When the Me Too movement first graced my computer screen it stopped me in my tracks. I took a deep breath and began reading stories across my social media from women all over the world, and some from women that I knew. Over the coming weeks I could not escape posts online, or even hearing about Me Too in conversations. I was living in a constant state of being triggered because it was a daily reminder of my own story, and I was overwhelmed at how many women were posting about their stories. This is my Me Too story.
Rape, I hate this word and to this day I can barely get the word out of my mouth. Just typing it was painful. I typically refer to my experience, at the age of 16, as sexual assault. It sounds less offensive or harsh. Somehow that helps me. The truth is, I have been terrified to share my story publicly, to allow myself to be vulnerable. However I have come to this conclusion; this is my truth. This happened to me. It is a part of my story. I am okay, I am happy, I am strong, I am a warrior and this story will never define who I am.
One night when I was 16 years old, someone else took it upon themselves to make decisions for me. My right to answer for myself, and make a sound decision was taken from me. What I was left with after that night, are various images, a recollection of broken, blurred memories, burned into my brain that I have had to deal with for the last 17 years through counselling, a lot of conversations with my husband and a few select people.
After what I thought was a fun evening with friends where I very clearly remember having two (yes, two) drinks, the next morning I woke up in a fog. The phone rang and I answered. It was him. He told me, it was a good idea that I go and get the morning after pill. My world became dark. I didn’t understand and so I asked why. He told me why and my response was, “was I awake?” I remember asking this question like it was yesterday. I hung up the phone and began to panic. I couldn’t tell my parents. I didn’t know what to do. I was mortified.
I turned to my girlfriend who was still with me, and asked her what happened. She said that she came into the room and called my name three times and I didn’t answer so she went back to the “party.” My heart sunk further as I realized that something very wrong had happened to me. Was it possible to have only two drinks and fall asleep and not have a full memory of what happened? Absolutely not!
Someone did this to me. I was unresponsive as my girlfriend reiterated to me. My next thought was, why did you leave me alone in there if I didn’t answer when you called. Likely because our culture led her to believe that everything was fine, I was sleeping and there was nothing to worry about. I decided that I needed help and eventually went to my Mom. I began to cry and she asked me what was wrong, holding my arms. I told her that I needed her to take me to get the morning after pill. She asked me why and I said I didn’t know. I told her again, I don’t know what happened. She began to cry and hugged me as we both fell to the floor. Crying, hugging on the floor. In this moment, she knew. We both did.
We went to my Doctor together. I didn’t go to school that Monday. I entered a sort of darkness and became almost lifeless at times. I couldn’t face this and didn’t want anyone to know. I couldn’t let my Dad know. No one could know. When I arrived at school a few days later I was greeted by two girls that asked how the weekend was. I told them it wasn’t good, and they immediately told me they heard I raped this boy. Stunned I asked for more information. Turns out that the rumour was that I tried to have sex with him and he refused. I worked up the courage to confront him in the gym to tell him how much my body was hurting, that I was burning and sore and how could he do this to me. He looked at me in shock and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” I told him about the broken up memories that I had pieced together of the evening and his response was that, he believed that I believed those images and memories, but again he didn’t do anything wrong. I’m quite certain he had to convince himself pretty hard to accept this as his reality.
The next few years of high school were filled with moments of darkness. I would be called a whore while walking down the hall. For my birthday, a friend decorated my locker and I was so excited that she did this. All to walk back to my locker after class to see devil horns drawn on my picture, with a penny stuck to it with gum and a note that read, “here’s a penny for you, you little whore.” Once, someone while passing me in the school hall, grabbed me by my throat, slammed me against a locker and said it was because of the look on my face, while she held her fist close to my face and my friend begged for her to leave me alone. The aftermath of bullying was worse than the actual event. I contemplated if my life was worth living and if I would ever be able to stop crying so much.
I would work up enough courage to attend a party, walk in, just to hear SLUT being yelled by someone from afar. I remember hiding in the bathroom at lunch, and calling my mom all the time to come pick me up from school because I couldn’t handle the constant bullying. I was put on contract at school for missing so many days. My grades were slipping and I failed a few classes. My mom and I went to the Vice Principle to tell her what had happened, but we received zero support. She was cold and it felt as if she didn’t even believe me. I became an expert in building walls around myself so thick that no one could penetrate them. I mastered a blank look on my face as to not give away what was going on. I wore my hair in a pony tail, and the same jeans and sweatshirt style almost every day. I mastered blending in, not rocking the boat, and becoming invisible.
On the weekends, I could escape school and spend time with an amazing group of friends that did not go to the same school. I will add, that I do have a lot of happy memories with some great friends from this period in my life. Not every day, all day was filled with darkness, but my point is, a lot of it was and when I think back to just how awful the actual event was, but also the aftermath, I am grateful to have made it out in on piece.
I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of my town and head to college. So I turned my focus to taking art classes and anything that I could in high school to give me an edge to go to school for design. I’ll never forget how incredible it felt to open my package from Georgian College and read ACCEPTED. This was my out. I spent the next three years discovering how fun life could be again, exploring my surroundings, making new friends, and having a blast. The lyrics to The Middle by Jimmy Eat World became my mantra as I would blast this song, and sing it out loud over and over until I believed it.
In 2006, I moved back to my hometown. I love it here. This is my home, and while I may not always live here, I will never run from this place again. I’m no longer afraid to speak my truth and I’ve ended the efforts of others to cover it.
I have now created so much positivity in my life and am working on the art of letting go. I am surrounded by loving friends and family. I have the most respectful, patient and loving husband in the world. I am grateful for my marriage with him every single day. He helps me to tear down the thick walls that I had built around myself. I’d like to say that I’m totally healed from this experience, but I’m not. Each year, month, day, I build new visions of love and hope and surround my inner and outer world with peace.
I will spend my life believing that I can create whatever I want out of it. I am committed to constant growth, personal development, and creating a culture in my own businesses that support women.
To the other survivors, I see you. I hear you. I believe you. You are not alone. You can heal. If you don’t want to share your story you don’t have to. You don’t owe anything to anyone. Be kind to yourself.