Hanging On By A Thread
by Kim Bauersfeld
I’ve been a sexual assault trauma counsellor for 11 years. When I started I had two clients and it increased at a gradual rate until about three years ago when I noticed an influx in historical abuse survivors suddenly finding themselves in crisis. It wasn’t long after that my own assault, 30 years ago, started to resurface. The “Me Too” movement and the many women coming forth after 30+ years along with the criticism and negative backlash they were receiving triggered something in myself. I found myself awake at night rehearsing Facebook rants in my head. Telling my story from 30 years ago and daring anyone to question my motives and the time lapse from the event to my coming forward with it. I wanted to fight with anyone who dared ask why I waited so long to tell. The thing is I did tell, just like most women have. Just like my clients did. We were threatened, called liars…maybe it was just brushed under the carpet. As for myself, my family knew, the police knew….nothing was done. I got over it. I moved on and thrived for 30 years. Then it was all over the media….women coming forward to prevent their historical assailants from being put in positions of power. It wasn’t only about them anymore, they had to come forward to prevent these people from gaining more power and hurting others. All of this brought mine back and I googled my assailant. There was a Canada wide warrant out for his arrest. He had travelled west across Canada sexually assaulting women and children after he had assaulted me. Nothing was done 30 years ago so it wasn’t only me. Our anxiety disorders are believed, we are medicated but then throughout the day messages in the media, from faraway places that were silent before, work against the passivity that the medication induces. Flashbacks and triggers work to drive us mad and uncover the trauma. Being bombarded from all sides, online and offline, with conflicting ideas increases anxiety and perhaps a personality disorder. An obsessive compulsive drive to measure up. I’m lucky, I’m strong and take what I need while discarding the rest. I take the stories, issues and images and turn them into art that heals me, but the ones who are more vulnerable are pulled apart by the mixed messages. I do what I can for my ladies, I give advice and believe their stories. I try to help them move on in a world that won’t let them.