I never thought I would define myself as a sexual abuse survivor. At times, I feel more like a victim. But not today. Today, I have the courage to share my story with you...
My mother refused to allow my biological father in my life, let alone tell me what his name was. But I met him at my high school graduation at age 17. During all of those years, my mother was married to another man, and I was forced to call him "dad".
But he wasn't.
He wasn't even close to being a "dad".
He was mentally and physically abusive towards us and my mother.
Starting at age eight, he was my rapist, my molester, my sexual abuser.
It continued until I was 14.
I remember my mother walking into the room after he had me take a pregnancy test, and he was rubbing my stomach.
She questioned him, and of course he lied.
But after promises of leaving when I told her the truth, she stayed.
I lashed out and was suspended from school for possession of weed.
Before leaving for my suspension, I told my counselor that I wasn't scared of what my parents would say. Their consequences were far worse than she could ever imagine. After that, we had a long talk and I finally told someone who wasn't my mother.
After that, I gave a statement to the police with my mother in tow. My mother was angry, and it soon became more my problem than anyone else's. I tried over and over again to commit suicide, but there was a pivotal moment... a letter to my sisters that saved my life. I wrote "Brittany" at the top, and that's when I realized I couldn't leave her behind. So I didn't...
Things got bad in my home. My mother used to scream at me about the incident, and then I would then lash out at my sisters who were younger and had no idea what was going on.
My mother decided to send me to Vancouver to live with my uncle - who happened to be that year's Native Pride Princess of Vancouver. He had no experience with children, but I lived with him so my family could be together.
I was 15 when I moved back to Northern British Columbia, and I moved in with anyone who would have me. Anywhere but my "home".
I had years of counselling and anger management, I experienced drugs and alcohol. I went to the University of Northern BC but dropped out in 2nd year. I was a "gypsy" according to my mother, who had no idea how lost I actually was.
But I was searching high and low to find who I was.
In my early 20s I somehow found me. I worked so hard, and I really struggled. And once I found "Laryne" there was no going back. I could either be a victim or a survivor. And during that period, I found the love of my life - my husband.
Flash forward to July 12th, 2016 - my husband's 28th birthday. It was late, and I was in BC after making a last-minute trip from Saskatoon to Prince Rupert for my husband's grandmother's funeral. Afterwards, I decided to go "home" to see my siblings. It was 3 am when I woke up in my youngest brother's bedroom and felt something caressing my bum. And when I realized who it was, I just couldn't believe it...
It was him. My "dad".
12 years later.
When he saw that I was awake, he said "oh shit, sorry" and left my bedroom to walk into the kitchen. After a few minutes he returned to my bedroom, and stared at me through the door he left ajar.
I faked a cough and he left.
I pushed my brother's computer chair towards the door and called my husband through wifi on Facebook. He told me to leave, but at that time it was 4 am and I was on reserve with no where else to go.
So, I woke my sister. She was very tipsy as we had had a bonfire earlier that night. I woke her up to tell her what her dad had done... I rubbed her side to say he touched me like this, but on my bum. She held me while I cried and said "tomorrow we're leaving".
The next day, I brought my nephew to the park in preparation for the four-hour drive ahead of us. While we were playing at the park, my step dad pulled up, crying, and apologizing as my other sister just told him what he had done. During the confrontation, he told me that he had sexually abused me because he himself had been abused and had "fallen in love with me."
That was the first time I had a confrontation with my abuser.
I left the reserve with my nephew and sister, and spent a couple days with her before flying back to Saskatoon.
The night before leaving, I told my mother who was still away. She made the same promises of leaving, but she has yet to do so. She told me his bogus lies about why my sister and I left, and to this day I can't comprehend why it didn't raise any red flags to her. The morning before my flight, 3 days after the incident, I contacted the RCMP. I talked to the receptionist, I tried to submit a statement but because the RCMP member wasn't on duty until after my flight I was forced to wait for someone to call me back. When I got in touch with a member I was asked immediately if I had been drinking. I answered 2 drinks in a 5-hour period, she immediately cut me off while I was talking to ask why I was calling from Saskatchewan. A few minutes later, she said she would call me back in a couple days as she had a lot of paper work to do.
I waited nearly a week...
So, I went to the Saskatoon police department and submitted a written statement. A day later I had a constable call me back to do a video statement for the next day. At the video statement, the constable made a comment about how my step-father doesn't have a criminal record.
Weeks after trying to correspond with the New Aiyansh RCMP to get a charge going, my sisters and mother had not contacted me. And one day, I saw a picture of my family having an outing as if everything was normal. It broke my heart, and I lost my mind.
And so, I posted a video on Facebook stating news that wasn't common knowledge - I was and am a sexual abuse victim and I needed extra support as my abuser re-offended. After that was released my sisters made contact, in the worst ways. To the point of deleting and blocking their access to me, and my mother would tell me how much she loved and missed me but won't call, and if she did, it wasn't about what was going on.
I was a wreck.
But, I have never been one to play a victim, and my post about being a sexual abuse victim was the first time I found my voice to speak to others about my experiences. Charging him is the first time I had the power to do so on my own.
Today, I am reaching out to share my story because I know there are many people like me who have felt just like I did. People who are struggling, who are lost, and who have been alienated by their families for speaking out. And I want to be their voice, and I want to help others become survivors.
Laryne Gamble is a 26-year-old woman of Nisga'a and Tsimshian ancestry. She is currently a Youth Worker and studying Education at the University of Saskatchewan.