Its Okay to Tell You This (or, Its Time)

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Me.

Most of the people who know me know me as a funny, sometimes-silly, choose-to-be-happy, up front, confidant gal.

And I am those things.

I’m all sorts of things, just like you are. Our combinations of genetics and surroundings added to our choices shape who we are on a daily basis.

Our personalities are pretty much set by the time we are 21 years old but things can still happen that may change how we react to certain things.

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a few days ago

I’m a professional with a Doctor in front of my name. A CEO of my own bling biz. A former professional athlete and respected coach. A writer who writes from the heart. A wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a step-mom and a pet-mom.

I’m a tree-hugging, wine-drinking, Aloha-loving, hiking, skiing, golfing, laughing, Canadian, American advocate for the little guy which is why its time.

Its time I shared my story  of sexual assault and why I haven’t until now.

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getting ready to sing with the ferrets in the Bling Emporium

I haven’t shared this because of all of those things I am and all of the things I want you to see me as.

I am not a victim and I have never, ever wanted to be a victim. I don’t want you to think of me as a victim.

But that’s how it is with assault. You don’t get to choose. You just have to suck it up and live with it.

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vaccine day at the local animal shelter last month with a new friend

My story doesn’t involve Donald Trump but it does involve a large, powerful, man who was a well-respected thespian within our small acting community when I first went to college. I was an English major pursuing a Theatre minor at the time and the acting community was small but close-knit.

I was 16 when I went to college and I was definitely not worldly. I was even a little bit of a prude, having been quite sheltered in my brainy, figure skating world.

But I loved life as much as I do now and after a couple of years I was dating another member of the theatre community and I was moving up in the acting ranks.

Amazingly, I was actually cast as a lead character in our college’s highly anticipated annual Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. I was cast as Jessica, the raven-haired Jewish daughter of the large, powerful man who I, and everyone else loved, admired and respected.

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a couple of weeks ago on our local golf course

I played his daughter. He was supposed to be my father.

When you’re backstage everyone has ways of getting into character. You are focusing, rehearsing lines, blocking, getting rid of jitters. Sometimes you are alone, other times you are with other actors or stage hands. The large, powerful man had more stage time than I did but we were together a fair bit as well.

Towards the end of our two-week run this large, powerful man was facing me backstage. I was about to climb up the balcony for one of my scenes but before I knew it he reached his hands down at me and grabbed and squeezed both of my breasts.

Hard. For several seconds.

Just like that.

And then he said, “I had to do that” and turned and ran off.

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I looked more like this back then, circa 1992

WTF?

Who on Earth just has to do that? Seconds before I was going on stage to pretend this man was my father he groped me.

And it wasn’t subtle.

It was offensive, rude, hurtful and wrong.

He took his position of power and used it to grab and handle my body in a sexual way for whatever gratification he took from it. He took my trust and threw it down the toilet with one gesture.

I couldn’t look him the eye ever again. Even at the wrap party at his house where his two young, adorable children and his pretty wife celebrated with us.

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A few years ago with Shilo.

And I wasn’t completely silent. I did tell my then-boyfriend, who wasn’t in the play. He was appropriately horrified  and supportive and we discussed telling the higher-ups in the college community.

I, like the women who are speaking up at this late political hour, chose not to speak up against a powerful, well-connected man.

Who would believe me? A little ethnic kid from the Kootenays with a few extra pounds and absolutely no clout.

Women are tough. We are made to be tough. And while I’m not saying its acceptable that I kept quiet its still what I rationalized I should do.

And look at me! I have gone on to do and become many amazing, fabulous things. I’ve said it countless times- I love being me!

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loving being Me… with this guy… and a bear

And this doesn’t define me. And its not as horrific as what some men and women go through when a powerful, thoughtless, narcissistic, mean person does something to them without their permission.

There is a problem in society in that some folks don’t see using derogatory, sexually-charged comments about women as a problem. That people who casually use language like that  (outside of any locker room, mind you, on a bus with a microphone while on the job) are often those who don’t see the problem with sexual assault at any level.

In my case, a few years later, after 2 trips to Japan, a break from college as well as a breakup, when I was living in Nelson, BC as a single figure skating coach I received a strange phone call. The call was from an older woman who had taken a few acting classes when I was in college and did some work on the sets. I barely remembered her then and I can’t recollect her name now.

She was calling because the large, powerful man had assaulted her, too.

And there were several others.

And they were pressing charges.

My story did get told and I was a part of the accusation against this man that forced him from the college. I don’t believe the case ever went to trial but at least we spoke up.

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Ferret Fun!

I get it, though. Donald Trump and the people who support him claim its foolish and unbelievable that these women didn’t say anything about their sexual assault claims until now. That there must be political motivation for them to tell outrageous lies that can’t possibly be true.

And I’m not even being political here. I’m not saying you should vote against him. You should vote for what you believe to be true.

I believe these women. I believe there are more of them, just like there was with the large, powerful man who took advantage of me.

We were all younger women who faced a world where white men held the keys to our futures. We didn’t want the act to define us.

Just like I don’t want it to define me now.

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Loki & I

I still just want to be Loki’s Step-Gammy who Walks & Talks with her outside. I want to be your go-to when you have questions about your dog, the state of figure skating, or which jewelry to buy to match a certain dress. I want you to laugh or smile when you think about my big wine glass or me falling off my speeding horse when I first met Alistair. I want you to laugh at my blog about my sleep-walking around Maui’s Ritz Carlton naked. I want you to cry with me when I share my thoughts and difficult decisions about our aging animal companions. I want you to shake your head at all of the snow, or chuckle beneath your breath when I tell you how Loki pin-balls her way around the world. I want you to want to get to know me and my animals and their voices with accents and the one with the slight lisp.

I also want you to know its okay. That even the most hilarious, silly, content, confident, smart people have had shit happen to them.

That its okay to talk about it.

That it will not, EVER define you.

 

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This is me

 

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most definitely me

 

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Wine-sponsored PSA. Me, encouraging everyone to get their Influenza vaccines!

 

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This is more of what defines Me. xo

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Its Okay to Tell You This (or, Its Time)

  1. Kathy

    Tanya it hasn’t defined you ! Nor has it changed how we feel about you or will come to know you.What is so special here is that we can share it! I applaud and respect you for having a Voice! Reminds me that no matter how weird stuff seems (politically) we are so fortunate in so many ways today ! Keep writing,

    • Every woman needs to have a voice… whether it is their own or someone speaking out for them. Thanks for your thoughts. I wrestled with sharing this today and thoughts of ‘my story isn’t that bad’ crept into my mind but that is also part of the problem. Again, thank-you so much! 🙂

  2. Tanya nothing could change the way I look at you! You are a strong, loving, caring, funny woman. A person I look to when I need a friend or someone to bounce ideas off of. Thanks for sharing another part of you with all of us. Love you!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy. Everyone has reasons for staying silent if that’s what they choose to do. We do bounce a lot of ideas (usually recipe or garden- centered, lol) and I really enjoy that, too. It means so much to read this. I appreciate you commenting, too! xo

  3. Kathy

    Tanya,Cindy funny how I feel so close to the 2 of you! We don’t see each other, don’t call each other, it’s all this pc stuff! I can’t believe it! it’s like pen pals… Thanks for the growing friendship, sharing of thoughts,emotions and life stories. The Weather presently= creativity. The Timing of your latest writing is perfect!

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