(Memphis) Things are much better now for 15-year-old Oreona Brown as she hoops it up in a game of basketball with her dad Orlando.
But, for 3 years, Oreona lived a nightmare in the home she shared with her mom and the mom’s boyfriend.
The then 8-year-old feared bed time, “He would walk back into my momma’s room, check to see if she is asleep. If he thinks she is asleep, he would like crawl into my room, beside the bed. He would start touching on himself, touching on the bed and touching on me.”
She said her mom’s boyfriend, Adell Williams, who later became her step dad, regularly made nightly visits to her room.
“Sometimes I would cry myself to sleep,” says the now 15-year-old.
She finally told her mom, but she said her mom didn’t do anything.
The sexual abuse continued until Oreona told her biological father, Orlando Brown.
“Anger. That’s the first reaction when someone harms your child. Someone you thought you could trust around them,” says Orlando Brown.
Brown called police.
One of the officers who showed up was Cassandra Smith, she took a special interest in the case because Cassandra knew Oreona’s pain.
A man held her against her will and raped her when she was 16, “I tried to get away. He hit me in the my mouth. I could taste the blood. The rape continued,” says Smith.
Thirty years later, it still brings her to tears how police treated her case,.
Police told her she made up the whole thing, “My mother was like. ‘my daughter been raped.’ It’s like it went away. We never heard anything else about that case.”
She turned the crime against her, into a crusade.
She became an officer, got two degrees and had a family.
Instead of hiding the dark secret, she opened up about it, determined to show other victims, like Oreona, they too can overcome, “I want to make sure they get everything they need to make the process a little easier.”
Officer Smith knows what Oreona is going through, their shared bond allows them to lean on one another through an unimaginable experience, “I explained, ‘I don’t want you to end up like me, 25 years later dealing with this issue. I want you to deal with it now so when you graduate from high school you can go off and be a successful black woman.”
Oreona is now getting that counseling, “Don’t be afraid to talk to somebody you can trust who will do something about it.”
Adell Williams got out of jail in August, after serving three years of a four-year sentence.
Oreona and Officer Smith are getting and giving back help through the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). For more information on RAINN go to www.rainn.org