2 years ago I was sexually assaulted by a Registered Massage Therapist at the Stillwater Spa in Toronto. I don’t like using the phrase ‘sexually assaulted’ because it makes me feel like I’m needlessly playing the victim card but that’s what it was.
I’d been given a gift certificate for the Stillwater Spa as a “congratulations on getting a new job” present, so I took a Friday off work and decided to have a “me” day. I felt pretty uppity as I walked into the spa and got into my robe. I’d never been to a spa before but I pretended that I knew exactly what I was doing. I pretended I wasn’t nervous at all when they told me that my masseur for the day was going to be a man; like I’d had male masseurs alllll the time and it was no big deal.
While he massaged me, he touched parts of me I didn’t think he was allowed to touch without my permission. He grazed parts of my body I know he wasn’t allowed to graze at all. I could feel his breath on me while his hands were all over me and instead of getting up or telling him to stop, my body clenched up and I froze.
I did nothing. And I hated myself for that.
I’ve read hundreds of articles about women being sexually assaulted in various scenarios. I’ve imagined what I would do if I were ever in a situation like that, myself. The only thing I can tell you, lying on that table in that dark room overwhelmed by the smell of citrus and the sound of waves, is I have never felt more useless in my life. I didn’t scream. I didn’t get up. I laid there, stuck, until the excruciating 60 minutes was over. I got up, I even fucking thanked him, (WTF???) and then I left.
I cried. I didn’t know if I’d been assaulted or if that’s just what a professional massage felt like. I was embarrassed and disappointed that I didn’t say something to someone while I was still there. I even left a tip at the desk because I was so caught off-guard and didn’t want to be rude.
Two days later, I emailed the spa to tell them about the incident and the response I got from the spa was overwhelmingly horrifying. I got the generic, “I’m sorry to hear that you were unsatisfied with your experience at our spa” and the, “I’m surprised by your claim as no one has ever complained about this particular RMT before.” I got the unoriginal, “we’ll talk to him,” and the, “why don’t you come in and have another treatment, on us” [hahaha yeah right] and when all was said and done, I felt like they hadn’t taken me even the slightest bit seriously.
To be honest, I didn’t even know how serious I was. I felt violated and awful but I still wasn’t sure where the line gets drawn when we’re talking about someone professionally touching your body.
I almost felt guilty about getting this man in trouble because what if I was wrong? What if what I felt was just what you feel when you’re naked under a sheet in a room alone with a guy you don’t know? And then I thought back to clenching my thighs so tight I thought I was going to have bruises and thought back to counting down the seconds until I got to put my clothes back on again, and I remember why exactly it was I wanted them to know that he assaulted me…
Because he did.
As far as I know, nothing ever happened to him. He probably wasn’t reprimanded and he definitely wasn’t fired.
Shortly after it happened, I wrote an online review about my experience at the spa and last week, a girl contacted me to tell me she, too, had been sexually assaulted by the same man at the same spa. Maybe if I had reported him to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario or to the police, that maybe I would have saved this girl from the same experience I went through.
For that, I feel terrible. And for that, I decided that I needed to report him to someone who might actually take me seriously.
It’s a messed up thing when the person who got assaulted is the one who feels bad about it.
So don’t. Because you have nothing to feel bad about.
Sexual Assault Support links:
Sexual Assault Support Centres in your city:
Judging by people’s Facebook status updates between December 31st and this morning, everyone seemed to have a really shitty and difficult 2012 [I can’t remember a time when people weren’t being constantly complainy about something but I can’t believe that everyone’s years were all complete shit].
2012 was a good year. I remember the good more than the bad because no one takes photos of the times they were crying their eyes out because life sucked so bad.
So let’s review last year, shall we? It’s really cathartic.
Last year, I turned 26 and for the first time since I started planning birthday parties for myself, I didn’t make it a week-long, 2-3 party spectacle. I threw a birthday party for a good friend and opted for the quiet dinner with girlfriends for myself instead. Obviously before I came home and got shitfaced on cheap wine all by myself, because for the first time in 3 years, my dad decided to call me. As a belated birthday present to myself, I flew to California to visit my HSB for 4 days and ended JANUARY with a big, fat bang.
FEBRUARY was boring but I did get to see One Direction with K at Much Music and the boyfriend did surprise me with a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day, which confirmed my suspicions that he’s pretty much the best thing ever.
In MARCH, I went to visit my dad for the first time in 3 years, which basically gave me a mini-stroke. I also found out that I have asthma, which really means nothing to me except that sometimes I have to awkwardly inhale my puffer on public transit and people give me weird looks. It also means my lung doctor thinks I’m an idiot for having 2 cats that I’m allergic to because it just makes my asthma worse, to which I say, “c’est la vie” and “le shut up.”
In APRIL, the boyfriend and I went on our very first [YAY!] all-inclusive vacation to Mexico [with a couple friends]. It was my first all-inclusive vacation, I got to swim with dolphins, and for the first time in my adult life, I got to wake up, have a strawberry daiquiri on the beach, and not think about work for 8 whole days. I totally understand why people go on vacation every year. I’ve clearly been missing out.
I don’t know what prompted me to finally decide to do it, but in MAY I finally posted a really honest letter I’d written but never sent to my grandparents. It was harsh and real, and kiiiiinda hateful, but it felt so good to get it off my chest and start the warm months off on the right foot. I spent the rest of the month attending birthday parties, boat parties, Cajunga parties, and was asked to be in a print ad for a hair salon, which is hilarious because I have the worst natural hair and am the least fit person I know [the ad involved me being on an elliptical machine for 3 hours]. I do these things mostly so I have fun stories to tell and random pictures to remind me that sometimes, my life is really, really good.
In JUNE, I attended my first wedding in 10+ years, I spent a lot of time at cottages, spent a lot of money at Sirens on floral shorts and hi-lo hem shirts, and went on a last-minute road trip to Chicago with the boyfriend to celebrate our 3 year anniversary. Did I mention we somehow made it to 3 years? Holy shit, I’m a grown up. Babies next? No. Don’t even think about it.
JULY was probably the quietest month of the summer as far as events and random happenings go. I took a lot of photos of my outfits and of my cats, I sprained my foot dancing to a Backstreet Boys song at a 90’s bar on girl’s night, and I fell in love with new foods like honey-balsamic dressing and Big Fat Burrito burritos. I also started winning a bunch of random Facebook contests [Dufferin Mall gift card, La Senza gift card, Vero Moda jeather pants, etc.] and getting enough free samples that I’ll probably never need to buy another bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or moisturizer again.
In AUGUST, I attended the wedding of a girl I used to live with in university which basically doubled as a Brock reunion and was, by far, the best weekend of my year including my birthday weekend. It’s possibly tied with Mexico but I have no idea how I would ever measure that accurately. I spent more time at cottages, taking pictures of my outfits and cats, and made one of the biggest decisions of my life that I haven’t really told anyone about and am only mentioning it now in case I decide later than I want to talk about it and then I’ll have a frame of reference.
I really hate the fall. It’s when I begin my hibernation. A moved in to my small-ish 1 bedroom apartment in SEPTEMBER and taught me how to be less OCD and uptight. We celebrated the 1 year birthday of our kitties [ie. tons more cat photos], I joined a dodgeball team, and discovered the dangerous joy that is eBay.
My 3rd wedding of the year was in OCTOBER which in my opinion is a strange time of year to have a wedding because it’s likely to be cold/rainy/snowy [knowing Stratford, which is where the wedding was]. After 2 years of living in my apartment, I finally decided to repaint and redecorate my bedroom and add a little pinspiration to the rest of my apartment. Thank fuck. For Halloween this year I decided to be a loofah - a costume I made from scratch which involved a couple pieces of elastic and a lotttttttt of hot pink tulle. I also went on a roller coaster for the first time since I was in elementary school and didn’t die or throw up or cry afterwards, which I think says a lot about my personal growth.
I also kind of stopped blogging in October because I had absolutely nothing to say that was entertaining, witty, or insightful, even though someone I know told me it’s likely because I’m just happy and content with my life. It’s probably true.
I don’t know if it’s because I do more at the end of the year to make up for the fact I did nothing significant at the beginning or because it’s just more recent and my memory sucks, but NOVEMBER was.. eventful, to say the least. I learned how to do an entirely new aspect of my job [while covering someone’s vacation] and I got so stressed out about doing it well that I ended up in the hospital….. 4 times in 5 days. What was initially diagnosed as stress-related chest pain, actually ended up being esophagitis, which basically means I couldn’t eat or drink anything without being in the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life. Long story short, I should have lost weight from not eating for over a week, but I didn’t because I ate about 6 burritos after I could swallow real food again. #fatgirlontheinside is an understatement, my friends. I need some serious burrito rehab.
Also in November, we celebrated the boyfriend’s 26th birthday, I got a new TV and a way more grown up living room set-up, bawled my eyes out at the 5th and final Twilight movie, and went to NYC on a girls trip with M.
Out of all the months, I think DECEMBER was my favourite. I really stepped out of the bubble I’d been living in for the past 11 months and tried a lot of new things. I ate foods I didn’t think I liked and I liked them, I took out [and with the exception of a couple slip ups/major events, have kept out] my weave and have been short-hairing it for a while, and I’ve even readjusted my viewpoints on some things. I helped plan and execute my work Christmas Party, I spent 6 days in Stratford, and I strengthened the intermittent relationship I have with my dad. Christmas with family is always nice, though I did miss the boyfriend quite a bit while he was galavanting across Costa Rica with his family. I got absolutely spoiled with presents and although I don’t always say it [I think I do say it sometimes], I’m really grateful for everything I have.
It wasn’t easy being in Stratford for those 6 days. My uncle passed away which meant that I had to face my father’s side of the family for the first time since they shunned me years ago. It was hard. I cried for my uncle, I cried for my widowed aunt, and I cried because I hated everyone in that room so much for what they did to me. I cried because my mom, for whatever reason, just couldn’t find it in herself to support me when I needed her the most. It was hard.
And I’m deciding to be a better person because of it.
Fuck yes, 2012 was stressful. It was busy, exciting, and it barely feels like it’s been an entire year. But regardless of whether most people remember the shitty parts, I’m choosing to remember the good. Because eventually, it just isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to make you happy but your own.
Happy 2013-ing everyone! I wish you a safe, happy, exciting, crazy, stressful, fantastic year.
You want an explanation for what happened today?
I was 14 when my parents divorced. I was, by legal and basically anyone’s standards, a child. I didn’t mail Christmas/birthday cards. I didn’t make phone calls to anyone but my friends parent’s houses after checking to make sure it was okay with my mom. I didn’t drive so therefore, any and all visits were decided by my parents whims and desires.
I wasn’t an adult. YOU all were.
For most of my adult life, I was raised by one parent. It wasn’t the parent that was your blood relative, but for years, she [and sometimes even my dad - we’ll give him a bit of credit here] drove me to visit as many of you as they could. They would ask me to call. They would have me sign the card that went with their gift.
I was raised to be a respectful girl. I was taught manners, the value of family, and was shown an enormous amount of love and support.
And none of you [with the exception of one person; the person I was there to see today] contributed to any of that. You shut me out. All of you.
Not once did I get any calls - on birthdays, on Christmas, on graduation, or, god forbid, just to see how I was doing.
I’m an adult now; I can understand that things will change and that people will grow apart. I can understand only seeing family on birthdays, at Christmas, and for special occasions, but what I can’t understand is placing the blame on the child - a child who’s father doesn’t acknowledge that he has a family and who’s mother was told she wasn’t welcome in your family. You all blame me for never reaching out, for never calling, for never visiting, for never trying. Except I did. I did for a long time. I eventually just got fucking tired of it.
I saw how you all looked at me today when I walked into that funeral home. I saw the shock in your faces when I walked into the room and looked around. I saw how you looked at me when I walked passed you - those of you who didn’t have the maturity to come and speak to me - and I saw how you looked at me when I walked passed my grandparents without saying a word. If you think I couldn’t see the disgust in your eyes, you’re wrong.
And you know what? I feel okay about that inside, because I know I was raised to never do to anyone what you’ve done to me.
So be as disgusted as you want.
I hate shopping malls at Christmas (or even most Sundays). I hate children running around unchaperoned, I hate little old ladys walking soooooo increddddibly slowwwwly, I hate moms looking for deals; pushing, shoving, and bumping their ways through the stores because they’re so god damned oblivious to their surroundings.
But for some reason, I really wanted to go Boxing Day shopping this year. I hadn’t really been shopping much before Christmas because I finished buying gifts so early this year [I was so on the ball it wasn’t even funny]. I was obviously in withdrawal. Mall withdrawal.
My mom and I woke up early(ish) and headed off to London because we did Kitchener last year and the Biebs ended up showing up and the mall got locked down for a while.
For some reason, this year I had patience. I didn’t mind the 20+ minute waits in line to pay and I ended up buying something in almost every single store we went in, which was really unusual.
For a grand total of $65.00 [+ a gift certificate, which I don’t count], I walked away with a pair of brown cowboy boots, oxblood booties, blue harem pants, a vegan leather peplum tube top, and a pretty sapphire necklace [which was my biggest score for $1.98].
Considering how often I switch up my footwear [rarely], I am taking home an additional 3 pairs of shoes/boots this Christmas [including an amazing pair of moccasins that I got from miss A].
As per usual, I napped in the afternoon/early evening, had a late dinner, watched a movie with my mama bear and went to bed early in preparation for the incredibly shit day I’m expecting to have tomorrow.
Hope Santa was good to you all and I hope no one was mauled while Boxing Day shopping!
Wish me luck at the funeral and on my drive home. I’m going to need it for both!
[this is what happens anytime someone gets a new Mac]