“Hand embroidery is very time consuming, but it is my joy.” Lucie’s grin is mischievous as she tells me about her new hobby. “It makes me laugh. I’m quite vulgar, I have a potty mouth.” Her French-Canadian accent is at the core of who she is.
Lucie has taken up hand embroidery as a way of passing the time during the pandemic. Most of her beautifully done creations are laced with profanity. She proudly posts her work on Facebook for all to see.
Lucie was three and a half when her best friend’s father showed her a new game to play, just for the two of them. A game sounded fun, but this was not that, too young to understand what was being done to her, but engaged enough to feel afraid, she kept her focus on the crisp pleats of her brown dress.
When her own father found out, he dropped the iron skillet he was holding and ran for their front door with his shotgun. “I can still remember the sound the skillet hitting the floor.”
Lucie’s mother pleaded for him to stop, finally convincing him to leave the gun at home. Later, the church implored her parents not to pursue it further, after all it would destroy his family. It took decades before she could wear brown again.
Lucie was 14 when the father of the children she was babysitting stole a kiss while walking her home one night. He was a twenty-eight-year-old professional football player, with blonde hair and a disarming smile. He was the first person who had shown any sexual interest in her. At school she felt like just one of the guys, but not to her new secret boyfriend. To him, she was gorgeous and an easy target. Lucie remembers one day when the face of his 4-year-old son appeared in the window, interrupting the football player’s attempts to “go all the way”. The sexual abuse lasted until the end of the football season when he retired from his athletic career and left the country.
Shortly afterwards, Lucie attempted suicide. She overdosed on prescription medication in her bathroom. At the hospital, she awoke to the doctor telling her he was about induce vomiting. The acute disappointment of having failed, fueled her as she fought him on it. He won in the end.
Her recovery behind her, at 15 she began dating a boy 3 years her senior. What started as a friendly double date with her best friend, became a distressing struggle as he raped her and in doing so, took her virginity. Despite her saying no, his unwavering belief in his own entitlement lasted throughout the attack and for the rest of their relationship.
Lucie has turned her trauma into triumph and now works with victims of childhood sexual abuse. As a trained Peer Supporter, she runs Strength Found, a group program for adults. Her greatest reward often happens during an intake interview, when she sees the new client gaining hope. A member once shared with her, “I don’t even think you realize the powers you have.”
“I saved a life once. One of our clients was going to complete suicide. My support helped guide her to see there was a better way than killing herself.”
“The work that I do gives me the opportunity to continue to heal. It’s always there but it doesn’t consume you, it’s okay.”