"I was a single mother with my father's child in the seventies," says Patricia. Today, her father sits in prison – kept safely away from other girls and young women thanks to Patricia's courage.
From a young age, Patricia knew that her father's violence was wrong. She initially sought support from her congregation. They did not understand the dynamics of sexual abuse and blamed Patricia for seducing her father. Her faith did not waiver, "My spirituality gave me strength because I knew the abuse was wrong. The bible is a good guideline for moral living. It's what helped me through." She continued to look to scripture as a moral compass and relied on her inner strength until she could find support outside her congregation.
Eventually Patricia's search for help lead her to Surrey Women's Centre where counseling validated her experiences and helped her cope with the impact of trauma. Patricia found moments of clarity with the help of her counselor, Cheryl. "Cheryl gave me strength and courage to see the changes I needed to make." The support that Patricia found at Surrey Women's Centre continued for many years.
Yet personal healing wasn't enough for Patricia. For years Patricia had protected her daughter from her father. Now that they were safely out of his reach, Patricia wanted to take steps to keep other girls from harm.
In 2010, Patricia filed a police report. She faced backlash from her family, who blamed her for speaking out against her father's abuse. Her strength and resolve never waivered. "I don't want anybody else to be victimized by him. If it saves one little girl's innocence, it is all worthwhile."
After a lengthy trial, Patricia's father was found guilty of rape, incest and indecent assault. However, when asked whether his conviction brought closure, she is clear: "I didn't do it for myself. I did it so he couldn't hurt other girls or women." For this reason, her father's conviction brings Patricia a sense of ease that she hasn't had for many years.
It's easy to see that Patricia's actions were driven by selflessness – by a will to protect others. However, along the way she realized that sharing her story was part of her own healing.
Patricia has learned to love herself more and more every day. "I found out that recovery is a process, there was so much secrecy and shame that made me feel responsible. Talking about the abuse takes the responsibility off my shoulders and puts it onto him, where it belongs."