You’d think award winning writers of all people would be able to steer clear of the cliche and harmful narratives of rape culture- but no, they are being widely distributed by the Canadian literature community.
I am disgusted.
For me, as a UBC creative writing grad, and a survivor of multiple sexual assaults reading this letter was very disturbing and triggering.
Stop shaming us for coming forward, or for staying quiet. Stop shaming us for wanting justice, or for not wanting anyone to know. Stop hurting us! Stop belittling us! Stop questioning the legitimacy of our allegations! STOP SURVIVOR SHAMING!
I am a survivor, and I will always stand with survivors.
It is so fucking hard to come forward when this shit happens.
When my soccer coach sexually assaulted me at fourteen I was terrified to come forward, but I did, and a lot of people didn’t believe me. The police made me feel like it was my fault, that I lead on my 50 year old coach. WTF. They made me believe that if I went through with it and tried to press charges, I would ruin his career, his reputation, and I didn’t really want that right? Especially since he had a family, and was a stand up guy, very smart, and well-liked in the community. So i didn’t press charges, but years later I wish i did. I worry that he has hurt so many girls because I couldn’t stop him. It still haunts me.
While I was attending UBC I was sexually assaulted on public transit. It was night time and no one else was on the bus. He pinned me against the window and grabbed my thighs and crotch and breasts. I was petrified. When I finally wriggled out of his grasp and got off the bus I ran and ran, tears flowing down my face, terrified that he was following me to come rape me. This still haunts me.
And there are more, some of which I just can’t bring myself to speak publicly about. The shame is so intense, the guilt, and the fear.
When I heard about the allegations toward Steven Galloway I can’t say I was surprised, but I was very relieved I never took a class with him. I honestly think I avoided male professors in small class settings on purpose. Of course, I would never have admitted this then, I always rationalized it that I just preferred female teachers, and supervisors, and coaches because I could connect with them better or something. But really, it is because I have seen it, and lived it, and more than half the time the men who are abusing their power and making everyone uncomfortable don’t even know they are doing it because rape culture, duh! It’s everywhere. Every single woman I know has been sexually assaulted or raped, and they’re not fucking making it up.
We don’t make this shit up! When will people stop saying this? When will they stop standing with the perpetrators and rapists, and pointing fingers at us. Calling us the liars. Just because they ‘know’ them. Just because, we’re women, we’re emotional, and the allegations have not bee ‘proven’. Just because his words have more power, more value, and more worth then hers, and hers and hers, and mine.
I can’t, I just can’t.
1st Trump. Then this.
This letter has really shaken me up, I feel really hurt that all of the authors who signed this, think its okay to stand with the perpetrator of sexual assault and publicly discredit and shame victims and survivors everywhere.
Thanks for reading.
Heidi J. Loos