October 15, 2015 - Doug Haskins
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the next feature in a regular series honoring women who have overcome emotional and physical obstacles and still come back fighting.
Patty Willey is a strong advocate for children, rape survivor and is in the middle of helping her child fight through drug addiction, but through it all she keeps her sense of humor and positive outlook on life.
Patty laid in a ravine outside of Price, Utah. The left side of her face is crushed in, her left eyeball dangling to the side and her back broken, yet, she felt no pain. She felt complete and utter peace as she lay there dying. She felt the presence of someone holding her hand, whispering “you will be just fine”, “everything is going to be all right”, and “just keep breathing”. A man with silver hair and the bluest eyes knelt next to her, comforting her; a heavenly being sent to comfort her. She felt death so close that it seemed natural “like getting a drink when you are thirsty.” As EMS arrived the man was gone, but she will never forget the angel who helped her that night when her friend fell asleep behind the wheel, crashing and propelling Patty through the windshield yards away and into a ravine.
She was told that she would never be able to retain information well enough to graduate college. Against all odds, she finished her degree as a medical assistant at the top of her class and aced the licensing test.
It was about the same time that her first son Jake was born. As an unwed mother, there was significant pressure to adopt her baby out. She had interviewed with an agency before he was born and told “you don’t love that baby if you don’t give it up” . She still felt unsure and confused about what to do. She met with her bishop, a close friend at church, to get some advice and what he told her changed her life forever. He said “I will support your decision 100%. No one has the authority to even make these [adoption related] statements to you.” It was shortly afterwards that she realized the courage inside her heart and determined to keep Jake as her own. Patty found the courage to be the advocate her child needed and the purpose for her life: love her children without reserve and forever. “I am so glad because I got to love my baby for years. He is my hero.”
I asked her why she was not employed as a medical assistant anymore. She got married and she was able to be a stay at home mother. I pressed her about it again because she has been divorced for years. She said “I am just realizing now that I did not return to it because I was raped by a patient. I think that is why, more and more.” She related the story of how a patient she was dating raped her in her own home. “He raped me, walked out the door, I ran & locked the door. Within minutes he broke back in the door with the screwdriver and said ' people don't mess with me cuz I KNOW people. I can get in here ANY TIME I want. All I need is this.' Holding up the screwdriver. I went to work the next day & didn't say anything...I was in shock & so confused. The day after that (& a million showers later) I went to my employer. He did a rape kit & assured me he would drop him as a patient. The bad guy came in for his appointment & I could hear the two of them laughing and carrying on. He didn't drop him, but just told me to leave the office when he came in. He also talked to my local church leader and told him he couldn't see this guy really raping me. He said it may have happened but it also may have been a case where I let things go too far and didn't want to face it. Needless to say, it was a crushing blow. It wasn't until I literally collapsed in the lab after seeing him walk in the office that one of the nurse practitioners & other staff had had enough of watching me disintegrate. He acted like 'what's the big deal, I told her to leave when he came in'. She felt the entire spectrum of emotions every rape survivor does. She remembers the fear and guilt. She talked with a local church leader and asked what to do. He asked “do you feel guilty?” She said “Yes, terribly.” He replied “if you did not do anything wrong, you would not have anything to feel guilty about.” The church leader then restricted her membership. This was not helpful, of course. Patty’s friend, Becky White, put her in touch with Denton County Friends of the Family. They helped her get her power back. This meant talking with professionals, enjoying group sessions with other rape survivors, writing a letter to her attacker, and “definately a lot of screaming in the car all the things I wish I had said to my attacker.” She says, to all of the other rape survivors, “Do not be afraid and go get help.”
Currently, Patty is the very proud mother of Jake, Zach, Josh, and Emma. Jake is serving in the Navy, Josh and Emma are in school focusing on grades and Zach is a gifted baseball player. He is also struggling right now to get help to recover from a drug addiction. Zach started experimenting with drug about two and a half years ago to help himself with crippling anxiety. He would have anxiety attacks so intensely that it would affect his motor skills and speech. Zach discovered that marijuana calmed him down and took the edge off of the anxiety. He felt so relieved. He also started to become disinterested in things that used to be important to him like grades and baseball. Marijuana led to other drugs and now he finds himself in jail, an addict, and unable to stop breaking his mother’s heart because of the powerful grip that drugs have on him. Patty has watched her boy slip away and she could not hardly do anything about it. She has gone almost everywhere looking for resources and assistance to get Zach the care he needs and wants. When it seems that almost everyone has given up on Zach, Patty, this great advocate who has a never ending well of love and compassion for her children said to me “We don’t give up on our children!”
For more information about how to help Zach, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/um5bppuc . A special “thank you” to Liz Odell for her support for Patty.
If you or a loved one needs help with overcoming sexual violence or abuse, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673). If you are in Denton County, contact the Denton County Friends of the Family 24 Hour Crisis Line at 940-382-7273 or 800-572-4031.
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