VJN News

Sexual assault victim reacts to Ghomeshi verdict

Courtney Edgar
VJN News

A 21-year-old woman who was raped just two weeks shy of her 15th birthday says she doesn’t agree with the Jian Ghomeshi verdict.

In the aftermath of former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal on sexual assault and choking charges, the woman — whose name VJN won’t publish to protect her identity — felt compelled to tell her own story of sexual assault from six years ago. 

“When these guys get off, it makes survivors feel like there’s no point in telling anyone,” the woman told the Victim Justice Network. “It makes us feel like there’s no point in going to the police because they’re just going to get off and we’re going to be the bad guys, the liars, the attention-seekers.”

The woman was in high school when she was assaulted but was too scared to take legal action, she said.

When she was hanging out in the schoolyard, sitting on the pavement near the side door facing a tall hedge, an older boy she had a crush on kissed her.

The woman was frightened when the boy didn’t stop at a kiss. He asked her several times to take her pants off but she refused.  

“I told him I wasn’t ready and I didn’t want my first time to be like this,” the woman said. “He kept pushing me and telling me I was beautiful.”

In the middle of the afternoon outside her school with her back against the scalding pavement, she was raped.

But she didn’t go to police because she thought she had no proof and she even started to second-guess herself. Maybe it wasn’t rape, she thought, even though it was painful and traumatized her.

“I can still feel it,” she said. “It really hurt, so I told him to stop. He didn’t. I even started tapping his back and begging him, but he didn’t stop. I think he was pretending not to hear me.”

Finally, the boy’s worry of getting her pregnant was what made him stop. He stood up, threw her pants at her and made a derogatory comment to her because she was bleeding. Before he left her feeling confused and self-conscious, he hugged her and told her everything would be fine.

The boy stopped talking to her completely after the assault and bragged to other students about sleeping with her and tossing her to the side.

“It sucked,” she said, “but wasn’t rape only rape when it was a shadowy stranger holding you at knife-point in a dark alley?”

A school assembly on consent the next year made her realize what had happened, but at that point she believed it was too late to take legal action. It took the woman three months to tell anyone after she realized what had happened.

“The incident – I still hate saying the ‘R’ word out loud, it makes my skin crawl – left me with deep-seated trust issues that I still deal with today,” she said. In the immediate aftermath she was very jumpy and didn’t like to be touched.

As a result, she went to therapy, which helped but she still gets jumpy when people touch from behind. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and acute anxiety disorder after the assault, both of which she is still medicated for, six years later.

“I still don’t like talking about it, but at least I can now,” she said. “I’ve come to terms with it. For a long time I wouldn’t even let myself think about it.”