Paige Thomson doesn’t remember it all but she knows where it went wrong.

“I turned back around and took a sip of the drink and from there it went all black,” said Thomson.

That was two years ago during a night out at the sticky wicket in the Strathcona Hotel. She says two men talked her up, slipped a drug into her drink then left. She’s not sure where they took her but she says she was raped.

“I woke up a couple of times during it and I know I would fight them off, how I should have reacted but my body wasn’t working,” said Thomson.

After it happened, Thomson stayed silent for months and like thousands of victims of sexual assault felt a sense of guilt.

“I felt like it was somehow my fault,” said Thomson.

Samantha Loppie with Victoria Sexual Assault Centre said that’s not uncommon with victims of sexual assault but says no matter the circumstance, it’s not true.

“It is never your fault and sexualized violence is never okay,” said Loppie.

For Thomson to believe that it took time. At first, she buried her feelings and used basketball as a distraction.

“As athletes, we are taught to keep grinding and then the pain will just go away. When I was doing that I felt like I was just getting worse, then one of my friends who I played basketball with back home, she actually committed suicide and it was in that moment I realized I was getting in that dark place and I knew I needed help,” said Thomson.

It wasn’t until she finally opened up to her family, friends, teammates as well as a counsellor that she began to heal.

“Going to see a counsellor especially and the support system at UVic has been amazing especially being on a team and that has all helped me to get to the place where I am now,” said Thomson. 

Even though it hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve had my setbacks I’ve battled PTSD for a while from it and something out of the blue will trigger me,” said Thomson.

But Thomson understands it’s all part of her journey and speaking out now she wants others to know it’s worth it.

“I know that I pushed so many people away to be alone but when you let people in it helps so much more,” said Thomson.

“Feeling like you aren’t the only one it does empower you to come forward and discuss it,” said Loppie.

If you are a victim of sexual assault Contact VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 (toll-free in B.C. and Yukon) or the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232 or the 24 hour hotline at 1-888 494-3888.

Luisa Alvarez