Story of Survivorhood #3

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Drugged, Attempted Suicide, Substance Abuse

It happened four years ago on a night in December.  I met a cool couple while I was working one day; good looking, friendly,  lots of money. On the outside they seemed like great people, the kind of people think you can trust. Which is a terrible stigma. They told me they felt terrible they didn’t have more cash on them to tip me, I had told them about the pub  I was going that night and they informed they just happened to be going there too and would love to buy me drinks to make up for the lack of a tip. I told them it was fine and not to worry about it. I get to the bar and there they are, super friendly and happy to see me. The drinks just didn’t stop and all I could think was how nice this couple was. The bar closes and they invite me back to their hotel for more drinks, still suspecting nothing. I’m pretty drunk at this point, in the nicest hotel room I’ve ever been in having an awesome time. Out of nowhere I start to feel incredibly tired and uneasy on my feet. I tell them I need to sit down and I lay down on the bed. I start to feel more and more out of it to the point where I can no longer speak or move but I’m still conscious. My clothes begin to come off and I realize I’m being kissed on my neck. From there, I was raped. I knew I didn’t want it happening but I no longer had control over my body, I tried to just shut my eyes and go somewhere else in my head. I still don’t know how long it went on for, I finally pushed myself off of the bed and started crying. They tried to comfort me and ask if I was ok, I manage to pull myself up onto my feet and I got out of that hotel. I was sick the entire next day. It changed me forever, I began drinking heavily on a daily basis and never let myself get close to anyone. It ruined my relationship with my parents, I lost friendships, almost lost my job and recently lost the girl I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I questioned my sexuality at times, I blamed myself for the incident, I shut down completely with people. After my girlfriend left me when she thought I was cheating on her, I hit rock bottom, I stopped eating and sleeping; I no longer felt my life was worth living. about a month after this  I finally broke down and told someone what had happened to me. Talking about it was more traumatic to me than the event itself, reliving it without drugs or alcohol in me was torture, but it helped me let go of my anger, it helped me stop blaming myself. I’ve stopped drinking and smoking pot, I see a therapist and go to meetings with other sexual assault victims. Things are slowly getting better and they never would have if I didn’t tell someone

Story of Survivor hood #2

 Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault, Attempted Suicide, Drugged

When I was fifteen years old, I was raped at my friend’s house party. It is extremely difficult for me to talk about, but I think it is important that I do.

It was the first house party I had ever attended. It was in a different city where I only knew the girl hosting it. I was nervous about being in a house filled with people that I didn’t know, so I brought my best friend with me. The night started off really well… that is, until I accepted a drink (my third of the night) from someone that I didn’t know. I downed it enthusiastically and within several minutes started to feel really dizzy. I told my best friend that I was feeling sick and she guided me into a basement room. There was a group of people in the room, and my best friend explained to them that I wasn’t feeling well and needed to lie down. I don’t remember them leaving the room, but they did. As soon as I laid down I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I remember experiencing an internal panic because I was physically shutting down. I was confused and couldn’t articulate words. I couldn’t see straight or process what was going on around me. My mind was screaming at me, telling me that something was very wrong. To this day, I do not think that excessive drinking was the cause of my symptoms.

My best friend told me that I just needed to sleep. I shut my eyes.

I woke up to the sound of the door creaking open. In walked a man that I recognized as the host’s cousin (who I later found out was 29 years old). He asked me how I was feeling, as he shut the door behind him and locked it. As he walked towards me I knew without a doubt what he was about to do. I tried to sit up but I could barely lift my head. I became paralyzed by fear as he pulled my pants off, followed by his. He climbed on top of me. I tried to tell him to stop, but I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was absolutely helpless. I knew in that moment that what was about to happen was inevitable. I remember the despair and disgust that I felt as he thrusted in and out of me. I kept trying to scream but no sound was coming out.  I hated every second of it. I felt dirty and cheap. With every passing second I prayed for it to be over. When it finally was, he walked out of the room without saying a word. I remember that he finished inside of me. For me, that was the most disturbing part. It was a physical representation of the degradation and humiliation that I felt.

When I came to, I told my best friend that this man had raped me. She instantly dismissed me as being dramatic. I tried to explain myself more. She cut me off and said “you don’t have to feel bad because you had sex.” It was at this point that I realized that no one was going to believe me.

I became withdrawn and isolated myself from my friends and family. My parents sent me to counselling, but I didn’t tell the counsellor about my rape. I was afraid that she wouldn’t believe me. At sixteen, I was diagnosed with depression and panic disorder. At seventeen, I attempted suicide.

I kept my rape a secret for five years.

The first person I opened up about my rape to was my fiancé. We cried together that night as I relived the experience. Finally having that support made things a lot less heavy for me.

Something to take away from my experience is that if someone tells you they were sexually assaulted, please, don’t dismiss them. You don’t need to take on their problems for them, you just need to listen. Let them know that you believe what they went through is real. Support them. Encourage them to seek professional help. It is terrible that sexual assault survivors are made to feel silenced. It needs to stop.

Story of Survivor hood #1

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Brock University

This is my story:
I was at isaacs one night and went home with a group of people that I didn’t know very well but lived next door to me. I was very intoxicated but they invited me over to hang out for a bit and due to my impaired judgment I agreed. Everything was fine and I consented to having sex with one of the guys. After this happened I was going to leave but was grabbed and forced into a washroom and thrown up against the sink by one a guy I never met before. I was so intoxicated I didn’t really know what was happening. I was left in the bathroom alone not sure what to do. I finally got up and walked out of the washroom about to leave when I guy I was familiar with saw me and told me to come with him and I thought that he was going to ask me if I was ok and knew what had happened. Instead he forced me into a bedroom where there was nobody around and pinned me down. At this point I began to cry and told him to stop and that it hurt. He wouldn’t until I finally got him off me and left. On top of being raped twice in one night, my credit card and some cash had been stolen from my purse while it was happening, and so I had to deal with the credit card company the following day. I didn’t report the rapes for a few days but when I did I went to the hospital and had to begin taking chemotherapy just in case one of the two guys had HIV. The chemotherapy makes it so the virus won’t attach to your immune system if you came into contact. They made me very sick and I was bound to my bed at home the entire Christmas break. On top of this, I later found out that I was pregnant and I had to go through the grieving of an abortion. But thankfully all STI tests came back negative. This experience was very traumatizing and neither of the guys were kicked out of school. I didn’t press charges because of the long process and I wanted to move on with my life. On top of these guy not getting arrested or kicked out of school, one of them ended up being on a trip I went to with the school. Although it was hard, it has gotten easier and I am a much stronger and more aware person now. Whenever I go out (which is rare now) I make sure I’m always leaving with a person I trust. I learnt a lot from this experience.

Seeking Stories of Sexual Assault/ Harassment Survivorhood at Brock University

How do we expose the ways that Brock University has re-victimized survivors of sexual violence without subjecting survivors to backlash for speaking out?

SASA is providing an opportunity for survivors to share their stories anonymously.

What do we hope to achieve?

  • Despite the fact that breaking the silence can feel impossible, we would like to provide a space where survivors can share their stories while feeling validated, heard and potentially make a difference on campus
  • Create unification and solidarity amongst survivors
  • Pressure the university to make changes to their sexual assault response policies, so that survivors can report and no longer feel silenced, blamed or rejected
  • Address and alter rape culture attitudes and beliefs on campus

In what ways would SASA share the stories?

  • Post on our blog and/or read openly to shed light on the struggles and perseverance of survivors at Brock
  • Present to the Administration’s Task Force on Sexual Assault to alert them of the realities of sexual assault for Brock community members

How can survivors send their stories to SASA

  • Drop box at Women and Gender Studies’ (WGST) office outside of MCD 333 (Please address to SASA) **Please note that in WGST – any materials for SASA will be collected in the locked mailbox by our admin assistant and locked in a cabinet for SASA to collect.**
  • Email us at brocksasa@gmail.com
  • Private message us through facebook at facebook.com/sasabrock

*Please include any trigger warnings you want to be included*

About submitting a story:

  • We will black out all names or any other information that may tie stories back to individuals
  • When sending a story by e-mail, for privacy, we suggest sending from a non-brock e-mail account as Brock University has the ability to access all brock e-mail correspondents
  • Survivors of all gender identities are welcome to submit their stories
  • All submissions sent to us by email, blog, or facebook will receive an electronic confirmation

Some survivors may feel that the anonymity of this project provides them a unique opportunity to share their stories. However, SASA acknowledges that some survivors might also feel that removing names is an erasure of their survivorhood and agency.

Why will SASA keep stories anonymous?

  • We anticipate this project will likely generate push back since social conventions typically silence survivors of sexual assault. Therefore, to protect survivors and to reduce the risk of this project being shutdown, we have made the difficult decision to make all stories anonymous.

If you are a survivor and would like to have more ownership in the telling of your experience, please let us know as we welcome you to share your story at our Stories of Survivorhood Event on March 31st at 5:00pm in room WH 207.

We acknowledge that there are often similarities of survivorhood as they all exist in rape culture; but we also honour that every survivor’s story is unique and although they might vary, each experience is valid.

We understand that after an assault it can feel incredibly isolating and silencing. It is very difficult to share your story. If you’re not ready to share, that is also ok. We welcome you to attend events during SASA’s awareness week (March 28th-March 31st) or contact us at brocksasa@gmail.com for additional opportunities.

rupi

Sending support and love,

The SASA Executive