So there’s been a lot of attention lately about sexual assault. The Gomeshi nightmare wrapped up the first court case, he was found innocent, which has opened the gate to abundant fury. Given the laws of the land and the present system the judge could not do anything else.
Then there are the plethora of universities who have had their abysmal track records exposed, both for the rampant sexual assaults on campus and how the administration assaults them a second time when it is reported.
Last night I listened to Shad interview Jackie Fuchs from the Runaways talk about her rape when she was 16 by their manager and how everyone in the room did and said nothing and to this day deny that it happened. I am awed by her intelligence and poise in dealing with what must have felt like a betrayal. She researched the psychology of what happens to people when they witness bad things in the presence of others so she can forgive those people and move on. Powerful.
I have started remembering my sexual assault. And it is creeping me out… I mean it has always been there in my brain but distant, fuzzy and certainly not identified as rape. I was a really young 18 yr old, so naive and swept up in the sexual 70’s. I had no sex education, no guidance other than ‘DON’T DO IT, EVER!’ So I didn’t know how to navigate these murky waters. When was it right to say no? yes? I ached for love so I just said yes almost all the time including this guy. He is the only sexual partner I can’t remember, what he looked like or how I met him… nothing. So we were going at it.. I think. And then he forced me to give him a blow job.Not just talking me into it, he physically forced his penis into my mouth. I remember, now, completely shutting down, like I realized that I truly had no choice so I just went away mentally. He was bigger and stronger and he shocked me. For goodness sake I was about 95 lbs, what was I going to do? I had never done oral sex before and he acted like he did nothing wrong. I remember nothing else, how I left or even where we did it.
Non-stranger rape is so completely different from stranger rape … at least i think so. I have never been stranger raped so I am far from an expert on that. But non-stranger rape is sly and insidious. You may have said yes to sex, or not. Maybe you’ve flirted. There is a whiff of complicity that makes it fuzzy and the court system is woefully inadequate to deal with fuzzy but it still scars the victim even when she may not even recognize it for what it is.
It may have taken the Gomeshi victims this long to realize what was done to them was wrong. After all no one else had that problem with him, right? He may have been considered a ‘problem date’ but not enough to do something about it. CBC, his employer, never reined him in. Then one woman comes forward… which has the effect of waking the others up, similar to the effect it had on me. Of course their memories are flawed, between the shock of the experience and the passage of time how could it not? The problem was that once you claim it, people demand answers to obvious questions, none of which you have but you feel immense pressure to come up with something. Sadly for them, they came up short and wrong. Notoriety was not their friend. They talked to everyone before the trial but much of what they said was proven in court to be false. Never in a million years would I take what happened to me to court, never. I want to apologize to the women he inevitably went on to abuse but I didn’t even know that what happened to me was wrong. If, however, I was one of the women Gomeshi abused and I saw a woman come forward and accuse him, I would have a hard time not joining her, to support her. Without the benefit of hindsight, I might have fallen into the same traps as they did.
Many years ago I got attacked by a dog and he ripped open the back of my thigh. It was stitched up but I didn’t get them out when I should have and the skin grew over them. When I did go, they had to cut open the skin and rip them out. For some reason the doctor was pissed at me for waiting so long and refused to freeze the area. I guess he wanted to teach me a lesson? That’s how this feels. Flesh ripped open and a lesson learned.
People are so wrapped up in how the criminal system lets women/girls down but no one is talking about the root cause of non-stranger sexual assault. Comprehensive sex education for both genders would go a long way to eliminating most this issue. If boys and girls were taught from a young age what rape and coercion are and that they are wrong and how to healthily navigate sexual relationships, things would be so much better. And even if they are sexually assaulted they would know it for what it is and that it is wrong and no, it is not your fault, then they could be better self-advocates.
How does one wrap up a post like this? A large part of why I wanted to share my story is that if I went through this I know others have too and maybe you have. I hope this gives you some measure of comfort that you are not alone.
Thanks for reading.
Finished writing this, panicked, watched a “House Hunters International’ and had a shower. Mid way through the shower I had an Epiphany about the Gomeshi trial. We’ve all been seeing this as a failure, just another sexual terrorist getting away with it. But wait. He didn’t get away with it in spite of what the judge decided. Those women called Gomeshi out publicly, they clearly, and they weren’t alone, stated – what you did to us is unacceptable. The press coverage was international, the condemnation almost universal. In spite of the court case very few people don’t believe the women. Just the act of bringing this to the press and to court has done more any other sexual assault case. I would be surprised if that wasn’t the police and district attorney’s plan all along. There was no way they could win this in court but they could and did win in the court of public opinion. Men were put on notice that there would be consequences for their bad behaviour. As far as Gomeshi lost his high-profile lucrative job and he has been publicly chastised not to mention out-of-pocket for some expensive legal talent. What is he going to do with the rest of his life? Hopefully he will think twice before he ‘assumes’ he has consent.