When I was fifteen, I was raped. It was the summer of 1988 in Toronto and my best friend and I were kind of obsessed with this group of guys that hung out in our neighborhood. They were all six feet tall, very attractive and were about eighteen years old. One of the guys lived in our neighborhood, which is why the rest of them were there all the time. And like typical young girls starting to explore their sexuality, we would try and find any excuse to walk by and flirt with them.
I was particularly fond of one of them whose nickname was Red. After weeks of walking by them and trying to get their attention, he was the first one to say hi. After a few more times of our not-so-subtle stalking, Red finally called us over and we started hanging out with them.
After a couple of weeks of hanging out with them in our neighborhood, we started spending time at Red’s place, because he was one of the only guys that lived on his own. One day he asked me to hang out with him, just him and I.
We spent most of the time either at his place, or at parks, the mall, etc., just hanging out, talking and of course a little kissing. Then one day, he asked to meet at the mall to grab dinner and hang out. We had something to eat, hung out, and then decided to take a walk. We walked out of the mall, through the parking lot to this grassy, small hill tucked away behind some shrubs outside an office building. We started kissing, laughing, talking, nothing out of the ordinary, then all of a sudden he pinned my hands above my head, against the ground and forced himself inside me. I went silent, tears running down my face, looking up towards the sky, praying he would just stop. When he did, he just walked away. I turned over in the fetal position and started crying.
I’m not sure how long I was lying there for, but I finally got up, adjusted my clothes, and tied my jacket around my waist, to hide the blood that had started running down my leg. I started walking home, which normally took me 15-minutes, this time it must have taken me thirty.
When I got home I tried to act normal, walked all the way upstairs into the bathroom, locked the door and drew myself a bath. I just sat there in the red tinted water for 45-minutes and cried. I never told my parents and I never saw Red again.
That moment changed me; I forever had a completely different perspective about men. I thought to myself, I will never be taken advantage of like that again and that I need to take much more control over my life.
For several years after I did date and have boyfriends, just made sure we took things slow when it came to intimacy. Upon moving to Montreal for university, I did have a couple of bad experiences with terrible boyfriends, one being very abusive, which I write about here. However, once I moved to New York, things really changed.
Within the first few months I was dating a guy, but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I ended it. It was at this time I started thinking about my relationship history. From being raped, to dating guys that never appreciated me, to being abused, to guys that only wanted an accessory, I just became fed up. I thought, why is it that guys are so much more empowered than women when it comes to dating and intimacy, to the point where they think they can treat us however they want, which can be disrespectful or worse. I wanted to conduct a test to see if it was possible to feel more empowered when it comes to intimacy and sexuality being a woman.
Now this is not about going around having a lot of random, intimate moments, this is about feeling confident as a woman and going after what you want. Feeling truly respected and knowing you will not be taken advantage of.
In New York I worked at several jobs to be able to afford living there. One of the jobs I had was managing the VIP room at a club called Centro Fly; it’s actually the same club where I met my husband fourteen years ago. One night while I was making the rounds checking on my clients, I noticed a very attractive guy just hanging out by himself. We started talking, he told me he was traveling from Australia, first time in New York, I told him I was from Toronto, so on and so forth. I told him if he didn’t have any plans after the club closed, that we should go grab a drink, which ended up being at my place and we had a wonderful evening together. I sent him on his way as the sun started to rise.
I have to tell you, it was such an empowering moment. I was calling the shots, not the guy. It was two strangers coming together, talking about life and sharing a wonderful moment together. It was at this time that I knew as a woman I could have so much more control and power over my relations with men that was beautiful, fun and safe, and not feel helpless or insecure. I have used that knowledge for every other aspect of my life since.
This is why I say ladies; don’t give up your power. I know we have been taught since we were young to act in a certain way. It starts with all these fairy tales we read about the damsel in distress, helpless, waiting for her prince charming to sweep her off her feet. Then of course society further perpetuates it with how women are portrayed on TV and in movies (although I realize this has changed a lot in the last few years, but there are still many instances where the portrayal of women is still unflattering, weak, and only on this planet to look good and bare children).
Women are powerful on many levels, but we are not taught that. Men are taught to conquer the world and this goes through every aspect of their lives, including their relations with women and it’s the complete opposite for women.
The night I got raped I gave up my power. No the rape was not my fault and men should never force themselves on women, but maybe if I didn’t feel like this helpless, insecure young girl I would have been more in control.
This idea should apply to other areas of life for women. We should also be taught that we can conquer the world as well. The stories of those types of women should be acknowledged and celebrated more in movies, stories and TV.
We need to understand and embrace confidence, be proud and powerful no matter the situation – starting a company, interviewing for a job, getting a raise, and dating men. We are more in control of our lives and our choices than we know it.
Info and stats on rape from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)