My name is Jillian and I am a new mom to a sweet, 5 month old boy named Bodhi. He is a happy, healthy little love bug and harnesses the energy of a toddler (no really) so my husband and I already have our hands full with a very lively baby!
I was born and raised in Placerville but recently returned after living in San Diego for the last 7 years. In 2016, I got married, graduated from college, moved, bought a house, and had a baby – it was quite the whirlwind of events! I am a licensed Occupational therapy assistant and returned back to work last month working in skilled rehabilitation. I am passionate about my profession and love to watch my patients gain strength and independence so they can live their lives to the fullest. It is an incredibly rewarding career!
My biggest strength as a Mom is my working knowledge of child development that I gained through my education in Occupational therapy. I am able to use that knowledge to help my son soak up each new experience. Watching Bodhi grow and master new skills is the most incredible feeling in the world.
When I’m able to sneak away for some “me” time, I enjoy getting massages, going snowboarding, meeting friends over a drink or getting in a good workout.
Can you describe how motherhood has been for you so far?
Parenthood has been very gracious to me and my husband by and large because of the extensive love and support from our families. They are always willing to lend a hand with Bodhi when we need a break, whether that’s an uninterrupted nap for Mom and Dad or an escape to the mountain for a day of winter fun.
Being a new Mom hasn’t come without its challenges, however. The most difficult and unexpected hurdle for me was breastfeeding. I had no idea how complex the “simple” act of nursing a baby was. The teeth chattering pain each time he latched on (until the 4-5 week mark), engorgement, let-down sensations, and supply establishment all coupled with recovery from child birth was something I was totally underprepared for. My advice to any soon-to-be Moms out there who plan to breastfeed would be to educate yourself on all the ins and outs of nursing and reach out to a lactation consultant BEFORE baby comes so you’re not learning on the fly while simultaneously recovering from childbirth.
You were recently caught in a very vulnerable place. Can you describe what happened?
While walking the local bike trail here in Placerville with my son, I was confronted by a stranger and sexually assaulted after initially trying to help him with directions to a local business. Without going into too much detail, he grabbed me inappropriately, put me in a head lock and attempted to pull me to the ground. In all honesty, I don’t know exactly how long he held onto me for or what I did to break free of his grasp. The only thing I know for certain is that during the struggle he lost a shoe and I was screaming at him so loudly it startled Bodhi and made him cry. I was unharmed physically but my emotional well-being was shattered and I literally felt sick to my stomach for weeks afterward. It was a surreal and painful experience that has shaken my sense of safety in the world.
Seeing the story on local news and reading about it in the paper was jarring. “This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen to me. Why?! This can’t be real. I was only trying to help him! How can someone do this to me?!” I’ve run the gamut of emotions since the incident and I still sometimes feel a sense of panic run over me when I see men who resemble my attacker. He has yet to be caught.
I can’t imagine all of the emotions you have been dealing with. How have you been processing this experience?
Other than the most obvious emotion I felt after the attack (anger) the most surprising were the feelings of embarrassment and pity. Embarrassment that I was having to describe what this person did to me, and knowing one day I’ll have to tell my son what happened. There was also pity for the young man who assaulted me.
That same evening I was rocking Bodhi to sleep and I couldn’t help but think of my attacker and how he once was a baby too. How it was a very distinct possibility that he himself had been a victim at some point and that someone may have betrayed his trust during a vulnerable time in his life. It broke me. Looking at my sweet, innocent baby that night made me reflect – even more than I already do – on the fact that Bodhi is surrounded by so many people who love him and would do anything to keep him safe. At the same time though, knowing that not all children are afforded the same sense of love and security made me grieve in such an unlikely way for the person who violated me.
What are you grateful for out of this experience? What makes you mad as hell?
I know that I am so fortunate to be sitting here, writing about my experience and sharing it with others and that I didn’t end up in a hospital or worse. It made me realize how much we all take for granted this overwhelming sense of safety and that what happened to me is so rare here in Placerville we hardly even think twice about putting in headphones and removing ourselves mentally from an environment that should command our attention.
Oddly enough, a lot of the anger I felt after the attack was directed at the people who most likely passed along their hurt and pain to my attacker and that the vicious cycle continues on through generations. That our societies the world over can’t seem to find a way to teach our boys more valuable emotions like empathy and kindness; that many believe those emotions are a sign of weakness and have no place in the hearts of men. It’s not a novel concept to believe that if we can teach our children how to be emphatic and to care for others regardless of who they are, we will ultimately create a better world for so many.
You mentioned to me you were going to make a change before you got back out on the trail. What has changed in your world?
Immediately after the incident, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to let this stop me from enjoying the beautiful trails I grew up walking on, and that I only needed one thing to help give me the sense of security I was looking for; a dog. We had decided a while back that we would start looking for a family dog once the weather improved, but after the attack we both felt that we should expedite the process so we could give ourselves the opportunity to move past this event and get back to our routines.
We adopted an 8 month old Shepard mix from a loving foster home and named him Banksy. He is playful, gentle with our son, and hasn’t warranted too many nose swipes from our cat, Frida.
What support have you felt? How would you feel if you didn’t share this information with anyone? What led you to wanting to share your story?
Initially when word got out about the attack, I panicked. I deleted social media for a couple weeks. I worried about how people in town would respond to the news. I worried about people judging me for not fighting back harder or for not being prepared for such an event. I was also fraught with worry that my experience would be used as justification for hatred directed toward certain members of our community. But none of that happened. I ended up I feeling an overwhelming sense of support and sympathy from friends, family, and even those who didn’t know me but were openly sending love, prayers, and comfort to a young mother and her baby. It made me feel proud to be a part of this community.
I decided to share my story now because with spring here and summer around the corner I know that the excitement of finally getting back outside could perhaps cause us to brush aside any reservations we would otherwise have when it comes to being alone in nature. We can all be vulnerable, not just to other people but to terrain and wild animals (especially in the mountains.) I’m certainly not sharing to instill fear but rather to remind us that these things can and do happen and that our best line of defense is to truly be present in our surroundings.
Please put down the phone, take out the ear buds, walk with a buddy or dog if possible and listen to that little voice nagging at you when something doesn’t feel quite right. My attack happened in broad daylight on a very busy day on the trail and obviously I never thought something like this could happen to me. This is why I’m sharing with you all, in hopes that maybe my experience can have a positive and lasting effect on someone and prevent something like this from happening to them. It’s as simple as that.
Thank you Jac & Chels for giving me the opportunity to tell my story.
Jill, we are honored you were willing to share this very personal story with us. May Banksy bring peace and strength and we welcome many safe walks ahead for you!