The day that I was raped was the day my life’s trajectory changed forever. I had the world in front of me. I was 18 years old. I was in my first semester of university. I had gotten into my first choice and was 3 hours away from home, in another state. That was the day that I became broken.
To truly understand the before and after, you NEED to know both pieces.
Before December 18, 2003…
I was my class president.
I was the student government president.
I was taking university classes.
I was working at the daycare in my high school.
I played softball, basketball and volleyball.
I created a program in my high school that gave tickets away to sporting events to get kids more engaged in the events.
I was nominated by my school guidance counsellor to be a part of United Youth, a program that chose nonprofits that would receive funding.
I was confident, outspoken and had this idea of the life that I wanted to live.
I was a virgin.
After December 18, 2003…
I stopped attending my university classes.
I barely left my dorm room.
I was expelled from university for not attending classes.
I had to move back in with my parents.
I lost contact with all of my friends.
My parents and I were constantly fighting.
I would meet random men.
I barely left my room.
I thought about suicide often.
I didn’t want to live anymore. There was nothing more painful than losing EVERYTHING that you thought you were. It would have been less painful if he had just killed me that day instead of making me suffer day in and day out for so many years.
Deep down I knew that I was not the ONLY woman who had ever been raped. I knew that there were so many more out there but that didn’t take away the loneliness or the isolation. I still felt like I was the ONLY woman who knew what this pain had felt like. That no one would be able to take it away from me.
And the anger. The anger was probably the worst part and the main reason I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t want them to be consumed with the anger that had taken over my life. I didn’t want them to look at me differently. I didn’t want them to feel sad for me. I didn’t want them to look at me with the, “I told you not to go to that school,” face.
USING #METOO TO START YOUR HEALING JOURNEY
I had NEVER heard of the #metoo movement. It was started back in 2006. I was a newlywed in 2006 and had yet to deal with any of the trauma that my sexual assault had resulted in. I don’t remember it being played on TV. I don’t remember it being talked about on social media. (I really didn’t use social media much back then though.)
I just remember being happy that I had found a man who could love me the way that he did. That looked at me like I was the greatest thing on this planet. That never once saw the broken pieces as flaws. When that was all that I could see. A broken woman in the mirror staring back at me wishing that the pain would just go away.
Our life together moved fast. We started dating in 2005. I remember the first time that we spoke, I told him that I was raped. The first person to hear those words come out of my mouth. I think it was because I was safe with him. He lived thousands of miles away. That was my safety net.
His words back to me were,
“Okay. I did not expect you to say that but we will figure it out as we go.”
Before we hung up on that first phone call, I told him that we were gonna get married. I just knew deep down that this man was sent to save me, to show me the love that I couldn’t show myself.
We were married in 2006 after a week of living together. We moved to Canada in 2007 and became parents at the end of 2007. Life was moving fast. I thought that becoming a mom would help heal the darkness that had taken over.
THE DARKNESS INSIDE
What does that even mean?
I lived in a constant state of hate. I loved my husband but I couldn’t learn to love myself. I hated when he would take photos of me. I hated looking at my reflection. Even during sex, it would have to be black so that he couldn’t see me. I didn’t want him looking. He would see all of the cracks and bruises that I carried around with me and he would love me less.
The things I said in my head about myself were cruel. There wasn’t a piece of me that I loved. Until that little boy came into my life. He made me a mom and for the first time, I could avoid all the pain and darkness because my life had a purpose. I had found a way past the hatred. Or so I thought.
It didn’t take long before those thoughts slowly began to creep back in except now they were also telling me that I was a horrible mother. Just another thing for the negativity to attach itself to. I began to believe it and once again I was back at this place in my life when I just felt like I was powerless. Looking back, that powerless never left. I just allowed being a mom to cover up what I was feeling.
I ignored it because that was the easiest thing to do. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was struggling. I wanted to pretend that I was the perfect wife and the perfect mother so that no one would know all of the struggles that were going on inside.
Life continued to move forward. As I look back, I don’t know how life had this way of moving forward while my body and mind stayed stuck on December 18, 2003. I don’t know how I did this and how I was a mother to my two children throughout this time.
BRINGING THE #METOO MOVEMENT TO WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE
Have you ever had sex with someone that you loved, ONLY to break down and start pushing him away in the middle of it?
I have. My poor husband (we were dating at the time) was at a complete loss but he handled it probably better than I would have.
Have you ever decided that life would be better without you?
I have but I never went through with it because I didn’t want my parents to find my body in the home that I grew up in. I couldn’t do that to them.
Have you ever given up ALL of your power thinking that you were keeping ALL of your power?
I have and it is the most painful experience that you can think of. The men I would meet. The things I did were not easy but they helped me to survive all that I was trying to process.
Have you ever kept a secret for 11 years because you felt like you were at fault for something that wasn’t even remotely your fault?
I have. And in those 11 years, the darkness grew every single day and yet I had to put a smile on my face because I couldn’t let anyone know. I had to be the strong one. I had to keep moving forward while remaining stuck.
It wasn’t until 2017 when the #metoo movement became really big. That is when I heard of it. By this time, I had already been sharing my story for about three years and was finally in a place that I loved who I was.
The journey from 2014-2017 was not pretty. There are still moments when life is not pretty in my world but it is much better than it was in 2004.
In 2017, I was on social media much more due to having my own business and I used the hashtag #metoo to show my unwavering support for all the women who had chosen to come forward after all of those years of keeping their secrets.
I felt proud that I was finally in a place that I could use those words and not feel any guilt associated with them. I was finally in a place that I knew that what had happened wasn’t my fault. This hashtag brought us women together. We had a safe way to say that we understood each other. That we were all a part of this club that we didn’t have any choice in being in. We could support and be there for one another without the fear that we were alone.
That is powerful.
I think many women thought the same. That this movement was the first step in giving us our voices back. But there is something missing in this movement and that is what I want to talk about today.
We need more. As victims, as survivors, as warriors, we need more. We don’t just need this hashtag. We need a way for our voices to be heard. We need to be able to stand up and not ONLY say #metoo but to talk about what our experiences were.
The #metoomovement has been a step in the right direction. It gave me hope that we were finally going to make some changes that survivors needed to see. But I still felt alone. I wasn’t hearing the struggles of survivors afterwords. I wasn’t hearing about what their life was like while they were trying to heal. I was ONLY hearing #metoo and that was the end of the conversation.
We need to talk about the darkness in order to bring in the light.
We need to talk about the implications that sexual assault can have on our sex life afterwards.
We need to talk about the pain that we feel on a daily basis.
We need to talk about falling in love after sexual assault.
We need to talk about the triggers that pop up YEARS after our traumas.
We need to give a voice to the survivors and let them know that we hear them.
I have been sharing my story since 2014. I know how hard it can be to put your feelings and pain into words BUT that is how we begin to get an even deeper sense of change. By showing other survivors, other warriors that what they are experiencing AFTER the trauma is just as real as the trauma itself.
The journey to healing is lonely and if I can help make that any LESS lonely for even one warrior then I am going to do just that.
Let’s normalize talking about our experiences.
Let’s normalize the struggles of being a survivor.
Let’s normalize the journey of healing.
I am here to help women use their voices to make a positive impact in the world. Now more than ever, we need stories. We need to hear the truths of survivors so that we can begin to heal. Are you ready to do that?
I am looking for 3 women to become Fearless Founders for my Blog to Heal program. A program that combines healing and blogging into one unique coaching program. It goes through the strategies that I used when I began my self-love journey and teaches you how to use blogging to share your story and create a community around you.
As a Fearless Founder, you will get 40% off the program and will work with me for 12 months. I want to help you heal from your past and create a life that you love while sharing your story for others to connect to you. The Blog to Heal program begins June 21, 2021. Imagine what your life will be like in June 2022 if you start today.