Updated: Dec 11, 2022
The writing below was featured in the Olmsted County Adult and Family Services newsletter. November 2023 was Memoir Author month.
It was the night of November 17th, 2018, my day of innocence, when I tucked my three-year-old son into bed. Shortly thereafter, I went to bed. As a single mother, I made sure to check all of my doors to be sure they were locked, turned out all of the lights, and went to sleep in the 9:00 pm hour.
I woke up at 1:27 am to a noise at the end of my bed that turned out to be an unknown armed, masked man who stood up and pointed a 9 mm handgun at my head. He was not there for not my money or my possessions. He was there for me. He was in my home for five hours, at least. I had my hands zip-tied behind my back seconds after I woke up. He came prepared.
I was raped three times, and mentally tortured and traumatized over the next five hours. He threatened me over and over not to tell anyone he was there, especially the police, or he would kill me and my son. He threatened to go to my son’s school to kill him. He reminded me that he knew where I lived, and he could find me.
We made it out of our house alive later that morning, but it was three and a half months of living in fear of who the unknown rapist was before investigators linked the DNA from my rape kit to the rapist. Of note, I use an alias in my memoir for the rapist instead of his real name. The story isn’t about him. It is my story about rape and trauma, complicated family dynamics because of grief, yet healing and overcoming it all. It is about coming out of a horrendous situation as a lioness, one who always protects her cub.
The rapist was sentenced to nearly 21 years in prison for his crimes on November 17th-18th of 2018, and another short amount of time for the night of November 16th, 2018, for breaking into my home the night before he raped me; a crime I didn’t know he committed until months later. I have taken back my power and my voice, and I strive to empower others to do the same.
Other than public speaking, being a memoir author has been the most successful way of sharing my message and my story, and inspiring other women and victims to do the same. My goal has been for my book and my story to be someone else's survival guide. I've made that impact on other survivors, per their feedback, so sharing my story with the world has been worth it, tenfold.
My story didn't start as a memoir though. It simply started as journal entries. Writing had always been therapeutic for me, and it wasn't until I was given something to write about that I finally began my journey as a writer. As time went on, my journal entries kept compiling. Somewhere along the way I decided to put all of the entries together in what turned out to be a book, my debut memoir.
Another perk of writing I found is being able to share things with loved ones without having to verbalize those things. Being raped was not easy to talk about, so writing about it then having my loved ones reading what I wrote was one way of letting them know what happened and what was going on without having speak the words. I later learned in sexual assault support group that burning letters like these are therapeutic too. I never tried that, but if there is a survivor reading this that doesn't want to share what happened or doesn't want to keep record of it, burning your journal entries or letters may help symbolize closure and taking back your control over what happened.
I'm grateful to have found an outlet for my trauma and rage, and even more grateful that my outlet has been able to help so many others along the way. I think a lot of people have compelling stories. It's just a matter of what we do with them.
My advice is to learn and grow from experiences. Take the bull by the horns. Life is short.
Remember, your life is your own story to write. You hold the pen. So, write the story you want to live.
And always remember to seize the day.
Thank you for your support, friends!
Danielle Louise Leukam
I'm giving away three signed paperback copies of Four Pounds of Pressure via GoodReads!
Click the link below to sign up for your chance to win a free copy. Don't forget to add me as a friend and follow me on GoodReads!
Entry is open until December 25, 2022.
Books by Danielle - for sale under the "Books for Sale" tab above!
- Four Pounds of Pressure: A Memoir of Rape, Survival, and Taking Back My Power (memoir)
- The First Sister: A Dangerous Bloodline (thriller novella)
- Fly Like a Girl: Adventures of Erin and Brad (children’s book)
- Never Stop Exploring: Adventures of Erin and Brad (children’s book)
- Another Four Pounds of Pressure: Case Files, Statements, and a Survivor’s Redemption (sequel memoir coming March 7th of 2023!)