When Your Teenage Role Model Rapes You
Illustration by Erin McPhee
Growing up as a socially conscious youth, I had always wanted to get involved in politics. From the time I was fourteen years old and started reading theories of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world around me, and that I wanted to ensure that the next generation would live a better life than the one I was currently living.
When you grow up knowing knowing that you are different, you are greeted by the fact that your sheer existence is a political controversy. No matter how well versed you become on social and economic issues, the fact that you deviate from what is considered normal can scare you away from taking an active role in politics. To date, there has never been an openly transgender person elected to Canadian Parliament, so when I stumbled across an aspiring transgender politician, I didn’t let her out of my sights.
I followed her blog, watched every video she appeared in, and read every news article she was mentioned in. She gave me hope that one day I too could overcome adversity and become a politician. Because of her, I had the courage to run for the London Youth Advisory Council while I was on medical leave in Bangkok, Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery.
During my campaign, there was a “Meet the candidates” event at the downtown Library in London. I prepared a speech at the last minute and skyped in from my hospital bed. I still feel that I was not ready to make that speech, but I think that most people look back at their first political speech and feel the very same way.
The next day I found out that the journalist who was covering the event didn’t include any mention of my platform stating “Kaylie Sorrenti, joined the forum via Skype (she was in Bangkok) but technical difficulties rendered her point mute, pun intended.” The moment I saw this poor reporting and a journalist attacking me for being out of the country on medical leave, I knew that I had the platform to address issues of discrimination that eventually won me the election. I decided to make contact with the trans woman who gave me the courage and strength to run for the position in the first place. She helped me create a blog post that accused the journalist of snubbing someone who had technical difficulties because they were across the world on medical leave. The article spread across Ontario and my vote count skyrocketed. The day that I won the election I stood on the 6th floor balcony of my rented apartment, towering over a busy Bangkok sidestreet, and played tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture in celebration. With a grin on my face and cigarette in hand, I knew I would be able to use this position to finally make a difference.
To thank her, I decided to make the trip to Mississauga to meet her the following month. In an instant, we hit it off. You may think that this makes a wonderful romance story, but the reason I haven’t used her name in this article is due to the fact it would be considered a “libellous” claim that she raped me.
As time went by, my infatuation for her diminished and I started to see her for who she truly is. I saw her tendency to verbally abuse my metamour (a metamour is your partner’s partner), and I heard multiple claims of her sexually abusing. Because of how infatuated I was with her, I shrugged it all off and saw her as a crusader for the rights of transgender people across Canada. I dismissed everything else until it caught up with me.
One night during one of my visits, we both did MDMA. It was one of the most cerebral experiences of my life, and when she asked me if I wanted to have sex, I agreed. It started off like sex normally does, but when it started to hurt I screamed — she didn’t take the cue to stop. Instead, she shoved her hand over my mouth and shushed me, telling me “it will be okay”. I cried, and I don’t know if I’ll ever remember how long it went on for. When she realized I was crying, she stopped.
We didn’t talk about this until months after I had broken up with her. She told me that it was my fault for not using safewords (words used in sex to stop or lessen the intensity of the act) despite both of us being intoxicated and no mention of kink-related play involved.
Bit by bit I started dropping out of all of the activities I was once involved in. I dropped off the London Youth Advisory Council, the LGBT Youthline Provincial Youth Ambassador team, and my performance in university took a hit as well. It’s really hard for me to put into words the overwhelming nature of the aftermath of this rape. There seems to be little words in the English language to convey the dissociative episodes, anxiety, and sheer feeling of helplessness.
I didn’t know how to cope with what happened. I felt like a deer in headlights, but the moment between me understanding my coming demise and the car hitting me never ended. I lost the ability to focus, I lost the ability to live without fear. I was able to get away from it by using drugs. Just a few lines, and I was okay. Then a few more. Then twelve. Then twenty. I ended up getting to a point where I was doing lines in a public bathroom because I was on edge and too far from home. If I went too long between use, the fear would come back. But at that point, I realized I went too far. At one point, I hadn’t been sober for over a month and a half, and I was staying awake for 72 hours at a time. This is the point that I decided to quit, and I fought through withdrawal symptoms.
I don’t have to prove this story to anyone, nor do I want to. What weighs down on my conscience is knowing that Canadian defamation law keeps me from outing my rapist right here and now. I wasn’t her first, and I know I won’t be her last. I just want other people to stay safe.
I hope that by sharing this experience, I’m contributing to the safety of [others], from this woman, and from anyone we look up to. We all have teenage role models and she was mine, but public figures are just that, you don’t know a single thing about them. In my story are many layers and forms of abuse: verbal, emotional, and physical. Although I’m still healing from all of this, I know that one day I’ll be free from the intense emotions that weigh me down every time I am forced to relive what happened.