Actually, I Can. By Riley-Ann Holm.

Photo by Jennifer Friesen @jennfriesenphotoco

The other day.. somehow.. I ended up on ‘Billionaire’ Tik Tok. Or ‘Success’ Tik Tok. I don’t know what it’s officially called. If you don’t know what Tik Tok is – the point is I saw some Billionaire online talking about a concept I realized I’ve been practicing for years but it was the first time I heard it spoken out loud as advice. Of course, coming from a billionaire, they used it referring to money. I apply it to everything in life. And I figured after seeing this video of this billionaire affirming my way of thinking and how I’ve gone about achieving everything I want in life, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not ridiculous. Therefore, I am going to share it with you as it’s all too relevant. Thanks for the inspiration, billionaire dude.

He said something along the lines of – “Never say you cannot afford something. Ask yourself, How can I? Then you just go and do it”.

You could say this is the law of attraction. If you tell yourself something all the time – you are SO MUCH more likely to achieve it, simply because it will be influencing every single decision you make throughout the day. Our brains are so powerful and can be influenced through self talk. What we think about, we act on.

Example. If you want to go to Harvard, and you start “manifesting” in middle school.. You will be thinking of Harvard constantly and therefore you will study harder and sacrifice more parties and events and you will try to become notable by volunteering and joining clubs and you will GET IT DONE! In middle school they could have looked at their current grades and maybe the kid could have thought to themselves, “I can’t go to Harvard with these grades. I guess I’ll have to do something else.” OR the kid could have thought to themselves.. ‘HOW CAN I go to Harvard? What will it take for me to achieve acceptance? What sacrifices do I need to make?’ and then, if they wanted it badly enough, they’d just go do it. To motivate themselves, they would ‘meditate’ on it daily. They might create a vision board. They might daydream about Harvard. They might buy a Harvard hoodie and wear it every day. They might watch seminars hosted online. They might book a trip to go visit.

The same goes with going to the gym to build muscle. Or with starting a business. Or with literally ANYTHING. I’ve been using this ‘How can I?’ method my entire life, without even realizing it, simply because I am a stubborn person. In high school I drilled that stubbornness to the wrong things, but as soon as I figured out who I am and what I want instead of being a private-high-school clone, I was able to drill this towards good things. I do this every day. And it’s changed my life. And I want to share how with you.

I CAN’T to HOW CAN I?

I’ve had a lot of ‘I cant”s in my life. I’m sure you have too. Almost every day, really. I’m going to discuss a few of the most important ones I’ve been wrestling with the last year.

1. I can’t be a morning person

I spent my whole life since I was in my early teens setting alarms super early. Sometimes up to a dozen alarms. Starting at 5am all the way up to the time I HAD to get up. Sometimes I’d sleep through that one still, too. I gave up a year ago and started just sleeping until 8 instead of trying to be up at 5. ‘I can’t be a morning person – I’ve tried for a decade’ I told myself.

A month ago, I got super annoyed with myself because now, I NEED to be a morning person. I have the motivation I lacked all those years to be a morning person. I want it bad enough because of current projects. I sat myself down and said “okay, HOW CAN I become a morning person? What would it take?”

I realized the only way to ensure I wake up when I needed to, would be a Keurig beside my bed. I needed something as simple as pushing a button on my phone to replace turning my alarm off. Pushing a button on a coffee maker!! I don’t even need to open my eyes. The smell of coffee wakes me up immediately.

Now.. I hate Keurigs. I’m a pour-over coffee person. They are also expensive so it would take an investment (luckily right before I made the purchase, someone lent one to me). But that being said, I figured out WHAT it would take for me to be successful, then no matter how ridiculous it sounded, I just did it.

I am now up before 6am every single morning.

2. I can’t start a charity / help people right now

I was drugged and r*ped 2.5 years ago. Mentally, I was not well following that. In my dark state, I felt extremely discouraged. I had been passionate about helping those who had experienced sexual violence, and there I was. A useless lump on the floor of paranoia and depression and anxiety and self-hate. I couldn’t be helpful to anyone! I couldn’t even go to work without being triggered and leaving early to hide under a blanket in the dark the rest of the day.

One day, I got fed up. I was crying. “I’m useless!”. I couldn’t continue on feeling useless or else my depression would overcome me. And I wanted to live. For my husband, family and for those who were experiencing sexual violence every day. So I asked myself, “HOW CAN I HELP OTHERS NOW? HOW CAN I STOP BEING USELESS? HOW CAN I GET MYSELF OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?”

I came upon a lot of answers and implemented many, but the most important one was accepting that I, MYSELF was a victim of sexual violence and helping myself was just as valid and useful as helping others. I am the person I was so passionate about helping. And If I helped myself, I would more quickly be ready to help others. So, even though I hated myself and hated helping myself.. I just did it. I took myself for walks. I called the police and fought for justice for myself when they closed my file. I made myself eat, even when it made me feel sick. I got myself a haircut. I did whatever I needed to do to feel better one moment at a time. Cancelled plans. Scheduled as much therapy as I thought I needed. I forced myself to be passionate about healing myself. I thought of myself as my own client.

Then, after months of work, I felt well enough. I wanted – I needed to help others who had gone through what I did. I had zero credible education. Long story short – I thought to myself, ‘HOW CAN I help others when I myself am still struggling and I am uneducated.’

And – The NO Society was born. It had taken YEARS of work but – again – I wanted it bad enough. I dwelled on it day and night those last few months before the launch. I researched what it took to become a registered charity. I learned how to build a website. I learned all sorts of things I never thought I’d have to learn. Now it’s so much bigger than I had imagined in such a small amount of time. I didn’t waste time doubting myself. I felt the doubt, don’t get me wrong, but I decided that doubt would get me nowhere and I did it anyway.

3. I can’t get my police file to Crown

My police file was closed twice. I was ironically told ‘No’ a lot by the police and others where this was concerned. I don’t even want to get into the details because of how heated it makes me. “No, your statement isn’t enough to go to the Crown. No, we aren’t testing your forensics. No, you cannot come in for another statement. No, we cannot keep the file open.” I have a lot to say about the Justice system but that’s not what this post is about. My point is I was told “I couldn’t” a lot. But I NEEDED badly to push the file as far as it could go. I just knew I personally couldn’t accept it being dropped without completing the investigation. I set a goal to get my file to Crown so that THEY could decide to close my file – with a full and complete investigation on the table – not by a police officer who didn’t even have all the information. I got the advice I needed and the empowerment to fight for myself from the right advisors. I did my research on my rights as a victim. Then, I called the police and told them I was not backing down until my file was completed. (I’d like to add that since then, I’ve been more than happy with how the police switched gears. I ended up really liking my constable and trusting him in the end. He more than redeemed the first year and a half, which wasn’t so great, and in the end I felt like he was truly on my team and working to help me however he could.)

They finished the file. They got the DNA found on my body, my blood and urine tested for drugs. They brought me in for another statement. The file made it to the Crown. I got my goal. I even got a cherry on top – the accused got arrested for sexual assault.

Now, in the end, Crown Counsel did not go through with any charges. That’s right, the whole file was dismissed. By a woman, actually. They don’t put through cases unless they are practically certain they will win. There wasn’t enough evidence that the accused was the one who drugged me or that he could have known how intoxicated I was. The way I felt on the r*pe drugs didn’t line up with the type of drugs they found in my body. I just got the news yesterday. I expected myself to feel a massive weight of disappointment. I expected to cry. I expected to be discouraged.

I’m proud to announce that isn’t the case.

There is zero part of me that perceives this as a loss.

My goal was to get to the Crown. I know how our justice system works. I knew that there was next to zero change my case would go through. Sure, I had hope, but it was narrow. If I was to go to court, the process would take YEARS of stress. The accused would likely plead or I would lose, and the maximum punishment wouldn’t be more than a couple weeks and maybe some community service.

Our justice system is sh*t. It protects perpetrators and punishes victims most of the time. R*pe is essentially legal in BC. The standard of evidence is essentially 100% and that just isn’t something that exists most of the time.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Riley.. How are you going to ‘HOW CAN I’ your way out of this one?”

Now, I could have spent the next couple years getting a *joke* of justice for myself and sacrificing so much of my time and wellbeing in order to do so, and I would have been so pumped to be able to give my survivor community a success story.

Now that that narrative is no longer a possibility, my perspective on this has shifted drastically. Why spend the next 3-5 years yelling at a justice system that shames and blames me and calls me a liar, when I could spend all those efforts going to school and working towards CHANGING the justice system and culture as a whole? What brings more justice.. A couple weeks of community service… OR changing the whole damn system so that more r*pists can go away for proper sentences for their crimes?

I did everything in my power to push the case as far as it could go. I am so proud of myself. I even got the bonus arrest. This story is a success. Most cases never make it this far. And – to top EVERYTHING OFF – I get to spend the rest of my life not just putting one dude in prison.. But instead holding a whole province accountable and in turn, hopefully puting many, many more away.

My constable scored me a meeting with the lady who decided my file’s fate. Bless him. I fully intend on asking all the questions I may have to get my closure. I fully intend on accepting her response. I’m not fighting her. But, that being said, I fully expect to tell her that although my case may not have made it to court in the year 2020, in 2035 she can expect that it would.

For other survivors who want to seek justice for themselves – do NOT take this as a message to not pursue your justice. Quite the contrary. Your story and your voice deserve to be heard. DO IT if that is what you want to do. I regret nothing. Push that file as far as you can, and then even an inch more than that. If you have that fire in you – you fight.

Arrests may not be convictions, but they are still an important message.

Show them that we are coming for them.

To close this off, I don’t want my news to discourage anyone, but instead, to fan that spark of passion within you to all consuming flames. Only 1 out of every thousand of r*pists get prison time. That number is going to go up in our lifetime.

To those telling me once again ‘I can’t’ – I laugh. You wait. It might look different that just sending my one r*pist to prison. I’m leaving him in God’s hands now. But – that doesn’t mean that I’m not getting it. I’m aiming for a much bigger scale than that.

I still get that voice in my head telling me ‘I can’t’ but if i’ve learned anything over the course of all this, it’s that actually, I can.

-Riley-Ann Holm, R*pe Survivor, Victim Advocate, and Co-Director of the NO Society.

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