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First Place
Lisa DeJong
The Plain Dealer

"Survivor's Journey"

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"survivor's journey" On Oct. 27, 1984, a headline in The Plain Dealer read: ' Disgusted judge gives repeat offender 30 years for rape.' Reporter Joanna Connors writes: "The story followed standard newspaper protocol. In it the victim was anonymous. In this version, the victim has a name. I am Joanna Connors and I am telling the story I kept private for 23 years. I'm doing it for all of the others who have survived sexual assault in silence, ashamed and afraid to tell their stories." Connors describes her emotional journey, searching for information about her attacker, David Francis. Connors describes her chance encounter with the dangerous felon on parole; the nightmare of the trial; her subsequent years of coping and denial; and, finally, her search to find the man who raped her so she could try to move on from an incident that changed and tormented her life.
"David Francis came from a world I did not know," Connors writes. "When he raped me, the Two Americas - the Two Clevelands - collided. One was white, suburban, well-off. The other was black, urban and desperately poor. Were crime and violence the only way these two worlds can meet? My quest to find David Francis would take me into the other America to find out. I had to reclaim the parts of me I lost to him. It was time for me to go find Dave."


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