*trigger warning – minor details surrounding childhood sexual assault*
When I was younger, I would go camping every summer with my best friends’ family.
They had a membership at a campsite about 40 minutes across the border. We would spend almost the WHOLE summer there – every summer. We used to stay in the camper with the rest of the family, but this one year in particular we were able to stay in a tent. We fought for this for so long, because OBVIOUSLY we were old enough to be by ourselves, we were going into grade 7 in the fall. We were so excited. WOOOOO!!!! Girl taaaalkkk!!! We had snacks & a portable DVD player for us to watch movies all night. I could probably quote the entire script from “Shes The Man” – a 12 year old’s dream.
Let me paint a picture for a second.
The tenting section was separate from where the trailers and vacation homes were. To your right was a gravel path that led to the back lot where there were spots for people with RV’s, tent trailers, motorhomes etc (this is where the rest of the family was). To the left, was a big section of forest. The middle of it was full of trails & logs that were turned into bike jumps. This is where we spent a lot of our time because this is where ALL the kids our age hung out, so having the tent set up close to this was perfect. Directly in front of our tent, about 60 steps away, was the bathroom. This is where we showered, did our makeup (because we were 12 & HAD to look good), went to the bathroom… you know, the normal bathroom stuff.
This particular trip, we were going for my friend’s birthday, which happened to be the same week as the Fourth of July – LOTS to celebrate, especially because we were down in the states.
The week was full of friends & photos & fireworks & fires & cake. All of my favourite things.
We were leaving to go home on the 7th, so I was going to packed my things & shower the night before. My friend was at her parent’s campsite because they were roasting marshmallows & playing card games. I went to our tent, gathered my things & left for the bathroom. My shower was quick, because I knew the sun was going down and I wanted the rest of the family to save me a marshmallow (or 3). I pulled the curtain back to grab my towel and quickly noticed that I had forgotten a clean change of clothes because I had already packed everything away.
I remember thinking out the situation I was in.
My friend was far away and wouldn’t hear me if I called for her. The tent was only 60 steps away, if I moved quickly I’d get to the tent fast.
With my towel gripped tightly around my body, shampoo bottle in my hand, I started counting;
This walk started to feel a lot longer than I remember.
I heard someone shout my name, I turned around but saw no one.
Before I got to ten, my body was pulled onto the forest floor.
It took my 12 year old mind a while to understand what was happening. I felt him remove my towel, his rough old hands all over my soft young skin. He was wearing a face covering, almost like a ski mask. I could see his eyes, they looked like they were on fire. I could see his mouth. I could hear his breath. His top lip was sweating. He felt heavy on top of me. I tried to fight it. I began to cry, silently. The tighter I closed my eyes the faster the tears fell. He put something in my mouth, a sock maybe? T-shirt? This made it impossible for me to call for help. His breathing turned into soft grunts. I was biting down so hard my jaw was shaking.
After he was done, he sat up, patted my head and laughed.
“Little girls are so easy”
Words that fuelled my nightmares for years.
I was on the ground, covered in mud, blood, and tears. I sat there for a while.
My legs felt like jello, everything hurt. I was dirty, but more than just the dirt on my freshly showered body.
I had so many questions rush through my mind. Should I tell someone? What if he finds out I said something & he finds me again? How did he know my name? Where should I go?
I picked myself up, & headed back for the showers. I thought that I could wash what happened away. I sat in the shower for what felt like hours with the water as hot as I could handle. I tried to scrub him off of me, I watched the dirty water flow down the drain, for a moment I felt peace. Almost like he was no longer on me. I watched the brown water turned to red and I could feel my body start to shake again. Reality started to set in. I’m no longer pure. He took my innocence.
‘How could I come in contact with someone so evil? What did I do to deserve this?’
As I sat in the shower with my face in the stream, I heard a soft voice. My friend had noticed I was gone for an unusually long time. For me, I felt like time had stopped but was flying at the same time.
I put my dirty clothes back on. She had asked me why my eyes were so red, I told her I got shampoo in them. She asked me why my towel was dirty, I told her I dropped it on my way over.
Sleeping that night was impossible. Actually, sleeping for months after was impossible. I couldn’t allow myself to get comfortable. I would sleep in the biggest pair of sweatpants and the heaviest sweater I owned so I could keep my body covered – even in the middle of the summer. Waking up was almost as hard as going to bed.
I knew that everyday I would be replaying that night in my mind, trying to think of different ways I could have gotten myself out of it.
Now, at 23, I understand that there was nothing my 12 year old self could have done. This is my reality. This is something I live with everyday. Some days are harder than others, still. I’m so blessed to have a support system of people who will love me regardless of the day I’m having, even if they don’t fully understand.
I wish this man knew how many people he hurt with his actions;
I’ve seen mom cry so many tears because she wants to help me but doesn’t know how.
I’ve seen my dad get so angry on more than one occasion because he wasn’t able to protect me.
I kept it a secret from my friend for 9 years. I wish he could see how upset she was when I told her.
My brothers & my sisters whom I’ve never told the full story to – I wouldn’t be surprised if their reactions are similar. I wish I was in the right state of mind to tell them everything sooner.
At 23, I choose to take control over my life again.
I will not allow this man to have power over me anymore. June 6th is not a day to dread, but simply, a day.
I am so much more than a “little girl”.
I am not a victim, I am a survivor.
I am healing
I am growing.
I am happy.
I am moving forward & I am succeeding.
Wish you could see me now.
I’m sorry if this was heavy – thank you for taking the time to open your hearts.
Be kind to everyone you meet, you never know their story.
All my love & light,
Xx – k, Fraser Valley
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