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.
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.
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 if narcissism isn't what we assume it is? Yes, narcissists project an über-confident, egotistical image but most researchers believe this is merely a smokescreen to disguise extremely low or even non-existent self-esteem. I thought why not demonstrate it because actions speak louder than words.
Sexual assault against women is rampant. Thousands of women are subject to it, every day, all over the world. Here in North America, where we pride ourselves on fairness and justice, women who make claims of sexual assault are often denied justice and even more often, they're raked over the coals by the lawyers of the men who've been accused.
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?