Book helps victims of sexual assault tell their stories to the world

By Laura Hines
Oct. 31, 2014

Anne Rean spent 10 years working on the book about sexual assault, Lived Through This.
The Chicago woman is a victim of sexual assault.
Rean presented stories from other victims at the Confederation Centre Public Library in Charlottetown on Oct. 30 over Skype to raise awareness of sexual assaults.
Rean had the difficult task of selecting among the 400 victims she had interviewed, picking 100 stories for the book. Rean had each victim photographed.
She traveled throughout North America, Africa and Latin America for her interviews.
“Narrowing to a quarter of the stories is a difficult task. Many of the stories will be added to website because there wasn’t enough room in the book.”
She travelled to P.E.I. 10 years ago, Rean said.
“It’s a special place with a strong community of survivors.”
Islander Mike Avery is a victim of sexual abuse. When he was 11 years old he was raped and just three days later his rapist tried to run him over with his car. Avery couldn’t understand why anyone would want to kill an 11-year-old.
Avery is speaking out because there is a need for services for healing and victims, he said.
“Recovery means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and, of course, one size doesn’t fit all.”
One person could be in any of the three stages of recovery the stages, mid recovery or late recovery, everybody is in a different spot, he said.
“I always advocate, and have been for 20-some years, on the need to have recovery options for people, especially when they come forward, because oftentimes that’s really the first and last time.”
The response a person gets generally will indicate if the person recovers or not. A good response is better for a good recovery, but often it isn’t a positive response, he said.
The typical response women and girls get when they tell their mothers is how could you let him do that to you, he said.
“That would damage a young ladies attempt to recover.”
It’s typically harder for male victims in society, but better than it was 20 years ago, he said.
“That’s the reason I came forward 25 years ago.”
Rean plans to return to the Island in April for a writing workshop and conference.
Sigrid Wolfe and her team at the P.E.I. Rape and Sexual Assault Centre is bringing Rean to back to the Island.
“I was able to be a part of the group that brought Anne here with funding from the Johner foundation.”
The Sage Women, a group of seven or eight women worked with Wolfe and Rean, she said.
“In 2008 I got her in touch with The Sage Women and with Mike for her to do interviews.”