In my case, my abuser was a ‘friend’ to my family and taught music in high school to my four other siblings. He used manipulation and deception to groom and sexually abuse me. As a music teacher at Bell High School, my abuser was in a position of trust and respect. With his predatory instincts finely tuned, he was able to manipulate other adults into ignoring what was really happening to me and others. My mother was my abuser’s children’s nanny for years while he was abusing me behind her back. He was trusted by my parents so was often able to drive me to the various schools I attended where much of the abuse would take place.
With his predatory instincts finely tuned, he was able to manipulate other adults into ignoring what was really happening to me and others.
Once I reached Bell High, I lost interest in learning music due to fears of facing him. I still frequently encountered him, whether it was in the hallways or during gym class in the locker rooms. Despite reporting the abuse to my guidance counsellor and talking with the vice-principal, nothing was done. I wondered if anyone in the school was going to do anything about him, but nothing happened, no one stopped him, and the sexual abuse continued.
When the grooming and abuse started, I developed a nervous tic, which made me the target of bullying. When I started to seek help for my addictions, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, severe depression, ADHD, and suicidality. Due to the trauma, I had experienced, it was difficult for me to stay in recovery, which led to further substance abuse. Eventually, I was charged with driving under the influence and lost my life partner, job, driver’s license and eventually had to declare bankruptcy. Despite seeking help and putting in years of effort to repair the damage that the abuse caused, I was unable to have a family of my own or find a stable career. The constant loses re-victimized me and triggered suicidal tendencies.
In 2019, I learned that my abuser was being criminally charged for multiple cases of historic abuse. At the age of 54, I was finally able to connect with other victims and we stood together when he was finally sentenced to prison for his crimes. I was able to find some victim services support through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), including further psychological therapy. It has helped to stabilize my life for now, as I move forward with other plaintiffs in a civil suit against the institutions that were supposed to protect me from the abuse I experienced.
It has taken me over 40 years to come to grips with the severity and long-term impact of what I experienced.
Since the conviction of my abuser, I have been working together with other abuse survivors through a peer support network. I continue to use resources of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in learning how to deal with male sexual abuse trauma. Attending a support group for male abuse survivors has given me a safe place to learn and gain insight. Daya Community Counseling Services provides ongoing therapy support. I have found resources through Tom Wilken, author of Rebuilding Your House of Self-Respect. As an abuse survivor, he has insights on therapeutic approaches that help victims move forward.
At present, I’m working collaboratively with other victims of teacher-on-student sexual abuse in gaining awareness of how dangerous and damaging our school systems are for children. We are trying to get policymakers and lawmakers to recognize that the system needs to change. Please join us in advocating through SECE (Student Educator Child Exploitation) in bringing awareness to school systems across Canada that will better protect children from the abuse we experienced. We hope to work with federal, provincial, and other stakeholders in the education system to create policies that will better protect children, offering them a safer environment to learn in.
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Hello, my name is Chris Hilkes and this is my victim impact statement of being sexually abused by a high school music teacher.
I would like to thank the court and judge for this opportunity to share my story of loss and struggle over the last 40 years.
I have had to live with shame and guilt for being a victim of my abuser. The sexual and emotional abuse has taken a heavy toll my life. It has imprisoned me mentally, spiritually, and physically, severely limiting my sense of agency throughout my life.
I first encountered my abuser in the neighborhood where I grew up. He had taught my older siblings music at Bell High School. In 1973, he began bringing his own two children to my home to be babysat by my mother while he taught at Bell. Over the next decade, through manipulation and deception, he built a trusting relationship with my family and the neighborhood while grooming and sexually abusing me. He visited my home regularly and would often drive me to and from the local schools I attended. During these drives, the grooming and sexual abuse began.
The abuse I encountered made me feel exploited and betrayed. I felt detached from reality. The stress of the abuse damaged me. I developed a nervous tic, which made me the target of bullying by other students. The abuse got worse when I entered Bell High School. The abuse took away my sense of self-worth and well-being, and caused me to spiral downward, towards alcohol and drug abuse. I experienced severe mental health issues including ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression, and suicidality that were not diagnosed until later in life, when I began to seek treatment for my addictions. The abuse, and the lack of protection by adults who were supposed to be looking out for me, made it difficult for me to develop trusting relationships at school, work, and personal relationships. I was unable to complete high school, college, or maintain steady employment due the trust and anger issues associated with being sexually abused.
I sought help to recover from the effects of the abuse. I have had to work extremely hard to regain MY LIFE, MY VOICE, and MY CONFIDENCE. I have needed intensive support from mental health care professionals to try to repair the damage caused by the abuse. I will never be able to regain what was lost: a normal life; the chance to have a career, home, a family of my own; the love and happiness that others enjoy.
I believe there needs to be accountability, and changes to the school system that is failing its children, when it comes to protecting them from abuse perpetrated by educators.
I would like to appeal to the court that my abuser be sentenced to a longer prison term to make him reflect upon and understand the depth of the crimes he committed. Sexual abuse destroys the human spirit and soul; I will never regain the losses; I cannot relive my life.