#Metoo I have never wanted to understand why I am the way I am, wanting to be strong and able to defend myself and other women, and then through the stories of other people with the #metoo I have found the words to begin to heal. Here is my story…

I was in my first “real” relationship at a very young age with a boy who was a year older than me. My girlfriend picked him out for me and pushed us together saying that we should date and so I guess it all started there. I was in grade 7 and we felt very mature and grown up. This boy and I had been dating for about a year and a half and it was puppy love playing and happiness and best of friends. I remember when he first tried taking my belt off and I said no but he took it off anyways with my hands holding each side firmly. And then I repeatedly pulled his hands away as he forced under my pants (as he was much stronger than me). His mother was always upstairs so I didn’t want to be too loud but I swore at him and pushed him away. He laughed and thought this was funny. It always seemed to be when we were at his house in his comfort zone when he would try stuff.

I would feel frustrated and very confused because I was told that when you say “no” that the person will listen to you. I remember repeating in my mind ‘no means no’ when he would keep trying after I say stop or no and wonder how he did not understand this simple concept.

Every single first sexual experience I had was with him, and every one I was not ready for and was not willing. His fingers hurt so bad especially because I was clenching and kicking and pulling his hand out of my pants as he was forcing them in. Somehow he would convince me to be quiet because his parents were upstairs. I was too embarrassed to go running or yell anything, even though I am sure his mom knew what was going on.

I knew his mom knew what was going the day I lost my virginity. My boyfriend and I had hung out all day doing fun friend stuff and then night came and we watched a movie and then went to his bedroom. He took my clothes off and that was okay because We were comfortable with each other by this point. We laid in bed and he took out a condom and started opening the package. I said no and I tried to get up and leave but he grabbed me and pulled me back to the bed. We talked about it a little bit and he said all his friends were doing it with all their girlfriends and some of my friends were too. I convinced myself that I would be ok if we tried and so I let him. It took about five seconds for me to start saying “stop” and “no” and pushing him and another ten seconds for him to actually stop. I rolled my back to him and felt disgusted. He then grabbed me from behind and put it in again. I cried and saw the condom had fallen off. I ran to the bathroom and tried to wash myself out but nothing could wash off what I felt inside and out. I don’t know how long I was in the washroom for but it must have been a while because when I opened the door his mom was standing there with those motherly eyes of concern and love for me. She said something that I didn’t hear and I cowered away from her ashamed and went back to the bedroom.

From then on I started the demise of the relationship. We fought and I would punch him and he would punch me back. I don’t remember what we would fight over but I remember hating him for what he did to me and trying to get him to feel the hurt he imposed on me. Eventually I realized I could not ever impose the same shamefulness on him so I broke it off.

That was in the summer before grade 9.

I did not date in all of high school and I did not date in the first two years of university. In the back of my mind I thought that once you start dating a guy they have power over you and can do whatever they want and I did not want to feel powerless again.

I worked out heavily, gained a lot of muscle, won arm wrestling matches, stretched my earlobes out, went in wrestling and kick boxing, went through five years of bulimia, dressed in baggy sweaters and boyish clothing and none of it made me feel secure.

I met many men after who were kind but I could not bring myself to date them. I also met many men that were forceful and would have raped me if I would not have been as strong as I had become. I remember thanking myself for doing those intense inner thigh crunches when I had to keep my legs shut from a man trying to tear them open. I remember thanking myself for not caring who heard anymore when I screamed at a guy to “get the fuck off me” for him to stop what he was doing.

I am thankful for my young experiences because they gave me strength later on in life.

I am sorry to myself for not avoiding these men completely as sometimes I felt I should have. I was looking for the “American dream” of love. What I found was that for me to love I must take down my barriers and open myself up but also stay focused and not allow forceful men close no matter how tempting they may be.

To all the parents out there please:

Boys and men should be taught that ‘no actually means no’.

Thank you for reading my story. Even though I do not know you and you do not know me; we now have a connection of empathy and understanding that things need to change.

Be strong. Learn. Heal.

And as my late father said “promise to smile every single morning”

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