I don't know if anyone is really surprised by the Ghomeshi ruling. Not guilty on all counts. I won't go into the details of the case -- I'm not sure it's possible to live anywhere in North America and not have an idea of what the case was all about. And that's not why I'm writing this anyway. It's not about him.
This is my story. My story is not safe for work. My story isn't safe at all. My story is full of triggers and uncomfortable words, but it's my story all the same.
At about nine years old, I was wrestling with my babysitter. It was innocent, or so I thought. He said, "Why do you keep jumping on me? Are you flirting with me? You want to see my penis?" and before I had a chance to say anything, he had unzipped his pants and flopped his penis around. I declined touching it when he asked if I'd like to. I felt ashamed, and didn't tell my parents for a very long time. When I finally told them why I hadn't wanted him to babysit me anymore, I felt like I'd somehow allowed it to happen to me.
In grade nine I was repeatedly sexually harassed by a boy in my keyboarding class. He touched my ass whenever he got the chance, brushed his hands against my breasts, and told me in great detail what he'd like to do to me. I giggled a lot, and admit I felt immense shame and excitement every time I saw him.
When I was on vacation at age twelve, a boy I thought was cute went for a walk with me to a secluded spot and reached inside my shirt to fondle my breasts. I said, "No" and he did it again and called me a tease. I felt guilty for having gone for that walk alone with him, and didn't tell anyone.
In grade eleven I was raped by a guy I was casually seeing. I had skipped class and gone to his home, knowing nobody would be home. I had said, "No" many times, but he still pulled my jeans down and raped me. I told nobody. When he saw me in a mall shortly thereafter, he screamed at me calling me a slut, and I felt ashamed.
In university, a guy I met at a bar took me out for a date. We smoked a joint together and suddenly things went sideways. He took me back to his house, and undressed me, and things were very blurry -- I couldn't focus on anything, and felt drunk and very high. It made no sense because I had nothing to drink and only a couple drags from a joint. He was about to penetrate me, but stopped himself from raping me, thankfully. When I said I wanted to go home, instead of taking me there, he drove to a dark parking lot, unzipped his pants and said, "You can suck my dick now", and I can't actually remember much about what happened after that but I know I made it home. When I saw him months later (he was driving his sister, a friend of mine, and me somewhere), he said, "Have you ever done something bad and regretted it but you don't know how to make it better?" I brushed him off and said, "It's ok, don't worry about it".
I've spent so much of my life being catcalled, groped, harassed, assaulted, raped, abused and I have never reported it, not once. Not even to my parents, who I know love me to the ends of the earth and would be devastated to know I went through these things. These aren't even 1/100 of the things I've experienced -- doesn't that make you feel sick? I'm a smart, strong, confident woman; why did I stay silent?
Because victims are often ashamed. I am ashamed.
Even now, my hands are shaking as I type this because, god, what if my family reads it? What will people think of me? Did I deserve it? How could I put myself in those situations? Am I a bad person? Was I stupid? Did I ask for it? How could I have stopped it? Why do I feel so much guilt? Why didn't I report them? What could I remember about the incidences after they occurred, and if my credibility was called into question, what would be uncovered? This is all my fault.
I live in fear, full of shame.
I am tired of victims being blamed for assaults. I am tired of voices being muted. I am tired of feeling the weight of guilt for someone else's actions.
I do not want my children to live in a world where these things happen to them. I do not want my children to ever feel too unimportant to tell, too scared to come out, so afraid of another person that they hide away and internalize the damage done.
Speak up. Tell your story. Come to me, and I will believe you. I will support you We do not deserve this.
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