I believe that the will to live is a conscious decision to deal with past pain through any
cathartics necessary, to feel the pain and do it anyway. I believe the
beacon of my existence has been the unconditional love that others have
extended to me as I struggled.
There came a time when I was two and one-half years clean and sober
when I could no longer hold back the tears and the rage. I believed I had
no place to go with the rage but turn it back on myself. I finally reached
out, letting others know what was going on inside me.
With the help of an understanding support system, a therapist, other
survivors of sexual abuse, a women's treatment center in Vancouver, a
series of strong women and a few gentle men I have been able to process my
issues. Part of my process was to go deep inside to the place that
frightened child had cowered, full of fear, agony, horror, pain. I finally
felt the spectrum of emotions.
I went to the police with the information, accusations, memories,
emotions, and waited while the police investigated. I waited for two years
while the Crown Counsel (D/A) made a decision on whether there were
grounds for laying charges and enough of a case to proceed to trail.
During October 1995, my father was brought to the preliminary hearing on
two counts of having sex with a female under the age of 14 who was not
These proceedings had caused much pain in my family of origin. One
sister believed herself incapable of testifying. Brenda, my sister, left
me a letter of apology and love. I read the letter and processed the
feelings: abandonment, hurt, sad, empathy and acceptance. I called her and
thanked her for her honesty, reassuring her that I understood her decision
and accepted. My youngest sister, Dianne, struggled with the ethics of
testifying against our father. Her desire for justice won along with a
wish to support me in my healing journey.
There was a period of approximately three weeks where I was busy with
my life. I realized that I had not heard from my sister, Brenda, so I
called her. My sister was operating under the false assumption that I was
angry at her and wanted nothing to do with her. I reassured her. My sister
came over within one-half hour and we spent the evening speaking of our
love for one another.
This mission was mine and from the beginning I had been prepared to
face it with only the help of the God of my understanding. I came to a
clear understanding that this process of speaking my truth was a concept
that frightened me. To speak my truth aloud to a judge, jury and possibly
a courtroom of strangers, terrified me. The thought of speaking the
details of all the agonizing, painful abuse, horrified me.
On October 27, 1995 I took the stand and testified for two hours. I
spoke aloud of the attacks on my body which began when I was eight years
old. I spoke of the pain, the blood, the semen, the lubricants, the
darkness, the words he spoke to me, the positions he forced my body into,
the physical reactions to the traumas, the emotional impact, my need for
safety, the reasons I had remained silent for so long. I spoke of the
various ways I had attempted to deal with this issue during the years
since the abuse had ended. I spoke of my self-abuse through the use of
alcohol, drugs, sex, abusive men, food, exercise, sleeping, not sleeping,
bulimia. I spoke of suicide attempts with pills, an attempt with a 3006 at
the age of twenty-one and ongoing thoughts of suicide. I spoke of my
self-hatred to the point of self-mutilation with a razor to my face while
under the influence of non-prescription street drugs and three stays in
psychiatric wards. I spoke, was heard and believed. The judge found that
there was enough evidence to take these charges before a supreme court
judge and jury April 15, 1996.
I recall many feelings. Elation, as I spontaneously did one of those
"Rocky" victory dances in the hall of the courthouse. I cried,
laughed, kissed my sisters and felt compassion for my youngest sister. I
was full of gratitude for the love and support of all those I had
encountered during my walk.
The extremely slender child; frail, frightened, horrified, disgusted,
angry, terrified of the retribution that would surely come for telling
anyone of her abuse was in control. For three days I took refuge in a
friends apartment. I hid, slept uneasily, was coached to eat, held as I
cowered under a blanket. I was reminded to bathe, to quench a thirst I was
unaware of. I cried, rocked my body to comfort myself and finally moved on
with my life. I had spoken and there had been no retribution.
I was truly amazed at others admiration for my focus, my ability to
remember, to articulate all the memories, feelings, surroundings and
details of my abuse. Others saw only the mask I had presented in that
courtroom. Others cannot see what I feel.
Along my journey I learned to ask for what I needed, learned to accept,
was mature enough to accept that sometimes I would not get what I asked
for. I was finally able to appreciate, understand, accept that there was a
strong-willed survivor who was learning to thrive. I began to comprehend
many facets that make me, a strong, courageous, beautiful, proud, humble,
loving, understanding, accepting, warrior, empathetic, brave, woman/child
as I let go of all the secrets, anger, rage, hurt, pain and need to