Tiana’s Story

“Trust yourself. Know that you can. You are capable. You are stronger than you think.”

Tiana St. Clair is a singer, activist, backpacker, rockclimber, and a survivor of sexual violence.

After being raped by a friend, Tiana reached out to her family members to disclose her experience. Her cousin offered love and support and immediately guided Tiana to contact the police and the hospital. She told Tiana that what she experienced was not okay, and Tiana felt fortunate to have this support.

“My first initial reaction after it happened was to let it all out. I called my family members and called my mom. During this time, I was living at college. I called my sisters and my aunt. My body and my mind craved support from people who loved me. I am so fortunate to have the family that I have and for them to support me. To be able to call them like that means everything to me.”

In the aftermath of her rape, Tiana had a sexual assault forensic exam. Once the exam was completed, Tiana recalls how it felt sitting on the table after the test, feeling detached. She felt like she wasn’t fully there. During the police evaluation at the hospital the officer had told her that his sister was also raped, and that he was in support of pressing charges.

“He told me that he was here for me. He told me he would help me get through this and that they would find the perpetrator. To hear him say those words, and to be able to meet him, was a grateful experience. I know that not all police officers are like him, however, his kindness set it all apart. If only everyone could act that way—like him.”

Tiana recalls that the entire experience was like a chaotic art piece. After the experience with the forensic nurses and police officers, Tiana worked with an attorney. She made the decision to press charges and had help and support from one of her uncles, who was a lawyer and was helpful in translating confusing aspects of the criminal justice process.

“There was a lot of language and stuff I didn’t understand. I didn’t know anything about the criminal justice system before, so having my uncle there translating was helpful.” Tiana felt that the criminal justice system process with her case dragged on.

“It’s weird. It’s a really messed up system, of course, but to experience it and have to wait all that time wasn’t okay. There was something about the day when I delivered my testimony. My family was there with me, and as I was entering in to deliver my testimony, it was wild. I hadn't seen him since that night and so when we went into the doors—with my dad and my uncle—he (my perpetrator) was just standing right in front of me. During this moment, my body freaked out. I ran away and I started bawling. My family told me that they were here for me and that I could do this. On the part of being able to voice what happened and have my family there was cool. However, it felt wrong to be questioned during court by the attorneys. There is something weird about that, but I wanted to be completely honest, and I wasn’t going to hide from this. I was going to tell the truth.”

At the beginning of the case, Tiana wanted to get it all out and share her story. She felt that was an important thing to do, especially for her healing.

“I felt like I had to get it out first before I could go back into it. It felt like a crack in my system. After it happened, I could see into this previously dark space and then it became lighter as I went into it. But when you have dark spaces, you aren’t paying attention to what's going on in that dark space which could have some neglected stuff. And this is what happened on my part, and I wanted to heal that. That is the work I did, which was to go in and be a better person. Another part of that was I wanted to be able to connect to people more.”

This situation was stressful and during this moment, Tiana would go backpacking and rock climbing to cope. She would go outdoors and explore, which then led her to Joshua Tree National Park.

“I was walking in the desert without any service. All of a sudden, I get to a random spot in the desert, and I get a phone call with four bars randomly available on my phone. It was my attorney and he told me that the case ended up falling through. For me, it was upsetting, and I wanted to get justice in my own way. I kept walking and the energy, the sadness, and anger came back up and I wanted to use this to fuel me.”

Tiana packed everything up into her car. The journey that she took through various national parks and backpacking is documented in a song that she wrote, called Human, and the accompany video available on YouTube. In the beginning, she discloses her rape, and following this, Tiana is seen traveling through California, Oregon, and the middle of Utah.

“I was studying for film [in college]. It was a huge passion of mine and I loved creating videos. I had a friend who was studying film as well. I told him what I was going through, and since he had his own experiences, I felt safe going to him. He is a great friend. At the time, he helped me since I didn’t have an editing system, and assisted me in creating the video.” Around this time, her mom reached out to a local radio talk show and they immediately wanted Tiana to come on. “I met the forensic nurses and they were on the show. For the first time, I got to sit down with people who were making changes and I felt a part of an inside team that offers support. The exposure was really cool. I learned a lot from them. Being there and being in the conversation was cool as well. The Wasatch forensic nurses are doing really good work.”

Tiana continues to reflect on her experience sharing her story and working with the Wasatch forensic nurses.

“The whole experience of being at the Wasatch forensic nurses’ silent auction fundraiser was amazing but at the same time I still felt broken. I remember I was shut off from people and after I sang, I wasn’t talking to people. It felt like it was really hard to do and although I found a way to relieve it, the pain was still there. It was a great experience though. After those times, the Dove Center in St. George reached out to me after I had reached out to them for being an advocate. They did a cover and a short video of me too, which was a really great experience.”

In her healing journey, Tiana has found strength and love along the way.

“Love and support have been the most helpful for my healing. Meeting good people and connecting with good people, all have been the most healing. Growing from this, now I know a little more about how to be like the people that were there for me. Love is everything.”

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