Content Warning: This article contains stories of sexual abuse.
Welcome to Sherry’s Corner. I am so pleased to be able to showcase articles about great women influencers in Rochester, Minnesota. My goal is to share what made these women rise to the top of their expertise in their chosen professional lives.
I have found in my experience that most driven women have overcome many trials and tribulations to better themselves and not fall prey to their circumstances.
Almost two years ago, I had the privilege to meet one such woman because we shared a common bond of having experienced sexual abuse and assault. Since then she has become such a source of inspiration to many women, including myself.
My friend Danielle is a nurse by trade and works at one of Rochester’s prestigious hospitals, but on the night of November 17, 2018, her life was forever altered. She was a victim of a home invasion and was held at gunpoint and raped repeatedly over a course of five hours, with her three-year-old son sleeping in the room next door.
Today, Danielle has taken her tragedy and turned it into triumph by taking back her power and using her voice as her weapon. Instead of giving up, she has been a tireless advocate for other women who have been sexually abused and assaulted and has become a voice for those who are afraid to come forward.
I asked Danielle how she balances healing with living after the assault. She states, “Our society (or community) doesn’t talk about grief. Grief is treated as a problem to be fixed or solved. Except it’s not an illness; it’s not wrong. It can’t be cured or fixed instead of being carried or integrated into our lives. I worked on continuing with my life rather than moving on and getting over it.”
Danielle knew that she needed to be there for her beautiful young son. To guide him through his life was her only option. She had to go on.
I asked her what she sees as the biggest barrier that women face and why so many don’t come forward to press charges against their assailants. She says, “Not being believed.” I expanded my question further and asked, “Do people treat you differently since your rape?” She states, “I am very vocal about what happened to me, and I want to be treated differently. I want everyone to know that I won’t tolerate being assaulted again, and I will be treated with respect. So I am different that way and it’s been a good thing.”
We both agree that Rochester needs to have more support groups, and although the county has a wonderful program, it only takes place twice a year. And this isn’t an issue that goes away. It needs to have weekly or daily meetings like a 12-step program.
We further agree that this issue stays with you forever and talking about it helps and heals you enough to start the process of coping with living again. We need each other’s support to make it.
Even though Danielle continues her nursing career, she has found her other passion, which is to be a writer. She has always loved to read and write, and because of that horrific night, she found the courage to write her memoir “Four Pounds of Pressure.” Since then she has authored a children’s book called “Fly Like a Girl” and a thriller called “The First Sister: A Dangerous Bloodline.”
Danielle is currently serving on a survivor advisory group to the Governor of Minnesota.
What does the future hold for this courageous woman? She will be featured on an upcoming podcast in January, and she will continue to have many more book signings. In May 2022, she will be attending a national seminar in Dallas, Texas, where she will be one of the key presenters talking about her case.
I am so honored to call this amazing woman my friend because she has become such a support in my life and she has a heart of gold. But inside her soul is the heart of a lioness who, at the end of the day, is a mom who has gone through fire to protect her son.
Check out all her captivating books on Amazon or go to her website on Facebook at Danielle Louise Leukam and order your copy of “Four Pounds of Pressure” today. It’s definitely a must-read about bravery and resiliency.