Speech at the Victor Walk Vancouver – May 23, 2013.

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. A quote by Audre Lorde, Activist.

Sexual abuse can occur in any neighbourhood. The abuser can be of any age, race, or economic status. In most cases, the abuser is not a stranger, but someone of close relation to the family, even a relative. Both the abuser and victim can be both male or female. So what does this mean?

It means that no one is exempt.

So how can I attest to this?

Well sexual abuse happened to me – in my own home, more than once, at different times of the day, at different ages. The abuser was very well known to my family. He was my paternal grandfather. He betrayed my trust, invaded my personal space and body, stripped away my feelings of self-worth and love, shattered my self-esteem, and he stole and murdered my childhood. He threatened me with separation from my loved ones when he cornered me on one occasion and said “Don’t tell anybody about this, do you want to ruin your family?”

It wasn’t just the acts itself that were destructive, but what happened to me after; my difficult aftermath, which included depression, self-injury and extensive loss of autobiographical memory.

Abuse thrives in silence and these kinds of secrets are wrong to keep. It took years to break my code of silence and tell my parents, because I wasn’t equipped with the proper language to explain to somebody what had happened to me. Back then, sexual abuse wasn’t talked about in my highschool, and if it was, I know I would have broken my silence much sooner. Did you know that 1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males in Canada experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18? That statistic needs to change and it starts with creating awareness. In fact, I strongly believe that abuse education should be mandatory in schools, that it should be part of the curriculum.

Our silence is their protection, and they don’t need to be protected. I feel that when you break your silence, you create space for others to share their stories as well.

I am not alone. You are not alone. This Victor Walk today is proof of that. Thank you to Theo Fleury and The Victor Movement for creating space for me to share.

In the wake of this monster’s destruction, I rise victorious.

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