In My Opinion
This is a new topic for The Living-Room in which I challenge all women to weigh in on any aspect/s of the sexual abuse trial of Jian Ghomeshi. As we await the verdict from the judge later in March, let’s get your points of view out on the table.
There are probably not too many Canadians who don’t know about the Jian Ghomeshi trial but, on the other hand, there are probably many who do not understand the nature of sexual abuse. I’m no expert but here are some of my observances:
- Sexual abuse is probably one of the most misunderstood phenomena in the world,
- The nature of sexual abuse as a reportable offence is totally misunderstood,
- To say the nature of this particular trial was so icily handled by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, is to state the blatantly obvious,
- To blame victims, has to be the biggest “cop-out” ever, and
- To pick holes in the statements of post-traumatic minds shows an ignorance and cruelty beyond belief.
I will discuss these five topics and then ask you for your opinion. Anything goes and you can be as open or anonymous as you wish.
- As I’ve said before, to be part of the sorority of sexually abused women is anything but glamorous, but, sadly, it’s one of the largest clubs in the world. Sexual abuse is no respecter of age, religion or place of birth/dwelling. When it happens to any of us, it is a painful thorn in the side of each of us. It comes in all shapes and sizes and has too many tentacles to count and for these reasons, each woman’s story is unique. Each telling of her story is also unique, so to try and box it in to a neat description simply doesn’t work. The complexities of each story are so deep and wide that it makes it impossible to contain into a convenient court scenario, thus a judgement on a perpetrator is also very difficult. Thus with not even a working definition, such cases often end up in favour of the accused which, in turn, stabs the victim yet again.
- To report or not report, is that really the question? We’ve heard both sides of the argument which go something like this: “having watched the testimony of three women who accused Ghomeshi of sexual abuse, I now know there is no way I’d ever take the stand.” Conversely, “Watching what appeared to me as obviously getting away with these crimes, I feel totally compelled to report all the injustices perpetrated against me.” The point is that these “injustices” fester inside a woman like a cancer and until she chooses to confront them, whether it is in front of a judge and jury, a gathering of friends or with a knowledgeable counsellor, until she is ready to do this, the torment will completely lie within her and hinder her day-to-day living. An injustice ignored and left to fester is like an infection untreated; there are no guarantees that just because one ignores it, it will conveniently disappear. What’s good for one lady is not necessarily good for another, but what is good for all ladies is that they face these atrocities that occurred in their lives, work on them so they can be managed in the psyche and with really hard work, they can be given a place deep in the recesses of the mind where they will be recognized for what they are. Furthermore, if they try to rear their ugly heads, they can be put to rest with some coping techniques that will be personal to each survivor.
- Marie Henein, Ghomeshi’s lawyer, has appeared to the public as icy, vindictive, cruel, sterile, to use but a few adjectives. Towards women who have been sexually abused, she was a person out to kill these victims with her bare teeth. I read somewhere, that she was called “the smartest, toughest, most sought-after defence lawyer in the city.” (Ottawa) Maybe she is those things, but to us, the survivors, she’s like a hungry, rabid animal out to kill her prey (the accusers) with her bare fangs and hands. She’s out to win at all costs, even at the expense of the accused. It does not appear that she understands one shred of behaviour displayed by survivors of sexual assault. Yes, it’s her job to find the accusers guilty and yes, she’s working within the parameters of the law and, finally, yes, she will probably give Ghomeshi his walking papers, but the venom spewing from her mouth does not give us the perception that she is a member of the human race. Sometimes, even being right is wrong and that is Marie Henein to a “T.”
- For Henein to “blame the victims” is to show her total lack of understanding of sexual abuse in general. Even if these women pranced before Ghomeshi nude, when they said “NO/STOP.” they meant “NO/STOP.” These e-mails, phone calls, chatter to the police or to others, are simply red herrings for this lawyer. Memories are not always crystal clear, post-traumatic minds are often hazy and terrified, and rather than let embarrassingly painful truths emerge, lies, laughter, coy misdemeanors etc. are presented instead of the horrifying truths that took place during the sexual abuse. This lawyer appeared completely “medically ignorant” of these and more traits displayed by victims of abuse. It appeared, sadly, that these women did not experience professional, expert counselling before taking the stand. Here, I might add that someone putting themselves forward as a counsellor for people suffering from post-traumatic events, has a legal and moral responsibility to understand the topic before giving advice. Traumatic sexual abuse is right up there with victims of war who are forced to kill the enemy, no matter what. One can do so much damage if not an expert on the topic. She, and others, would do well to refer to Heather Daveduik Gingrich’s book, “Restoring The Shattered Self: A Christian Counselor’s Guide to Complex Trauma.”
- When witnesses take the stand in any trial, there are protocols used for questioning them. Obviously, both the defence and the prosecution are at liberty to dig deeply into their toolboxes and pull out the best tools in their arsenal to prove their point. I say there are ways of handling witnesses to get the most out of them. In my opinion, clever, verbal cross-examination tactics are much more effective than muck-slinging, back-stabbing tactics which often prove disgusting and distasteful to both sides. Marie Henein really appeared to be fighting for herself much more than fighting against the accused and even against her own client. Winning another high-profile case seems to be her only objective. I wonder how she sleeps at night?
Well, that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Please let your voices be heard.