A letter to Chris

I knew your dreams, but you never knew mine

  My name is Lia, I am Strong Woman, daughter of a hereditary chief, and a colonial woman- whose indigenous culture is matriarchal. Yet, something I still don't understand is rape.

Dear Chris,

     You are a nothing, a nobody, a hurtful human I left behind with no feelings of loss or sorrow.

    It looks like you achieved your goal, you are a professor at a large, well known, well liked public University on the East Coast of the United States. You teach, and run your African American Studies blog from a small branch of the school- again, along the lines of what you wanted.

But in your heart to fore fill your quest, did you ever stop to think if you hurt someone? They way you get somewhere is just as important as what you are doing. Ethics matter Chris.

All I wanted was touch.

Me- the competitive, driven athlete, who needed more touch. Affection. An element of health I sometimes forget. And not having money, I appreciated it when you brought me to eat out. And to the place where we got to taste another food the other Varsity athletes would talk about eating out at. How sorry am I that I wanted the same thing.

In the United States I was an “alien”, a “foreign national”, and an “international student”.

Maybe you didn't hear me say “No”. How could you remember, when it was my body and mind later that reminded me.

I would have liked to take you to court, but the police took your side, or the side of the law, saying it had been “too long” since the rape had occurred.

Maybe it's about my relationship with my body as well. Treating it rough in training for crew. Allowing you to do what you wanted, not knowing the price. The laws need updating. I guess they- the police and the law makers didn't realize in this power dynamic the victim can block out what happened to survive for years.

A seven year old repressed memory came out while at work, in my mind. And also in the middle of London Drugs, near the pharmacy section where I called for help- to Vancouver's Rape Relief. I had time to get back a rich life, join a dance group, get back into school before that memory came back to haunt me.

Now I deal with the aftermath. It took seven years for me to remember what happened.

Am I mad at you for stopping my dream just shy of graduation? A little. Yet, I know these things run deeper than that. Gender relations, the male female relationships in my upbringing, your power and persistence in studying African American Studies and everything that supported you in that scholastic and social environment. The power dynamic was in your favour, you were a grad student who studied, who had a car and disposable income.

My voice was too soft.

Sometimes I think what happened was a tragedy- the psych wards, the medication, the dismissal but it showed me the difference between you and me. Between force and respect, and I never want to be like you. Yet, I hope you will learn to respect women, especially the indigenous women in the territory you teach in, and give them a voice in a meaningful way, forever.

  Sincerely,
                              Lia

 

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