With the holidays fast approaching, we all have very specific things on our minds right now. Gifts, food, family, friends, parties — that’s in no particular order, although I do love food more than I love people sometimes.
All of these things are what make this time of year so special in comparison to the other 50 weeks on the calendar, unless you’re, like, Paris Hilton and that’s just your reality. All of these things are wonderful and tend to invoke a sense of love and peace and warmth in the hearts and souls of anyone with a heart and soul. But sometimes it’s exactly in those moments where we are so carefree, up to our eyes in pure bliss, that we slip up and forget what kind of world we (sadly, scarily) live in.
I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, I’m just concerned for your safety. You see, there is almost nothing I enjoy more than a good party. It’s perfect because you get to be with everyone you enjoy spending your time with all at once, with the added bonus of getting messed up together which usually makes for some hilarious stories to recall, or try to recall, later. Usually, though, you’re also surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t know or readily trust and that’s fine, everyone is a stranger to you at first, but some people deserve to stay at that level.
I don’t know about you but I have a great track record for trusting the wrong people. If you read my column regularly, there’s no surprise there. I was sprung forth from the loins of two people whose hearts are so sweet and pure you could contract diabetes just by standing next to them for one second. I don’t have a malicious or distrustful bone in my body. I talked to strangers all the time as a child (in the company of my parents) and still do. I am fascinated by humanity, I have an inherent love and curiosity for people. That’s just the way I was made.
The day I turned 23, I was drugged at a club by someone I don’t know. My friends and I joined birthday festivities with some other people who seemed cool enough. I don’t remember much, except being kicked out and banned from said club and throwing up from that club all the way to my house. I know someone carried me home. I know that the next day I took a walk down Mont Royal and my six block-long vomit trail was still there.
New Year’s Eve of that same year — all my friends were being “boring” so I decided to go out by myself. I was very very okay with this idea because I had gone out alone before and I actually enjoy being alone. I’m an introvert with extrovert tendencies. I’m an observer, a behind the scenes lurker, which is probably why I’m a writer and not “the face” of something. Then there’s the added bonus that I’m generally good with strangers. I love learning things from people I would have otherwise never met or learned from. Everyone’s life holds a unique lesson and I believe that if we share those lessons with each other we are not only facilitating this journey but we’re making the world a better place. Or trying to.
I was sexually assaulted that night. Again, I don’t remember much past dancing feverishly with some stupid kid and then being driven to a hotel party, all of which was consensual. What followed, though, was not. I have blocked this story out of my mind since it happened because, nothing really happened to me (or so I kept telling myself) therefore I should just move on and learn from it. Which is great and all, except I failed to see one important thing: it was not my mistake to learn from.
A couple of weeks ago I was sexually assaulted. It wasn’t by a stranger, it wasn’t by someone I only vaguely knew. It wasn’t after a night of heavy drinking or drug use. I wasn’t wearing anything fancy or particularly festive. It wasn’t in some dark creepy alley way or random house party. This person is someone who I trusted fully, love deeply and who, somehow, for reasons I will never understand, hurt me to my fucking core.
I have been told — mostly, luckily, and I realize this, and I’m grateful for my friends and family — that I did nothing wrong. I struggle with this idea most days. I can’t find the strength to get out of bed and live, but I think that I will slowly get there. Because when I look at other survivors of sexual assault I have nothing but admiration for them, and that was long before I ever personally knew how it felt.
I don’t believe that people should have to make extra efforts to stay out of the proverbial line of fire when it comes to these types of vicious personal attacks. I believe, and know, that it’s a fundamental human right to be able to go wherever you want, whenever you want, regardless of who you are or what you’re wearing or what time it is.
But I unfortunately also now know for a cold hard fact that the world is far from perfect. It’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that I even feel compelled to write this but as a person who has a genuine interest and love and admiration for human beings, especially strangers, that means I care about every single one of you.
Please do whatever it takes to keep yourself safe, this holiday season and always. I hope to continue hearing from you in the new year because it makes my job that much easier and more enjoyable. Whether it’s a question or a story, I love working your ideas into my column. I still can’t believe anyone reads anything I write. Y’all are so awesome, it’s overwhelming.
Sending you all so much love and wishing you the happiest holidays in the universe!
Send your questions, thoughts, or comments to Celina at firstname.lastname@example.org