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Originally published November 12, 2009 at 3:37 PM | Page modified November 12, 2009 at 5:46 PM

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Guest columnist

Save sexual-assault center's funding to help girls like me

Eleven-year-old Jessi Walker's story provides a compelling reason to preserve funding for King County's Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Special to the Times

MY name is Jessi. I am 11 years old and I am not afraid. I bet you are wondering why I would be afraid. Well, when I was 5 years old, I was sexually assaulted by my neighbor's uncle. The Bad Uncle really hurt my body and also really hurt my feelings.

I would like to tell you my story along with how it is that today I'm not afraid, scared, or hurt. Instead, I am a strong, confident, happy 11-year-old.

On Easter Sunday during my kindergarten year, I went next door to borrow a video game from our neighbors. The Bad Uncle lured me upstairs, pinned me down and did something to me that I didn't understand at the time.

In my head all I could think about was how to get out of that house. When plan A didn't work, I tried plan B. When plan B didn't work, I tried plan C. Finally Plan C worked and I got out.

Later on that night I told my mom what happened. Her and my dad took me to Harborview Medical Center where a doctor made sure that I was all right.

The next day, we went to the police station where they asked me a lot of questions about what happened. That day was scary, but it is also the day that I met Demarie. Demarie is my friend who works at King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC). She was what my mom called my "legal advocate." Really, she was my friend who helped us through all of the things with the police and lawyers. She drew pictures with me and made me feel really loved. Throughout the next three years, KCSARC helped me heal my hurt feelings.

They gave me a counselor named Susan who helped me work through all of my anger issues. They helped me know that what happened wasn't my fault and helped me to not be afraid anymore.

Today, I love my life!

When you think about sexual-assault survivors, you usually would think that they are sad or afraid. I am neither of those things because I was helped by KCSARC.

I am writing to say that even though I'm not afraid, I am worried. My mom has told me about the budget crisis that King County is facing and that KCSARC is looking at an 80 percent cut to its funding.

Do you know that means turning away two people a day who went through what I did? Other Jessies like me will not get help. They will be afraid. Those Jessies may lead a life of fear, shame and anger. Two Jessies a day will not realize that what happened to them wasn't their fault.

I am speaking out to save the countless other Jessies out there who will not receive help because of budget issues.

Please help save KCSARC's funding and the essential services that they provided for me.

Jessi Walker lives in Maple Valley.

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