This submission from a survivor represents how assault follows those who experience it around, even years later. Here, the author Daniela, showcases her strength and the road taken in processing her experience. When asked what fruit represented her best, Daniela laughingly said “a honey dew melon?”.
Trigger warning: Sexual assault
When I’m forced to remember my sexual assault, that’s how I remember it. I’ve disassociated myself from me in that situation. When I remember it, I see the assault happening to me, in a bathroom, from someone standing in the hallway of my friend’s house.
I don’t see it through my eyes. Maybe it makes it less painful that way, maybe it’s easier for me to view myself as someone else, rather than me.
I say forced to remember, because I still try not to voluntarily or actively remember that night. It still fucks me up when I do – it makes me shut down, and it makes me numb. I wish I thought about it less than I do.
It makes me ask all of the questions that we, as victims of sexual assault, are told not to. Why’d I get so drunk? Why didn’t I just yell for help? Why didn’t I try to push my way out of that bathroom?
You’re told not to. You tell yourself not to. But you still ask yourself these questions. And it’s an endless cycle, too.
I think I was 14 when it happened. It was at a party. My abusers were two guys, my age, who went to my school, and who I had considered my friends. I think that’s what had made it even harder to comprehend.
I can’t take the smell of Smirnoff vodka. It’s what I chose as my poison that night. I thought I’d be able to handle a 26er. Obviously not.
I was sitting on a couch when I vomited all over myself. That was the first point in the night where I would lose control over my own body. And unfortunately, not the last.
I remember the colour of the vomit. I remember that the drywall in the basement wasn’t done – it was just that pink, fluffy insulation. The couch I was sitting on was one of those checkered couches that you’d imagine fitting in perfectly with the decor of a cottage in the Muskokas.
I remember being walked up the stairs to the main floor bathroom. I obviously couldn’t walk on my own at this point, so one guy took my arm and put it around his neck, and the other guy took my other arm.
I genuinely remember thinking they were going to help me. They were my friends after all. One of them I had gone to middle school with the two years prior. The other one I had known since grade 2 and had gone to school with since then.
This is the moment in the night when I lost control of my body for the second time.
They took off my clothes but kept my bra and underwear on. So kind, thank you.
I was wearing a hot pink bra and some bright orange underwear that said Let’s party in Ibiza in a silver, cursive font next to a green palm tree.
I didn’t consent. I said no. It was me, against two guys, and I didn’t stand a chance.
They picked me. The perfect target that night.
I trusted them.
I couldn’t stand on my own.
I couldn’t walk on my own.
And I couldn’t push my way out of it.
Within one night, I was effectively reduced to nothing.
I was just a thing. A thing that got touched, prodded, groped.
I continued to go to highschool with them, my abusers, for 4 years.
I blocked that night from my memory.
When I say blocked, I mean BLOCKED. I took that night and tossed it to the deepest corner of my brain.
It wasn’t until early 2017 when I was trauma triggered and remembered that night. Being triggered is something you learn about and not necessarily something you fully wrap your head around until it happens to you.
I was watching The Hunting Ground when I was triggered.
I really struggled for a few months after that. I threw myself into my job at that time, tried to put all of my time towards work, so that I could focus on everything but coming to terms with my own sexual assault.
I’d come in early. I’d work late.
And sometimes, when I was alone in the office, I’d just cry.
It was a pain and loneliness I never imagined I’d feel. It wasn’t a loneliness from other people, but a loneliness from me?
There’s a vulnerability to it – even without telling anyone else. It’s grief for the girl you were before it happened.
It’s been almost 15 years and it still hurts.
I think what hurts the most is that it was the night I became a number.
I became just one of 500,000 women that are sexually assaulted in Canada each year (these are just the self reported numbers).
I had a 5 times higher chance of being sexually assaulted because I was a girl.
And because I was so young, I was 18 times (take that in for a second) more likely to get sexually assaulted than someone over the age of 55.
Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining.
Here’s where I’d like to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman, and that there are women in Canada that face crimes at a higher rate because of their race, colour, genetic characteristics, and disabilities.
Sexual assaults comprise 33% of all crimes against Aboriginal women. For women like me, sexual assaults comprise 10% of all crimes.
For women with disabilities, they experience sexual assaults at a rate of 3 times that of women with no disabilities.
To the friends I’ve told up until now. Thank you for listening. Sharing my story with you, aside from needing time, was the most crucial part of my healing process.
Thank you to a dear friend of mine for having recently opened up about her own sexual assault. For having shown me that it’s okay to let go of holding on to the pain, and holding onto something that is so personal and raw.
Thank you to Taylor. For giving me the opportunity to heal through writing this. And for providing me with a platform to share the story of my sexual assault.
All statistics were pulled from The Facts About Sexual Assault and Harassment from the Canadian Women’s Foundation.