It’s not easy to talk about abuse. People look at you funny. To your face they say, “Oh, poor dear.” and “I’m so sorry.” Which feels like a platitude or the words of someone who simply doesn’t understand. Behind your back they say, “I wonder what she did?” and “I bet she was drunk.” Which reminds me that somehow what happened to me was my fault. Because, of course it was, if you have a vagina between your legs and a cocktail in your hand you’re basically asking for it. Right? I spent a long time thinking that. A. Long. Time.
Today I’m stronger. I’m open about what happened. I’m a survivor. But I’ve never contacted the police and I have no intention of doing so. Because the man who assaulted me was a student at RMC, he wore a uniform and deserved the respect that uniform demands. Because I was 18, I was incredibly drunk and I had passed out on a mattress in my friend’s house in downtown Kingston. Because when I woke up to him on top of me, I could barely say, “Stop.” Because when I told my friend she said I was drunk and asked me if I was sure I didn’t want it. Because her first response was what I knew the police would ask. A drunk college girl is not a good witness against a man who wears a uniform.
Jian doesn’t wear a uniform but he has the same power over the women he assaulted; if they spoke up he could ruin their careers, if they spoke up no one would believe them, if they spoke up he’d just lie and say it didn’t happen. Who is going to believe a young wannabe reporter over JIAN GHOMESHI? I understand these women because I’ve been in their shoes because I chose not to report it rather than face the judgement of police, friends and family.
I’ve been watching Twitter and Facebook this week; watching friends and people I used to respect claim that we shouldn’t believe the victims because this is a matter for the police. What I’ve learned is that people would rather believe that one man is being systematically destroyed by a jilted ex who managed to convince more than 8 women to lie for her, than they would believe that one man assaulted several women. It’s easier for people to believe that women are crazy than it is to believe that men are sometimes violent. Read that out loud and tell me it doesn’t sound insane? How has this jilted ex lover convinced SO many women to lie for her? Why is our first reaction to assume that these women are lying? WHAT is there to be gained from lying? I’d like to know what lying about sexual assault and rape does for anyone. Despite what internet trolls would have you believe false rape reports are as common as false reports in the case of any other violent crime. Which is not that fucking much. Because who wants to be a rape victim? No one. There are no meetings of victims, no sparkly t-shirts that say, “I Survived.” It’s not fucking fun and no one wants to fake it. So the fact of the matter is that most women don’t.
Yes, in an ideal world we would be able to walk into a police station and say what happened without fear of repercussions. These women wouldn’t be afraid that people would assume that agreeing to some light spanking meant also agreeing to be beat until their vision went blurry and they couldn’t think straight. More than 33 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults would be reported. No police officer would ever again ask, “What were you wearing?” as if our choice of attire was an invitation to touch us.
I don’t blame these women for not coming forward with their names and I don’t blame them for not going to the police. I didn’t. Because I knew that no one would believe me.
So before you tweet about giving Jian the benefit of the doubt, why not give these women the benefit of the doubt? They are the ones that deserve it.