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Channeling trauma through words

by Mina Mazumder November 20, 2018
Channeling trauma through words

One student’s blog aims to help sexual assault survivors

Caroline Bühler, a first-year creative writing student, was sexually assaulted by a Concordia student at a Frosh Week event last summer.

The day after the assault, Bühler went to Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre to file a complaint about the incident. “When I filed the complaint, I said I didn’t want him on campus,” she said. “I want him out of the university because I kept seeing him and it triggered me.”

Before the hearing in October, Bühler and an advocate from the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Advocacy Centre gathered evidence such as text messages sent to her, friends and acquaintances, which she said contained threats and lies. Two weeks after the hearing, the assaulter was expelled from student residence.

On Sept. 13, Bühler attended the CSU’s Sexual Violence Campaign Launch at the Hive Café. There, she met Camille Thompson, the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator, to whom she disclosed her story and her idea to create a blog to support sexual assault victims.

Thompson put Bühler in contact with Grace Evenson, the campaign assistant, who helped Bühler further develop her project. Evenson invited two students, Gaby Nova and Jennifer Lauren, to help with editing and content management. Bühler, Nova, Lauren and Evenson are currently the admins of the blog.

Bühler had the idea to name the blog #takingbackourvoices after a class assignment that required her to take excerpts from a text to create an original poem.

As Bühler was writing the assignment, she received a first draft of her assaulter’s statement from a mutual friend.

“I took a couple words from the statement and I wrote a poem out of it,” Bühler said. “In the poem, I re-wrote the story and made it seem like he had listened to me when I told him ‘no’ the first time and he stopped. I called the poem taking back my voice.”

I looked at her

Without any hesitation;

She told me no

And I stopped-

She kept talking for a while,

I didn’t say anything

In October, the admins posted two callouts for submissions via social media and put up posters around campus advertising the upcoming blog. Bühler said there have been a few submission including poetry, art and personal essays.

Bühler plans to have multiple sections on the blog, including pieces, articles, resources and discussions.

Bühler hopes the blog will be a place for sexual assault survivors to share their stories, be relieved of burden of the repercussions of sexual assault and communicate with their abusers. “There’s a lot of self-blame that goes with being assaulted and I hope this blog helps people get rid of this,” she told The Concordian. “People know what consent is, but they don’t know what are the grey lines and when no means no.”

The blog is expected to be launched in January. A wine and cheese event will be organized to promote it.

Graphic by @spooky_soda.

UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, Caroline Bühler’s assaulter was expelled from the university.

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