If you like wedding announcements that will make you cry, read this one (trigger warning for sexual assault):
Bridget started her teaching career at Fort Hood, the Army post next to Killeen, Tex. On June 21, 2002, after she picked up a friend from a late flight and dropped her off, Bridget returned to her apartment.
A man who had lurked in the parking lot kicked down her door, abducted and robbed her, and drove her to a secluded field. He raped her, shot her in the back three times and drove off.
She had terrible internal wounds (and would need a colostomy bag all summer), but her legs worked. She somehow made it 200 yards to the home of her first hero that night. Frank James, an Army veteran, called 911 after recognizing the gunshot wounds, covered her with a blanket and comforted her until rescuers arrived. Her life was saved in six hours of surgery at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.
The crime and Bridget’s story, first reported in The Omaha World-Herald and The Killeen Daily Herald, soon drew wider interest because she wanted the rape to be reported in the articles with her name as the victim. At the request of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, she returned to the field where she was attacked and made a video that was shown statewide as part of a public awareness campaign. Her message — that she had done nothing wrong and bore no stigma or shame — resonated with many.
She was invited to speak at anti-violence rallies and to 900 people at a sexual-assault conference in San Francisco. She is now a trained volunteer advocate for the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program through the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She sits with survivors in hospital emergency rooms, helps answer questions about forensic exams and provides moral support. (Her attacker was sentenced to life plus 40 years.)
She flew to New York in February 2004 to meet with Charles Gibson, who interviewed her at the Waldorf-Astoria for ABC’s newsmagazine program “Primetime.” There, she met Eric, an ABC news producer who was in charge of the interview site. He was also assigned to fly to Texas to shoot video of Bridget in her home and classroom, and to interview others.
After one long day of shooting, the two of them went to Wendy’s to buy food for the crew. In the car, they learned they had a natural connection with easy conversation, and though there were no romantic sparks, Eric later said there were “buddy sparks.”
Congratulations to the two of them, and a heart-felt thank you to Bridget for all of her bravery and her work.