Mental health

How I found a path forward after trauma with the help of the Family Navigation Project

*Please note this post contains difficult accounts of the patient’s experiences and circumstances including sexual assault. The author’s name has been edited for client privacy.

I was nineteen years old when I was sexually assaulted by my father.

I was scared.

Pretending like everything was normal afterward was hard. Surrounded by my siblings, knowing what our father had done to me, it was so difficult. But I love my siblings, and I stayed for them.

I felt like he held something over me and it started to wear me down. It’s hard to describe. Day-by-day I felt like I was losing pieces of myself. My post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by that event had taken over almost completely and I did not know how to get a handle on my emotions.

It took me six months before I was able to tell my partner about the assault. My partner was incredibly supportive, staying by my side, loving me unconditionally and doing everything possible to protect me. Despite all this, we both worried that nothing could take away the PTSD that stemmed from that trauma.

One of my health-care providers suggested reaching out to the Family Navigation Project (FNP) at Sunnybrook for support in finding counselling. It had been two years of battling internally with myself and my fears. I was depressed, anxious and had become suicidal. After attempting to end my life, I realized I could no longer go forward without professional help.

Speaking with my FNP Navigator was my first step towards feeling more confident in sharing my story, even when the conversations were difficult to have. My FNP Navigator advocated for my care. She stayed in contact with me providing support and encouragement along the way.

FNP found a resource that helped me work on anxiety, work-related stress strategies, and grounding exercises, which prepared me for more intensive trauma work. In the end, my Navigator was able to connect me with a centre that specializes in assisting and guiding women who have been assaulted. She made me feel strong as I waited for a resource. I can’t thank her enough.

To this day, I work with a trauma counsellor who has shown me that I am strong and brave to continue living after having been sexually assaulted by my own parent.

Words cannot describe how grateful I am to FNP for their support, their resources, and their commitment to helping me find permanent counselling that has already bettered my life. I feel a sense of power and accomplishment now. I am capable of moving on despite the trauma that has happened to me.

For more information about the Family Navigation Project visit:

If you need help in an emergency, please call 911 or visit your local emergency department.

If you’re feeling like you’re in crisis or need somebody to talk to, please know that help is also available through community resources:

  • Find a local crisis resource at
  • Crisis Services Canada
    • Phone: 24-hour, toll-free 1-833-456-4566
    • Text: 45645 (4:00 p.m. – midnight Eastern Time)
  • Kids Help Phone
    • Phone: 24-hour, toll-free, 1-800-668-6868
    • Text: 686868 (24 hours, 7 days a week)