MY HEALING JOURNEY – Shannon Labrun
I am on a healing journey and writing my story has given me the courage to share it with others to further my healing and to prevent sexual abuse from happening to another human being.
My name is Shannon and I was raped when I was 13 years old. The flash back of that day still makes my blood run cold and feel sick to my stomach…I can’t stop thinking of it and it plays over and over in my head.
One night I was sleeping in my bed and my stepdad (Tim) came into my room laid on top of me and put his penis in me. I cried quietly as he penetrated me. Then when he got off me, I could no longer hold back my tears. Terrified, I laid there feeling relieved that it was over, or so I thought. He went into the washroom and ejaculated, then came into my room for more. That night, I laid in my bed traumatized, violated to the core of my soul, every fiber of my being was in disbelief.
The next day my stepdad was sitting on the couch with my mom and I was sitting at the table and my stepdad says, “Shannon is a woman now!” I was so disturbed in my thought and wanted to say something to my mother, but I got scared and felt terrified to say a word.
Most nights he would come into my room and abuse me more. I couldn’t escape him, he preyed upon my disability as an excuse to touch my body by telling me that I needed help shaving my legs for the first time, but it was to touch me again. After that, I was so afraid of the dark and some nights I would hide out in my brother’s room and fall asleep on the floor in his room, so my stepdad couldn’t find me, I would be safe for at least that night.
In 1995, we moved to Mission, BC and the abuse continued, I finally felt like I had the courage to tell someone about what was going on…but that would quickly fade. I was fifteen when my step Grandfather came for a visit, everyone, my mother, grandmother and grandpa all were drinking alcohol and got drunk. I remember that I was sleeping downstairs and my grandpa said, “Come sleep with me.” I thought in my mind at the time, he wouldn’t hurt me, he is here to protect me. Half way through the night my grandpa unzipped his pants and grab my hand and made me touch his penis. My trust in men was shattered, I was so terrified, he tried to reassure me by saying, “It’s ok.” The next day, I wrote in my journal that my Grandfather made me touch him and I said that’s ok cause my stepdad sexually abuse me.
In August I went to visit my grandpa, grandma and while I was away, my stepdad found my journal and read it…he tore out the pages where I wrote about him abusing me and left the part I wrote about Grandpa making me touch his penis. He later showed my mom my journal and after mom drove down to confront me with what I wrote in my journal. My mother, Grandpa and myself sat in the car. I got the courage to finally say to my mother, “Tim sexually abused me!” My mother was in denial and disbelief and said, “I don’t believe you.” However, I do believe the part you wrote about your grandpa. We drove back home in silence and when we got into the house, Tim said in a very angry voice, “Your grounded for making up a lie about me sexually abusing you.”
At this point in my life, I had nothing to lose, the people that were supposed to love me and protect me, didn’t I couldn’t take the abuse anymore, I was so upset, I ran away to my boyfriend’s house and called Children’s Aid and told them my story. Children’s Aid told me what my options were and said that I would be put in a group home if I had no other family members to take me in. So, I called my biological father and told him what had happened and said I could come and stay with him. It was a few days before my sweet sixteen birthday a day that you should be celebrating becoming a young woman, I found it hard to celebrate knowing that my own mother chose to abandon me and believe her boyfriend over her own daughter. When I was in my graduate year in high school, my father was unable to provide care for me. I was placed into the foster care system until I was an adult, then moved in with my boyfriend.
In the year 2000, I had an opportunity to get the support I needed by an agency, Mission Association Community Living (M.A.C.L) they provided the support I needed and finally get an opportunity to move out on my own, feel safe and move on with my life…or so I thought.
On April 22, 2003, my life changed forever, my mom was driving on the Lougheed highway and crossed the center line had a head on collision with a truck. She died instantly. The shock, grief, disbelief was more than I could bare and ended up in the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, I was still so fragile, my self worth had hit the lowest point in my life. I had nothing left in me felt like giving up, I swallowed all my medication at once and ended up back in the hospital on the psych ward. I thought it was unfair that M.A.C.L the organization that was supporting me decided to end support. Once again, my support couldn’t support me anymore, I was too much of a “Risk” a “Challenge” …I was starting to believe that no one could until I was introduced to the HOME Society.
On December 2004, I moved into a home in Abbotsford that was supported by the HOMES Society. I received 24-hour care for three years until I was able to feel safe and secure and have a sense of being becoming and belonging. I moved with supported family with a couple and lived with them for four years. Unfortunately, it was not a good match, so I decided to move in with a caregiver and her husband…they were a wonderful couple to live with and building a family. When their second child arrived, it was a bit too much for me and made the decision to leave. From there, I moved in with a woman and her loving family and have been here ever since. Since my mother’s death, I have changed so much over the years. I now trust more and have a wonderful boyfriend that truly cares for me and whom I feel safe with. I am learning to be independent, I have a job as a receptionist for HOME Society and answer the phones. Everyday is a new day and look for opportunity to enjoy my life now. I have gone on many trips to Disney Land and feel like I am in control of my life. I joined Special Olympics and love bowling and Bocce ball.
It’s been a year since I have had to be in the hospital on the psych ward and I am learning to feel my emotions instead of pushing them down. I want to trust that it is okay to feel these emotions and heal from my grief and trauma of sexual abuse.
Everyday is a new opportunity for me learn about “Trust” and open my heart to people. I am a loving caring person who is loved by everyone. Today, I have a beautiful niece who is my family strength and supportive caregivers.
Over the years, I have become a stronger woman and my vision is to start a group that will help others who have been affected by sexual abuse to talk about their trauma, so we can all heal together. I miss my mom everyday and still grieve the fact that she wasn’t here to give me the support I desperately needed and to watch me become the woman I am today…I know she is watching over me.
As traumatic as this experience was for me to endure, I have no regrets. I still get triggered and struggle with depression, nightmares, a poor self image, trust issues, and an overall lack of confidence for a long time. But it has shaped me into the person I am today. Even if my mother would have lived, or believed me, or even if Tim would have gotten charged, or went to jail…it still would not change the fact that I would have to deal with the terrifying emotions and images of being abuses. I m so proud that I found my voice and spoke out. That gave me the courage and strength to fight, stand in my light, feel that I have power, control and no one will ever be able to take that from me again.
Questions or Comments
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Shannon is a Self Advocate living in the Fraser Valley BC. She was Sexually Abused as a young teenager and is working to make a recovery. She hopes to support others in similar situations. Send her a question to get a reply.