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I Understand The Women Who Accused Ghomeshi, I've Been There

03/25/2016 07:33 EDT | Updated 03/26/2017 05:12 EDT
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I'd be lying if I said to you that the Jian Ghomeshi verdict hadn't brought back some bad memories.

Years ago, I was sexually assaulted by a friend of mine. We had known each other for a long time. He was gorgeous, intelligent, and incredibly charming. We shared a bizarre sexual chemistry that started as flirtation and evolved into kink. When we finally had sex after what must have been thousands of text interactions, he took all of our kinky messages to heart and slapped me repeatedly until I had bruises over my face. At no point during the encounter did indicate that I wanted to be slapped.

The next day, he texted me and asked if I was OK. I said that I was, that I had a great time the night before, and a day later, we were having sex again.

So, here's the question that I know you're asking: why did I do that? If I claim that I was assaulted, why did I go back to him?

There was outrage in the court system today. There were outcries about the verdict all over social media. Even the press tried to make sense of what had happened, and everywhere you looked, people were saying that the court had failed yet another group of victims. I listened to the verdict from my office, earphones in, feeling both nothing and everything as the predictable "not guilty" verdict was proclaimed. We all knew it was coming, but it didn't make it less heartbreaking to hear.

The day after I had been assaulted, a friend of mine noticed the bruises and sat me down in front of him. He told me not to run away. He urged me to look at what the abuse for what it really was and stop saying that I had been asking for it. He showed me my face in the mirror. It still took years of silence to be able to talk about what happened.

You are asking the questions again, aren't you? I actually don't blame you.

The reason why I kept my silence for so long is not because it didn't happen. I kept my silence because of what happened during the Jian Ghomeshi trial.

This is the first time I have ever spoken publicly about what happened to me. It wasn't the first time I'd had an experience like this, but I pray to God that it was the last. I have been through countless hours of therapy and am now in a very healthy relationship with the greatest human being anyone could have the pleasure of knowing, and for that, I consider myself to be very lucky. Even though I felt better, I stayed silent, but the reason why I kept my silence for so long is not because it didn't happen. I kept my silence because of what happened during the Jian Ghomeshi trial.

After I had been assaulted, I dissociated. I refused to believe that I had been assaulted because I was so desperate to be loved. I had admired that man so much that I was almost honoured that he had shown me attention. Coupled with a few previous traumatic sexual experiences, I felt that attention was equal to love. But once the dust had finally settled, I woke up.

It was then that I knew that the police wouldn't help me. Like the women who battled Ghomeshi, I hadn't asked for it. But also like them, I had contacted my assailant again. There were thousands of correspondences, all entailing our fantasies, that would cause the case to be tossed out the window. I didn't want to spend the mental energy or the money on something that was a lost cause. Going to the police meant nothing because I LOOKED LIKE I was asking for it.

And even still, I don't blame the legal system.

I get the women who accused Ghomeshi because I was there. Even though I can't speak for their truths, I get why they would continue speaking to him because I was where they were. It's easier to pretend that you don't hate yourself when you have the light of someone you think the world of shining on you. Even when that light is gone, you can pretend that somehow, one day, you'll see it again.

We are pointing our fingers in the wrong direction. Like most people, Justice William Horkins was doing his job. In an imperfect system where a person must be guilty by the court of law, there must be irrefutable evidence of a defendant's guilt. And like most sexual assault cases, three women's words were not enough.

But imagine a world where the word of a person COULD put someone behind bars. On one hand, we'd have a lot more women feeling safe enough to tell their stories and seek justice. On the other hand, the possibility of putting an innocent person away, regardless of the crime, is much higher. It pains me to say this, but Justice Horkins DID do his job. And without his job, the world could find itself in complete anarchy.

So, if we don't blame the court system, who do we blame? The answer is simple: we blame ourselves.

We blame ourselves for every time we slut shame a woman. We blame ourselves whenever we call someone crying for help an attention whore and a liar. We blame the way that we portray women in the media, in films, on television, in pornography. We blame ourselves for every time that we tell young men that women are teases and don't know what they want. We blame ourselves for when we don't tell young women that they don't need the love of another person to survive.

If you hate what happened with the Ghomeshi verdict today, do something. Make the change. Tell your sons and daughter that you love them and teach them the right way to respect each other. Believe the women, and support them regardless of whether or not they choose to go to the police. Be smarter. Be better. Do everything that you can to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again.

I don't care what you think of my story. You don't have to call me brave or an inspiration. I don't care if you call me a liar and attention whore either. I didn't tell my story so that you could make decisions about me, because honestly, I know what happened and I know who I am. I told my story to hold up that mirror that my friend had held up to me so many years ago. I want you to look in that mirror now.

If you hate what happened with the Ghomeshi verdict today, do something. Make the change. Tell your sons and daughter that you love them and teach them the right way to respect each other. Believe the women, and support them regardless of whether or not they choose to go to the police. Be smarter. Be better. Do everything that you can to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again.

Maybe this verdict is the wake up call that we all needed. I think it's time.

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