The Shadows Within

Last modified on September 28th, 2013

Nearly one year ago today, four guys that I had never met before decided it would be a good idea to put my face through the plate glass window of a 7-11. Prior to that one moment in time, now forever etched into my memory, I was upstairs at the Railway Club in Vancouver, enjoying a few beers with some friends in celebration of their wedding earlier that night. Upon exiting the building, somewhere between catching a cab and eating a bag of nachos, I overheard these four guys harassing a bunch of girls just a few feet away from me.

People have told me after the fact that perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut, hailed a cab, and gone home. But instead, because I thought it was the right thing to do, I suggested to the group that perhaps everyone had had too much to drink, and that everyone should just call it a night and go home.

Moment’s later I found myself fending off punches from the group of guys, not even really realizing what was happening. I don’t really remember what happened next, or what transpired during my encounter with the glass, but I do remember suddenly being on the ground, surrounded by broken shards of window and a bunch of my own blood. Having never been in a fight, I struggled to comprehend what had just happened, and what I was to do next. Where I’m from, you don’t typically four on one a guy, and when the guy is down you sure as hell leave him alone. So you can imagine my surprise when, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the guys planted a soccer kick directly into the side of my face, the force of which knocked my head sideways into the brick wall of the 7-11.

Shortly afterwards, the group of guys bolted from the scene, along with the girls I had attempted to protect. To this day, despite the police’s “best” effort as well as my own, I have no idea what happened to any of them.

I was helped off the ground by a few university students who happened to watch it all go down, and was told by them that my face was cut and I was dripping a lot of blood. As they walked me slowly to the curb, the only thing I could think to do at the time was to attempt a painful smile and jokingly ask them, “did I win?”

Vancouver Assault

I ended up with lacerations to my face and my scalp, both of which had to be closed with stitches. The kick to the face ultimately caused disruption of the infra-orbital nerve in my face, and five bone fractures (three of which dislocated my cheekbone, one which destroyed the orbital floor of my left eye along with part of the medial wall against my nose, as well as a slight displacement of the sphenoid bone resting against my brain).

When the doctor approached me and said they were going to prepare the OR for emergency surgery to put my cheekbone back in the correct position, I decided it was time to call home and wake my family. Later that day, when my five year old nephew was told what happend, he looked at up at my sister with teary eyes and asked “mom, why would someone want to hurt uncle Duane?”

I wish I knew buddy.

A year has now passed, and not a day goes by where I don’t think about that night, or the ramifications of it. Since then, I have undergone two rounds of plastic surgery on my eye socket, and now have a 4cm x 4cm plastic sheet implanted in my skull. I often think of those guys, wondering if to them I’m a big joke: the punchline of some story centered around violence, a tale that’s told during nights of drinking and accompanied by a few high fives amongst friends. Some days I wonder if one day, when life catches up to them, if they’ll ever stop and think about what happened, wonder where I ended up, and ultimately, if I was ok.

To say that this last year was difficult on me would be an understatement. It has been both an emotional and a physical rollercoaster ride, filled with hope, tears, frustration and uncertainty. I was forced, many a time, to lean on friends and family when the weight of it all became far too heavy for me to bear alone, and for those that were around, I am forever grateful.

I would love to say that after everything I have found myself healed on the inside, but that would not be entirely true. For I do not think I will ever be the same inside, nor I think would I want to be entirely. For while this year was difficult, is it through the entire experience that I have gained a new appreciation for life, and for the people I am fortunate enough to share mine with.

Broken Cheekbone

Me, one year later

I wanted to post this entry, not to draw attention to myself or what I have been through, but so that others might someday stumble upon this and realize that there are others who have been through something similar, and that I at least recognize what it ultimately does to your life. At least for me, I have moved on, and thankfully my physical scars are small. I count myself extremely lucky, since there are those who end up far worse, and those who, unfortunately, don’t walk away from this type of thing at all.

My email address is available on the contact page. Feel free to email me about this if anyone wants to talk.

34 responses to “The Shadows Within”

  1. Meg says:

    This post is something to be proud of.

  2. Ariane says:

    Wow, Duane, I (not surprisingly) didn’t know about his–glad you’re ok (or at least, as okay as possible)…although this might just take the cake for shitty things I’ve heard of people going through lately, I have a sneaking suspicion you may have also fallen to the curse of 2007. Hope that the turn of the season brings brighter days 🙂

  3. Laura says:

    Thank you Duane for your courage to tell your story.

    I hope that your heart remains open and that you still have faith and hope in people.

    All healing comes from within and shines out.

    You may not know this my friend, but you are the sun!

  4. Tania says:

    Just wanted to send you a warm hug and to wish you very many good things to come in a new year and in the time ahead.
    About what happend to you, all I can say i am just shattered,I admire your attitude and character and was very happy to hear you are on the way to recovery and putting it all behind you and if there is anything else can be done to improve what was not yet improve,I wish for you it will happend too, with all my heart.
    Love your pictures,they have soul :).
    Warm hugs from a stranger

  5. Rebecca says:

    Duaniac – it hurts to think that someone so close to us was in so much pain and still feels the scars (of all kinds). Part of me wishes we knew you back then and could have helped ya through this (or we could have kept you in the bar, drinking, and avoiding all of that :-P) but what’s done is done… look how far you’ve come in the last year though, eh? We’re sure glad to have you around now buddy.

  6. Dale says:

    Fuck Duane. That’s all I have to say. As an impartial, this post is raw and honest, and thanks for writing it.

  7. Christie "The Yellow Dart" St. Martin says:

    🙁 awwwwwwww *gives you a big hug*


  8. Tanya H says:

    Duane, it makes me sick to think this happened to you. I’m glad you’ve had the support of friends and family to help you through this past year. Since I heard about it, I’ve often wondered how you were doing. An event like this is everyone’s worst nightmare and seems like you are handling it with a lot of bravery and grace. I love the “did I win?” comment. hilarious!

    Oh and you look really great in the latest picture. Glad they didn’t ruin your purdy face 😉


  9. Eva says:

    *HUGS* from a stranger. You’re a very, very lucky man, Duane, to have such good and caring friends and family. Without their support, I think the road to recovery would have been longer and tougher. As for the perpetrators of such violence, I just hope they get what they deserve at some point. I also can’t help but to think the girls there probably knew those guys…

    Anyway, more strength to you.

  10. px says:

    and to think i came for pix from last night’s event… sorry you went through that, and i am glad you have done so well with your recovery.

  11. Jennie says:

    Duane, I knew you had been injured but I never knew the whole story. Thank you for sharing this. If I lived in Vancouver, I’d give you the biggest hug in the world right now.

  12. Amanda says:

    Well Duane, Duaner,
    What can I say. I am so proud of you. I am really glad you wrote this blog. The tears have flowen heere today. I go back into the world today reminded of how lucky we are…first dad, then you and we are all still here. I will carry you with my today……I love you!

  13. Barb Finni says:

    You’re a hero Duane – no doubt about. Your neice and nephew love you so much and you have set a shining example to them of just what a hero is. Well done.

  14. gusgreeper says:

    same as Jennie, wow, i already knew you were a great guy but my respect and shit now im crying, just awesome post man. thank you so much for sharing that.

  15. JennyH says:

    Duane, I know you told me a little about this, but holy cow! I am glad you are recovering so well physically and are healing mentally too.

  16. Keira-Anne says:

    Duane…I’m so glad you had the courage to share that. Like Becky said, I wish we’d all known you back then so you’d have a little more “friend support” to rally around you. You’re a very brave guy. Be proud of yourself.

  17. Amber says:

    I thought I had already commented on this. Great post Duane! You have much to be thankful for for sure!

  18. Ciavarro says:

    Yeah, my mouth dropped when you told me the brief details on that precarious perch outside the party in Toronto. I actually felt a little ashamed because I was just sort of yapping about nothing, not knowing your back story.

    It actually makes me angry that humanity could be so… grr, I should stop there.

    Bottom line is, you’re a BEAUTY Duane! Let’s go drink beer and scotch.

  19. Marilyn says:


    It makes me sick to know that people can be so senseless and uncaring for another human being and furthermore that someone as special and nice as you has had to suffer so greatly because of it. Despite the anger I am feeling, there is also a sense of feeling proud of you for being strong and at your ability to endure through something so painful, both physically and emotionally. You are an inspiration and you are brave to write your story for all of us to know, become aware and understand.

    Sending you the love!

  20. Duane Storey says:

    Hey Marilyn,

    Remember when I did that wicked cookie monster impression at the Whitehorse story telling festival?
    “WHHHAT? COOOOKIIIIEE!!!” I think I managed to get pieces of cookie on people like four tables away.

    Those were good times.

  21. Thanks for sharing this obviously still raw moment with us all, Duane. Having been through 18 surgeries myself, I know the pain of recovering from facial injuries. You’ve done great! I’m glad you have such great friends and family around to support you during your healing.

  22. Beth says:

    Duane, I don’t know what to say, but I just have to say something. Like Jennie, I knew you had been attacked and seriously injured, but didn’t know the whole story. I think it’s really brave of you to share this – I admire your courage. And it gives me hope for humanity that, while there are certainly some major league assholes out there, there are also people with such a generous spirit as you, someone who would defend people who were being harassed, just because it’s the right thing to do; and someone who is willing to share their personal story in the hopes that it will show others who have experienced similar things that they are not alone. Thank you.

  23. Tom says:

    While we are all remembering, let’s not forget the $20.00 and the get well soon card sent to you from a stranger in the USA.

  24. Kristy says:

    Duane, I think it took a lot of courage and strength for you to post this, You had told me a few bits of the story in the spring, but I had never heard all of it. You have overcome a lot in the past year and I wish nothing but the best for you.

  25. Anne Tasse says:

    Very brave of you to stand up to those losers. You are truly a hero to many and it is only onward and upward from this point on. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you continue to carry that strength with you:)

  26. raymi says:

    jeeezus. good for you for speaking up for those chicks, i can neve rresist involving myself in drama so it’s a good don’t try this at home PSA post sort of. they totally feel or will feel guilty about it.

  27. brad says:

    Hey Duane
    Thanks for posting your experience about this surgery. Im going through all this myself and am very worried about it. I had two fractures in my right eye socket and need surgery to reconstruct the floor and medial wall to maybe look normal again. It gives me some comfort to know that i may be able to look like my old self and put this incident behind me too. I can relate to everything you said.
    Thanks for your posts

  28. […] Shadows WithinMedical Students SuckSaturday Night Assault The Shadows WithinMedical Students SuckSaturday Night […]

  29. Raul says:


    I second what everybody said on this post. You’re one very brave man, and I’m very glad to call you a friend. You’ve come a long way, buddy, and you have offered an example that makes us proud.

  30. […] few years ago my friend Duane got his face kicked in and was thrown through the window of a 7-11 on Seymour Street. The perpetrators were never found […]

  31. Hi Duane;

    Thank you for this article. I think people in Vancouver and all other urban centers in the world often start to trust the communities in which they live in and expect the best from them. The same way we would a child. I have lived in Vancouver for my whole life and have NEVER gotten into any trouble (which I hadn’t asked for). I was always the first to defend the city when anyone talked bad about the violence. “Only people who are asking for it get in trouble” I always said.

    Well, I got a wake up call.

    June 4th, 2008. Another beautiful night in downtown Vancouver. My friend Stephanie was having her birthday party at Caprice on grandville and we were having an AWESOME TIME! As always, I pride myself in being as polite, and classy as a 20 year old guy can. I have never been the one to be acting tough in clubs or cat calling random girls on the street. Because after all, “You only get in trouble if your looking for it” right?

    It was shortly after 2 when some of the girls I was with wanted to leave. Being the DD I was sober enough to find all the girls get them together and head outside. Once I got outside I said goodbye to all the bouncers made sure I had everyone with me and then we started walking towards Robson. There were a group of men behind me who asked of I had a smoke. I replied yeah, and walked towards them. The girls I was with had already started walking up the street. I handed the bigger of the 3 guys a smoke and then one of them asked about my shirt saying, “Nice shirt, are think your a fighter or something”? Now I am not going to get into this right now but I was wearing an AFFLICTION shirt, which I guess is making a statement that Im hardcore. (…I just liked the design).

    Before I could even answer him “No I dont fight” I was knocked to the ground by the same guy that asked for a smoke and kicked in the face several times. There were police 2 blocks away, one of which claimed they saw it happened… BUT COULDNT FUCKING CATCH THEM? Are you serious? Maybe if I would of got shot It would of been worthy of a police chase. But nope, not this.

    Anyways, long story short. I got my faced stomped on, they fractured my cheek and left me with a mess of a face. Everything has healed for the most part but I still have noticeable scars on my eye which will never go away.

    Now after having gone through this my feelings of the city have not changed what so ever. Sure, what happened to Duane and I could literaly happen to anyone but I can’t think of any other city which an individual has no chance of being attached. Ive lived here my whole life and have never had any problems till this summer. thats 20 years of peace. Good enough for me.

    Would I still offer that guy a smoke? Yes, I’m not going to let assholes like this turn me into a robot scared of any interaction. Like I said before, I try to be the most polite and respectable young man a 20 year old can be.

    Would I still wear affliction? Yes if the design is nice. Anyone starting fights over clothing choices needs to get their nails done.

    Do I feel safe in Vancouver? Absolutely. Sure this was an unfortunate event,

    But I trust my city.
    I trust my Police officers.
    I trust country.

    Duane thank you for your story.


    Mike Giesbrecht (zepho)

  32. Duane Storey says:

    That’s a good attitude. I haven’t let the event change my life in too many ways. Yes, I will have double vision the rest of my life, and I currently have only partial sensation on the left side of my face. But you know, I lived, and a lot of people in the same situation sometimes don’t.

    Bad luck floats around, and unfortunately it has to land somewhere from time to time. In my case, it was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I still walk around the city late at night, and even past that same store where this all happened.

  33. That is really good to hear that you still walk outside at night and go about your normal living. Freedom is what makes living here amazing.

  34. […] the fall of 2006 Duane was the victim of a violent assault/battery downtown and he still bears the scars from his anonymous attackers (who will probably never be […]

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