I have been following the case of Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian celebrity charged by numerous women for sexual assault happening years ago. When the case broke it was a huge step for the “breaking the silence” campaign, women were coming forward with allegations of physical abuse by Ghomeshi; to satisfy his fetish for violent sex and he was celebrity and powerful enough to intimidate many people into remaining silent. Everyone who knew him and worked with him describe him as being cocky, disrespectful of his colleagues and generally; he was a legend in his own mind.
Ghomeshi was fired from his high paying radio announcer job and in a matter of days he watched his reputation and life crumble before his eyes. Women started coming out of the woodwork with allegations of sexual abuse dating back a decade or more. Ghomeshi’s guilt was never in doubt, 8 women could not be lying. Out of all the women only 3 were able to testify for various reasons, and of those women only one would reveal her identity; Lucy DeCoutere, best known for her role in the popular sitcom “Trailer Park Boys”.
The women all had a similar story,they met Ghomeshi, he was very personable, they went on a date, went back to his place and at that point he was physically abusive in some way, punching them in the head, strangling them, throwing them, forcing sex or oral sex on them and often times talking about his teddy bear, Big Ears Teddy who he would turn around so the teddy couldn’t see what he was doing. Afterwards he would act like nothing unusual happened and the women left.
Gimeshi admitted he like rough sex, the only thing he denied was the fact that the women did not give their consent to rough sex.
My heart sank when the court case started and his cracker jack lawyer brought evidence of communication from the women to Ghomeshi in the form of emails and one hand written letter wanting to see him again.
They ended up changing their testimony at the last minute, said they had forgotten they sent the emails; it didn’t look good and Ghomeshi’s lawyer ran with it. “If it was non consensual and if indeed you were so traumatized by it, why on earth would you actively seek his attention and want to see him again?” I am sure much of society is asking the same question; it is a logical question because it doesn’t make sense. Just like the question, “Why do they stay?” or “Why do I miss him so much when he treated me so bad?”
I don’t really understand it myself. I remember the first time James was abusive; he strangled me until I passed out. When I came to I remember the only thing I wanted was for him to hold me and tell me it was all a bad dream. I was sure he must feel awful. But he acted like nothing out of the ordinary happened. In fact when I went to him to talk about it and said, “James that was abuse.” he snorted and said, “It was not.”
I said, “James, how can you say that? You choked me until I passed out.”
He sighed and took his eyes off his computer to look at me with disdain, “I did not choke you. I had my hands on your throat.”
Me, “that is abuse James, you could have killed me!”
Him, “Don’t be ridiculous, I know exactly when to stop. Besides, a real man would have done it a lot sooner.”
I didn’t leave, I didn’t tell anyone, I decided to solve the problem, talk to him, figure out why he did it, fix him, fix us; and I decided to prove to him that I loved him and I protected him then and every time after that. The longer it went on the harder it was to tell anyone because how could I explain why I hadn’t said anything up until now, why I was still with him.
There is something that happens to the victim’s mind when they are violated; maybe it is a survival mechanism where the mind just does not accept what happened or maybe it is because the abuser acts like nothing happened and we are uncertain about what abuse actually is. Is it abuse if you are choked, punched in the head once, twice, thrown across the room? Did we deserve it? We must have done something to bring it on ourselves. It is ugly and we don’t want to deal with it so we try to make it right. It is called Cognitive Dissonance, where in order to deal with something that goes totally against our belief system, we alter the facts in our head to be something we can accept. We minimize the events, make excuses or come up with some other way of making it acceptable. You can read more about Cognitive Dissonance here.
The real problem with the court case and this unfortunate turn of events is Crown Counsel didn’t properly prepare their clients for court. For once the police and society in general believed the women and because of that they didn’t investigate the case in as much depth as they should have. No one thought to ask these women if there were emails out there or anything else they had forgotten about what happened after the incident. Ghomeshi hired one of the best and most expensive lawyers available, a woman.
Once again, it is proven that the judicial system is basically ignorant about abuse and the effects it has on the victim. We need a lot more education on how trauma affects the victim, what defines abuse, and that when people are dealing with insanity they don’t always act in a sane and rational way.
Ghomeshi also brought up the book 50 Shades of Grey, I have never read it myself but I have certainly heard the women gushing over the sex scenes. I have never liked the whole story line of the book and didn’t read it. It truly does blur the lines of acceptable consensual sex and abuse.
And once again the abuser sits calm, cool and collected, admitting to enough fault to appear honest yet never taking any blame and as much as I hate to say it, I think Ghomeshi is going to get away with it.
I just hope that this doesn’t send the message to other victims that it is not safe to speak out. We have to keep speaking out and educating people until abuse can no longer be excused away.