Reclaiming their place and power

Alternative non-binary person looking at camera

For twenty-four-year-old Skyler (she/they), life was moving in exactly the right direction... until they were raped.

“I was in such a great place. I had made the big move to Christchurch from my small hometown, which I consider to be pretty closed-minded. I was doing a job I loved and I felt like I was healing from some childhood trauma I’d experienced. Then I was raped and suddenly I felt as though everything I’d achieved was lost.”

The rape triggered posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic fatigue, ultimately resulting in Skyler losing their job.

“I tried to prevent it ruining my life, but it was so overwhelming. I had to go back to my hometown to get support.”

Skyler was put in touch with Abby from Aviva who they describe as, “a breath of fresh air”, especially given that many of Skyler’s previous experiences with the health system had left a lot to be desired.  

“I was instantly comfortable with Abby. She supported me through the interview with the police, which was such a long interview. The whole thing was terrible for my mother as well and I know she also really appreciated Abby’s support.

“Abby got me in touch with services that could help me in Christchurch which was important because I really wanted to come back. Although I don’t remember the names of the people at the Cambridge Clinic, I can remember that they were also lovely and warm. They helped me find a GP who understood my sensitivities and who was knowledgeable about trans issues.”

Skyler is the first to acknowledge that it can be very difficult for people who need help to ask for it, but encourages people to reach out anyway.

“Especially if someone has been through sexual abuse, it can be very isolating and there can be feelings of guilt. That stopped me reaching out sooner. I should have reached out when I was doing full-service sex work, but I had this idea in my mind that because I’d chosen that industry, that I was responsible for any consequences; the reality is I didn’t choose for those men to rape me.

“My message to others is that even if it’s hard to ask for help, you truly do deserve help. If you can’t talk to friends or family, you can talk to people at Aviva who really want to help and who genuinely understand the intensity of those situations.”

The past few years have been pretty challenging, but thanks to Skyler’s dedication and the support of Aviva and others, things are much more positive today.

“Art has always been a way of processing and venting and I’m so happy to be drawing again. I had tended to draw melancholy women and emaciated women, which was partly a reflection of my self-esteem.”

“These days I am working to be more assertive and it’s coming through in my art. I think there has been a lot of demonisation of feminine sexuality and I want to push back against that as part of reclaiming my power.”

“I’m planning to go back to finish a certificate in digital media and design and I’ll also be volunteering with Trade Aid.”

Skyler is fully focused on recovery and healing and eventually realising their goal of moving to Wellington.


Learn more about Aviva Sexual Violence Services and how they supported Skyler in the video below. For more information or to find out how you can receive support for a sexual harm incident, click here.