Ava came to the studio as part of our ‘Actually I Can’ campaign to share her story. Talking about sexual assault and rape will always be hard, however, Ava wants her story to empower and inspire other survivors to find their inner strength to heal and forgive.
It all began with a celebratory night out to celebrate her sister’s birthday. When the birthday celebrations were over, Ava decided to go with one of her sister’s friends to a party at his house. They both caught a taxi together and he began acting slightly inappropriately. Ava brushed it off by telling him not to touch her.
Once they arrived at his home, she didn’t see a party. He had lied to her.
He asked if she wanted to stay the night. Ava was hesitant at first, but then she thought to herself that she would be losing her virginity at one point. She gave consent originally but changed her mind and kept telling him to stop. The unbearable happened.
He pinned her body down and she couldn’t move. She remembers her body “shut down” and she had no strength to get away.
“I went into complete shock,” she said.
“I remember lying there trying to scream but nothing came out.”
When the rape was over she ran to the door to escape. She yelled at him out of disgust and told him to call her a taxi. He pinned her against the door, shouting in defense of his actions.
When the taxi arrived “I pushed him and squeezed through the gap in the door.”
She ran to the taxi waiting outside, jumped into the passenger seat and shouted “drive, drive” to the driver. Ava thought she had escaped one predator that night, to her dismay she had been caught in the web of another.
The taxi driver had locked her in the car, removed his photo ID from the dashboard and sped
through two red lights driving like a “mad man”. Speeding through the dark night and out of town, Ava yelled for him to stop,
The driver pulled up onto the side of the road and sexually assaulted her.
Trapped in the locked car
“I just let him touch me and I felt helpless,
“I couldn’t get out of the situation,
“I felt like a piece of meat.”
Tears streamed down her face and in that moment, her body became an empty vessel.
“My trust was completely shattered.”
Her relationship with her body became negative after that.
“I attacked it (her body) with eating disorders and self-harm.”
Since that traumatic night in 2006, Ava has been working on healing herself. To feel confident, to trust and to embrace her body again.
One step she took after she completed high school was to become a jillaroo for six months in the Northern Territory. It was a male-dominated environment which was difficult for her at first, but she learned to communicate and trust again.
Now at 30 years old, Ava is still completing her journey to heal. Her healing process has been aided by the presence of animals and plants to regain trust with others.
“If you’re struggling with contact animals are important,” she said.
“Animals have helped me a lot, you can regain your trust with yourself by allowing a cat to sit on
The Actually, I Can shoot was a new chapter for Ava, where she said she felt “truly feminine” and able to embrace her new age.
“I’m thirty and fabulous now.”
“I’m giving myself permission to start a new chapter.”
She started a bucket list and is actively on the go to complete it. She is learning to embrace her body again, trying not to “cover up” her body anymore and rather take ownership of it. Ava is set to go overseas and immerse herself in all life has to offer. Even though her journey of
healing has been long and is one that hasn’t ended, Ava makes sure to maintain a positive outlook and keep doing things that empower herself.
Ava’s advice to anybody who has gone through a tough time is to forgive yourself, to take a break and allow yourself to breathe.
“The biggest part of forgiveness is to forgive yourself first.”
“Healing can take time – it’s like an onion and when you’ve healed one layer, you find another.”
“Using positive affirmations can help to reclaim your body in a positive way, be kind to yourself and know it is ok to show your vulnerabilities.”
“Everyone reacts differently and there is no right or wrong way to react and no right or wrong way to heal – it is a personal journey. As long as your path to healing doesn’t impact others in a negative way then it is right for you. Even once you have healed, there will be a scar.”