I will never forget laying on my bed in Riverview Mental Institution. I was there for the BC Children’s Hospital assessment program. At least that is what I was told.

I was there because the Doctor’s in BC wanted to find out what was wrong with me, specifically Dr. Golden who many years later was arrested, charged and jailed for being a child molester.

I was one of his many victims.

I was placed in Riverview with the intent to “assess” my behavior so they could diagnose me.

I remember laying on that jail style institution bed, at sixteen years old, freshly raped and abused by men who claimed and were in fact white supremacists, having not told anyone my secret.

I remember whispering “I don’t want to be successful”. I had heard that over and over again, “we’re trying to help you be more successful.” The problem was what the problem is with most teenagers.

Adults wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone. No one wanted to talk about the fact that I might have been abused, and so I didn’t know how to explain what was “wrong” with me.

It took me many years to realize that nothing was wrong with me, and to decide that my life mattered to me.

I figured, if it mattered to me, then it would maybe matter to someone else. It took me four years to figure this shit out, and it only happened because I was gang raped. That was the night that I decided I had had enough of the bullshit of men.

That was the night that I decided I was going to fight for my life, and I did. I fought with everything I had, I pretended to be whoever I needed to pretend to be with each man they sent into that fucking black room, so that I could survive that night.

And when I was finished surviving, I dusted my hands and walked away from every person in my past, and I regret nothing. I told lies upon lies, that would help me escape. I called on old friends and family members and I told them what happened, and I did my best to tell the truth I needed to tell so that enough people would know who, if something happened to me, it was that might hurt me.

I worry every night that they will come back, I stress about it a lot, but I deal with it, because the work fucking matters.

There are other girls out there who are like me, stuck in gang life, not realizing that that’s the life they are living, not realizing that there are better options out there.

There are women out there connected to gangsters by children with no hope of escaping that life, because the men in their lives think its cool to be a gangster. Often not caring about the resulting casualties in the war they are fighting against themselves.

There are women out there who want to escape that life, but genuinely don’t see an out, often times because the men in their lives refuse to let them go.

Men living in gang life crave stability, and they will do anything to get it, even if it means getting violent with the women they pretend they believe they care about.

Yes, you read that right. I know it’s confusing, but men in the gang world don’t know how to love, they only know how to fight to survive. When they do let their guard down they get hurt badly, and then they act like babies throwing a temper tantrum when you tell them no.

I know this from personal experience.

That little girl who spent three weeks behind a large metal door that locked every night on the outside, who had her underwear stolen every day by one of the boys who was in that hospital, didn’t want to succeed on anyone else’s terms.

She wanted to be left the fuck alone by adults who fucked with her body and her mind, and tried to mould her into something she was never meant to be.

Even at sixteen I always knew who I was going to be, even if I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but I didn’t know how to articulate that when I was a child. It’s my actual job now to teach other people how to change the language around abuse.

Because I realize now that I didn’t have anyone to teach me the language of abuse when I was growing up. Each of us, and there was a large group of children who were abused by the white supremacists in North Delta, were filled with toxicity that we didn’t know how to explain.

For some of us gang life was the only escape, for others it was death that set us free, and for others still it was choosing to unwind that toxicity that set us free. Each of us chose our path, given the choices we had, which weren’t great.

Not all of us will get out of this experience in one piece, each of us has been torn apart by the truths that I set free into the world. Even though I had to unweave the broken memories through the real ones, by telling all the lies AND the truths, and even though it may have put a target on my back it was worth it.

If it convinces one girl in Surrey, or anywhere for that matter, that she doesn’t have to dumb herself down in order to impress a guy so she can protect herself, then it was worth it.

I want little girls everywhere to know that they don’t have to fall behind guys just to make themselves feel safer. Chances are it won’t work. Unfortunately we have to learn to arm ourselves with enough knowledge that when push comes to shove we know how to fight back.

In my case it was pretending to be completely insane and psychic, but it worked. I am still alive, I am still here, I am still writing every single day, and every day that I get to write is a gift from God.

If I believe that, then I have to believe that God likes what I am doing and wants me to keep doing it, because that’s the only thing that is keeping me going right now.

I am exhausted as all get out, but if that exhaustion means that I help one person believe that their life matters then it’s absolutely worth it.

And for the record, your life absolutely fucking matters. It matters to me, because I know what it feels like to decide that your life doesn’t matter. I used to believe that too, and now that I am an almost fully functioning adult, I can honestly see how frustrated and angry I was as a kid.

Now that I know the language of abuse, I understand my own love language and the truth of it better than I ever have before. I am free of my past, but that doesn’t mean that my past is free of me.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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