I moved to Brandon, Manitoba when I was 18 to start University. I vividly remember my first night in my new dorm room. I was so happy: I was the first of my family to go to University and it was my first time living apart from them. In my first week I met a guy at an event in my residence building. He seemed cool and nice enough. I had no intention of taking anything further. After all, I was new and I just wanted to meet new friends.
Growing up, I have always been aware of the long-standing MMIWG issues in Canada. I made sure every day that I was equipped with everything I needed to stay safe. I reminded myself to remain vigilant of my surroundings wherever I went. That night in my dorm was the first time I’d ever let my guard down really and I didn’t realize I’d put myself in a vulnerable situation. There was drinking, but the party was chaperoned, so it seemed perfectly safe: it was my new home.
When I ran out of drinks this guy told me he had some in his room, so I went with him to get some. We talked briefly, but everything changed quickly. He approached me and started to take my sweater off. Then he began to force himself on me. I didn’t know what to do. When I tried to get him to stop, he refused. Then he got up and took a swig of his drink. He walked over to his door and locked it. My heart started racing and my stomach flipped upside down.I wanted to throw up.
He pushed me down and I froze. I was terrified. I couldn’t even let out a scream.
I wasn’t sure what he was going to do next but I knew I needed to get out of there. When he was done I took a chance and kicked him off me and ran. All I had left of my outfit was the sweater I had been wearing.
I went to the hospital and did a rape kit. I hated that experience, it was so traumatizing. Pain, so much pain. It hurt to walk and to sit. There was so much bruising and swelling, my whole body felt battered, and so did my soul. I remember looking in the mirror and crying. Who am I? What happened?
Every time I closed my eyes, I saw flashbacks of that night. I couldn’t sleep. The police wouldn’t lay charges because we were both drinking that night. He moved out of that dorm building, but he was still a student at the same University, a peer of mine. I isolated myself and my grades began slipping. I couldn’t function properly as a student. If I had to go anywhere I ran from location to location and I began to skip classes. I’m not the same person and I never will be. I became a better version of myself, the person I’m meant to be. But these horrific stories are far too common. I share my story because I can. Too many Indigenous women are not able to. We need to protect our sisters. We need to fix this.