On Jul 19, 2009, two women were attacked in their home in Seattle’s South Park. Both were repeatedly raped. One of the two, Teresa Butz, died. Isaiah Kalebu is now on trial for these crimes.

Eli Sanders of The Stranger wrote a touching and compelling article about the survivor’s court testimony. The title is The Bravest Woman in Seattle. He describes the grace and tears with which this woman testified about her life with Teresa, and their hopes and plans for the future. And then about the events of that night, which took all that away. At times Sanders ventures into details nobody would want to read, and spares us graphic depiction of the worst. The survivor relates how they understood what was happening, and why they made the safety choices they did.

This is important. Over the past 2 years I’ve been approached by students (and others who know I teach self-defense classes). Usually this isn’t during class time, but afterwards. In quiet tones, they ask about what they, if ever in that situation, could do. They don’t want to appear to be victim-blaming, but they wonder why the two women didn’t “succeed” in fighting back against only one assailant.

These people should read Sanders’ article.

Each person, when faced with assault, has to make their best choice. Sometimes the choice is between bad and worse. It’s simple to look in from outside, after the facts and feelings, and decide what somebody else should have done. Personally, after reading this account from the survivor, I can’t say that I would have done differently. After reading this account, I doubt you could say otherwise.