A Smithers woman reported a horrible experience to local police, speaking to them three times to verify all the information she could, and she wants more to do the same.
The Interior News agreed not to use her name.
She was walking home from an evening out with her partner, who decided to stay out with friends. It is a short walk home past the RCMP station, through Chandler Park and along residential streets. The weather was decent and, of course, she felt confident walking home alone in her small town.
“A walk I’ve taken hundreds of times in my life. I’ve lived here for 20 years. And I don’t live very far … it’s not even a 10-minute walk,” she said.
“I was just in front of Chadler Park fields when I got grabbed from behind. And everything happened so fast and quick and brutally. It was horrible and I never saw a face because when I did manage to get away, I turned around and kicked, and all I saw was a silhouette because it was the highway lights behind him.”
The best description she could share was the man who sexually assaulted her was about 5′ 9″ with a medium build and spiky hair.
Now she wants to make sure that if any women experienced the same thing, that they report it to police so they can find any trends and alert the public if they believe there is a danger of a serial rapist.
For now, Smithers RCMP Sgt. Darren Durnin said via email that he has fielded many questions on social media rumours that more than one person has been assaulted in the Chandler Park area.
“The Smithers RCMP have not received multiple complaints of sex offences in the community, including the Chandler Park area. Any sexual offence allegation is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. During the course of any investigation where a need to notify the public arises, we will complete a media release,” said Durnin.
The woman said many feel there is too much of a stigma and are hesitant to report sexual assaults. Even she isn’t sure she would have called 911 if she had not run into someone she knew on the street shortly after the attack.
She has told her story on Facebook because she wants to break down that stigma.
“Nobody wants their name out on social media because there’s such a stigma attached. ‘What did you do to deserve it?’ ” she explained.
Sgt. Durnin said the RCMP need people to report any crime to not only investigate, but identify trends and be more responsive to emerging issues.
“Every investigation is unique and the outcomes will vary depending upon the circumstances but there is a recent example (February 2018), where a victim came forward involving several violent offences, including a sexual assault, that allowed us to locate and arrest a male who also had outstanding warrants. If that victim had not come forward and not provided an account to our officers, we may have never located the male and other people may have subsequently been at risk,” said Durnin.
“If there are any unreported instances of any offences, real or perceived risks to safety, from anyone, especially involving sexual offences, we need to know and want people to come forward.”
It has been a tough road to recovery for the woman, but she said she is getting help that is offered to all victims.
“I am in therapy. I have company all the time … [Northern Society for] Domestic Peace victim services, they’re all there,” she said.
She said it is not easy. The victim blaming is the hardest for her.
“You just feel like the worst possible human being … You have to put on this happy face and act like life is normal, but on the inside you’re fucking dying. And you can’t shower enough. And every day you have to wake up and every day you have to go to work and you have to live your life when this horrible, horrible thing has happened,” she shared.
“And the only reason I’m speaking out — if I hadn’t heard it happened to other people, I probably would never have spoken out … I want to give them strength. It’s so hard.”