- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

She is now in her forties, and she wanted to tell her story and why she thinks the 2015 Ontario sex education curriculum would have made all the difference.

I'm going to call her Amanda, because that was one of the most popular names in Canada the year she was born. You'll see why we can't use her real name in a moment.

When Amanda was in grade six, she wrote a "love letter" to a boy – the usual "I really like you" type. The boy returned it through the mail slot of her home. Her mother found it, tore it up, called her a slut, and pulled her out of the girls-only Changing Me sex ed program at school, figuring that no information was better than some.

When her parents split, Amanda's father got custody. She was at a friend's home when she got her first monthly period, and she thought she was dying. Her friend's mother told her father that she should now be on birth control, and although she knew where babies came from, and that the pill would prevent babies, she had no interest in having sex. In fact, she was quite proud to be a virgin in a community where they were rare in girls over ten.

She learned nothing about consent. It was assumed that she would "figure it out".

At 14 she met an 18 year old boy at a festival, and when a group of friends drove an hour or so out of town to visit him, she went along. Everyone was drinking, and she knew she should not get in a car with a driver who had been drinking so when she couldn't reach her father to give her a ride home, she stayed behind alone with the boy. He gave her more to drink, and had sex with her even though she told him she didn't want to - that it hurt.

"It always hurts the first time" he replied.

By the second and third rape, it was no longer the first time. By then his mother was home, calling her "one of his sluts".

Amanda didn't know she had been raped. Rape was something that a stranger did in a dark alley – not someone you knew, that you thought liked you.

It was a councillor, when Amanda was 32, who explained to her that she had been raped at 14.

Amanda also didn't know about sexually transmitted diseases, so she had untreated chlamydia for over a year, likely putting her at higher risk for the metastasized cervical cancer which she survived in her thirties.

She also survived toxic and abusive relationships, heavy drinking and homelessness.
She thought she was not worth any better. When she reported a later sexual assault the police asked "Had you been drinking? What were you wearing? Are you sure you didn't lead him on?"

When she was sexually assaulted at work, she did not report it. She froze. She thought she would not be believed. That this was just the way it has to be. And she needed the job.

"When your first experience of sex is rape," she says, "And you are not given the tools to know that you have a voice or a right, it has long...long...long lasting consequences."

Amanda has read the entire 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum. She believes if she had been taught it, it would have changed her life. She would have understood what was happening to her. She would have understood her body and her rights and could have kept herself safe.

Amanda now has a healthy relationship, and three sons, one with special needs. Her eldest has information, and condoms, and has decided that the only way to be sure he is not a teenage father before he completes high school is to abstain. All of her sons know about consent – both theirs and others - and anything else they want to know. But Amanda says she knows a lot of children are not learning these things at home.

She is frustrated by those who believe misinformation about the sex ed curriculum and understands that parents have rights. "If you must, remove your children from the class. But please don't demand that noone else's children have access to this information and discussion. They will pay the price, not their parents."

The most powerful thing that Amanda said to me was this - "I would go through those rapes again without complaint, if I thought it could save one other girl from the same experience."

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