A child close to my heart is a survivor of sexual violence.
This little girl is the survivor in my life that I am speaking out for. She is real, she is human, she laughs full-belly giggles and talks too loud and is creative and funny and owns my heart.
As this morning's Ghomeshi verdict is occupying a significant amount of my head space this morning, I am feeling more than a little grateful for an inclement weather day so that I am able to keep my girls close.
We set the "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" bar impossibly high in sexual assault trials. We have an expectation of how adult women are supposed to behave, react, respond, report these violations against them. And folks, there is no schedule or How-To pamphlet to guide women through this. Every person is impacted differently and needs to do what is essential for their survival and well-being, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your next steps after this type of assault.
The expectations that are placed on children that have been sexually assaulted are no different than those placed on adults. They still must follow the same Report-Exam-Court Prep-Testify schedule as adults. They still must testify and their perpetrator can choose to remain silent. This was the experience of my loved one at four years of age, she bravely went through this process without the availability of survivor advocacy services or sexual assault centre support because these services are reserved for those over 16 - just her family and friends who navigated this waters as best we could for her.
And, like Ghomeshi, her perpetrator remained silent. There was no opportunity to provide evidence that would have corroborated her experience with him because he chose to remain silent and not endure a cross-examination. The result of that choice meant that witnesses could not be called, photos could not be introduced and this lack of this admissible evidence weakened the Crown's case - it weakened her truth, the truth that she told with so much bravery and strength over and over again. At 4 years old.
So, while I would like to remain hopeful, my heart is feeling more than a little heavy knowing that Ghomeshi, like my loved one's perpetrator, will likely walk free because of a very flawed, very broken system. A system that by it's very design does not support survivors, a system that revictimizes the survivor and nearly everyone in their circle. A system that allows the behaviours of perpetrators to remain buried as long as they choose to remain silent. After they have taken way away the choices of their victims - the choice to live without nightmares and flashbacks, the choice of privacy, the choice of having a voice and using it as they desire, the choice to live without the scars of sexual violence.
This four year old, this sweet child used her voice to speak out against sexual violence -use yours for her and those coming behind her. Help Change For FIN get off the ground and make a difference - we are committed to seeing change happen but we need your help. She matters.
Be a Voice.
#changeforfin #Ibelieveyou #notjusttheduggars