Many assumptions have been made about the contact that all three complainants initiated with Jian Ghomeshi following their alleged assaults, which they neglected to mention to the police or the Crown. Henein, Ghomeshi's counsel, has implied that this means the victims were never assaulted, a suggestion which both women deny. In sexual assault trials, evidence is often brought forth of victims communicating with the perpetrator or making statements that seem to downplay what went on. Such actions are in fact consistent with how victims often rationalize what was done to them.
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.
As I suspect is the case with many other people across the country, I am closely watching the Jian Ghomeshi trial. There were times yesterday when I found myself holding my breath, wishing that this very public trial might be a pivotal moment in our society -- one in which we can finally begin to openly and honestly address the prevalence of sexual violence in our communities.
After what feels like a lifetime of battling drug and alcohol addiction, and my own tenuous mental health issues, three years ago -- at the age of 47 -- I finally found the strength to tell my wife and adult son that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Like too many other survivors of childhood sexual violence who decide to go public with their disclosure, I have lost contact with my mother and my siblings as a result. If you really want to know how to destroy an already fragile soul, take away the one thing that a survivor of sexual violence needs most -- connection, which equates as validation and worthiness.
It finally happened. After months of accusations from over 50 women with horrific tales of sexual assault, Bill Cosby's luck has run out. On December 30th, 2015, Cosby stood before a judge, faced charges of indecent assault, and paid more money in bail than most people see in their lifetimes. If convicted, Cosby could face a mere $25,000 fine and ten years in prison. These are charges from only ONE of the women, Andrea Constand, who says she became friends with Cosby when she worked at Temple University.
I've been writing about the politics of sexual assault for a while now, and it seems apparent that for a woman who's been sexually assaulted, the decision to go to the police and to press charges is fraught with complications. She not only has to consider the discomfort of her assault becoming public knowledge, but she must face the daunting possibility that her reputation will be dragged through the mud by the defendant's attorney; that the DA will choose, as Mr. Coster did, not to prosecute; or that the judge will find for the defendant.
The women Mordvinov allegedly assaulted made multiple complaints at the departmental level, at UBC's Equity Inclusion Office, to Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay, the UBC ombudsperson and Student Conduct and Safety Services. There were likely more. Every office failed these women.
The park is almost dark. As I watch my shadow, I notice my hips swaying back and forth as I walk. I wonder if my walk is provocative. I am alone on the path. I wish there was someone else around, then I think: "But what if it's a guy? Or two guys?" These are women's thoughts. These thoughts spring from the subconscious knowledge that we are never safe. At any moment, we might be targeted, perhaps hunted like an animal. We are always potential prey. In our attempts to stay safe, we behave. We speak politely and avoid eye contact. We twist our lives and stay small. In the process, we can become completely detached from who we might have been.
Those who are affected by sexual violence and harassment do not feel safe, they do not feel heard, and they do not feel they can come forward. But little by little, we are making a positive change. And we're doing this by educating, empowering and informing people that sexual violence and harassment is never okay. Because we can and must change -- change the way we talk about sexual violence and harassment, how we confront misogyny and sexism, how we teach young people what consent means.
I want you to see the 'real' me -- a man who has been running his entire life, a man who has travelled so far, only to come back to himself. My name is Jean-Paul, and I am a survivor of sexual violence, but I am so much more than that. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a writer. I am an elite athlete. I am an advocate for survivors all around the world.
Unfortunately, there is a stubborn quality to the Prime Minister's current commitment to meet his election promise of admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by Christmas. There is an easy solution to this current impasse between the facts on the ground today and an election promise made months ago. Set a reasonable timeline and follow the responsible policies of the American government.
What would I like to see the #BeenRapedNeverReported campaign become? Before any meaningful change can occur, we need to work towards pulling back the layers of stigma. If we are unable to talk openly, how can we expect survivors of sexual violence to come forward with their own experiences with trauma?
Despite the Black Lives Matter movement focusing media attention on how violence affects black communities, the experiences of women and girls have not received the same sustained media attention and outcry as the experiences of men. Our voices are routinely excluded from political and public discourse. It's critical for us to make an intervention.
Two years before I entered high school, I was the victim of a violent rape that took place a mere few kilometres from the football locker room I was now standing in. From the moment of that assault, I chose to disappear, fractured into different people -- the person I was afraid to let you see, the person I wanted you to see, and the young man who struggled with that internal turmoil every day for the next 30 years. I've heard that living as a survivor of rape is like living with a secret tumor. It metastasizes in the dark hollows of shame, and it continues to destabilize and corrupt every bond and every relationship in a survivor's life.
Whether we're talking about sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape, or date rape, it's important we don't get caught up in the semantics or the nuances of the language we choose. When I read the news stories about the accusations against Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi, I shudder at the fact that for many of us, our first reaction is to dismiss, or question, the assertions brought forth by the "alleged" victims who after years of isolation and devastation, have finally arrived at a place where they feel they can speak out.