LIVING

Anna Côté, Woman Abused By Harper's Bandmate Phillip Nolan, Pens Message To Survivors

03/23/2016 01:01 EDT | Updated 03/23/2016 01:59 EDT

The woman who was abused as a child by Stephen Harper’s former bandmate Phillip Nolan broke her silence Tuesday.

“You might have read about my secret,” wrote Anna Côté in the Globe and Mail. “For a long time, it was my secret alone. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t,” she said about media coverage of the case.

In 2014, Ottawa police charged Nolan with five counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of a minor.

Nolan, who taught music to Grade 7 and Grade 8 students, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of sexual interference that involved a teenage girl for incidents dating back to 1990 and 2000.

stephen harper band phillip nolan

Phillip Nolan, far right, who formerly played drums in the band that often accompanied former prime minister Stephen Harper, was sentenced to two years in prison in January. (Photo: Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Côté was 13 when her then-29-year-old teacher sexually abused her.

The former teacher told a doctor that he and the middle school student “just hit it off,” the court heard during his trial.

But the judge disagreed. Sexual abuse does not happen because a teacher and his student “hit it off,” Justice Ann Alder said, continuing, “He befriended the victim, he manipulated a 13-year-old child.”

Nolan was sentenced to two years in jail in January.

Côté wrote she was moved to speak out because she no longer wants to propagate the idea that survivors should be ashamed.

The abuse began when Nolan saw her upset in the hallway one day, and gained her trust by comforting her, she said. She hid her story for half her life.

“Even if I had wanted to talk, I didn’t have the words, only feelings of confusion and discomfort.”

“Even if I had wanted to talk, I didn’t have the words, only feelings of confusion and discomfort,” Côté wrote in the Globe. She said she hasn't been “defined” by her abuse as she feared she would be and is moving on.

“I can now acknowledge how it has affected me and stays with me,” she wrote. “With that acknowledgment has come strength.”

With files from The Canadian Press