Cut Through.

I have been asked quite a lot about why I used to cut and what led me to it.  I share with you an excerpt from an email I sent to a close friend.

When we met I was already cutting.  I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t really “dead” and in actuality, I was indeed living in Hell on Earth.  I started out making “points” on my skin of the constellation Orion (The Hunter) with a sharp pencil.  As an astronomy geek, I knew that Orion can be seen from anywhere in the world, and that comforted me, something constant in my fucked up life.  Dotting and tracing wasn’t exactly cutting, so I guess that doesn’t count.  A bobby pin was my first instrument of choice.  I broke it in half and removed the protective coating that makes it dull.  Then I would use a Swiss army knife, cutting characters onto my thighs.  I then progressed to the elusive box cutter.  I would cut “Samurai” in Kanji (Japanese) on my left thigh and on my right, “Warrior” in Chinese characters.  Kanji was easier, 3 cuts, Warrior took time.  It made me feel in control and in some way, having Samurai Warrior inscribed in my skin was more like an act of affirmation rather than self-injury, staring at it in the middle of night, terrified to go back to sleep because of recurring nightmares that would make any modern day scary movie look like a cartoon.  In the morning I would lie on my bed, with my legs propped up so it would be looking back at me.  Sometimes I would recut, bleeding and repeating it to myself until I believed it, and that I could leave my room and face the outside, this war zone, a world I knew from a very young age was not safe and I had lacked the weapons to survive.  I would stand in the shower and look at those two words trying to feel that I was that…and I would watch the blood from “Samurai Warrior” flow down and mix with the water.  The cuts made my whole body burn.  I would feel it underneath my clothes.  I was numb.  I was dead; a walking corpse.  Blade to skin was the only way I could check to see if I was still alive. 

10 Warning Signs Of Possible Child Sexual Abuse.

This list are warning signs that I exhibited and my parents missed.

1. Nightmares. (I have not slept through the night since I was 14.)
2. Bedwetting. (Defense mechanism)
3. Easily startled when touched or if a particular person enters the room.
4. Suicide attempts.
5. Self-injury. (My mutilation of choice was cutting, over exercising coupled with under eating.)
6. Sudden changes in school performance.  (I went from being on the top of the Honour Roll to sitting in detention during Summer School.)
7. Overly protective and concerned for siblings. (He threatened that he would go to my little sister instead if I didn’t comply.)
8. Wearing very loose-fitting clothing or more clothing than the weather requires. (Scarves in the summer anyone?  Yup.  That was me.)
9. Outbursts of anger. (Demotion of a belt rank in tae-kwon-do, yellow and red cards at field hockey games…)
10.  Dissociation. (Unexplained crying, blanking out, unresponsiveness)

The “missing” letter.

September of last year I had messaged my Uncle on Facebook asking if he knew the whereabouts of the letter.  After telling my parents about my molestation, I decided to write my “Grandfather” a letter, which was to be mailed to my Uncle, who was going to pass it on to him.  Imagine my surprise when my Uncle replied four days later saying that “I don’t think I ever saw this letter and if I did I don’t have a copy of it.”  Bullshit.  He was the appointed messenger.  And I wrote that damn thing twice.  So not only did he lie about ever seeing it, he then downsized my ten year ordeal to an incident.  Isn’t an incident something like accidentally rear ending somebody in the parking lot of a shopping mall?

Okay, I guess then that letter has conveniently gone missing, swept under the proverbial rug of The Cultural Code of Silence.  Surprise, surprise.

It’s a good thing I remembered what I wrote, huh?

I started off the letter with, “Do you remember the summer of 1994? I do. I remember everything. You have murdered my childhood.”

“I am writing this as a living corpse.  I am numb.  The only way I can feel alive is to put a blade to my skin and cut. The blood signifies that I am unfortunately still here.”

Then I made some points very clear to him.

– “I have told my parents.”

– “You will never see me again.”

– “I cannot wait to get married and take on a last name that I could be proud of.”

– “You will never meet my future husband and my future children.”

– “I am in prison for the rest of my life for your crime.”

– “I will never know what it will be like to lead a normal life.”

– “I pray you die alone.  I pray you die slowly, just like how my death was.”

–  “On the day of your death, I will smile and laugh.  I will come to your funeral wearing the brightest colours to celebrate your impending arrival into Hell.”

———-
My “family” can keep the original letter.  It has probably collected a lot of dust anyway.  I wonder what else is under there?

Nothing will stop me.

“Even if you are in the minority of one, the Truth is still the Truth.” – Mahatma Ghandi.

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.