Duvet Days

Meet Duvet Days: How a Passion Project in Bali Helped its Founder Heal From Sexual Assault

In 2015, Jenna Wiebe moved to Bali. Friends and family worried she was running away, seeking respite from past wounds on new soil, moving for her partner and not for herself. She wasn’t quick to brush away their questions—they were valid. But she ultimately decided her move wasn’t about him, the him from her past, who had abused her for eight years, but neither was it about her current partner. She needed to move to Bali for herself, for her life and well-being.

After her partner sold his house and she sold her car, both of them purging most things (“it’s so liberating, I’d highly recommend it”), Jenna and her partner settled in Bali. “We found a villa and I went from having a paycheck every two weeks and benefits to kind of looking around and having a panic attack, like, what am I doing?”

Jenna quickly landed enough freelance work to support herself but felt a lack of passion. “I started asking myself, what am I passionate about? And I kept coming back to creating but also engaging with people.”

It didn’t take long for Jenna to determine a way to combine creativity and engagement with a narrative she had long kept private, but felt ready to share. A survivor of rape and sexual assault and domestic abuse, Jenna was “ready to finally, publicly tell my story. I felt like there was not a platform that wasn’t clinical or just filled with inspirational quotes. I wanted to remind people going through similar situations that it’s OK to have bad days—duvet days.” Thus, Duvet Days became a place for Jenna, through design, to create awareness, self discovery, and a place for self love for people affected by rape and domestic abuse.

Jenna Wiebe

Jenna Wiebe, founder of Duvet Days

Jenna’s story

It wasn’t always easy for Jenna to talk about her experience. In fact, she kept it a secret for nearly five years before her best friend, noticing Jenna’s signs of withdrawal, asked her directly if she had been raped.

Jenna said it felt like a punch in the face because she wasn’t expecting it. “I had to pause because I didn’t want to acknowledge it and I didn’t want to say yes. The moment I said yes, it became real. I had denied it for five years. Having to face it was 100 times harder than running from it.”

“I made a lot of unwise choices because I didn’t care about myself. Most sexual abuse survivors end up in abusive relationships because you believe you don’t deserve better and you don’t see yourself as worthy, and that person confirms that every day.”

Jenna explained, “I was raped when I was 20. I was then sexually assaulted by a very close friend when i was 21. In both instances, these were people I knew and in my own home. I became really self-destructive with drinking, partying, drugs, and careless sex.”

I made a lot of unwise choices because I didn’t care about myself. Most sexual abuse survivors end up in abusive relationships because you believe you don’t deserve better and you don’t see yourself as worthy, and that person confirms that every day.

Jenna’s best friend encouraged her to tell her parents. “I grew up in a very Christian family so all I could think was, they’re going to know I had sex. I wasn’t understanding that sex and rape are different things. I remember my dad’s reaction like it was yesterday. All he said was, ‘I feel like I failed you as a father because I wasn’t there to protect you.’ I hate that he felt that way. Nobody knew what to do. It’s a hard situation for everyone involved.”

Duvet Days

Healing

It was years after Jenna told her parents about her sexual assaults that she would feel ready to share her experiences with a broader audience.

“Everyone’s path is different. It took me a long time, multiple therapists and support groups, and then I feel like the last 10 percent of healing is different for every single person. My 10 percent—what brought me peace—was moving to Bali and letting go of control. Duvet Days was a part of that last 10 percent—it was about letting go of fear of judgment.”

“I wanted to create a place where people could tell their stories. Not every [survivor] needs to, but it was liberating for me to feel like I didn’t need to hide and feel ashamed. It’s part of who I am and I’m never going to apologize for it. It’s not my fault. I’m proud that I got through it.”

Once Duvet Days was in a sharable place, Jenna posted on Facebook about her passion project. “I hesitated and then was like, OK, I have to do it,” Jenna said.

“I wanted to create a place where people could tell their stories. Not every [survivor] needs to, but it was liberating for me to feel like I didn’t need to hide and feel ashamed. It’s part of who I am and I’m never going to apologize for it. It’s not my fault. I’m proud that I got through it.”

Forgiveness

In addition to a creative outlet with which to engage with other sexual assault survivors and victims of rape, Jenna acknowledged the role of forgiveness in her healing.

“You’re not forgiving for their sake, you’re forgiving for yourself. It’s the only way to truly free yourself. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that what they did was OK. But it’s the only way you get to be at peace.”

“The second person [who assaulted me] was literally my best friend. I chose to forgive him. Not just for me but for other people involved. You end up having to forgive because if you don’t, you end up stuck,” Jenna said.

“You’re not forgiving for their sake, you’re forgiving for yourself. It’s the only way to truly free yourself. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that what they did was OK. But it’s the only way you get to be at peace.”

menstrual cycle illustration

Building a space for self love

Jenna uses Duvet Days not only to bring awareness to survivors of sexual assault and rape, but also to make space to celebrate women’s bodies in all their unique forms. “I have so much respect for women and our bodies. They’re so perfect, no matter what conditions you have,” Jenna explained.

“I’ve done illustrations of a uterus with endometriosis and I’ve gotten the best responses from women who are like, ‘I used to hate my body so much. I was pouring so much hate toward my uterus and your illustrations helped remind me how amazing my body is.’”

Jenna Wiebe

Jenna and her daughter

More than anything, Jenna wants Duvet Days to be a safe outlet for discussion, education, and reflection. Some women have even shared the account with their partners, finding it easier than finding the right words for their own experience.

“It can be difficult to have a conversation with the person we love about such a traumatic experience, because often the partner wants to go into protection mode and fix everything. But we don’t need them to fix everything, we need them to listen.”

Featured image by Jenna Wiebe
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