Kacey Kells, sexual assault victim, refused to let her experience break her. Instead, she told the story to the world so it would never happen again.
“Hi, I’m Kacey Kells.
I’m a fashion addict, a dreamer, a passionate bookworm. I love skiing and riding horses, and I’m a ‘soft’ feminist.”
Kacey is also a survivor of sexual assault.
Before that high school graduation party at which the incident happened, Kacey was a normal, bright teenager living in British Columbia, Canada.
“Life at home was sometimes complicated, but I was head over heels for a boy with whom I wanted to live, I was doing well at school … I was happy. Above all, I felt safe and secure.”
Till that evening. Her boyfriend’s friends had too much to drink, and he himself did not help.
“I swear, I did nothing wrong. They said I was sexually provocative but… I did nothing to provoke them.”
It is estimated that 35% of women all over the world will experience either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. This figure rises to a shocking 70% who will experience physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner specifically.
“But the worst was to come, because it is very hard to recover from such a traumatic experience.”
For a long time afterward, Kacey suffered from depression and PTSD. She found that she could no longer continue to live in Canada. In London, her new home, she began the long and painful process of healing, which culminated with her writing a book, Kellcey about her experience.
“I originally wrote this book as a way to heal; I wasn’t able to talk about what had happened, I was feeling alone, I couldn’t escape this ‘bubble’ in which I was trapped.
I didn’t mean to publish this book. It’s way too intimate, and I wasn’t ready to share, but with time the purpose of the book changed: I understood its mission was to speak out, to testify about the consequences of male domination over women and its ultimate consequence: rape culture.”
Kacey’s mother and a friend at the Rape Crisis Centre convinced to publish the book and become an advocate for women’s rights and the promotion of a better society. Her story had the power to do that.
In her fictionalized account of the events, Kacey calls the world to attention about the pervasiveness of violence against women.
“Most ancient societies were patriarchal. Agriculture required muscles, and weaker women were second rate. Women’s physiology did not allow them to do the work that men did.”
This thinking is prevalent across our societies today, and is applied, irrespective of social class, economic wellbeing, language, or religion.
“But the question is: what if there were no women? There would be no males without females. We were and are not inferior. We are different indeed, but we all need each other!”
Feeling safe and secure is the most precious gift… and I consider that a modern, balanced, and healthy society should permit everyone to feel safe and secure, regardless her/his age, skills, race… or gender!”
Kacey believes each and every one of us is responsible for the change in mindset that needs to take place:
“We need to let people know, to make them understand that men and women are human beings who deserve the same respect, protection, and love. The key is education: not only at school, but everywhere. We need to educate everybody mothers, girls, boys, men, fathers.”
Kacey now leads a normal life. She is in love, engaged, and happy, and she hopes to have children one day. She has come a long way, and has been a brave and vocal fighter for those who has suffered like her. But it is still very difficult for her to talk about her experience.
“People see me as a strong woman, a ‘survivor,’ a ‘badass.’ But I’m not. I mean, it happened eight years ago now, and I’m feeling good and functioning well. I’m healed, I’m engaged, but deep inside of me there’s sometimes the same fear, the shame… I don’t feel entirely free. I sometimes suffer from panic attacks, I don’t know why.”
These scars persist among many who have suffered from sexual assault:
“People should be aware of this; not only is rape a crime, but its consequences are devastating for the victim. She is overwhelmed by two horrible feelings which make her unable to communicate, even with her closest relatives: fear and shame. Because, even if you know it wasn’t your fault, even when people tell you you’re a victim, not a criminal… you feel ashamed. And believe me: among all negative feelings, shame is the most harmful. It isolates you from the society while fear makes you feel crazy.”
Her message is therefore, first, one of awareness, and second, one of love.
“I want people to understand what it is like to be a victim of assault or harassment, and then I want them to feel committed to fighting this.
We are all concerned. Nothing will be perfect if people around me and around the world are not given the same chances to live happy. No society is sustainable if there are minorities within it who are suffering.”
Kacey continues to advocate for human rights, the preservation of the planet, world economic development… for that world in which she can raise happy children. I too, want to fight it.