Where I have been, and where I am right now

Where I have been, and where I am right now

Woman IllustrationWhere have I been? I’ve been all over the place, mostly trying to process things on my own and struggling to put my feelings into words. I’m writing to let you know that I’m still here, even though I’ve been quiet.

Where am I right now? Right now I’m stuck in my own head but slowly finding my way out. Right now I’m living in London, wishing I was in Toronto, and thinking about California. Right now I’m having an identity crisis of sorts, struggling to figure out who I am going to be next.

A few days ago, Lindsay Lucas-Bartlett wrote a post for WYR reflecting on and identifying with another survivor’s story in which she describes feeling like her life was split into three different chapters: before her rape, the aftermath, and eventually her activism. It resonated with me, too, so I suspect it does with other survivors.

I don’t remember much of my first chapter: the years before my rape. I have some memories from my childhood but it isn’t a complete timeline and I know that’s for the best. I’ve written about the crucial adolescent years, the ones leading up to me becoming a statistic, the ones that shaped me into a typical victim who blamed herself and buried her secret.

My “aftermath” chapter wasn’t linear, unfortunately. I was raped two more times amidst a backdrop of self-destructive behaviour and self-loathing. It was moving to a new city that finally lifted me out of the dark and helped me go from a victim to a survivor. It was slow but continuous progress, and each time I moved to a new city I leapt forward in my healing journey.

My third chapter, becoming an activist, was an extremely abrupt transition. One day I had a 15 year old secret and the next day everyone in my world knew it. It was almost one year ago that my memories and pain started bubbling to the surface, eventually boiling over. Overnight I had to come to terms with my secret being out. It felt good, it felt like relief. I was raw and exposed but alive. It opened my eyes to the true meaning of feminism and unfortunately, the prevalence of misogyny. I was energized and determined to change the world and for some people, I did. I provided an outlet for other people to change theirs by letting their secrets out into the light.

About six months ago, I started feeling restless and uncomfortable. I had reached a significant milestone in my healing process and, like I always do, decided it was time to move on. I moved to London in search of another blank slate. I assumed it would work as it had before but I was wrong. I don’t get a blank slate. I am Lauren Reid, a rape survivor and activist. It’s true: Google it. Thankfully, there are several athletes and doctors named Lauren Reid, and this journalist who wrote an article pointing out that human males are the only primate species besides the spider monkey who lack an actual bone in their penis. I’m not even in the top three pages unless you add “Toronto” and then I’m three of the top ten. You’ll find two articles about the When You’re Ready Project: a Q&A with Macleans and the National Post article which includes videos of me describing my rapes. And one profile of me on my company’s website. Awesome. I love the thought of my clients finding my rape stories before my professional background.

If you read my professional background, you’ll know that I’ve spent my entire career focused on data privacy. It was obviously no surprise to me that once I put this out there I could never get it back. I think that’s part of why I did it, to force myself forward. But I want to take it back. I don’t want to go back to living with a secret…there is a difference between secrecy and privacy.

I want to control my own story and I can’t do that any more. Short of changing my name or adopting an alias, I can’t be anyone but who I am right now. A rape survivor, and an activist. My fears and vulnerabilities, this post included, are here for you and the world to see. It was and is important to me to use my real name. Maybe someday it won’t matter. Today it does. Once again, I’m feeling raw and exposed.

I’m taking some time to process things offline (this post notwithstanding, obviously). Part of the challenge I’m facing is a feeling of obligation to stay actively engaged with this blog. I can’t right now, but I want to let you know I’m still here, even though I’m quiet.

Let me be clear: that chapter is not closed. I promised you before and I promise you now, when you’re ready to share your story, I am here. We are part of a community that I’m not only proud of by rely on for strength on the days I feel I’m slipping backward.

I feel so fortunate to have your support – those of you I have met, who have shared your stories, and those who are reading and supporting this Project in your own way. When You’re Ready has grown into a team of amazing bloggers and we’d love to have more (just reach out via the contact form if you’re interested).

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for understanding.

With love,



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Lauren Reid is the founder of When You're Ready.org, a three time survivor of rape who built this community to let other survivors of sexual violence know that they're not alone. When you're ready, I'll be here.



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