SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Millions of Americans are survivors of sexual violence or know a victim. Yet stigma still surrounds sex crimes — often making it difficult for survivors to talk about what happened to them.
In the 80s and 90s, it was even less common for people to talk about rape or sexual assault.
But a Sioux Falls woman, Dawn Aspaas, was one of the first in the region to openly talk and be interviewed about being raped in 1989.
“I just want, first of all, victims out there to know that they have a voice. And we’re always there. Your church is there, they’ll help you. But forgiveness, like I said, is important, just for my soul, and I want victims who are survivors now, to know that that’s the first healing point is forgiveness. Forgetting isn’t an option,” Aspaas said.
In October of that year, Aspaas was raped and beaten for hours while her daughter was held at knife-point in the next room. Thirty-three years later she’s still using her voice in hopes that the world never falls silent to these crimes again.
“The shock of everything that happens, it’s hard for you to come out of that shock. You’re always on alert. And there are times in my life where I’m still on alert. I park underneath lights now and I make sure I know all of my surroundings and I know where I’m parked. If I’m going to go out and show a property, I make sure I’ve checked out before what it’s like. I don’t stand in front of bushes. You know, all those kinds of things that you do for safety,” Aspaas said.
In tonight’s KELOLAND Investigates, Lauren Soulek looks back at what prompted Aspaas’s bravery. And for the first time since that horrific night, we hear from her daughter.