he not only enjoyed it then, he enjoyed what it had done to me for the last four years.

After I testified my father went on the stand and explained why he let me stay at Jason’s house.

My father had grown up in the same area as Jason had and actually knew Jason’s older brother.

My dad was dispatching when Ellis started out his now 20 plus year long career. He trusted the name.

There was no reason not to trust Jason. It only took about three days for the Jury to decide that Jason was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

About a month following that he was sentenced to two counts of life and 137 years, totaling up to 205 years.

And I had never felt a relief like that in my life.

For years I’d had a rock and a hard place pressing down on me even after I was buried underground, and then suddenly, I was on the highest mountain breathing the cleanest air, and there was no rock, no hard place.

He was finally gone.

My nightmares could finally be put to rest.

My name is Samantha, and sadly, I still woke up feeling his cracked hands on me. Smelling mint toothpaste and aftershave out of nothing.

Still heard him say my name.

After I turned 18 I started getting therapy, A LOT of therapy.

I got a new job.

I surrounded myself with better and more positive people.

I smiled more.

Some nights I still wake up and can smell him, and I’m kicking and punching when I open my eyes, but now I can fall back asleep knowing that everything is okay again, because I helped put a monster behind bars.

Things may never be like they were before, but they are so much better than they were before.

My name is Samantha and I am not a victim.

My name is Samantha Jordan Wood and I am a Survivor. 

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