/Me too

Me too

By Emily Stonehouse

Content warning: Please note that this editorial will discuss sexual assault, which may be triggering to some readers. If this is upsetting to you, please know that you are not alone. 

There are highs and lows to this job. Some weeks, it’s all bake sales and craft shows, and other times, it’s talking to lawyers about multiple alleged sexual assault cases that took place in Minden. 

When that story broke; appearing on newsstands and headlines far beyond our own corner of the world, I was asked if I could handle it. A story about something so gory and grotesque that it sounds like a true crime podcast. 

I thought long and hard about it. But then I knew I needed to. 

Because at one point, I was the one not telling my story. I wasn’t ready to share my words. 

I am not telling you this to be a victim or to garner sympathy or to place bias. I am writing this because of the power of words, and the importance of connection. 

At the age of 21, I was sexually assaulted by a person who had authority over me. A colleague at the time, and someone I should have felt safe with. 

And while I didn’t ask to be assaulted, after the incident, I was told I deserved it. Told it was my fault. Told I should keep it a secret. Told I shouldn’t cry wolf. Told I was imagining things.

It changed the trajectory of my life. The spirit in my eyes began to dim, and the hope I had for whatever was ahead felt forever tarnished. Truthfully, it still does a little bit. 

I kept the incident a secret for years, until one day I couldn’t hold it in anymore. It bubbled to the surface; seeking solace and understanding, before it was met with a “yeah, that kind of thing happened to me too.” “Same here.” “Me too.” 

And while I felt a semblance of belonging from so many of the victims, no, survivors, who shared my experience, it started a fire that will never be put out. 

It’s been identified that over 30 percent of women over the age of 30 in Canada have been sexually assaulted. I can almost guarantee it is higher, because we are told we deserve it. Told it is our fault. Told we should keep it a secret. Told we shouldn’t cry wolf. Told we were imagining things.

And now we are walking around in this world; functioning. Some differently than others. Many cracked and broken in places so deep in our soul that the light will never touch. 

When the story broke, I needed to dive into it. I needed to understand more. To hear the words of the survivors who managed to crack through those deep and dark places and run towards the light. 

Because those survivors aren’t sharing these stories for themselves. No, the damage is done. They’re sharing it to let an entire population know that they are not alone. That their voices matter. That words can make a difference. That we can change the trajectory of other people’s lives. 

So here is to the survivors, the ones who crack the hardened surface of pain to try and let the light in. One day at a time. Until no one else ever has to painfully say the words “me too” ever again.