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A survivor's story helps Take Back The Night (9 Photos)

'This violence is happening in our community and denying it is contrary to change and prevention'

It started when she was four years old. First her step-father, then the father of a childhood friend, next a step-brother and finally her step-father's best friend.

Years of sexual abuse. Incest. Rape. Sexual exploitation.

“By the age of four, nighttime became something I would fear: bath, showers or my bedroom were never safe or secure,” Selena Gaus told those gathered at Marianne’s Park Thursday for the Take Back The Night event in support and awareness of sexual and domestic violence and in support of survivors of abuse.

It continued for 12 years.

“’It’s okay, my daddy does it too,’ were the words I used to reassure my childhood friend’s father as he too sexually assaulted me at a sleepover where I thought I had escaped the abuse from home.”

Extended family didn’t know. Her mother confronted it when Gaus was 10 and a family meeting held where all promised it would never happen again.

“’It will never happen again,’ she said.”

It did.

“The keepers of right and wrong had failed me repeatedly. How was this going to end? They would not stop this. I was continually disappointed,” said Gaus, occasionally overcome with emotion as were many others in the crowd who dabbed away tears.

The only solution? Survival.

Eventually it was a Grade 9 teacher who offered hope. Gaining her trust by “sticking around” no matter what Gaus threw at her and proving she wasn’t going to leave her.

Gaus eventually started living with that teacher and her family and finally told them of the abuse that had been happening for 12 years.

Authorities were called. Charges laid. People sent to jail.

“I am a survivor and surviving has been a theme of many portions of my life,” she said.

Gaus has finished school, formed positive relationships and had a child.

But it’s a journey. One she is still on, with the help of friends, loved ones and professionals. She is still “connecting the dots.”

“You are not alone,” she repeatedly told other survivors.

“This violence is happening in our community and denying it is contrary to change and prevention.”

Gaus cautioned the crowd of roughly 200 who gathered at Marianne’s Park that she wasn’t there to speak on behalf of other survivors or take away anyone else’s voice, but rather was there to share experience.

 “I am not here to tell you what every survivor needs. I am here to speak of one story, one journey, with the hope that my story will resonate with one of you.

“My hope is that you will see the strength within yourself and find the courage to search out the support that you might need to answer the common questions that our community should be asking you: what do you need? What will make you feel safe? How can we support you in your healing journey?”


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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