Every day Police Chief Janie Schutz leads a force of 30 officers at Forest Grove Police Department in Oregon. But a long-held secret by the chief of police is now public and it is making her a champion of some of the people she's sworn to protect.
I remember him coming up behind me, pushing me up against the wall, and pulling my pants down and ultimately raping me and I can go back in my mind and think, 'What just happened?'
Schutz's path to law enforcement was guided in part by a life-changing crime she experienced at 14 years old. A trusted relative raped her and it happened on more than one occasion. Schutz shared her story with KATU News.
"I never told. I never told anyone until I was 21," Schutz says. She waited until she found out the relative would be moving in with her parents. Schutz says her sister was mentally disabled, and she feared the relative would take advantage of her.
Her father believed her and supported her, but her mom was a different story. Her mother's words will forever haunt her. "She said 'I don't believe you, why are you doing this? Never come home again.' And that was absolutely devastating," Schutz recalls.
I know that I was as close as what a body can be to how much input can you take and still be OK emotionally.
With her then-boyfriend now-husband by her side, she got through it.
Schutz launched a successful law enforcement career, and became a mother of six. Only recently did she publicly share her story. First at a women's forum, then with the public safety community.
She says the support has been overwhelming, and hopes it's given officers some insight.
"How you talk to a victim and the belief you have to have," Schutz says. And talking about it helps her heal deep regrets. "My angst has always been: Why did I wait? And I still deep down worry about the victims, because I know there were victims. I know it," Schutz says.
Be brave, don't let somebody's actions take over ultimately what is your life. And tell someone. And if that person doesn't believe you tell someone else.
She can only hope her story helps other survivors.