October 12 is just another day for most people. For Barb Jenkins, it’s the anniversary of the day her life changed forever.
Jenkins was raped at McCormick Park in Missoula three years ago. Her attacker was a homeless man she helped, and she was meeting with him to tell him to stop following her. She says he raped her, and nobody stopped to help her.
“Three people walked by me while that was happening to me,” Jenkins said. “It’s seared into my brain, and I’ll never forget it.”
The aftershocks of the rape still haunt her. She can’t stand the smell of body odor or sweat on her husband’s shirts, and she battled thoughts of suicide. She ultimately made the decision to reclaim her life. Now, she works with Jane Doe No More, an organization dedicated to advocating for rape survivors.
“I want to make sure that people, especially in our own community, if they see something, that they say something,” Jenkins said.
McCormick Park used to be her favorite place. She doesn’t go there anymore, but she made an exception to paint a message of survival on a rock near the place she was raped. It’s still not easy, but she makes the choice to move forward every single day.
“It’s just a matter of trying to be proactive,” Jenkins said. “To think positive things, and do positive things, and pick your life up and continue to move on despite what happened.”
Jenkins will speak about bystander awareness and her personal experience at the University of Montana early next year. She will be part of a panel for Jane Doe No More. The event will run from six to nine p.m. on February 11, 2019.