Victim of Revelstoke Greenbelt sexual assault tells her story to raise awareness

There have been multiple unconfirmed reports of sexual assaults in public spaces in Revelstoke over the past several months. Now, one woman has come forward to tell her story in order to to raise awareness and remind others to be safe.

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File photo: The Greenbelt trails near the Columbia River in Revelstoke include paved paths and a network of various dirt walking and cycling paths. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

In late October, rumours of ongoing sexual assaults in Revelstoke began circulating in the community, many of them focusing on an incident or incidents that happened on the Revelstoke Greenbelt, a popular networks of recreation trails nearby the Illecillewaet and Columbia rivers.

In response to the rumours and public tips, the Revelstoke Mountaineer contacted Revelstoke RCMP on Oct. 25 seeking information about what had become a serious safety concern for the community. Later that day, the Revelstoke RCMP and Revelstoke RCMP Victim Services issued a statement acknowledging they had heard of multiple sexual assault incidents, but that the RCMP hadn’t been provided direct information about them, saying, “police have been unable to conduct any formal investigations. These incidents have occurred in a variety of public spaces.”

Click on the image for the expanded view. An October 25 media release sent by the Revelstoke RCMP. The statement spoke of recent sexual assault incidents and cautioned the public. Photo: Revelstoke Mountaineer file image

The police statement (see image at right) cautioned residents to take safety precautions.

Now, one woman who was sexually assaulted on the Greenbelt trail this fall has come forward to share her story in an effort to raise awareness about recent incidents of sexual assault happening in Revelstoke.

The woman spoke with the Mountaineer on the condition that her identity not be revealed and that she remains anonymous.

“I want people to be safe, to be aware,” she said of her reason for speaking out.

She said she was riding her bike on the Greenbelt around 8:30 p.m. in late October when she was approached by an adult male stranger who engaged her in conversation.

“He said ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I take things for granted. I’m too friendly. I’m an open person,” she said during an interview with the Mountaineer. She sobbed as she recounted her experience, asking several times for a moment to compose herself.

Shortly after he struck up the conversation, the man sexually assaulted her.

“It was completely random,” she said.

Following the incident, the victim sought help from the sexual assault care team at Queen Victoria Hospital, something she says she is grateful for.

“My intake nurse was amazing.”

The woman said she chose not to report to police because she felt that would be useless. She said she cannot recall details of the man who attacked her other than he is about 5′ 10″ tall and had an accent that possibly sounded Australian.

The woman says she has struggled with anxiety since being assaulted. She found herself back in the emergency room in November after experiencing an anxiety attack related to the assault.

“I’m completely freaked out. I’m worried about being stalked,” she said.

There have been multiple unconfirmed reports of sexual assaults throughout the community. Information about several assaults taking place in October led the RCMP and social service agencies to issue a statement to the community to seek information and provide victims with supports.

Just yesterday, on Dec. 18, a male attempted to lure a 12-year-old girl into his car in Columbia Park, telling the girl that her mother had sent him to get her. Revelstoke RCMP are currently investigating that incident.

The most recent attempted abduction has once again stoked community concerns and conversations about sexual predators in Revelstoke.