Nain wo­man of­fers hope to sex­ual as­sault survivors

‘For­giv­ing those who hurt you is the only way to heal’

The Labradorian - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY

Af­ter be­ing sex­u­ally as­saulted as a young teenager, Beatrice Hope of Nain has some ad­vice for oth­ers strug­gling with abuse.

“I had to for­give (her abuser). You are built up with guilt and shame but when I did that grief let­ter it re­ally helped me ... for­giv­ing those who hurt you is the only way to heal,” Hope said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view.

Hope said telling some­one you trust about the abuse is also im­por­tant.

“You can’t talk about it all at one time, but if you have one friend ... talk about it a lit­tle bit at a time.”

Try­ing to have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude while deal­ing with the past is also nec­es­sary in fac­ing the fu­ture, she said.

“I had to do a lot of self-talk ... I had re­ally low self-es­teem. I had to say a lot of pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions to my­self be­cause I didn’t like a lot about my­self.”

*** Hope spent her early child­hood with her fam­ily in a vil­lage south of Nain called Kam­ma­suk.

“We did ev­ery­thing as a fam­ily. We went hunt­ing and fishing to­gether, berry pick­ing to­gether. It was re­ally good.”

The fam­ily moved to Nain when Hope was five years old.

“That’s when our fam­ily fell apart,” she said.

Hope said she was raped at age 14.

“Af­ter that, I turned in­ward. I didn’t trust any adults. I was so quiet. I’d never say a word in school.”

Hope kept silent about what had hap­pened for years – un­til one day in the late 1980s a news re­port about abuse at Mount Cashel Or­phan­age in St. John’s brought the trauma to the sur­face.

“I had (the sex­ual as­sault) blocked for years but then I had flash­backs so I had to start work­ing on my is­sues then. I knew I needed heal­ing but I didn’t know who to turn to.”

Hope sought coun­selling but it didn’t help at the time, she said.

How­ever, her job at the Labrador Inuit Al­co­hol and Drug Abuse Pro­gram meant she could at­tend per­sonal growth work­shops.

“That’s where I learned how our fam­ily was dys­func­tional.”

Com­ing to terms with her past meant go­ing back to Nain and telling her fam­ily what had hap­pened.

“I had to get it all off my chest ... I poured out ev­ery­thing that I needed to say. And that was my first big step.”

Hope, who has strong faith, said it’s her be­lief in God that helped her move for­ward.

“He took away all the ug­li­ness,” she said.

How­ever, she said, heal­ing doesn’t hap­pen overnight.

It took years and small steps to­wards find­ing peace, Hope said.

“There was a pe­riod that, even though I was work­ing on my­self, I was de­pressed. I just couldn’t feel happy.”

The de­pres­sion lasted about two years, she said – un­til one night, about 15 years ago, her hus­band took her to an area called the North West River Point.

“I cried all the ways down. We set up a tent. I cried in the tent. I had sui­ci­dal thoughts. I just wanted to walk in the wa­ter and drown. But I knew I couldn’t do that to my fam­ily.”

Dur­ing the night, she said, she was hugged by “an in­vis­i­ble be­ing.”

“With that hug, the suicide thoughts left. There was love and peace. It was un­be­liev­able. It was so good.”

That was a great move for­ward, Hope said, and it was on her birth­day in Jan­uary 2003 that she was fi­nally granted full peace.

“We were cari­bou hunt­ing ... We had a tent up. I woke up in the night and from my waist up, I was lit up and I felt this in­cred­i­ble peace again ... It was more than peace. It was love. And I fi­nally felt whole.”

Hope spent three years study­ing the­ol­ogy at Queen’s Col­lege in St. John’s.

She is now an or­dained min­is­ter with the Mo­ra­vian Church in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay.

Hope’s voice breaks when it’s sug­gested that she has a lot to be proud of.

“I thank God, ev­ery day,” she said.

SUB­MIT­TED

Rev­erend Beatrice Hope with the Mo­ra­vian Church in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay strug­gled with her ex­pe­ri­ences of be­ing sex­u­ally abused as a child and has valu­able ad­vice to of­fer to oth­ers. Pic­tured is Hope per­form­ing in the Long Term Care Chapel with Labrador Gren­fell Health – Choir. From left, Ge­orge Tasedan, Hope, Di­eter Holeitor, and Glenna Tasedan.

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