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Truro sexual assault survivor shares her story to help others

Liz MacKay will share her story of surviving sexual assault when the Take Back the Night walk is held in Truro on Oct. 12. She now works as a peer support co-ordinator at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre.
Liz MacKay will share her story of surviving sexual assault when the Take Back the Night walk is held in Truro on Oct. 12. She now works as a peer support co-ordinator at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre.

TRURO, N.S. – Liz MacKay was 15 when she was sexually assaulted.

Like many people, she didn’t report it and wasn’t aware of the services available to help her. Her experience led to a downward spiral that included substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

“It was a hard road but it played a part in directing me to the work I’m doing now,” said MacKay, who is a peer support co-ordinator at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre (CNWRC).

When she was assaulted by a partner at a Truro residence in 1999 she didn’t know the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre (CSAC) existed and she didn’t get the help needed to deal with her internal struggles.

“I had a pattern of unhealthy relationships,” she said. “Substance abuse helped me forget but it didn’t fix anything. I felt suicidal but decided I couldn’t hurt my mom that way.

“I would feel a little better, but any little thing would send me back down again. I healed very slowly.”

Writing helped her express herself and accept her own value.

While working in a store, she encountered Margaret Mauger (from the CSAC) and remarked on a pin she was wearing. This led to a discussion that encouraged her to change her life and do something that would make her happy.

She went back to school at the age of 23, and while there she tutored other students.

“That made me feel better,” she said. “I thought if I was good enough to help someone I might not be so bad.”

She hasn’t seen the person who assaulted her in a few years, but says she hopes he has done his own healing and made changes to improve his life.

One of the things MacKay wants to do is make agencies in the community more visible.

“That’s one of the things the Take Back the Night walk does that is so important,” she said. “People need to realize there’s help.”

She will be one of the guest speakers at this year’s Take Back the Night, which will also include a march, refreshments and a vigil.

Take Back the Night will take place Oct 12, starting from the Riverfront Park gazebo at 6 p.m.

lynn.curwin@trurodaily.com

Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night is an international event and non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence. Events are held in more than 30 countries every year.

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