My Why

Heads up readers.

This blog will speak about sexual assault and the aftermath of being assaulted. Only read as much as you can. I promise it will be here later if you need to stop and come back to it. Also be warned this is a long blog so if you manage to read it all, I thank you.

The Straight Facts

In 2015 I was sexually assaulted by a family member, but because of my fear that people wouldn’t believe me I kept it hidden and to myself for years. Keeping this trauma inside killed me. and I started to lose myself little by little. I quit my wrestling career sooner than I was prepared to. I endured night terrors almost every night. When I finally came forward it was too late, and the police couldn’t make him give a statement. So, unfortunately, my fight there ended before it even began, and I might never get justice for what he did to me.

Now fast forward to 2019. I was sexually assaulted by someone who was supposed to be a friend of the family. After this assault, the justice system failed me again. And I did everything right this time. I called police to the scene. I went directly from the scene in an ambulance to the hospital. I got a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (aka rape kit) done as soon as I arrived at the hospital. That still wasn’t enough for the court system to approve my case and bring it in front of a jury. So again… I might never get justice for what he did to me. The justice system has failed me and so many others in this situation.

This needs to change. Period.

The following days, weeks, months, and years that shadowed that horrible moment in my life were petrifying. I broke down completely. I was terrified to leave my bed and to leave my house. I felt that anyone on the street or in a store could hurt me. I couldn’t even take my puppy outside to use the bathroom.

I had to fully depend on my partner. He helped me shower, made sure I ate when I couldn’t, drove me to appointments, etc. I was afraid to be alone, I was afraid to be in society with people I didn’t know. The simplest tasks in everyday life became things I was afraid to do alone. Every day became a nightmare.

My Mind

I was drowning. I kept thinking thoughts like…

“Why did this happen to me? Is it my fault this happened?” I blamed myself for being assaulted.

“Will I ever be okay again? When will this be over? When will I stop feeling broken and lost? How do I move past this or get over it?” I started to believe that maybe I just imagined it happened.

Because… “This couldn’t have really happened right?”

I just lost myself completely. I felt my power was taken away by someone else.

This recent trauma heightened my previous assault too. The one that I kept inside and didn’t let myself process. It brought up all those past feelings of pain, anger, sadness, and emptiness.

So, I was trying to process two assaults at once now.

Every time I tried to reclaim my life, there were reminders of the assault that brought me right back to that night. I was grieving for myself. I wondered if I would ever be the same again. Be myself again. Be the me that I had lost. No, that’s not right. Be the me that was stolen from me.

The Aftermath

I was overwhelmed.

I was dealing with constant nightmares, having trouble sleeping, not eating for days or binge eating too much, crippling depression, extreme anxiety, shaking, flashbacks, and panic attacks. I did not recognize myself in the mirror. I kept thinking my body wasn’t mine. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I didn’t trust people anymore.  I lost all confidence in myself. I felt like I couldn’t live my life the way I wanted to, and I was mad and angry and quite frankly pissed off that I couldn’t do something as simple as brush my teeth most days.

My life, it seemed like it wasn’t worth living anymore and when it finally became too much for me to bear, I tried to take my own life.

The Turning Point

After that moment I reached a crossroads where I had to make a definitive decision.
I finally realized that I couldn’t give these people the satisfaction of me being gone. I had to keep fighting. I had no choice. It was fight or die at this point.

One evening, my partner put on the movie “Wild.” Movies and music help my partner find ways to express himself when he’s unable to find the right words in his mind. His thought process behind this was “You need a wild and huge goal to work towards.” My partner, if you’ve ever met him, has always believed in the impossible becoming possible. He thought I’d perhaps be inspired to trek a month-long journey somewhere in the country. He didn’t think I would attempt what I was seeing that day.

His response to my decision to hike the PCT was pretty much along the lines of “Yeah, alright. I’ll watch the dog.” He has always supported me in everything I’ve wanted to try and everything I’ve tried and failed in. He knew that once I make up my mind it’s almost impossible for it to change. His belief in me means the world, and him not trying to change my mind repeatedly is greatly appreciated. He tells me almost daily that I’ll achieve this goal. With his support and the support of all my friends and family I believe I can do just that.

So, this newly inspired Alyssa decided she was going to do the Pacific Crest Trail. A thru-hike. My first thoughts were “Hell fucking yes” which was immediately followed by “How the heck could I ever finish this?”

When I started to embark on some hiking and backpacking adventures, I was terrified. I didn’t let my family and friends know exactly how much it scared me. but I just kept pushing forward. I cried alone in my tent when I heard any sound outside. I got lost many times. I screamed on top of mountains. I fell down mountains… and had to climb back out. I came within 10 meters of a family of bears. I did my first five-day solo trip backpacking the “Rockwall Trail” in the Kootenays. Oh, and was that liberating for me. After that moment I knew in my heart I could do the PCT… it’s only 175 more days than 5 so why not right? So here I am. Less than two days away. Absolutely terrified. However, I’m okay with that now.

Other Realizations

As I’ve been preparing and thinking about this journey almost every day since, I’ve come to some other realizations about why I’m hiking this trail.

I’ve never been alone in my life. I’ve always been able to depend on others to get me out of a pickle if I needed them. I don’t want that anymore. I want to learn to depend on myself now.
I’ve never had to fully trust myself. And because I’ve never had to, it has caused me to not trust myself.

During this journey I’m about to embark on I’ve decided that:

I want to create a version of myself that I am proud of
I want to strengthen the qualities I have to the point where they can never be taken from me again.
Resilience, passion, laughter, fun, happiness, my joy of the world and of life
I’d also like to gain the qualities that I admire in people around me
Be truly proud of myself

Finally, and most importantly.

Take back my power that I felt was taken from me.

Oh, and the name of my hike is called “Head Above Water, Feet on the Ground” because Avril’s song Head Above Water kept me going through the hard days. And now it is time for me to place my “feet on the ground” and start hiking towards Canada… the scenic route 😉

With all that in mind, my Mission is this:

To raise awareness and donations for sexual assault survivors

The donations raised by my GoFundMe will be split between the two sexual assault survivor charities I’ve chosen. WAVAW located in Vancouver, Canada (the charity that helped me through my recent assault), and SOWINS located in Penticton, Canada (the charity in the rural town where I was living during my teenage years).

I hope that through my journey I will not only raise awareness and donations for sexual assault survivors but also inspire all survivors that they are powerful, strong, worthy, and loved.

Through my website, I have all the information about the charities, GoFundMe, news articles and blog interviews written about this mission etc.

My inbox on my website or Instagram is always open for those who may want to share their story whether it happened years ago or yesterday. Or maybe you haven’t told anyone for fear of not being believed or just because you haven’t fully processed it yourself, but my inbox is always open for anything you may want to share.

Thank you for reading and happy hiking!

Alyssa

 

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Comments 6

  • Bruce Hall : Mar 25th

    Your courage is an inspiration to everyone. Never give up. You are a winner and a true hero.

    Reply
  • Gary Cassidy : Mar 26th

    Alyssa you are a true champion. What you are doing now is no small undertaking. You have been preparing yourself for this ever since I met you. Yes, you are doing this for you; but you also are doing this for many others that have had similar experiences. You know that I am a long distance runner… but I feel like a short distance runner in comparison to what you are doing. The part I like the best of your undertaking, is the reality that you are not doing this only for yourself; but for many, many others that have had terrible experiences as well. I believe that many people will read about you and take inspiration from your efforts; maybe a few might even begin something similar to claim their own victory over the terrors of personal experience. Good luck on the “Trail”! And may the Force be with you every step along the way; guiding, protecting and bringing you endless inspiration to complete it. But completing it is secondary to the personal victory you will be experiencing every step of the way. May the Force be with you as you begin and every single step along the way. The moment you decided to do this … to the moment of your first steps on the Trail … and onward may you be energized for that next step and all along the Way. I will be thinking of you everyday until you reach your goal and begin your next project of Victory. You are a true Champion Alyssa and I am drinking from the cup of Inspiration that you are giving all that join you in the Victory. May you be filled with new inspiration every day until you reach your goal and cross the border back to Canada as a Champion to all what have had similar experiences. Thank you for the inspiration you have brought me.

    Reply
  • Mavis : Mar 26th

    You are a brave, beautiful strong woman reclaiming who you are. So proud of you!

    Reply
  • Lisa Fletcher : Mar 28th

    It is okay to be afraid. We rarely, if ever are taught to trust ourselves. What you are doing is courageous, empowering, inspiring, sacred…thank you for sharing these pieces of your journey.
    You are the teacher, the learner, and the most important sidekick you could have.
    Walk on, Trailblazer. 🦋

    Reply
  • Susan W : Mar 28th

    You can do this, Alyss! Never give up, you’re strong, move forward!

    Reply
  • EB : Jun 12th

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your courage, determination, and all your goals for the trail are so powerful and inspiring. Wishing you all the best!

    Reply

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