Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"She don't have to do that shit - She's the Queen's daughter": Partying wasn't safe then, and it isn't safe now.

"The Queen's Daughter" does not have a negative connotation as a nickname, in fact, most people would probably think nothing of a nickname like this. But, for Melissa McCormick, this nickname holds much more meaning than it does for anyone else. She has lived through an experience that every young woman fears...being kinapped and raped in a country that you don't call home. And this happened one a cold winter night in 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, where Melissa McCormick's life changed forever. The content of this short narrative is probably the most heavy and horrifically frightening experience that I've ever read about.

Melissa grew up in the 70's in Windsor, Ontario, with a life much like any teenager. Looking for a fun night out with some girlfriends, she crossed the short distance over to Detroit. Dressed for a night on the town, Melissa and her friends enjoyed bar-hopping and having a great time. Once it was time to leave, Melissa left her friends and began driving back home alone. A flat tire on a busy highway forced her to pull over. With no cellphone and no company, Melissa had no choice but to flag down another driver. A man pulled over to offer his assistance, and while in conversation, Melissa noticed two more cars pull over. A group of African American youth surrounded and beat Melissa's helper and pointed a gun into her back. She reluctantly got into their car and was driven to an unidentifiable house. There, she was raped numerous times by countless men.
Melissa's kidnappers gave her the nickname, "The Queen's Daughter", after she had been gang-raped.
"Apparently the other thing my assailants knew about Canada was that it had a reigning Queen, therefore I was probably the Queen's daughter. I believe that the presumption that I was royalty saved me from having to perform oral sex and God knows what else. Throughout the rest of my ordeal, I was referred to as "The Queen's Daughter" (47-48).

Ms. McCormick's strengh and perseverance allowed her to challenge her captive, nicknamed "Clever Joe", by treating him with respect and acting interested in his life. She asked him questions about his life and learned of common interests that they both shared. Through this civil interaction, Melissa was set free. After endless questioning and police reports, Melissa made it back to Windsor...alive.
Ms. McCormick was able to indentify her kidnappers and most plead guilty to their rape charges.

I had the honour of listening to Ms. McCormick speak about her experience, since she is now a motivational speaker. Her strength was mesmerizing as she explained, in detail, what happened to her that night. Ms. McCormick has been able to rise above this unthinkable act and prove that it does not define who she is. I gained a lot of respect for her, especially because of the strength she showed and with work she has done to turn this negative experience into something positive in order to help others.
I urge you to read this book because, for all Windsorites, it hits much closer to home than you realize. I think a lot of Windsor's youth have a fascination with Detroit nightlife and most spend their 21st birthdays in downtown Detroit. Although this event took place 30 years ago, it still happens to many young people, especially women. It will open your eyes to a world that is, literally, just a stone's throw away from home.

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