“Do you love him?” Reporting my sexual assault.

I was sitting across from her in a small room plastered in grey.

“Do you love him?” She asked looking into my eyes, searching for hidden clues and waiting for me to reveal the truth. I desperately wanted to be believed, but my story was far from the vicious assault incidents I have always imagined to be what violation of my body should look like. I had been assaulted by my friend.

My surroundings and upbringing have cultivated a safe space for me to tell my story. On Monday October 9, I met up with a friend whom I had met on Tinder a year before. Some may point fingers here and argue that I should have figured out what would happen if I went home with this friend. We had been intimate at a point in time after all; this time should be no different. However, we established previously that there would be no more sexual contact between us as two friends, and in my friend I held my trust.

He was a newcomer to Canada and I was helping him with his research assignment at Starbucks, just like any other day. Having him by my side made me feel warm and I was happy with whatever we were. He noticed my tired expression (I was feeling sick that day) and suggested going back to his place. It has been so convenient for me to accuse myself for being so naive to his intentions. However, in the moment I read his invitation as affection and in friendship ways followed him home.

In the next moment, we were in his apartment and when we sat down on his couch, the energy shifted in the atmosphere. Suddenly he had his hands on my face, urgently trying to make out with me. In the next moment, his hands were where they should not be. I remember saying no several times and pushing him away. I also looked at him straight in the eyes so that he knew that I was scared and I did not want this. But when silence is what you’re known for, people can take advantage of your passiveness and get what they want. My body’s reactions were not reflective of my mood; I really did not want this, but I gave in and we went all the way.

I texted my friend that evening. “I’m okay but something happened today”, I started the conversation hesitantly. In the next 2 hours, the truth began to unravel as I realized how my body had been violated by my so called friend. I could not come to terms with the truth at first because he had sugar coated our connection as more meaningful than it actually was to him. I had been manipulated and I was still unsure of my truth. I desperately wanted to believe that he cared about me and I meant something to him. However, I had never been so objectified in my life.

On Wednesday October 11, I made a brave decision to report my case to the police. Later, the questions I was asked left me feeling shameful and embarrassed about my situation.

First, I phoned into the station and reported the incident. An hour later, 2 officers came to my house for an interview. I explained everything in as much detail as I could, at least based on my memory. As I got to the serious parts regarding consent, I recalled a statement that I will always regret.

“I turned to him and said as long as I enjoy it” I said, suddenly realizing what I had done to myself. So it has come to this moment, my one year without a partner. In the plight of my loneliness, I had put my safety at risk to give into hypermasculinity and aggression just to reap the minimal hints of affection that any man could offer me. Having realized my classic move in an effort to compromise, I broke down in front of the officers. I realized how much I had degraded myself just to keep a “friend” in my life. However, the most devastating realization was watching the nature of my personality backfire on me, to witness the disintegration of mutual trust and support and to see myself scrambling to find a flimsy middle ground between myself as a victim and my perpetrator. With the best intentions I believe, the police officers were shaking their heads having realized the complexity of the situation. Yet in the moment’s suspension of weighing all sides of the issue, we completely missed the point.

When I went to the station, I was interviewed by a detective who recorded my case in audio. I gave her the same recount that I gave the 2 officers before.

Then she asked me a question that sent me shivering. “Do you love him?” she asked me. I was so shocked I did not know how to answer. In my head, I traced the memories I had with him and these photographs of memories were circling around the little room I was in. Mortified, I could only say that I cared for him. I mean maybe I did love him? Why would love be an exception to consent, if consent is built on affection? I could not say yes to my perpetrator’s hostility.

“Did you enjoy it?” she inquired. I nearly snorted considering how absurd these questions were. It was becoming more clear to me that I had been assaulted, and whether the experience had been pleasurable for me was no longer the point.

“So is all this is just you feeling that you’re not getting what you wanted from him in return? I would be very hurt too”. The question made me realize that the criminal justice system has not comprehended how consensual sexual relationships work. It began to feel pointless for me to continue with my assault story. For so long, I have gone to counselling, been to the bottom and up and isolated myself because I have been ashamed of my feelings. Having a detective ask me this question made me realize how important my intuition was and how valid my feelings were. However, my report of the assault was not emotionally driven. Rather I was reporting a case of sexual violation on my body, where my innate emotional nature became a gift wrap that anyone could use to conceal the intentional truth of my perpetrator’s action. He could hide behind my wall of sensitivity and insist that my feelings toward him had compelled me to report a perfectly consensual act. In my head, I could almost hear him tell a one sided story of my emotional distress, his comfort in the form of physical touch, and my regret later on that has motivated my report of the so-called assault. Suddenly I felt so betrayed by a friend I had trusted, even loved to some degree and fell into my depression once more.

I will always be the kind of person who needs to share my personal experience because relating to other people is how I learn and thrive. I have been lucky to survive the assault without injuries because his intentions to sexually assault me were not bold. In fact, the assault was very much under the radar that even to him it did not seem like an assault. Perhaps the incident surprised him too and he tried to deny what his mind and body did in the heat to disrespect mine. Detachment is a common coping mechanism and we both used it to understand the incident. In great sincerity I understand sexual urges arise, however that is not an excuse to engage in unwanted sexual behaviour.

Today I know that sexual assault comes in all shapes and forms. The fact that my assault story was not filled with dark alleys, strangers, weapons and violence means that I could have trouble trusting the men I know in my life. Anybody could have ill intentions that I do not know of, and in my head anything could happen. Being assaulted by a male friend may make it more difficult for me to engage in any sort of sexual activities with my future partners. It hurts that I have come to associate masculinity with untamed sexual urgency, lack of self discipline and a failure to be a living example of human decency.

Sometimes I feel awful for reporting my perpetrator to the police station. The same evening that I reported my assault, the detective spoke with my former friend and no charges were laid. I could only imagine the impossible stories he made up on the spot to detach accountability away from his body and away from his conscience. There are days when I feel weak and worthless, however I remind myself of the things I have accomplished. When nobody, especially not my perpetrator thought I had the nerve to stand up for myself, I achieved the unthinkable and reported the case to protect my own self identity. In that symbolic move, I stopped defining myself with the one who assaulted me and began to define myself with my accomplishments and the goals I will someday attain. I will always be stronger than what people think.

I do not blame the police officers or the detective who interviewed me. They were not there to witness the event and they were not the victim who felt it in her heart. I am not even angry at the man who assaulted me. Perhaps my obsessive behaviour, checking his photos every few minutes and whispering his name at night indicate that I did love him. And even if I didn’t, we all deserve to become the best men and women we could be. Besides, I know that I am indeed stronger than that.

Unfortunately, I do not know what a healthy relationship looks like, but if there is consent then it sounds beautiful to me. There are plenty of good men in the world who would never touch me without a clear yes and I look forward to meeting them. I am grateful for being able to openly discuss stories like this and someday we could live in a society where everyone is safe, appreciated and of course, dearly loved. Thank you for reading my story.

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For students at UWaterloo, please see UW Counselling Services for healing and guidance. UW Women’s Centre and Glow Centre are also great resources.

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Dates – a poem

Dates - excerpts

Inspiration: 7 months ago, I experienced my first breakup with someone who I had thought would be in my life forever. It tore me into pieces and the pain was present every single moment. I didn’t think I could find my way out of it, until I realized that I could simply date myself and be very content.

This message applies to everyone, whether you are single, partnered up or complicated. Always remember to love yourself. You will feel much more rejuvenated every day and hopeful about the future. You will begin to live in the present. Most importantly, you will start living and that’s the most incredible thing you could do. It’s true that all other forms of love will follow, but focus on how you feel. You’re important, so as humble as you could be (which is fantastic), you deserve the respect that you are continuously trying to show everyone else. So love yourself, and take yourself on that date ❤

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Date yourself.

Be the twin flame of your life,

the one you would dance with all night long.

Be the one you’ve been waiting for, who you would write into a song,

to show off friends and family and kiss softly in your candle lit bedroom.

But maybe it never worked out with anyone because one of you moved too soon.

So after all these years when you wept pointless tears, you date yourself.

 

Dress for yourself.

Slip into that sexy red dress and strap on those heels.

Look rad in that tuxedo. How does it feel

to wear whatever you want without judges and critics?

You’re committed to your body for life so enjoy it.

Wear a t-shirt, nothing hurts when you dress for yourself.

 

Flirt with yourself.

Tell me you’ll sneak a peek at yourself in the mirror before heading out the door,

that you’ve laughed with no one else around when you told the funniest joke and now you want more.

So take a seat like the king or queen in the car, on a plane or a bus,

You is enough to be entertained and to feel that initial rush.

For honeymoon stage is every day if you flirt with yourself.

 

As expected, some will cheer while others call me a hypocrite.

I wrote this poem at the start of another relationship

with a man who holds and treats me oh so right.

But I never stopped dating myself for life.

Be your own saviour and offer selfless favours.

The reason you’re alive, the who next to the reason you fight,

Because if you’re like me and you saved your own miraculous life.

you should never live for anyone else.

Tell me you’ll date myself.

Lessons on Gratitude

Yesterday’s vigil with Toronto Pig Save was the largest vigil I have attended to date. As always, there were peaceful times when the protesters and drivers got along. But also there were times when words pierced through egos and both sides would react violently.

The events that happened yesterday will be the revolutionary stories we will tell the next generation years from now. But it was memorable for me not because of the stories I could tell. Sure I made new friends and they are the most inspiring individuals in the world, but that’s not quite it either. It was all about perspective.

I am a positive individual who dwelled in negative energy for far too long and forgot how to be grateful. When I first discovered the plant-based/vegan diet, I felt enraged by the industry and learned about other truths hidden from humanity. I felt lied to, fooled to blend in, and almost robotic in society. My passion was so intense that it started a fight with my parents, pulled me into depression, and ended a romantic relationship.

In the next few months, I felt abandoned, confused and devastated. I relayed between negative emotions, waking up with sadness, eating lunch with anger and going back to bed with fear. What ever happened to hope? What ever happened to peace, joy and a whole lot of love? Now comes gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful because there is a hidden knowing that everything happens for a reason. In the past I would fight feverishly for animal rights and feel shameful for not knowing sooner. But now I close my eyes and tell the Creator that I am grateful to be brought up as an omnivore for 17 years, so that some day I could wake up to the truth, come to veganism on my own terms and mature in the most extraordinary ways. Oh how gratitude feels so great!

Once I started feeling grateful, I could accept the flow of things knowing that they happened exactly how they were supposed to. Remember that it is much easier to try and control things instead of surrendering to the grand flow of things. Ralph Smart from Infinite Waters once said, “your vibe attracts your tribe”. If we give off negative vibes, we attract negative people and negative events into our lives. If we live off of gratitude, do what we can to make a difference and give off the purest positive vibes, we are setting the stage for better things to come.
So gratitude is the way to go. Let us be grateful for whatever situation we are in and we will find the light in the dark. By now, I understand that violence will lurk in places most in need for peace to be restored. It will not be easy, but it seems to me that nothing phenomenal ever comes easy. It’s up to us to enjoy the bumpy ride. Will you join me?

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram 🙂

The Sun – a poem

Oh sun,

Shine through the bedroom window with the California shutters,

awaken the girl stirring softly beneath the covers.

A bleeding lover.

Her unsettled humming speaks that her past has been to the darkest places.

She yearns to feel your warmth, nudge and to embrace your gentle face.

 

But there’s hope in her voice when she speaks with the gaze of her eyes.

Beam your rays with greatness and dazzle her from the inside.

Bring her life.

It’s so rare that her smile can shine though you’re miles apart,

gifted with the generosity of the burning star.

 

How unforeseen to have them both meet and walk at an equal pace,

You conjure up her undying breeze so her cardinal ways bring fire to a blaze.

Giving her space,

But dancing with hands intertwined til the universe hears your chant,

pondering always how the two create such a carefree dance.

It brings back fallen branches and leaves long after its being,

A phenomenal occurrence fuelled by the passion you’re feeding.

A Storm.

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram 🙂

The Ice Road – a poem

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Photos taken by Amy Liou, February 2015 with UW Ecology Lab

I wrote this poem ~4 years ago when my appreciation for the environment reached a peak intensity and I felt the deep urgency to do something meaningful. Today, I pulled it up to share this poem with everyone. I want to ring a similar passion within you to do something, anything for our magnificent environment. Take pledges, join a sustainability group, engage in real talks and read up on these pressing issues. Anything.

I’ve learned in time that I can’t actually change the world. I’m literally one single person in a world with billions of everything. But you see, I have inspired individuals, who will inspire other individuals, who will inspire masses and reach people on the other side of the planet. So the fact that I dream of a day when we may coexist in peace with everything else on this planet is actually not impossible. We can be well on our way.

On a realistic note, this means each on of us has his/her own responsibility to make an effort. That’s the recipe, the genuine effort to understand, to do and to be a good citizen on planet earth.

Now wouldn’t that be something?

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In the Canadian Arctic way up north,

Is where you’ll walk into Aklavik,

Population seven hundred fifty,

People like Gwich’in ‘n Inuvialuit.

 

It forms the heart of the Mackenzie Delta,

I was born in this white world of snow,

Childhood days were glazed with beauty,

Surplus for one to forget the cold.

 

Down the home bound silky ice road,

I could still reminisce the scene,

Unfailing frost would embrace my return,

Such an irreplaceable serenity.

 

I, well I left to fulfill my education,

Schooling did most of my life dictation,

 

The winters fazed,

Then things changed,

 

Walking home is no longer so cold

Down the ice road.

 

Dear mom, dear dad, I really wish to come home,

Down the same trail, down the ice road,

But these times around, the path is scarcely there,

The gentle ice blanket slowly unfolds.

 

Perhaps someday my town may look healthier,

The ice may stand strong, and home, this way I come,

My family and friends, we all could adapt,

Though all too different from what I recall from.

 

Now, that soft swamp of melted snow,

That, I tell you, was the ice road.

Block the Truck – All Day Vigil #2 at Fearman’s Pork Inc. slaughterhouse

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After my eye-opening experience at my first vigil, my mom offered to go with me to the second vigil!
These vigils are held by Toronto Pig Save. The idea is to bear witness to the cruelty behind animal agriculture, not to mention the environmental devastation and health impacts that it brings. It was incredibly hot, however we consistently ran up to feed water to the pigs, took pictures and videos of the violence and gave out pamphlets about going veg. We thought, if we’re hot now, how can the pigs possibly be okay as they are being transported for hours from different cities?

At first, I simply held my signs and waved to the supporters. We ignored the bacon/meat callers who may feel a disconnect between their conscience and the animals due to our way of upbringing our children.

We began to notice however that there were more trucks leaving Fearman’s than arriving. Soon we discovered that they were entering from a different direction! Several activist grabbed their signs and bottles of water and ran towards the slaughterhouse. I went along.
Then, there I stood, at the gates of Fearman’s. I could hear the pigs squealing inside as they are being unloaded from the truck. It sounded like metal against metal, or machines cranking together. The heat only made the stench worse.

When the first truck approached the entrance, 2 brave souls stood RIGHT infront of it, and the truck honked for nearly 30 seconds! I couldn’t believe it. We were actually blocking the truck! I grabbed my water bottle and ran towards the thirsty pigs. Some took the water willinly. Others were too terrified, too exhausted, and too mentally traumatized to respond. They looked into my eyes, as if asking me, “Why are you doing this? Why don’t I matter like a dog, a cat or anything you call a pet? What makes me so different that I don’t even deserve to live? Why is my life determined by what you want to eat?”. I had no answer.
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When the first truck finally made its way into the slaughterhouse, a second truck came and we continued with our procedure. That was when a police officer came. He had been watching us throughout the vigil and reminding us to be safe for ourselves and others on the road. There was a long argument over the safety of blocking the trucks, and emotion arose among the activists. We told the reality, we exposed the truth. And surprisingly, the officer told us that his wife was vegan! He seemed to support what we were doing, but safety was on his priority list.

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At once, I felt pulled between two ways. I wanted to obey the rules set out to protect every person, but it seemed absurd for a police officer to not stop the violence happening in the slaughterhouses. I couldn’t wrap my head around the entire situation.

But at the end of the day, my mom and I were glad to have made wonderful new friends who were as passionate about ending violence as we were. We understand that veganism is not an ultimate answer, although it is certainly part of it. There are vegan products that may pose human ethical concerns. However, going veg is such as incredibly important step to see the world beyond what is given to you. This is the reason to learn more about veganism and what it constitutes. I hope my story has inspired you. Thank you ♥

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I See You – All Day Vigil For Pigs At Fearmans

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Have you ever looked into a pig’s miserable eyes? Or wondered where “pork” comes from? Please don’t turn away. This is relevant to all of us.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Toronto Pig Save at the All Day Vigil for Pigs At Fearmans Pork Inc in Burlington, ON. We bore witness and educated people about the ill treatment of pigs in Ontario, which reflects the treatment of pigs from all across the world. 10,000 pigs are killed at this slaughterhouse every day. In one day, I experienced the most intense emotions and inspiration from like-minded individuals who also believe that our fellow species deserve the simple right to live, just like we do. I would like to share with you all my experience.

At 10am, I arrived at the protest scene at the intersection of Applyby Line and Harvester Road. I carried 2 jugs of water and some apples to feed the hungry, thirsty pigs. The tent was set, there was food, music, and a table filled with flyers and pamphlets about factory farming and going vegan. A woman greeted me with a glowing smile; it was her first vigil too. Soon more and more people came to join us as we held signs with facts and realities, evidence and other undeniable truths.

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My first verbal encounter was with a man who could not accept the compassion that we were trying to show. He turned the curb and screamed “BACON” in our face at least 10 times before driving off satisfied. We heard many more bacon cries from men and women, the young and old. One woman screamed “LOOK AT MY HAM SANDWICH” before taking a huge bite of the cruelty she knew it contained. But several cars honked in approval of what we were doing. They cheered, gave us thumbs up and screamed great job! The honks spread like wildfire and warmed our hearts.

A van with 3 kids drove past. All 3 kids had their arms out the windows, giving us thumbs up with a huge smile on their faces. The mom smiled for a brief few seconds before honking away down the road. I smiled widely myself and began to wonder how many more families were just as enthusiastic about animal rights issues as they were.

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When the first truck filled top to bottom with sickly pigs showed up, I didn’t know how to react so I froze and watched how the others rushed up to feed the pigs water and watermelon. They ran back with tears in their eyes and hatred on the industry.

Another truck drove by, this time fully aware that we were present and sped to as fast as 80 km/h just to avoid our efforts to give the pigs one last breath of life. At one point, the truck ran a red light without looking at both sides just to avoid our “annoyance”.

After a while, I got the hang of fast thinking and ran with the other activists to the trucks and fed the pigs water. Peering into the truck was probably the most difficult task of the day. You could see the misery and despair in their eyes as they are desperately trying to survive their last summer day. Soon they will be gassed to death at the gas chambers in the slaughterhouse. They barely had enough energy to lift their heads and drink the water.

“I’m sorry…I love you…I’m sorry”, we all said as we comforted the pigs before they reached the final destination. I looked at a pig straight in the eye. “I see you, don’t worry, I see you” was the only thing that I could think of. I didn’t know what to say. I wish I could do more, but that was all that I could do.

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Again, the truck drove away and into the slaughterhouse, leaving all of us wondering why this world had to be this way. We snapped several photos as evidence that the cruelty was happening near home. And again, the least that we could do.

When the police showed up, I was across the street and didn’t know what was happening. Later, I overheard that someone had called the cops saying that we were throwing nuts and bolts at people. What. The. ______? We had reassured them that we were doing no such thing at this protest, and they agreed that they saw no evidence of nuts or bolts on the ground. However, one cop made it clear that apparently, feeding the pigs water and watermelon was a hazard to the drivers of the road. We informed him that some drivers were speeding to avoid the compassion we were showing. He heartlessly replied that the driver wouldn’t have sped up if we weren’t there annoying everyone. Until now, I still have countless more questions about why he would say such a thing before he drove off. These were the group of victims who we still try to avoid protecting. They are by far the most innocent, yet abused group of beings on this planet. All under the name of speciesism.

Though we heard many angry drivers and harsh words, the day was filled with positive spirits from those who truly cared. Teens would cover their mouths in horror at the photos we held as they drove past. Some seniors looked shocked at what really happened inside a slaughterhouse. Moms and dads were pointing at the slaughterhouse and educating their kids about the truth. I continued to hold by sign that said “Never be silent”. Indeed, more and more of us are choosing to not remain silent. One farmer brought us a huge basket of apples and veggies, after being touched by our efforts. We were incredibly grateful for all the supportive community members and families. Every honk, ever thumbs up and every effort to speak up made the difference.

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Though the day was long and tiring, I am really looking forward to my next vigil. I strongly encourage you to step into the forefront of activism too. It is a powerful experience that will make your motivation stronger than ever. Once you look into the animal’s eyes, you cannot deny their presence and suffering.

If you like what Toronto Pig Save does, please check out their website and donate: http://www.torontopigsave.org. There is also Toronto Chicken Save and Toronto Cow Save.

And remember, never turn away from the cruelty. Peace.