The first Sikh woman mayor in U.S. is also a rape survivor

Didbal: I carried shame for many years. It's tough to talk about, it still is....

YUBA CITY, Calif. (KCRA) —

Yuba City’s new mayor is part of history. Preet Didbal, was sworn in Tuesday as the first Sikh woman in the country to lead a city.

Sutter County is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the country -- a religion originating from India’s Punjab region. 

“We were getting phone calls from all over the world, which I'm still amazed by,” Didbal said. “You just don't realize, until a moment like this comes, of how many people are really behind you.”

Didbal is born and raised in Yuba City. Her parents emigrated from India in 1968, earning a living in Sutter County as farmers.

Didbal is the first in her family with a college degree and masters, also becoming the first Sikh woman city council member in the country back in 2014.

Didbal is also a survivor of sexual assault. At 19 years old, a man in her community put something in her drink during gathering with friends -- and raped her, she said.

Didbal sat down with KCRA's Vicki Gonzalez to share her story of surviving rape.

Q: What do you remember?

Didbal: It was one of those things where my parents said, "No, we don't want you to go," and I went anyway.

I have some memory of it. I see glass -- I don't know if it is windows, I don't know if it's a windshield or a car. I see green, bushes, trees -- I can't differentiate. And that's really all I remember.

Everything else was pretty much a blur. But from the physical results, it was not good.

Q: When did you come to?

Didbal: I was in the hospital. And that's where everything started.

I remember a social worker coming in -- and that wasn't going well, being Indian.

The immediate response was, "Well, she's an Indian girl, maybe she shouldn't have been where she was."

I said a few words, and I told her to leave the room.

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