That night, he stole my life.
I awoke the next day and I had lost everything. I wanted to scream. I still want to scream. Time heals, but can it really heal something of this magnitude? Can time mend my heart or my fragmented soul?
Am I the one who will rise from this? Or will this have, in the end, been my downfall?
I should have died that night, but instead here I am two years later, telling the tale and ﬁghting the good fight—for them, for me, for us.
It feels like just yesterday that I was crying and screaming in the emergency room at Vancouver General Hospital. “I’m going to go right now to his workplace and arrest him,” said the officer on my file. Those words sent murderous chills up and down my spine and my eyes were overwhelmed with tears.
In hindsight, I can clearly see that my compassion paired with having been groomed by the man who did this to me caused for me to, even after the incident, automatically want to put him ﬁrst. But I knew it was time I stood up and put myself ﬁrst instead. After all, he had nearly killed me.
The biggest of all the physical wounds I sustained from the assault was a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It literally changed my life. I was bedridden for months; my family had to clothe and feed me. I would go into catatonic states, I had lost my smile, and every second of every day was a continuous suicidal battle. I was placed on medication and told it would take a minimum of two years to fully physically recover. To this day, my struggle with TBI remains. It is hard for me to multitask and remember most things; comprehending that I can only perform half as well as I used to be able to is devastating.
After taking my offender to court and watching him receive an absolute dismissal, I had a choice to make. I could either end my life, or I could propel myself through and utilize my knowledge and ability to make a difference, be loud, and fight for all the other women in the same—and sometimes worse—situation. I chose the latter.
The man who did this to me was merely one out of hundreds of thousands. I knew I needed to find a way to shift society. I knew it was time for people to wake up.
Every place has its darkness, and I was tired of the lack of respect I was seeing some people show one another. Thus, I created Resilience iAm The Organization (RIA), and slowly but surely, I began to watch the conversation change. I have witnessed many people who had no idea about the epidemic and outrageous statistics of violence against women in Canada jump to help and support my movement. I utilized the hashtag #iAmResilience and asked for people to share what makes them resilient for themselves or others in life. The objective? To humble us and remind us to be respectful of one another, and to educate the public that violence comes in many forms (and is not solely targeted at women). It is about all of us. That is where we begin in order to re-instill values and morals and simple common courtesies into our everyday lives.
We have numerous community-based organizations working tirelessly around the clock here in B.C., providing aid to abused women who stream in daily through their doors. These initiatives do great work, but there is an undeniable lack of funding and other resources available to victims of violence. The court process, for those who consider going that route, is both daunting and seemingly impossible. On top of all that, the subject matter is incredibly taboo, and most people would prefer to sweep it under the rug rather than have to discuss it openly and honestly.
As of the past year, the manifestation of #MeToo and #TimesUp has most definitely changed the landscape and opened up the conversation in a positive way. It has gifted courage to the women who are cornered into silence and has highlighted the aggressive reality that many women face simply because of their gender.
Thanks to these online social movements, we have seen the start of the male patriarchy’s downfall in Hollywood and in the workplace. However, these movements have also created animosity, fear, and anger. As such, through RIA, my hope is that we can remain positive and move forward as an inclusive collective, creating space for survivors to feel empowered to rebuild and grow.
Throughout my court process, I found myself victimized again and again. It disturbs me that we are quick to say to a woman, “Why did you stay?” Instead we should be saying, “Why did he do that?”
We tend to blame the woman for “allowing” someone to treat her in such a way rather than address the behaviour and actions of the oﬀender, the perpetuator of the abuse.
Despite this, I believe we are headed in an enlightening direction. We are taking matters into our own hands; through social media, the public is now the judge. Can a consequence prevent and deter conflicted human nature? Perhaps at least it can make sure that poor actions by one are not to be repeated, or that another may not fall victim.
I have always believed in staying true to one’s self—I still do. Unfortunately, I was manipulated and sucked into a relationship that completely drained me of my energy.
At the end of it all, I lost two years of my life and nearly all of it altogether.
Sometimes we have to dig deep down to find an undeniable strength that exists within the depths of each of us.
I learned fast that only I was the one who could save me, who could cure me. Every single day I had to (and still have to) talk to the post-traumatic stress disorder within my central nervous system and tell it, “you do not belong in me.” As soon as I felt my TBI act up and shut my body down, I had to calm myself and say, “it’s okay, you’ve done this before, you know this.” Every day, I had to walk. I could feel my head-to-toe injuries calcifying, but I could not afford for that to happen—I needed to at least try to keep walking. I did not want to lose me. He may have tried to break me, but my future was now in my own hands.
No matter what, at some point, you must find the courage to say, “enough.” Never allow for someone to undermine you, disrespect you, or take control of you.
We all have a story. Stay as true to your path as you can, whether you know what it is yet or not. Ultimately, what matters is that we each lead a life of truth and happiness, stand up for one another and for what’s right, and be easy on ourselves from time to time. When we fall, we must push through the flames and rise up from the ashes once more.
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