Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Most Damning of All

I wrote this and sent it in as a 'letter-to-the-editor to a newspaper. Although I'm not sure if it's been published, or will be in the future, it still felt good to do it. Scary, but also freeing.

  'As May is ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month’, I wanted to speak out and do my part in ending the silence.

Silence about sexual violence is one of the most prevalent problems facing society today. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable with the subject – we should feel appalled about such crimes – but that doesn’t excuse the lack of dialogue about it either.

Silence can be more damning than anything. Silence plays a large role in perpetuating sexual violence and the myths that surround both the perpetrators and the victims. And chances are that many of you know someone who has experienced some form of sexual violence, whether it be rape, assault, or abuse.  The statistics, if you care to look for them, are pretty scary. Did you know, for example, that only 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail? The other 97% walk away free.

Silence leaves the victims alone, in the dark, feeling that they do not have a voice.  I want all survivors to know that you do have a voice; that when you’re ready, your voice will be there. Your voice is one of the many things that can never be taken from you.  I know because I was a victim of sexual abuse. I have been a survivor for ten years.  And I believe that it is long past time to end the silence.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hidden Truths

I found this just recently in the newsletter from March 2009 on Pandys. The core message holds a truth that all survivors need to hear.
"Take a carrot for an example.
When you grate it, it's still a carrot. You can cook it, grate it, chop it, boil it, mash it. You can do what you want to it, but it never STOPS being a carrot and nothing in the world can stop it from being one. Yes, it's been changed, yes it's different now, and yes it was tasty before it was changed. But then again, it's still tasty after it was changed, no matter what you've done to it. Hell, you can even make carrot cake, and that is pretty damn tasty! NOTHING in the world can change who you are unless you let it. Hard times and strife... sometimes it just shows you who you really are, how versatile you are. If you had never cooked that carrot, you wouldn't know that it could taste like that; you'd think it would just have that one taste, but it doesn't. Strife, hard times, show us who we really are. It doesn't change you. All it does is show another side of you that you may not have seen before. We just need to see that.
Grate me, Chop me, Peal me, Boil me, or make me into a carrot cake; I am still going to be me, and NOTHING will ever change that." - Catt

I wrote this next bit for a writing contest that was hosted in the latest Pandys Newsletter.

The topic was "What would you like people to know about the impact of sexual assault?", and there was a word limit of 150 words.

"No one ever asks to be raped or sexually assaulted. No matter their ethinicity, culture, religion, or sexual orientation. No matter how they act or dress. But one of the worst things that keeps the victims - the surivivors - silent, is the fear of being blamed, of being found to have done something that invited being sexually assualted.  Being judged by people who have no clue how devastating such a horrific experience is. How it can shatter your world, make you lose your trust in the goodness of people. How you feel like a dark stain has blemished your soul, sharp and poisonous, and if anyone looks close enough, they'll be able to see it. How your voice is swallowed by the silence that lingers around the subject. Judged by people you have no idea how we discovered hidden reserves of strength within; that we have become stronger for having survived."

Friday, 12 April 2013

Project Unspoken: Break the Silence, Spread Awareness

These videos are a part of something called 'Project Unspoken' which is concerned with breaking the silence around sexual assault and rape, and spreading awareness. The statistics shown are pretty scary.

This first one brings tears to my eyes, and I love that it's people who know survivors that are speaking out, sending positive messages to the survivors they know; messages which I believe are universal towards all survivors.

You're not just a victim. You're a survivor.

Some of my favourite messages for survivors:
"You could be running around naked and it doesn't mean you're asking to get sexually assaulted or raped. There's nothing that you can do to ask for it."

"There's nothing wrong with you." "And you're still a strong person regardless of that situation"

"No matter what that person did to you, they didn't take away your beauty as a person, as a woman."

"Don't find truth in the way you've been hurt because it's not. The truth is the way that you bounce back and how you recover from it."

"You're beautiful, and I love you, and I'm always here for you if you ever need me."

Just as inspiring as the first, this video asks many of the same people from the first video the question, 'What do you do on a daily basis to avoid rape, sexual assault, or harassment?' It's awesome.

 I am tired of the silence.

I completely agree that "It should be a right to walk down the street and be safe; not something you have to actively work hard at."

It's like there's an epidemic in the midst of society but it's shoved under the rug, ignored, surrounded by a deafening silence. It's time to change that. I too, am tired of the silence.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fearless: The Power of Words

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is the first in a special little series of entries that I have planned for this month. And I thought it would be appropiate to start where I consider my healing journey to of truly begun.

My healing journey started with one word. One word that touched me as no other single word ever has. It reached inside me and grabbed a hold of my heart, and I broke down and cried.

I was sinking into a bit of a depression again, was spending all my time ignoring reality and trying to lose myself in the in the fantastical world of fiction. School work sat abandoned half-finished on the computer but I resolutely did not think about it; just another regular day for me.

My mom was on a website that caught my attention. She was on the Joyful Heart Foundation's website because of a necklace she was curious about that Mariska Hargitay, the lead actress from Law and Order: SVU (Special Victims Unit) always seemed to wear. Mariska was the founder of Joyful Heart, and my mom was looking at a picture of the necklace in question.

Then I read the word carved into the metal plaque: FEARLESSNESS. 

Immediately I felt something deep inside me respond to this word. As it sunk in deeper, as I read the word again, the swell of emotion that rose like a tidal wave in me could not be stopped. I broke down into tears. I finally had to acknowledge that yes; there was something wrong with me. I was not fine. 

I had been hiding. Hiding for a long time from emotions I had been burying for far too long. One of the predominant of those was fear. A huge, overwhelming fear that I didn’t – still don’t – fully understand. It was scary to even think about it let alone let myself feel it. Seeing that word, FEARLESSNESS, changed my life.

Before than I knew that words had power, I just didn’t know how powerful one word could be all on its own.

After that it was a matter of working up the courage to call a crisis line that could set me up for counselling. It took me a couple of weeks to get to the point where I picked up the phone and, shaking like a leaf, dialed the number. It was, I believe, my first big step forward.

Since then I have taken a few more steps forward on my healing journey. I saw a counsellor for a while until I felt I’d made enough progress to take a break from sessions. I’ve been making some progress on my own through contemplation, art, writing in my journal, and allowing myself to feel all the things I was avoiding before (or at least trying to). I joined an amazing forum called Pandora’s Aquarium that has helped me immensely. I want to support others who have had similar experiences and have the extra support as well. Joining was scary, but I knew I needed to do it. And I’m glad I did. I did have to take a break from the site for a while, however, for the sake of my healing journey. Now though, I’m back in full force.

Recently, I’ve started doing school work again, taking regular walks, and eating better. I even have a job now (my first ever)! I'm beggining to have a measure of confidence in myself again,

For everyone out there still struggling, keep going. You can do it! One small step (or giant leap, if that's more your style) at a time. It won't always be easy and there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but it's not impossible either. Remember, it's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back that counts!

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” - Brene Brown

Friday, 29 March 2013


So, I searched ‘telephone phobia’ in google, hoping to find something to use for a witty title, and found that I actually do have a telephone phobia. According to Wikipedia, telephonophobia is “a fear or reluctance of making or taking phone calls”. For the longest time, I’ve simply referred to this as my 'telephone thing' but I’m pretty sure now that it’s a phobia.

I hate using the phone.  Having to make a phone call makes me so anxious that my palms start to sweat, and I get shaky. I put it off for as long as possible and try to script what I’m going to say. But I still can’t control or predict what the other person will say, how they will react. After most phone calls, I spend time analyzing what I said and fretting over how I could have said whatever I did say better, how I could have expressed myself more clearly, or wishing I hadn’t said something at all.

There are only two people I’m comfortable on the phone with, and I’m still reluctant to actually make the calls myself with these two: my mom, and my best friend of over eleven years. I do have some level of comfort with other close family members, but not as much as the two previously mentioned.

I prefer to talk in person or send a text/email then talk over the phone, even though hearing a voice is more personal than the later methods of communication. I fear having nothing to say, and the resulting awkward silences. I fear saying the wrong thing, whatever that is.  I fear what the person on the other end is going to say.

I’ve dealt with this for years, and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this. I still have no idea what, if anything, to do about it.