This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
In Grade 9 I met a boy who would go on to be my abuser for five years.
The first time he physically hurt me was at school, in front of other students who simply laughed as I dusted myself off and hid the tears.
In my mind, I had convinced myself that this was love, that it was a fairy tale and that my continuous discomfort wasn’t that bad because ‘he just loves me so much, right?’
Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues below.
I would run away from home to stay with him, and that’s when the abuse really started. Often I was left naked, humiliated and hurt on his bedroom floor as he rolled over to sleep, done with me.
For a long time, I didn’t realise I was being raped, or even abused, until one day my parents saw the bruises. Until this point, I thought rape could only happen with a stranger, in an alleyway… I never thought it could be at the hands of a boyfriend.
I was numb from shock; I had just begun to process that I had been raped throughout the entire relationship.
My mum took me to the hospital and I was given a full examination. I remember it being very long and extremely clinical – we left for the hospital in the evening and didn’t come home until the morning.
I recall being naked in nothing but a hospital gown, being examined by strangers – a pap smear, vaginal exam, STD test and the morning after pill.
I was then shown a diagram, with circles representing where I had physical trauma. Almost every part of my body was circled.
My mum was with me during this procedure. After they had finished showing both my mother and me the diagram, I vividly remember the female doctor saying to Mum: “It’s not that bad.”