On February 18, Denver serial rapist Brent J. Brents nearly beat 33-year-old Tiffany Engle to death. She was his last victim—and she is also my friend.
There are also the lawyers to deal with: Tiffany has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the city of Aurora and the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office for failure to arrest Brents after he confessed to molesting the 8-year-old Aurora boy. Tiffany was reluctant to file; however, given the facts of the case, she feels that the city and DA's office should be held accountable. And her health status could change at any moment, with future medical bills yet to be paid and a serious pre-existing condition that could affect her ability to get health coverage. Lawyers are also working to determine her eligibility for workers' compensation.
Since being released from the hospital, Tiffany has noticed some changes in her personality. Impatient since birth, Tiffany says she now tries harder to keep her cool. "Now when I'm getting worked up about something I remind myself to just chill out," she says. "I have to tell myself, 'This is not life and death. You know what life and death is now, and this isn't it.'" Tiffany also says gaining some perspective from her plight isn't as easy as some would expect. "It's not like I've received some big enlightenment or that I'm any better of a person than I was," she says. "I think I'm just a little more aware of the way I used to act."
She also says the experience has made her realize how good most people are. "For one very, very bad guy," she says, "there were hundreds of good people out there that went out of their way for someone they didn't know." Prayer chains, cards, flower arrangements, and other well-wishes flooded her hospital rooms throughout her ordeal. Complete strangers contributed thousands of dollars to the Tiffany Fund, a fund-raising account set up by the owner of the apartment building to help with Tiffany's medical expenses. Most important, though, Tiffany says she learned-maybe relearned-that family and friends are the most important thing in her life.
It seems like you always hear people who've had life-altering experiences, no matter how brutal or traumatic, say they would not change a thing. They say they're stronger, more aware people for their injury, and that those positive changes were worth the pain and suffering. I asked Tiffany about that one afternoon while we were sitting on my living room floor. She looked right at me and without hesitation said, "Fuck that. I am no superhero. I'm no martyr. I'm not a saint. Opening that door was the worst mistake of my life."