Christian Routenburg-Evans, an 18-year-old from Ontario, reflects on his high school experience, which was far from the carefree learning environment he had anticipated. Within the first semester, he became the target of harassment and sexual assault by a fellow student. As time went on, the situation escalated, with the student cornering Christian in the boys’ bathroom on multiple occasions.
The impact of the assault and subsequent events shaped Christian’s high school years. Now, he bravely shares his story with the hope of raising awareness, supporting other students, and advocating for change within the school system. He believes the system failed him by not holding his assailant accountable.
Initially, Christian hesitated to disclose the incidents due to embarrassment and the normalization of such behaviour. It took time for him to come to terms with the fact that what he experienced was not acceptable. However, he eventually mustered the courage to speak up and reported the assault to his parents and school administrators.
Sadly, the response from the school administrators was minimal, which only perpetuated the trauma. Christian says that the student assaulted him again after the incident was reported. Eventually, his family decided to drop the charges to avoid a lengthy court process, instead opting for a peace bond that required the student to maintain a certain distance from Christian.
The repercussions of speaking out were not limited to the assault itself. Christian faced bullying from classmates who doubted his claims, spreading rumours and minimizing the severity of the situation. As a result, he struggled with feelings of self-blame and powerlessness.
Despite these challenges, Christian transformed his experience into a powerful speech that won the Royal Canadian Legion’s provincial public speaking contest for the senior division in 2023. Sharing his story was a difficult journey, but it has been essential in raising awareness and helping others understand the importance of addressing sexual assault within schools.
Christian emphasizes the need for change in the way schools handle sexual assault cases. He believes that these incidents are often swept under the rug and not adequately discussed. He hopes to speak at various school boards in Ontario to advocate for improved protocols and support systems.
Through his advocacy, Christian aims to make it easier for victims, especially males, to come forward and seek help. He wants them to know that the abuse is not their fault and that speaking out is crucial for their well-being. He emphasizes that every individual deserves a safe school environment and should not live in fear or silence.
Christian’s bravery and determination have already had a significant impact. After sharing his speech, he was approached by several men who shared their own stories of sexual abuse. He believes that by raising awareness and encouraging victims to speak out, a safer and more supportive environment can be created for all students.
To those who have suffered abuse, Christian offers a powerful message: “You are stronger than you realize, and your voice matters.”