Woman Warrior

Posted by Liz March 27th, 2015

I met Erin Helfert for lunch on a sunny September day in 2013.  She reached out to me after reading my stories on sexual assault and was looking for someone to help tell her story-which was still unfolding. It had been four years since Erin was raped at a New Year’s Eve party in Casablanca, Morocco, where she had moved for her post-graduate work (ironically on attitudes towards sexual assault among the middle class.)  Erin’s incident happened at a US diplomat’s residence, and when she told her host and friend what had happened, she expected him to accompany her to the hospital, and the police. His devastating response was, “I can’t do that–but I will take you home.” In the weeks that followed, Erin learned that US policy towards Americans who are raped abroad is to supply them with a list of local lawyers and translators.  Outraged, Erin took it upon herself to pursue her rapist.  When we met that September, she had already been back to Morocco to for several court dates, and he was still at large.   Much happened between my first meeting with Erin–and my boarding a plane in January 2014 to accompany her to a court hearing in Casablanca. This is her story–a remarkable one of a woman who refused to let her rapist get away with his violent crime and in the process, has changed US policy towards how American women are treated when they are sexually assaulted abroad.  She is my hero



  1. I M Petkus says:

    She has hero’s eyes, it’s that look that all victims and survivors immediately recognize of one another, and that advocates learn to identify. Abuse, assault and rape forever changes your eyes, the window of your soul.

    Thank you Liz for giving victims and survivors a voice through your writing.

    Best to you, Ida

  2. Liz says:

    Thanks for your note Ida! So powerful and so true. Getting to spend time with brave women like Erin, who want to share their incredibly painful stories to help others who have experienced rape and assault, is why I do, and love, my work.

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