TORONTO - When Lucy DeCoutere first came forward publicly with allegations that Jian Ghomeshi choked and slapped her, she feared she'd be met with disbelief, vitriol and abuse.
Instead, the hashtag #IBelieveLucy trended for hours Thursday on Twitter and she's been flooded with emails of support and gratitude — including scores from women who say they've experienced abuse.
"It went from being a very acerbic, caustic, negative, toxic reaction to the people who were bringing out allegations against Jian and it became very warm support for people who have been hurt," said DeCoutere in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
"The reaction that I've been receiving, which has been so compassionate and so warm, it's kind of... making me understand the weight of this. I didn't think my story would have any impact. I didn't think anybody would listen to it."
Those who know the "Trailer Park Boys" actress say she's the kind of person who puts herself into the line of fire to help others — whether as a Royal Canadian Air Force captain or as a friend. Her decision to go on record with the allegations is just another example of her naturally altruistic and courageous nature, they say.
DeCoutere says she first met Ghomeshi in 2003 at the Banff World Media Festival and later went on a date with him in Toronto. She alleges that when they returned to his home, he pressed her up against a wall, choked her and slapped her across the face several times.
Ghomeshi has said he likes rough sex, but that it is always consensual. The former "Q" radio host alleges he was fired from CBC because of the risk that his sex life would become public "as a result of a campaign of false allegations." On Thursday, he issued a Facebook post saying he plans to meet the accusations head-on.
None of Ghomeshi's accusers has so far reported going to police with their allegations. DeCoutere says she will not go to authorities because her story "has too many holes in it."
The actor told The Canadian Press that she decided to speak to the media because she hoped she could help any other women with allegations feel safe to come forward, although she stressed that she understands why some women cannot.
"Maybe if they feel like there's a team of them, they'll be more comfortable. They'll instantly have a support group, where it'll be like, 'Yeah, and me too, and me too, and me too,'" she said. "On a larger reach, from a feminist perspective, maybe dudes will stop hitting their loved ones. That's a big ask."
A second woman, Reva Seth, came out on record Thursday alleging she was choked by Ghomeshi. DeCoutere said she wanted to emphasize that what she says happened to her was a physical attack, not a sexual one.
Sarah Dunsworth, a close friend who plays Sarah on "Trailer Park Boys," said she spoke with DeCoutere shortly before she went public.
"One of my favourite things about Lucy is that I don't think she considers this to be brave. She considers this to be reasonable behaviour," she said.
To fans of "Trailer Park Boys," the hit mockumentary series that aired between 2001 and 2007 on Showcase before returning on Netflix this year, DeCoutere is Lucy, the good-time party girl who was Ricky's on-again, off-again flame.
When Dunsworth first met DeCoutere on the "Trailer Park Boys" set over a decade ago, she says she was struck by her incredible energy and zest for life.
"When I first met her I was terrified of her because she's so friggin' vivacious and amazing. It took us a couple years to become close, but we had some really funny experiences together that made us bond. She's been my girl ever since then," she said.
"She's got my back in a way that few people have each others' back. At work, we were always a team."
In fact, the duo are so in sync that one day they were out walking their dogs together and both blurted out they were thinking of joining the armed forces.
"I said, 'I have to tell you something crazy.' She was like, 'It can't be any crazier than what I'm about to tell you,'" she recalled. "The crazy thing was that we were both considering joining the military. Of course, Lucy went forward with that decision and I did not."
Dunsworth said DeCoutere is extremely dedicated to her work on the armed forces but she keeps that part of her life private. Before joining the military in 2010, she got her master's degree in education and worked for a period as an elementary school teacher.
Her other "Trailer Park Boys" castmates — including Mike Smith (Bubbles) and John Dunsworth (Mr. Lahey), expressed their support on Twitter.
"Trailer Park Boys" castmate Cory Bowles said DeCoutere has been like a "big sister" to many people. He said he's happy she has been able to come forward and receive so much online support.
"She's an inadvertent spokesperson for it now, in a sense. With that now comes a lot of questions and a lot of responsibility and it's going to be a long and difficult road for her no matter what," he said. "But also, what that comes with is a lot of silent voices that are thanking her and help a lot of other people come forward as well."
— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.