NORMAN — The conviction of a rapist earlier this month has brought some closure for a Norman woman after nearly 28 years.
Linda Terrell sat in the courtroom May 1 to watch the perpetrator, 51-year-old Robert Howard Bruce, get sentenced to 177 years.
“I never thought after almost 28 years that I would have closure, I never did. And until last year when I got the call that they knew who he was, I really just thought I would be forever looking over my shoulder,” Terrell said.
Terrell’s story begins in the summer of 1985. It was the summer after she graduated with her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and six days after she turned 23. Terrell was a very involved student, serving as president of the Women’s Studies Student Association and serving as a rape crisis counselor for the Women’s Resource Center.
She also started the “Take Back the Night” marches in 1982 that still go on to this day.
The night she became a victim of rape, Terrell said she had a paper about defensible space, written with two other people, sitting in her living room getting ready to go to the typist the next day.
“I became a victim of the exact same demographics that were in my research paper,” she said. “I was a part of this world of helping women around the campus and then I became a victim.”
Looking back on it, it’s
ironic, Terrell said. She knew all of the stages of grief she would go through from helping other women, but the incident truly changed her life.
“I call my life the ‘before’ and ‘after’ life. I have the life before, and then I was raped, and then the rest of my life is after because everything is different. There’s nothing that’s the same ever again,” she said.