A Letter to Survivors of Sexual Assault

In honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here’s a letter to those that have experienced sexual assault. It is all the things I wish I could say to you over a hot cup of coffee in a quiet, undiscovered (but somehow accessible?) coffee shop.

I believe you. Every last word. You are not “crazy.” What happened to you is.

It’s not your fault Ever. If you’re a survivor of multiple assaults, not one of them has been your fault. I’m sorry that this has happened to you, no one deserves to go through that, and nothing you did could warrant sexual violence.

You are strong. So fucking strong. Even if you don’t feel strong. The fact that you are reading this, (er uh, sharing with me over fake coffee) makes you strong. Being sexually violated can be devastating, and completely debilitating. Just living through it makes you strong by default.

Your healing process is 100% yours. There is no proper timeframe for recovering from abuse. There is no limit to grief. If you are having trouble doing the things you used to do–are feeling depressed, angry, unfocused, cloudy, confused or indifferent, know that you are healing. You are refuelling. You are resilient–you’re a fucking butterfly-in-the-making, cocooning from violence, preparing to come out beautiful when ready. You will heal as you know best–how you do that (and who you allow to be part of your healing) is entirely up to you. My guess is that any way you do it, you’re doing what you need to to get by.

Flashbacks and anxiety are common. This is a frequent reality for people that have experienced violence. It’s your mind and body’s way of processing your assault(s), of helping you cope. You are not alone, many survivors have flashbacks, anxiety, and/or night-terrors related to their assault. Some techniques that might help you through these feelings include grounding, breathing exercises and calling a crisis line for support.

*This upcoming point is about power-and-control dynamics as they relate to violence. Some people who have experienced violence might find this overwhelming. If so, scroll down a point.*

Sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about power. You might feel confused about what’s happened–especially if you’ve been assaulted by a family member, boyfriend (or girlfriend) or spouse. And rightfully so–why would someone who loves you force themselves on you? Were they just extremely horny?

There is a prevalent belief that sexual assault is one person being sexually aroused by another person and then forcing themselves on that person. This is inaccurate: One person is sexually aroused by power, and  then forces themselves on that person. Ergo, the person that has been assaulted has nothing to do with the assault,because it was not about them, or their sex appeal, it was about the assaulter’s plight for power.

So, your partner, or family member that has sexually assaulted you did not do so because it is how they express love. They did not do so because you were “looking all beautiful and batted your eyes” at them, or because they just “lost control” because they were so turned on. In fact the opposite is true: They did so because they found a way to gain control over you.  This is not your fault. You did nothing to deserve this, nor are you the reason it happened. It happened because that person decided to force themselves on you, because they wanted power.

If you want it, there is support for people that have experienced violence Everyone deals with trauma differently, so you are the best judge of whether or not you want (or are ready/ in a safe enough place for) support.Support comes in different forms, from online forums or phone conversations, to individual counselling, advocacy, or group sessions. I’m in the Ottawa area, so all of my resources are specific to this region, but if you are ready, you can reach out, wherever you are. Calling your local community centre and specifying the type of help you want is a great place to start.  If that seems overwhelming, you can try to put down what you’ve experienced on paper, or record yourself if that’s easier, or make art.

If you feel like talking, here’s a list of crisis lines in Ottawa: https://carleton.ca/health/emergencies-and-crisis/emergency-numbers/ ( and here is a list if you prefer to speak in French, or other languages).

And lastly, I wish you kindness and positive people in your journey of healing. I wish you hope. I wish you well-being. That’s what you deserve. ❤

We Are Here.


Being mindful of the joys of coffee w the fam.

This morning I had one of those once-in-a-blue-moon moments where I hung between asleep and awake. I guess I was more awake than asleep, because I soaked up the orange sun coming through my window for a minute, thinking how this is bound to be an awesome day. I mean, how could it not be, the sun clearly woke up just for me and then caressed me with its October rays. For that immeasurable amount of time before complete consciousness, I was mindful of how privileged I am, and felt sleepy gratefulness for it.

As is such, I have created a list of things to be mindful of/ways to practice mindfulness, so that you can be lazy and read this post instead of searching Google like a real person. Don’t worry, my mix of personal experience and Wikipedia lend to a fully comprehensive compilation.

Psychology Today has briefly defined mindfulness as a ” state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

So, mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening around you, and letting it be, while simultaneously initiating life experience.With this very casual, kinda-broad definition in mind, my list begins:

  • Look around you. Not only at where you are right now, but what brought you here. At this moment, every moment passed, and every moment to come, you are. At least for the ones your concious/living for.  Ego-centred? Sure. Rude to all those since-passed? Yeah. An instant ego booster-though you vaguely feel falsely inflated? Definitely.

The reason for that feeling of false hype is that it is based on entitlement, or, some circumstance that you had no control over, which brought you to the coushiony place you are in now. If you change gears from the “I’m one in a million” bit (cuz that actually means there are 7 others just like you. Even grandiose thoughts aren’t invincible. Sorry.), and realize the combination of unique things that brought you to this nice lil blog on a Tuesday afternoon, your sense of entitled happy might morph into something more substantial.  Maybe you’re 32, living at your parents, and truly believe that Raman Noodles is the breakfast of champions. Great. You have people (parents/peers/friends) that allow you to carry on this way. Your rents continuously pay the mortgage and stalk the fridge with Yoplait. Your mother resists the nagging urge to tell you yo shave your Zach Galafianakis beard. And your current status quo is maintained.

You could take it a few steps further and acknowledge the socio-economic circumstance that allowed you said place in life. Your 32-year-old parent-leeching butt was raised by upper-middle class architects in Toronto, and hence they have more than the means to support your unambitious self. Keep living the dream, dude.

  • You have choice. Today, I decided to have coffee before 730. I decided to write this post instead of doing readings. I chose to wear my hair down and wear a pink waist belt to give my outfit an extra dose of diva. I stayed in the shower for an extra 3 minutes because I live in a country where that is possible, and showering is way better than anything else. I did all of this because I have freedom of choice in many respects. So often, we discount the positive in favour of discussing our limits. Truth is, if you’ve found the time to even read this blog, you have choice. You can click the little corner X right now and go each a chicken club sandwich if you really want to. Choice is something we take for granted, but being aware of its presence can make us more aware of the good in our lives. Or something like that.
  • Where you are now is different than where you were this time last year. Or last month. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this time last month I was screaming into my pillow over some guy with a tub of Rolo ice crem by my bed and vodka under my pillow as reinforcement. And now I’ve taken to writing blogs. Oh, the wonders of life progression. 
  • Have a feeling  and examine it, before processing it. This one is SO TOUGH. Last week, I had an intake counselling appointment at school. I don’t know about you, but to me “intake” means spew all your problems all over your will-be shrink so that they realize the extent of your crazy. In my attempt to commit to full disclosure, I told this poor woman everything, from my hatred of self to how boys just don’t like me. She asked probing questions here and there, nodding accordingly, and then took a deep breath after I trailed off. “What are you feeling?” she asked. I started telling her about how I can’t fit in anywhere, and that I often run into things (one of those is pretty true). “Ok. But what are you feeling?” I started ranting again. Slow learner. Eventually, I came to understand that it is important to just feel, without judgement or analysis. If you’re like me, this feel incredibly counter-intuitive. Figuring out cognition and their ripple effect is like my natural safety-net. If I can out-think it, it won’t hurt me. But, in all this over-analyzes, feelings are either inhibited or unjustly heightened. It’s important to just have a feeling for the sake of feeling. One way that I’ve come to practice this is to write one feeling down. Then discuss that feeling-and only that feeling, void of thoughts or processing- in full. This requires some abstract/descriptive writing and is an awesome challenge for learning to just be.

I had two more, but I really should study. And you should really find a more productive way to spend your time.