Sunday, June 17, 2012

Remembering the 11 year old that I was

I have been thinking about something for awhile.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make a "note" on Facebook or post here.  I have decided to post here and post the link on facebook.

Recently I re-posted a picture on facebook saying something along the lines of "why do animal testing when there are so many paedophiles in prison".  I had several negative comments and that surprised me, especially the one from Sean.  Other people might not know my history of sexual abuse but Sean was there for me during first the preliminary hearing when we first started dating and then the trial just before we got married.

Recently a man in Texas caught some creep assaulting his little girl and killed him.  The father's intent was not to kill the abuser as he just reacted to what he was seeing and started hitting the guy in the head - personally I would have aimed a lot lower.  A friend posted about this and I mentioned my abuse.  Ten years after Jack (Jacobus) Wubbolt (Edwards) was convicted in abusing me and two friends (19 years previously) I realized that I still rarely say anything in public.  I feel like I still feel shame from being raped when I was 11 years old.

This is what I looked like in 1981:

This picture was taken at my dad's wedding to Edith on May 16, 1981 a few months after I was raped.  I look like a child, I was a child and yet my innocence was taken away.

Here is my victim impact statement.  I was not there for that part - the Ontario government had already paid for two flights and were not paying for a third - and so it was read by the Crown Attorney.  The judge was impressed with my statement and read some of it into the sentencing part of the trial (would love to have a copy of that but oh well):

As I look back at pictures of myself taken around the time of my assault there are no physical differences that can be seen; emotional scars however do not photograph.  It is the emotional scars that will forever be in the background of my mind. It is difficult to put into words what the events of one afternoon have done to my life.  It has been 21 years and yet the memories are still painful as if the events happened a few days ago.  I have relived the assault many times, feeling the pain and the emotions of that afternoon.

 After Detective McNab contacted me in January of 2000 I felt a lot of anger at myself.  I felt that if I had told someone when the events first happened that I would not be going through the pain I was now experiencing.  The trial was the hardest thing I have ever had to experience, if I had known the emotional turmoil that I would have to go through I am not sure that I would have given my statement to the police.  Yet having gone through the experience of the trial I realize that it has helped in my healing process.  It was empowering to finally be able to tell what had happened to me and to now know that the jury believed me.

 Directly after the sexual assault occurred I felt very guilty.  I felt that I must have done something to cause this to happen.  I did not leave even though I felt uncomfortable.  I knew that grown men didn’t have sex with children and since Mr Wubbolt had raped me I had to have done something to cause it.  I blamed my body, Mr Wubbolt had commented about my breasts and that made me hate them.  I tried as much as possible to wear baggy clothes so that men wouldn’t notice my breasts or developing figure.  Puberty is a confusing time for any girl and for me it was even more difficult as I hated the changes that were occurring in my body, to me those changes were the reason that Mr Wubbolt raped me.  To this day I do not feel comfortable in clothing that shows off my body.

As an 11 year old I did not fully understand the changes my body was going through during puberty.  I did know that they were similar to what my sister had experienced during her pregnancies.  I was afraid of being pregnant.  If I were pregnant then my parents would find out what had happened.  I remember feeling so happy when my menstrual cycle started because I was not pregnant and could continue to hide my secret and shame from my family.

I felt a lot of shame.  In blaming myself for Mr Wubbolt’s actions I felt ashamed of the activities that occurred that day.

I also felt a great amount of fear.  I was afraid that the assault would be found out and people would blame me.  I was afraid that I would get in trouble and would not be able to play with my friends.  I was afraid that I had done something very wrong which caused me to feel incredible amounts of guilt.

 As I grew older my guilt continued.  I felt that I had broken the Law of Chastity and therefore was not a worthy member of my church.  I was terrified that someone would find out.  I finally went to my Bishop to confess my sin; and although he told me that it was not my fault I still blamed myself.  When my parents didn’t believe what I told them I realized that my thought that people wouldn’t believe me was correct. 

I lost a lot of trust in people; I became afraid of people touching me.  If someone brushed past me or bumped into me I would freeze.  There were times when I would experience panic attacks from men or women brushing past me.  I was afraid of everyone; strangers and those whom I knew.  I was afraid of being outside alone at night.  While attending Trent University there was a series of rapes on campus.  I became terrified that I would be the next victim. 

I came to hate my body and would struggle even more to keep from gaining weight.  If I felt at all insecure I would gain weight - I wanted to be fat so I would never have to experience this again.  I hid behind my weight hoping that men would find me undesirable.  I was terrified to get involved in an intimate relationship.  Even in my twenties I would panic when being kissed by a boyfriend.  When I decided to become sexually active as an adult I had a lot of difficulties.  I would experience flashbacks and feel a lot of confusion.  Until I could further heal my emotions I could not enjoy sexual relations.

No child should ever have to be initiated into sex as I was.  I learned that the world was not safe, as I had believed.  I learned that not only are strangers not safe but people I knew were not safe as well.  I learned that trusting someone was dangerous.

I do not know what my life would have been like if I had not gone to play at a friend’s house on that fateful day.  I do know that I will never fully be healed of the emotional damage, which occurred. 

I would like to think that I went through this process to protect children from having to experience the things that I had to.  My only motivation in giving my statement to the police and then testifying at the trial was to protect children.  Children are our future and they need to grow up in a safe environment, where they can learn to trust.  That environment was taken from me; I pray that it is not taken from more children.

 I would like to thank the Durham Crown Attorney’s Office and the Durham Regional Police for pursuing this matter.  I want to thank the Victim Witness program of Durham for their assistance at helping me to get through an unbearable experience.  I also want to thank the Edmonton Police and Edmonton Victim Services for their assistance in this matter.

I have to say that the negative comments from Sean hurt which is probably why a month later this is still so fresh in my mind.

I wrote my victim impact statement shortly after we were married.  It took days and lots of tears to get through.  Every word that I wrote still affects me this day.  The memories of the preliminary hearing and the trial are like they happened yesterday.   The day of the rape seems like minutes ago, I remember the clothes I was wearing right down to my socks.

There are several days etched in my memory never to be removed, the rape and the trial are the negative dates.