I am not an educated woman by regular standards. I am educated by the streets that I volunteered on, grew up in, and lived on for years.
As a child I would “escape” my house in the middle of the night, and go for 2-3 hour walks, talking myself, because none of the adults would listen to me. People think this sounds crazier, but it was a smarter choice than waiting for the men who raped me to come back every night.
It’s 2022, I’m 39 Years Old, and I Cannot Afford to buy Pads. I Also Can’t Afford to buy my own Underwear, Clothing, Food, or Toilette Paper. Yes, I’m Embarrassed but I Shouldn’t Have to Be.
Because of what was done to me, I didn’t finish school, I didn’t get a great job, and my dreams of working in a car shop – yes, seriously, because I wanted to paint and build cars and still do – did not become a reality. I had the chance to get a student loan, but the people in my life traumatized me with stories of how hard they are to pay back, and so I got afraid and I did not do it anyways. I didn’t follow. my dreams because I was afraid.
I was afraid because I was raised to be afraid of everything that would have brought positivity to my life, but trained to trust the men that abused me, by the men that abused me, by school teachers, bullies, and everyone in my life was someone who had been abused or was abused with me.
Or alternatively, they were people who ignored what was happening to us, in favour of telling us we were never going to be successful.
“I don’t know what made me look, I just saw the bag there, and I had to know what was inside.” – TA who went through a student’s bag illegally, found 1 joint, kicked him out of school, and allowed that boy to become a homeless man because he couldn’t get back on track.
This happened at my school. It would be several years later when that same boy came to me for a meal at the church I was working at. My heart was broken. I didn’t particularly like him in school, but that didn’t change the fact that he was homeless because he left his bag at school, and a teacher’s assistant went through it, causing a spiral of descent he couldn’t escape.
How many others are living like this because they fell or were thrown through the cracks of our society, without the help that was promised to them at birth?
If you go to school then you’ll learn how to assimilate, get a good job, have a good career, fall in love, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after.
This is never true, but we tell our kids it’s true in hope they will prove us right, that we have so much hope that schools will take care of our children is a generational lie because the truth is that our children are more in danger in school these days than they are at home.
Kids who go to school hungry, don’t learn as well as those who go to school with food. Kids who can’t afford school supplies don’t feel as good about being at school as those who do have school supplies, and I’m proof of that. The self-confidence that it takes to be a good student who gets good grades is almost superhero-like, and it’s not something that everyone is born with.
Too many people that I can name, are in prison because their teachers didn’t have the time, energy, or interest, in helping them when they asked for it. I remember one teacher who spent 15 minutes telling me how I was such a bad student. I don’t know if she knew I was going to school with the children of the men who raped me or not.
I do know that I asked her for help after that conversation, and she yelled at me. I had SEVERE ADHD but my ADHD came from being abused, I wasn’t able to concentrate after that, i wasn’t able to focus on anything, because I’d been traumatized, and I didn’t know how to say so.
At 18 while everyone was planning for a future, i was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. MOST people would have gotten a job, but I didn’t know how, I didn’t know what to do or say, I didn’t say anything instead, and I spent the next few years of my life sitting and watching television, and occasionally writing about my feelings, while learning how to be a writer, from some of the best writers on the globe.
Roleplaying – very Big Bang Theory style only online, became my saviour, and I’ve made thousands of friendships with some of the coolest people, I hurt people I was hurt, but unlike my “gangsta” friends, I didn’t sell drugs, I didn’t fall into that trap…I was barely lucky.
You all know what happened to me. I got gang raped, not because I did something wrong, but because like many girls my age, in my town, and towns just like Surrey BC all over the world, I was collateral damage.
The problem is that unfortunately for the men who remember me, I remember them too, and I know how far they went to destroy my family, and because they ARE genuinely powerful, I am in a position of writing books on my experience, because it is LITERALLY the only thing left keeping me sane after everything I went through.
So you tell me why I can’t get a job, or go to school, or do things the “normal way,” after nearly 30 years of sexual abuse, and only 6 years of being the only one to come forward in a public way when there were more than 50 of us in our initial group of kids who got abused.
From North Delta to Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Abbotsford, and Vancouver, from all over the place we were abused by the same people or by people who were like the same people who abused us. We travelled in small groups, we kept our heads down, we stayed loyal, and still, some of our family members ended up in prison for crimes they VERIFIABLY did not commit.
Because our abusers are more “powerful,” than us. So the next time that someone says “I need help, and I can’t afford to eat, or buy pads,” instead of being an asshole about it, consider this essay, consider what I’ve said here, and ask yourself how they fell between the cracks. Your answer is probably nowhere near as devastating as theirs.
Sending All my Love,
Devon J Hall