Some of my most painful memories are of my friends and cousins crying as they were taken away to be married to men they didn't know, often much older. I grew up seeing young girls sheltered by my mother in our house from being forced into early marriage. Those were the fortunate few. There are many complex causes driving this violence against women and girls. But it is ultimately rooted in the reality that women and men are not treated equally.
The rate of violent victimization is 2.5 times higher for Canadians who identify as gay or lesbian, as opposed to those who identify as straight. For those who identify as bisexual, it's four times higher. While there's been increased media attention to stories of sexual violence recently, queer women's stories are often left out of the picture.
While cisgender men are much less likely to experience sexual violence than women and trans folks, it doesn't mean that men can't be survivors of violence. We sat down separately with anti-violence advocates Glen Canning and Derek Warwick to hear more about how we can ensure men who are survivors aren't erased from the conversation.
Teal Swan was only six years old when she found herself in the hands of her abuser and forced into a nightmarish world that a lot of people were unwilling (or unable) to believe. For the better part of 13 years, she was was raped, beaten and psychologically tortured by people who she was told to trust.
Survivors of sexual violence may not be able to watch Parker's work for similar reasons, and that's fine. But don't sit it out on principle. In the year of Black Lives Matter, #HollywoodSoWhite and a certain presidential candidate, Parker's questionable past doesn't disqualify him from advancing urgent conversations about race and American history.
I'm going to provide some gruesome details of rape to get the attention of the people who need to listen. I have tried more "respectable" ways of demanding accountability from McGill, ways that honour my own dignity, and they failed. At this point, I know nobody will listen unless I put my body on the line and make a scene.
In the days following a heart-breaking letter from the victim, Brock Turner, promising frat boy, now rapist, has had the public in an uproar over the disgustingly light sentence he received. It was bad enough that a judge was more worried about the life of a rapist than he was about the life of a victim, but Turner's father, Dan, made the world even more sick to their stomachs. In a statement to the court, Mr. Turner said that Brock would, "Never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile," and that a heavy punishment would not match his son's "20 minutes of action."
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.