Woman who faced attacker in court: I'm no Jane Doe - Heidi Damon is unafraid to say who she is. She was almost raped and killed by Javon Cooper, 18. Heidi is a Hero!!

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Normal Woman who faced attacker in court: I'm no Jane Doe - Heidi Damon is unafraid to say who she is. She was almost raped and killed by Javon Cooper, 18. Heidi is a Hero!!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:10 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Visit msnbc.com for [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


By Scott Stump
TODAY.com contributor
updated 12/12/2011 8:54:39 AM ET

The teenager who once nearly killed her stood uncomfortably only a few feet away in a courtroom last week when an empowered Heidi Damon delivered a stern message.

“I am not the victim,’’ she said during an impassioned five-minute speech. “I am the victor.
“My name is Heidi Elizabeth Damon. I have a name. I have a name that will go on forever. You have a number and the title of the crimes that you've committed. Your name is Sex Offender, Attempted Murderer. Nice to put you away."

Story: 'I am not the victim; I'm the victor,' woman tells attacker

Javon Cooper, 18, pleaded guilty to assaulting Damon, 40, in a Ybor City parking garage in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 19, 2009. He choked her until she passed out in broad daylight 3 p.m. When Damon regained consciousness, Cooper was running away; her pants and underwear had been removed but she had not been raped. On Dec. 7, in the courtroom where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation for attempted rape and murder, Damon addressed him directly.

Damon appeared on TODAY Monday to discuss why she chose to make a public speech when many women who are victims of assault often conceal their identities.

“I felt that if I didn’t come out and put my name out there that it would be just another case of someone almost murdered, almost raped, and that it would just kind of be another story that passes by,’’ Damon told Ann Curry. “If I were to just go by Jane Doe, which I did for 2 ½ years up to this point, I think that people would be more apt to forget.’’

Damon became emotional when she reminders others who have been attacked to remember that they have done nothing wrong.

“It’s OK to give yourself permission to cry, and to not be ashamed,’’ she said tearfully. “It’s not your fault. You’re not the bad person. The person that did it to you is.

“I think so many times, we’re so embarrassed, or we’re so afraid of what people will think. There’s so much vanity out there that if this happens to someone, they should be able to go and talk about it and reveal who attacked them and not be ashamed. Feel empowered to say, ‘No. I’m still going on with my life. You have not taken that away.’’’

Damon has suffered constant nightmares and headaches as a result of the attack and missed more than a year at her job as a master networker at Florida Business Interiors.

“I look over my shoulder more than I ever have,’’ she said during her speech to Cooper. “Sometimes it feels like someone’s behind me even if they’re not.’’

She joined Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay a year ago and, as vice chairwoman, has been a fundraiser. She plans to continue her work with the organization and may start her own victims' group. She urges all of her friends to get hands-free devices because she was on her cell phone at the time of the attack and did not see Cooper coming.

“I woke up ecstatic today, happier than ever,’’ she said in her speech. “You know why? Because I’m alive. I lived to tell the truth. I will not address you by your birth name, but what you deserve to be called: Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!’’

“A gloom has been removed," her boyfriend, Brad Allan told Tampa Bay Online after her speech. “There's a brightness in her eyes, a bigger smile on her face."

Allan stood by her side as she addressed Cooper in the courtroom.

“I didn’t really know how I would react,’’ she told Curry. “I didn’t know if I would be able to get through the whole thing, so I put down bullet points. It’s nothing to prepare for because it’s been in my mind for over 2 ½ years, so when I stood up there, a lot of it was even things that just popped in my head as I’m standing there.’’

In the middle of her speech, a piece of her speech came to her: To say her full name while reminding her attacker that he is a sex offender and attempted murderer.

“At the very end of my talking to the person who did this to me, that just popped in my head that, ‘Wait a second, I have a name,’’’ she said. “ I’m going to go on and on and on. You won’t. You will always be known by what you did and the number that you have in prison.’’’

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Last edited by Wrapitup on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
avatar
Wrapitup
Founder
Founder

Join date : 2009-05-28

http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/forum.htm

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: Woman who faced attacker in court: I'm no Jane Doe - Heidi Damon is unafraid to say who she is. She was almost raped and killed by Javon Cooper, 18. Heidi is a Hero!!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:20 pm

This Tampa woman won't be victim: 'I have nothing to be ashamed of'

ANDY JONES/STAFF
Heidi Damon talks about confronting the man, Javon Cooper, who attacked and nearly killed her.

Attacker gets 15 years in prison

Read Damon's full speech

Here is a transcript of the speech given by Heidi Damon who faced her attacker, Javon Cooper, in court today. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation.


"I just want to tell you – and I want you to look at me when I address you - I woke up ecstatic today, happier than ever. You know why? Because I'm alive. I'm alive, alive, alive. I lived to tell the truth. I will not address you by your birth name.

See, you're already ashamed. You can't even look at me. I will not address you by your birth name but what I feel you should be called – guilty, guilty, guilty.

You may have hurt me, but what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. You have not broken my spirit. You have not changed my belief in God. If anything, you've strengthened both. I am not a victim. I am the victor, the stronger and the winner. You picked the wrong woman on Aug. 19, 2009. When you attacked me, my will to live is much too great. And my love for life is way too strong. And my desire to be all that I can be cannot ever be broken by you or anyone.

I survived. You have simply victimized yourself. I will be free for the rest of my life. You will be a prisoner for the rest of yours. You may think that you may be in jail for 15 years and serve 85 percent of that and be a person on the street with an [ankle bracelet] for 10, but big brother will be watching you.

You are a boy. Always will be. You'll never be a man. I know this because a man would have never done what you did to me.

I will never forgive you, because what you have done to me is unforgivable. So don't expect me 20, 30, 40, 50 years or on my deathbed to ever say I forgive you.

I am a go-getter. You obviously aren't. I contribute to my community. You help decay yours. I am loved and respected and known for all the things that I help with other people. You are known for being a convicted sex offender and someone who attempted to murder someone. I have been awarded the many blessings in my life. I will leave a legacy behind - that I was loved, I succeeded, I made a positive impact on others' lives. You, on the other hand, are inadequate. And you will never be trusted by anybody. The title Sex Offender will follow you to your grave. You have chosen to make yourself the property of the state of Florida. Congratulations – you are now the property of the state of Florida.

You did this horrible thing to me, and you allowed yourself to go to the dark side. Well, you know what? You had a choice – just like everyone in this world. You have no one to blame but yourself for your actions. You alone have destroyed your life. You are the architect of your own agony.

And I am so happy that I get to look at you in the face because who would have thought, who would have thought I would be sitting here, strong-willed, being the person I am – this you'll never be able to say. Ever.

My life will never be the same. You know why? It's going to be better than it was before. You actually helped. Because now I can help other people from being sabotaged and brutalized by people – creatures – like you.

So when you're sitting in that cell, I would suggest getting a job in jail. Because you have a lot of money to pay. Nobody is going to get you off the hook. I obviously see your huge support system behind you. They won't be there either. So I would suggest that you take this time to do something with yourself positive. Maybe you should consult with someone on what positive means, because apparently you haven't been taught that lesson.

So my tears are of joy. Because you're going away. And I will never see you again. Ever.

So big – what used to be 320 pounds – they're going to love you in jail.

Oh and by the way, I do have one more thing. My name is Heidi Elizabeth Damon. I have a name. I have a name that will go on forever. You have a number and the title of the crimes that you've committed. Your name is Sex Offender, Attempted Murderer. Nice to put you away."
By JOSH POLTILOVE | The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 09, 2011

Heidi Damon stared down the man who nearly killed her and told him she was a victor, he was a failure and she would never forgive him.

After her speech Wednesday, she turned away from the attacker and toward her boyfriend, who was standing next to her in open court. They hugged.

"I feel better now," she told him. "I'm so proud of myself."

The impassioned five-minute speech to 18-year-old Javon Cooper might not have brought total closure, but it allowed her to move forward in the healing process, Damon, 40, told The Tampa Tribune in a Thursday interview.

"Do I think that this was a huge building block?" she asked. "Am I standing taller than I was before? Absolutely."

Brad Allan, the boyfriend she began dating after the traumatic attack, immediately saw a positive change in her.

"A gloom has been removed," he said. "There's a brightness in her eyes, a bigger smile on her face."

In an Ybor City parking lot on Aug. 19, 2009, Cooper, then 16, choked Damon and she passed out. When the battered woman regained consciousness, she saw him running away. She realized her pants and underwear had been removed, but she hadn't been raped.

The attack devastated Damon, causing nightmares and headaches. She became more suspicious of others and less motivated.

She missed more than a year of work at Florida Business Interiors, where she serves as a master networker.

Her boss, Kevin Baker, said he saw some fear in her after the attack but, "She's such a strong woman that she doesn't really show that to a lot of people."

The attack might have changed Damon in some ways, but it didn't stop her volunteer work. She was motivated about a year ago to join Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, where she serves as vice chairwoman, working on fundraising and approving Crime Stopper rewards.

"Heidi is a very, very strong young lady, very articulate," said Lisa Haber, Crime Stoppers' law enforcement coordinator and program director. "She's a fighter. She's not one of those people that was going to let somebody victimize her and get away with it."

On Wednesday, before Cooper was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 10 years probation, Damon finally got her chance to rip into him.

She had been thinking about his attack for 2½ years, though she only spent a few hours working on her speech. She made bullet points but ad-libbed quite a bit.

She told Cooper that he hadn't broken her spirit or changed her belief in God. If anything, she said, Cooper had strengthened both.

"Oh and by the way, I do have one more thing," she told Cooper. "My name is Heidi Elizabeth Damon. I have a name. I have a name that will go on forever. You have a number and the title of the crimes that you've committed. Your name is Sex Offender, Attempted Murderer. Nice to put you away."

Afterward, she again told the media her name and spoke up again about the crime.

"I've seen so many times when victims are either ... ashamed or they're scared, and I've never been that person," she said Thursday. "And if I have the power and the ability to step forward and help someone by using my name, by actually putting a face to what happened, great. I'm happy to do that. Because I have nothing to be ashamed of."

She said she will continue with volunteer work and one day might start an organization to help other victims.

She said the community reaction to her speech was overwhelming.

Complete strangers reached out to her on Facebook and thanked her for her words. They told her she showed courage and that hopefully she gave others courage to come forward.

Damon said that after the 2009 attack, she never questioned why she had been the one victimized.

"It happened to me because I was strong enough and healthy enough for it to happen to me," she said. "I believe if it was someone smaller than me, not as healthy as me, whatever, they probably would have died. There was a reason it happened to me.

"This is part of the reason. I'm able to talk about it. I was able to tell him off. A lot of victims can't do that. And hopefully this will change that."

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
avatar
Wrapitup
Founder
Founder

Join date : 2009-05-28

http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/forum.htm

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: Woman who faced attacker in court: I'm no Jane Doe - Heidi Damon is unafraid to say who she is. She was almost raped and killed by Javon Cooper, 18. Heidi is a Hero!!

Post by Wrapitup on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:22 pm

TAMPA --
An impassioned speech aimed at her attacker in a courtroom last week was delivered to a handful of people.

On Monday morning, Heidi Damon, victim of an attempted rape and murder in an Ybor City parking garage 2½ years ago spoke to the nation.

The Tampa woman appeared on NBC's "Today" in an interview with co-host Ann Curry.

Damon's courtroom comments to Javon Cooper before he was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week drew praise from victim rights advocates and women. In it, Damon said she was not ashamed. It was Cooper who should be ashamed.

"I have a desire to want to help other people who might not be as able to come out and talk about difficult things," she said on the NBC show this morning.

Damon had kept her anonymity for the past two years but decided to come out and identify herself during Cooper's sentencing.

"I'm a person," she said in the "Today" interview. "I've given to my community. I've lived a life that he almost took."

She said she put together her courtroom speech in 90 minutes, but much of it was improvised as she stood a few feet from her attacker in court.

What she wanted to say "had been in my mind for over 2½ years," she said, "but things popped into my head as I was standing there."

Her message to other victims of sexual attacks:

"It's OK to give yourself permission to cry," she said, and that triggered tears, "to not be ashamed. You're not the bad person. The person who did it to you is.

"So many times, we are so embarrassed about what people will think. If this happened to someone they should be able to go and talk about it and feel empowered to say, "No, I'm still going on with my life.' "

Cooper was charged with attacking Damon in the Fernando Noriega Parking Garage, 2010 N. 13th St., in 2009.

Cooper pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with great bodily harm and attempted sexual battery with force causing serious personal injury. Judge Chet Tharpe sentenced Cooper to the agreed-upon 15 years, though he said that if Cooper had gone to trial and been convicted the sentence would have been much harsher.

"I'm not the victim, I'm the victor," Damon told Cooper in court.

On Sunday night from her New York hotel room, Damon told News Channel 8 she has also gotten interview requests from MSNBC and "Inside Edition."

"If I change one person's mind about not feeling ashamed or being able to talk to somebody about it, or to not feel embarrassed ... " Damon said by phone.

"Never in a million years" did she ever think should could get her message out to a national audience.

"I think there's some part of healing and there's some part of helping," she said. "I think by helping people - I'm actually giving something back."

Damon said "Today" producers gave her a choice of who would interview her and she chose Curry.

"I realize that I may be able to do or say certain things that other people might be afraid to," Damon said. "I've always thought if you're capable of doing something that other people can't, then you need to share that."

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
avatar
Wrapitup
Founder
Founder

Join date : 2009-05-28

http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/forum.htm

Back to top Go down

Normal Re: Woman who faced attacker in court: I'm no Jane Doe - Heidi Damon is unafraid to say who she is. She was almost raped and killed by Javon Cooper, 18. Heidi is a Hero!!

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum