THE BLOG

Lucy DeCoutere, I Believe In You

02/08/2016 10:47 EST | Updated 02/08/2017 05:12 EST
Chris So via Getty Images
FREDRICTON, ON - OCTOBER 30: Actor and Air Force Captain Lucy DeCoutere during a video interview with the Star in regards to her past personal experiences and interactions with CBC host Jian Ghomeshi. Lucy is the first one to speak out publicly about Jian Ghomeshi's hitting and choking. (Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Dear Lucy DeCoutere, 

We've never met, so don't worry if you don't know who I am. 

I'm a writer. I write books and articles. 

I used to live in Halifax, and I used to watch Trailer Park Boys all the time. 

I thought your character was really funny. She reminded me of Caroline Aherne's character Our Janine in the British sketch show the Fast Show.

Both characters felt very real. It takes a lot of talent to play that kind of character with affection and humanity. 

I was even more impressed when I read about the way you came forward against a man who you allege has sexually assaulted you.

I don't know if everyone who hears about you appreciates the importance of you waiving your anonymity and giving your name and face to the case. 

For a person as clearly dignified and graceful as you, a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force no less, it must have been a nightmare. You had everything to lose, and nothing to gain. 

I don't know if people appreciate the complexity of what you're presenting to them, but statistically, 80 per cent of sexual assaults occur with a person women know.  

When you know someone, when you've developed trust and had feelings for them, it's hard to divest yourself of that.

It's hard to process terrible things. It takes people months, or years sometimes. Remember that #WhyIStayed campaign? 

Any psychologist, psychiatrist or trauma therapist can attest to the completely unsurprising nature of what you said. 

Your explanations resonated with me because you were brave, but more than that, because you were composed and you were honest. 

You were 100 per cent right to say that whatever you felt, or did, did not mean that you deserved to be assaulted.

It's pretty simple.

"You are the textbook definition of strong. You are not a kid that can be swayed or intimidated. You are powerful and unassailable."

Your feelings didn't obfuscate the criminal nature of what you say he did any more than a woman wearing a short skirt is asking to be raped.

Whatever anyone says -- introspection and vulnerability are only ever signs of strength. You have the kind of confidence that makes predators quiver. 

By predators, I'm not just referring to Ghomeshi. 

I'm referring to the woman whose job it is to defend him. 

In Toronto Lifecover story about Marie Heinen, former attorney general Michael Bryant describes her as someone who "seemed to channel Hannibal Lecter." 

I'm sure you know as well as anyone that no strong person ever needs to develop a frightening persona. People can see what is self-evident, and they can also see what isn't. 

Henein's attacks appear to be the same as any bully's. They are superficial, semantic and -- let's be honest here -- incredibly repetitive. Despite her reputation, her arsenal appears to be rather limited. When you look at some of her other cases, like minor league hockey coach Dave Frost, you see her pattern.  

She uses misogynistic tactics like pointing out a woman's attire (as if being chaste is a sign of moral virtue and is the only way a woman can be considered credible). She uses intimidation, and reveals soundbites (instead of genuine insights) designed to distract and confuse a jury.

Remember: it's a judge, not a jury who will make this decision. Not only does that make the media's bias on all of this irrelevant, it's a game changer.

Waiving your anonymity means that everyone can see everything.

I'm sure she, and everyone else knows that there will be consequences to the way she interrogates witnesses. I'm sure it's not exactly the kind of free publicity she dreamed of.

Personally, with all the live Tweeting from court, I'd love, just once, to see someone fire back at Henein with the same kind of irrelevant and inappropriate tactics that she loves to use.  

When a women is asked about a bikini shot, I'd love to hear her ask Henein why she wore what Toronto Life describes as "knee high lace up dominatrix boots" at a legal awards gala shortly before announcing that she was Ghomeshi's counsel.

When she asks if a witness is lying, I'd love for someone to ask her if she is. I wonder if Henein thinks deep down the men she defends are guilty, and I wonder how she can possibly live with that.

In the same Toronto Life article, she is called a feminist. Everyone knows that saying something patently ridiculous doesn't make it true.

Anyone who is responsible for inflicting further emotional trauma on sexual assault victims, of acquitting men that may be guilty and making Toronto a more dangerous place for women can in no one's estimation be considered a feminist. 

Lucy, I'm sure you know that out of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only six are ever reported to the police. 

You are the textbook definition of strong. You are not a kid that can be swayed or intimidated. You are powerful and unassailable. 

If you ask me, Henein is whacking you particularly hard because she knows that, because of you, this case was over for her before it even started. 

Don't give up.  

We believe in you. 

Women all over Canada believe in you.

With support, and admiration, 

Danila Botha

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