Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Tanner Wilson. I am twenty-two years old and live in Fredericton, N.B. I work as an early childhood educator by day and by night teach pre-competitive and competitive dance classes. Theodore and Kobi (my fur babies) are my pride and joy - I am always sharing photos of them as if they were children.
What motivated you to speak out about your sexual assault?
I decided to speak up about my sexual assault because when I was trying to cope with what happened to me I had no one to relate to. I didn't have any friends that had had similar experiences or know of anyone who had. At the time I had no one to reach out to to talk for advice. I was confused and feeling so many different ways about myself and my decisions that I questioned if they were normal or not. I decided to speak up because I wanted to start a conversation about sexual assault. I wanted others to feel like they had someone to relate to.
Why did you choose not to report?
It is not a secret that sexual assault cases can be intrusive. I chose not to report my assault because I didn't want all of my personal life to be public knowledge. At the time I also questioned whether the man who assaulted me deserved to be known. Maybe this was a one time thing for him and he really was I nice guy, I wasn't sure. In the end I realized my choice shouldn't have included him at all since he didn't think about me when he made his decision. Nonetheless I was not ready for everyone I grew up with, my family and friends to know what happened to me.
What resources/ things did you find helpful/comforting in your recovery?
During recovery I really would have liked to have had someone to talk to that understood how it felt to be in my position. Eventually I went to counselling to help cope with my emotions and to have some of my questions answered. I often left my sessions feeling like an enormous weight had been lifted off of my shoulders - finally I could breath again. Whenever I felt self-guilt creeping up on me I had to tell myself that the situation was out of my control, that nothing I said or did could have prevented what happened that night. Repeating that a couple hundred times eventually sunk in and I started to believe it.
Do you have any advice for someone who is going through something similar to what you went through?
My advice to a sexual assault survivor is to reclaim your body and know that I believe you. After my assault I felt like my body wasn't my own anymore. It no longer belonged to me. I started partying a lot, drinking every weekend so I didn't have to deal with my emotions. I lost respect for myself and felt like I didn't deserve to love myself anymore. My body felt like a toy. When I would look in the mirror I couldn't point out one thing I loved about myself because I felt disgusted in myself. I felt like this until I woke up one day and said I love myself. I look at my thunder thighs, my non-flat stomach and my jiggly arms and decided to love myself. I chose to reclaim my body as my own and I think that is very important.
What does your Self-Care Sunday look like?
My Self-Care Sunday begins with my two handsome fur babies snuggling on my bed waiting for their breakfast. I love waking up and giving them lots of love. Every Sunday I teach dance at X-treme Dance Studio and although it is my job, it rarely feels like work. I am so passionate about each and every dancer in that studio and I really enjoy watching them make my choreography come to life. During the remainder of the day I LOVE to bake and cook meals to prepare for an upcoming week. My Sundays are busy but I wouldn't have it any other way!