Originally published by The Greeley Tribune, May 12th, 2016.
On Wednesday, Greeley resident Kimberly Corban returned to the apartment she shared with two friends while a junior at the University of Northern Colorado.
It was the first time Corban had been to the west Greeley apartment since she was sexually assaulted there a decade earlier. She brought her mother along to take a photo of her outside of her old bedroom window.
The morning she was attacked, Corban’s blinds hung open just a few inches, providing her with a glimpse to the outside world during her two-hour-long ordeal.
The blinds, which once represented hopelessness, now serve as a symbol of Corban’s strength to overcome such a heinous crime.
“I couldn’t fight back the way I always thought I would and I realized any revenge I was going to get, any justice would have to come from the legal system.
— Kimberly Corban, sexual assault survivor
“I wanted that photo because for two hours I had to stare outside that crack in the blinds hoping someone would walk by and save me,” Corban said. “Ten years later, I realize I saved myself.”
“You don’t get a choice when you become a victim, but it’s a conscious choice to be a survivor.”
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the attack and Corban, now 30 and a mother of two, will tweet in detail the events of that day — from the early morning assault to the end of her interviews with Greeley police — as if they were happening in real time. She’s not putting her ordeal on Twitter to glorify the act of rape itself — nor will she name her attacker. She wants to bring attention to the trauma victims of sexual assault experience.
It’s easy to read a news story in the paper or hear about an assault on television and then quickly forget about it, Corban said. She’s hoping that by using social media her story will resonate with people in a different way.
“It was a day-long experience for me, then three weeks before there was an arrest and another 16 months until the sentencing; and now, 10 years later, I’m still healing,” Corban said. “People ask me all the time if it gets easier and I tell them no. But you do get stronger.”
Although Corban admits recovering from sexual assault is a lifelong process, the reality is that she has dealt with her attack with a tremendous amount of strength from the outset.
Corban was about a week removed from finals when she and five of her closest friends moved into two apartments at Peak View at T-Bone Ranch near U.S. 34 Bypass and 47th Avenue. Corban and her friends had just moved out of the Alpha Phi house at UNC and were looking forward to summer jobs, hanging out by the pool and living their upcoming junior years off campus.
Corban and her two roommates were still in the process of moving into their new apartment the day before the attack. It was 1:30 a.m. May 12, 2006, when Corban decided to stop cleaning and go to bed. The next thing she remembers is sleeping on her stomach and not being able to breathe. She tried to lift herself up but was immediately pushed back down on her face by a man who had entered the apartment through the living room window. The lock had previously been broken.
The assault itself took place over the next hour, and Corban’s attacker concealed his identity by covering up her face with a T-shirt. Then she felt cold metal against her head, which she assumed was a gun.
“I had to lie there at 20 years old thinking this was how I was going to die,” Corban said. “I couldn’t fight back the way I always thought I would and I realized any revenge I was going to get, any justice would have to come from the legal system.”
Corban then became remarkably clear-headed for a person enduring such a brutal attack and focused on doing everything she could to not only survive, but to also preserve as much evidence as possible.
When the assault was over and the attacker left his DNA on her leg, she wouldn’t allow herself to roll over and risk losing the evidence by wiping it off in her sheets. She invited the man to stay and the two talked for close to an hour after the assault was over. Since she couldn’t see him, Corban wanted to be able to remember the sound of his voice, as well as learn as much as she could about her attacker, so she could relay that information to police.
The stall tactics also provided glimpses of the bridge of the man’s nose, his eyebrows and socks and shoes. When he asked for water, Corban pointed him to the wrong kitchen cupboard in hopes that during his search for a glass, he would leave behind plenty of fingerprints. She also recognized she was a walking crime scene and didn’t shower until after a rape kit was taken at North Colorado Medical Center.
Although all of the horrors of the day were only compounded by the fact that May 12 also is Corban’s mother’s birthday, her tactics paid off. Three weeks later, when Greeley police arrested a suspect, Corban identified him by listening to the interrogation. Police also showed Corban a photo of the man’s shoes and socks, which were exactly as she had described after the attack.
The man was later convicted at trial and sentenced to 24 years to life in prison. In a twist of poetic justice, the man was sentenced on his birthday.
Although she doesn’t allow the attack to define who she is, Corban admits she has had more than her fair share of issues to work through since her assault. She was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety and nearly flunked out of college when she tried to balance a full course load with therapy. Her depression and anxiety were so severe that she often suffered trauma-induced seizures.
But the experience also placed Corban on a path dedicated to helping others. She changed her major to psychology and later earned a master’s in criminal justice from UNC. For close to three years after her attack, Corban served as a volunteer victim’s advocate with Greeley police before running the Weld District Attorney’s Office’s adult diversion program — an alternative to criminal prosecution sometimes offered to first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes.
Today, Corban is the community relations director for the DA’s office, a position that allows her to share her story with victims in Greeley, around the state and throughout the country. Corban first talked about her experience during a Take Back the Night event at UNC. That was almost 10 years ago — before her attacker’s sentencing — and she’s been perfecting her presentation ever since. Corban estimates she’s talked about her attack in one public capacity or another at least 50 times during the past decade.
“I don’t ever want pity and I don’t want to be looked at as a victim because I’m not,” Corban said. “The coolest thing that has happened to me over the last decade is the ability to put on my presentation and watch victims use their own voices to dig themselves out of that hole.
“When it comes time for me to leave this Earth, I will be very happy to know that is the legacy I am leaving behind.”
Read the entire article HERE.