The late night/early morning of a December 2010 marks one of the most painful, traumatic, humiliating, shameful days in my life, not that I should be ashamed of what happened, but I was made to feel that way by people I should have been able to trust. There aren’t words to describe the physical and emotional pain I felt that night. To this day it can send me into a depression, usually starting with anger, so much anger and frustration. What I faced that night and the following weeks and months was horrific for it wasn’t only the attack and subsequent sexual assault but the way people of authority handled what happened. I am a now 27 year woman, back then I was 24 and in Vancouver on a medical trip and still recovering from a traumatic spinal injury that almost left me paralyzed. I apologize that this will probably be quite long, I’ve never been great at summarizing stories and this ordeal went on months afterwards.
It was the last SkyTrain of the night on the Expoline on that January night in 2010, I was coming back alone from a movie and shopping in MetroTown my stop was Granville station. The train was empty and at my stop the platform was empty, I made my way thru the hallways and up the stairs to the escalator that would take me to the street, it was deserted. As I got on the escalator a male was on the opposite side descending, who I payed no attention to at the time, as he passed me I heard him call out, I wasn’t sure who he was talking to and didn’t look back, then he raised his voice and stated calling out to me “wait”. I turned around and by this time I was on the lengthy escalator about 20 stairs up I looked forward and ignored him, he hadn’t reached the bottom of his side yet but I glanced back again and he was running down his and still calling out to me and then began to run up my side of the escalator towards me. He caught up to me and I couldn’t make out what he was saying, his accent was too heavy, I shook my head and turned around and faced forward. He continued to talk to me and I started walking up the escalator trying to put as much distance between him and I as quickly as I could, this entire time he was going on and on. Up until point in time no one got on or off the escalator, I was about half way up now. I heard his footsteps behind me, the escalator at this station is incredibly long, I turned back and said “No” sternly and faced forward and he was right behind me again, he kept saying “I’m 20, I’m 20, I’m 20” “we f*ck, we f*ck, we f*ck” over and over when I reached the top of this escalator, this seemed like an eternity. He was behind me the entire time, at the top is when the assault took place, it too was also empty. There’s a small corner at the top of the escalator, when I finally reached the top he shoved me into the corner. I was wearing a heavy black jacket a scarf covering my neck and opening of the jacket, and I don’t remember when or how he got to my shirt, he started slapping me across the face hard over and over and he was getting turned on by it he grabbed my wrist and forcefully put my hand over his private parts. I cried and I cried and begged him to stop, stop and no and no over and over again, he continued to slap me, my checks were on fire. Pulling my top down he also yanked my skirt over my waist and started trying to rip off my panties, I kept crying to stop and I fought with all my strength to keep them up and at the same time keep my top up, my fractured spine was still not healed and I had intense neuropathic pain, my left arm was paralyzed in the accident and after months of rehab I regained movement but it was still weak, as was my balance I had to learn to walk again and my left ankle was also weak and I had poor balance . He managed to pull my top down exposing cleavage, he started biting my chest over and over each time it got harder and harder. I had a hold on one side of my panties and he tried pulling off/down my shirt both at the same time telling me “we f*ck” over and over he grabbed my exposed nether regions and I screamed no, no, no and please stop. This lasted near 4-5 minutes and he finally stopped, I was in such shock, pulled my skirt and shirt back into place and as he left he said “I see you later”. I waited until he turned his back and got on the escalator going down.
After He was gone I walked away stunned looking for anybody, no one walked by during the assault, around the corner and there was a transit employee cleaning the floors, I tried to ask for help but he just shook his head and went back to working, I said I had been attacked but I got no response. I broke down crying and wandered out if the doors to the street, there was a transit bus just outside the doors I got on the bus and asked the driver for help and told him I was sexually assaulted, he said “call the police” and said he had to go or he’d be late, I was stunned I walked off the bus and cried I sat on a bench across the cross street, a few minutes later he pulled his bus up to where I was sitting and said “there should be transit cops a couple blocks down, they should be at that skytrain station” I started walking towards the station he pointed me to. Crying and afraid of every person who walked past me on the dark streets that weren’t well lit.
Down the street I got to the station I walked down the steps and found two Transit police. I told them what happened, they got on their radios and brought me back to the scene of the assault. There 4-5 Transit police gather and stood around and I went over what happened, they got on the phone with the people who monitor the security cameras in the skytrain stations, the police then said that the cameras showed that I got off the escalator and followed the man that assaulted me down the escalator, which I DID NOT. I told them I didn’t and they asked me repeatedly are you sure you didn’t, and insisted that I did. After a few minutes they realized that they had been watching different people at the wrong time, I clearly remember looking at my phone for the time after the assault, after they realized they made a mistake they got on their radios and put out a description of the attacker. They started taking notes on my attack. Even though I told them my jacket was buttoned and my scarf was wrapped around my neck covering everything from my neck down, they insisted on me opening my coat and having pictures taken of the way I was dressed “in case this was ever taken to court and it could be said that the way I was dressed was some how provocative”. This took place in front of a room full of males just standing around. I was so embarrassed I had to take off my scarf and open my jacket, holding it wide open. How would the clothes underneath my thick long pea coat and long wrapped scarf matter? How would I provoke such an attack unless he had some X-Ray vision (even if I was dressed provocatively, does that mean I’m asking for it)? I was too shaken up at the time to be as mad as I am now about this statement. We were all standing in the same area of the attack and I had to keep going over my account of the incident over and over and then someone called a sexual assault counselor? And we stood there in silence has we waited for her to arrive 15mins later she arrived and we went into a room around the corner while officers waited outside, we talked and it didn’t help we just went over what happened again, it was as if I was talking to a male officer with the question added about whether or not he penetrated me and if I wanted a rape kit or exam. I had a glass of wine over dinner before the movie and when I told her about it I felt that I was taken less seriously, I was asked if I knew they guy from somewhere, there was mention of women filing reports of sexual assault after a fight with a boyfriend or something, I was tired and after that change in attitude I was so shocked I didn’t know how to take it, everything about my encounter with Transit police seemed so incredibly unprofessional, NOTHING LIKE I THOUGHT A VICTIM OF VIOLENT SEXUAL ASSAULT WOULD BE TREATED. It was 3am and I felt we were going in circles and I asked to be taken back to my hotel, one of the two original officers drove me to my hotel. When I woke the next morning, I had a full set of teeth marks in my right breast, it was bruised very defined and it didn’t fade for what felt like months. Transit sent over a photographer to take pictures of bruises and teeth marks.
The next morning I had an early flight I was humiliated and didn’t tell anyone about the attack, I am open with my family and don’t keep major secrets, but this, this was so shameful and humiliating I felt that I did something wrong. I didn’t tell anyone until months later and that was just the one person I had take me to my local police station. Just a few months ago I told my father when I heard that a woman was groped on the sky train, her story made the news.
The week of Christmas 2010 the original officer called me to tell me that they were running an ad in the paper through crime stoppers during the phone call he said he had watched the surveillance video again and had a question, he said when he watched it he wondered why I didn’t try harder to get away, why I didn’t just leave the attacker. I was Christmas shopping in a busy mall and surrounded by people I didn’t know how to answer him without someone hearing me. I was shocked and brought to tears again trying to find the words. I couldn’t believe he would ask me why I didn’t try harder, as if I had wanted this strange man to rape me in a sky train station, and he said he seen me turn to the guy and appear to say something he asked what it was that I said to him. There was more to the phone call about why I didn’t try to get away but i got light headed and shaky and teary in a very busy public place. All I wanted to do was get out of the Store I was in. The call was another slap in the face, he made me feel like I let the attack happen.
A several months later I was in Vancouver again on another medical trip and I got a call from the head of Transit Police or something, he was following up on me and my case and I broke down on the phone with him, I brought up the phone call from the officer during Christmas and he said he would like to fly up to my hometown and start an investigation. He said the officer was wrong for what he said. We met shortly after the call and again I had to go over what was said during the phone call by this time several months had passed since my last talk with the investigating officer. I told them on the record what happened during the call and an internal investigation was opened (the investigator said that the video of the attack was so brutal that he couldn’t watch all of it). After the interview, I received a phone call from the internal affairs investigator and I was informed that the officer on my case that made the call during Christmas was being taken off my case and that was it. That was the end to all of this. It’s left me confused, hurt and embarrassed, sometimes I wish I had never reported the attack. It brought nothing but shame, anger and embarrassment among other emotional problems and distrust of Transit Police. In hindsight I should have told my parents, my father said I should have brought my lawyer to the internal affairs investigation, I wish I had. But it’s been 4 years what can be done now? Other than warn other victims and tell them it’s not their fault not matter what anyone tells you.