It's not easy to find the right words when writing a piece like this. The new social order has a whole list of things we cannot say if we want to remain in their good graces. This is what it is like to live in polarized times, where you are either a social justice warrior or a closed-minded conservative.
What the media -- and many Canadians -- fail to understand is that when the abuser is someone you know, sexual violence becomes especially complicated. Complex personal and emotional relationships often make cutting ties difficult, undesirable, even dangerous. Still, Canada's court system relies on an outdated understanding of sexual violence as an experience faced by a "perfect victim" at the hands of a "bad stranger."
Most of us gravitate to those who agree with us rather than investigating alternate ways of thinking about things. It will be difficult to give up those conspiracy websites where one can share information with like-minded people, rather than conversing with those who might challenge our views.
If you can just follow all of these simple steps start-to-finish, without any slip ups, and you can definitively prove that you're the right kind of girl and the right kind of victim, then maybe the judge won't have to give you a big ol' lecture while he's reading the "not guilty" verdict.
As feminists, we must realize we cannot have it both ways; we can't fight for our own to achieve equality and success, but then criticize them once they have found it. Furthermore, we cannot hold women to an invisible standard not outlined for anyone else. After all, would we reprimand a male lawyer who is also a father for defending an alleged child molester? I doubt it.
I know this makes you uncomfortable to talk about. I sure don't want to hear it, either. But I need to. You're the people I trust most, and my first line of defence against regrettable or unwanted sexual encounters. Don't limit the sex talk to periods and how babies are made. Tell me EVERYTHING!
No one will ever know whether Ghomeshi would have been convicted had his accusers been more honest and candid. All we can say is that the Crown's case would have been far stronger. Knowing that they will be judged in light of such "rape myths," it may seem sensible -- even obvious -- to a great many complainants that certain pieces of information should be managed so that they conform to the stereotype.
There is no one common reaction to sexual assaults. Survivors' behaviours following such traumatic events can vary from minimizing the incident and pretending everything is fine (e.g. kissing and cuddling in the park, or writing gushing love letters, as DuCoutere did following the assault); to suppressing the incident altogether, essentially blocking it from your memory; to blaming yourself, somehow, in an attempt to rationalize the trauma. It is not unusual in my caseload to see women, years after the fact, still believing they were somehow responsible for the incident.
We knew he wouldn't be convicted, but it still felt like the criminal justice system had betrayed us. Another affirmation that the law is not on our side; that we live in a country where people are still more comfortable chastising women for getting involved with violent men than we are with holding those men accountable for their own behaviour.
If you doubt or don't believe a woman when she tells you she's been abused, or harassed or raped, you are perpetuating misogyny... If you believe a woman's choice of clothing implies that she's asking for anything, if you believe that a photo of a woman wearing a bikini is any worse than one of her wearing a suit, you're perpetuating misogyny. If you believe that a women's sexual history affects her credibility, if you believe that the number of partners she's had has any bearing on whether or not she's been assaulted, you are perpetuating misogyny.
Had these complainants been more honest with police and prosecutors -- and with themselves -- perhaps we would have been handed a different verdict. Perhaps if these complainants admitted that they still pursued a relationship with Ghomeshi -- despite the alleged assaults -- they would have disarmed the mighty Marie Henein and left her with less of an arsenal with which to attack.
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.
The decision today in the Ghomeshi case is a depressing read. But while it's important to acknowledge the uphill battle ahead, it's also important to look back on how far we've climbed since the Ghomeshi scandal first broke in 2014. In the span of two years, this case has shifted public opinion towards believing victims, which is a victory in itself.
I was overcome with an immense feeling that can only be described as grief -- knowing that when the lights of the cameras dim, when the trial is no longer part of the news cycle, and when Jian Ghomeshi puts all of this in his rearview mirror, the loss and trauma will continue to reverberate in the lives of these three incredibly brave women, just as it echoes in the lives of survivors across the country and around the world.
What the verdict teaches us is that in cases that are entirely dependent on uncorroborated witness testimony, devoid of any physical evidence, credibility is the paramount issue judges must grapple with when determining guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
I am changing, my home is changing, and the former never feels further from the latter than during weeks like this. Change happens whether you're there or not, and that truth isn't always advertised front-and-centre by everyone who encourages you to chase your wanderlust.