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Woman fights the taboo known as incest

By Erika Lavers and Michelle Wray

There are some words people feel uncomfortable using -- one of them is incest. In Nova Scotia, the family name Goler is almost synonymous with that word.

Yet, one Goler has managed to break free of the family and what it has come to stand for. Donna Goler has written a book on her experiences.

"It took me 13 years to come out and say ‘Look, I'm Donna Goler, I come from this family up on South Mountain, who, when they felt like it, raped me," she said.

Donna Goler was a guest speaker at Auburn Drive High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She is an example of a courageous woman who has overcome her past and now educates others using her own experiences.

Even though Donna was brought up just an hour outside of Halifax, she couldn't have been any further away from civilization. Deep Hollow Road on the South Mountain is where the Goler family secrets were kept for over one hundred years.

A two-room tar paper shack, which was later towed away and used as chicken coops, housed Donna, her parents, and her three sisters. A short distance away her grandparents and approximately 20 others lived in similar conditions, though they did have electricity.

A related video story created by students at Auburn Drive High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia



The sexual abuse began when Donna was an infant, however her earliest memory of it was a few years later.

"The first time I can remember I was five, just going on six, because I had just graduated from Kindergarten going into grade one," she said. "I came home and that was the first time I had been raped and it was by my father."

However, Donna's nightmare didn't end with sexual abuse, there was also child prostitution.

"We used to have a CB, and we had it set up......and if somebody wanted to have sex with one of his kids he would let them for a case of beer or a carton of cigarettes, or even a pack of cigarettes," Goler said.

"They got to pick out whichever child they wanted to have sex with. We had nothing to say, we couldn't prevent it, we couldn't stop them. We were basically lined up against the wall and they chose the one they wanted and we were forced to do it."

Donna adds that even though the whole town knew what was going on, nobody would step in to help.

"Our town was separated into two sections....the good people of Wolfville and Kentville and the awful people that lived up on the mountain and weren't welcomed into the valley," Goler said.

"I just happened to be in that little community where we were considered the awful people, and who cared?"

Why would Donna want to relive her memories of Deep Hollow Road? She hopes it will help other kids keep from going through what she went through.

"Now I have decided the best way for me to heal is to help others. So instead of just hiding in the corner and knowing it's going on with others I decided I would come out and speak about it and tell them ‘Look, this is what has happened to me, I know it's happening somewhere else, so I'm here to help'. For me, helping others has helped me."

Erika Lavers is a Grade Nine student at Roncalli Central High in Port Saunders, Newfoundland. Michelle Wray has just graduated from Auburn Drive High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.


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