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For Sexual Assault Awareness Month; Sharing My Survival

HUGE Trigger Warning!!!

This account can be very very triggering for my fellow rape survivors, so I will include a long jump here. Please don't read this is you think an account of a brutal series of rapes will upset you badly.

I've shared my story on my own blog and across the web on many sites, as well as in person. Given that down in the USA April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, I was encouraged by some friends to share my story as much as possible. So with trigger warnings given, this is my survival story.













Jump over, trigger warning in effect.

When I was in my teens, I had severe anger management issues. After years of abuse from my parents, who at best were indifferent to me, and at worst, would harshly yell, berate, and/or smack me around if I tried to discuss my feelings of being a girl, and of getting beaten up at school for being different, I reached a point where I was so bitter and angry that I had no control over my temper, and would fly off the handle at often minimal irritations.

At age 15, my parents put me into a Group Home, Megan House, in Scarborough Ontario. The staff there were unsympathetic and ineffectual, blaming my anger on things that had nothing to do with it and ignoring my claims of what really caused it. A week before turning 16, I got into a huge fistfight with a Staff member and was arrested. I was sentenced to a term in Young Offender Detention, or what Americans would call Juvey.

During my teens, I used extra wide Tensor bandages to keep my breasts taped down. I hated hiding them, since I felt they vindicated my belief I was a girl, but I also knew if they were visible, I'd get my ass kicked. The first few places I was in during my sentence, I was allowed to keep the binding because the staff of those places didn't want to deal with the inevitable crap that would come of my being visible.

However, after about 11 months, I got into another fight with a guard, and, being past 16 now, got Phase 2 time added to my sentence. I was transferred to Metro Toronto West Detention Centre.

The guards here were completely unsympathetic to my situation. They took away my binding, claiming I would use it as a weapon, despite my pleas. Then, caring nothing for the possible consequences, put me into a ward full of Hard-timers. Teenage Gangsta boys, criminals, violent kids with no remorse, who hadn't touched a girl in months, and me looking like a teenage Winona Ryder.

It took 3 days before it happened. I had expected to be beaten up, as a freak, but I never expected what they did to me. I didn't think such things happened in Juvey, only in Adult prisons.

I was in the shower, thinking no one had seen me go in while everyone was distracted by two boys beating a third up. Figuring they'd all be caught up watching the fight, and having not showered yet out of fear of a beating, I snuck in to quickly shower before bed-check.

I wasn't paying attention when my face suddenly impacted the wall. Two white boys were ramming my face into the wall. After a half dozen impacts, I got weak-kneed and dizzy, and there was blood gushing from my right eyebrow. The two boys then held me flat against the wall, while 5 more boys began taking turns with me.

My legs were being held apart, while each boy, (one white, two black, one East Indian and one Asian boy), forced his…. forced his way into my rear end, tearing me open in multiple places. After a few minutes I blacked out, because I don't remember when it ended, or how long it lasted. I just remember the guards shaking me awake in the shower, a stream of blood still trickling from back there to the shower drain.

I asked to go to the hospital but the guards scoffed. They ordered me to dry off and get dressed, and put me in my cell. One of the boys from the shower, the East Indian, was my cellmate, and he repeated the violation every night for 3 months until I got another transfer. I tried to fight him for 4 nights straight, but he'd always beat on me until I couldn't resist. by the 5th night, I just started laying still so it would hurt less, biting my pillow so he wouldn't get the thrill of hearing me scream.

My parents accepted an “out of court” settlement from the prison when I tried to seek legal action. It would better have been called a bribe. The West didn't want it known their staff had such indifference to these kinds of situations, or even that these kinds of situations happened. My parents didn't want their freak child becoming public knowledge. I was forced to sign an agreement absolving The West of all liability. So as soon as I was able, I left home. I no longer communicate with the majority of my family.

20 years later and I still have nightmares. Not near so bad as I used to, but they'll never fully leave me. The 3 month anniversary period is often the worst for them.

I'm a chronic insomniac, and when I do sleep, I sleep during the day, because I'm afraid to sleep in the dark, alone. I was in counseling for trauma survival for 3 years at WAVAW, or Women Against Violence Against Women. The counseling has helped me a lot, but some days I wonder if I can ever truly let it go and move on.

It was 6 years before I was able to attempt to be intimate with anyone. It was another 3 before I finally told someone what had happened, and sought counseling.

I have permanent physical reminders of the horror.

My right eyebrow suffered permanent nerve damage, and naturally droops, which is visible enough that I see it every time I look into the mirror.

I cannot have a bowel movement comfortably. My sphincter and anus suffered so much tearing and damage there there is permanent nerve, tissue, and muscle damage. My sphincter cannot stretch much and does not accommodate movements easily, and i frequently suffer from small stress tears called “fissures”. I often see red water before I flush, and suffer frequent dizzy spells from the blood loss.

But despite all of this, despite the trauma, the scars, the damage, the nightmares, I survived. I'm still here. They hurt me, they violated me, but I am still here.

I survived, and to other survivors of this horrible violation of a woman's very core, I say this;

We're still alive. They didn't break us. We beat them, because we live. Never forget that we are survivors, and we are stronger than the cowards who hurt us. We have power over our own destinies, not them.

Rape Crisis Resources. (Where I got my  Counseling, Vancouver BC Canada) (New Zealand)

Personal Reccomendation; If you live in Vancouver BC Canada, call WAVAW, do not EVER seek help from Vancouver Rape Relief. Unless you look like June Cleaver and were a virgin at the time of rape, these Femisogenyst women will NOT be supportive of you.

For other resources, or local help lines, consult Yahoo Web Search, or Consult your local Telephone directory.

This account may be copied and shared with my express permission. For permission to use this account, please e-mail me at

– Penny Sautereau-Fife

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