Monday, May 23, 2016

Reporting Rape in Edmonton: Just Don't Bother. Seriously.

Image result for edmonton police service downtown branch building
It is seriously all 70's orange and hard plastic chairs on the inside.

There's a reason why the main branch of the Edmonton Police "Service" looks like it's right out of the 70's: that's where their policing is from!

I have already written on the nature of my assaults, and how they were received by the general community. For many people, one of the necessary requirements for taking a victim seriously is "Did you go to the police?" Here are some excellent examples on why that's problematic, especially in areas that are deeply misogynistic and steeped in rape culture, as Edmonton is. MRA's have gained a notable foothold here for a reason.

What I learned when I worked for the Police

I have already related how, in my past experience, our police dealt with my previous sexual assaults. I had hoped in the intervening 25 years that they had moved with the times. It does seem, however, that they have actually regressed, if my current ordeal is any indication. Now, I'm not a cop hater. Not only am I white, which means my relations with police as a client have been few and far between, but I also worked as support staff for them after my daughter was born. I have gotten to see them behind the scenes and helped them in their work. I do have a few issues, especially about how my few complaints have been handled, and their lack of due diligence in my area of Edmonton in particular, as I live in the sex trade section of the inner city. I was also summarily fired the day *after* they discovered I was a witch. Revealed one afternoon, told not to come in the next day. Really. For extra crap all over me, they told the service I was under contract with that I was 'incompetent'. I never was able to work in those fields again. I know that it was probably just one a-hole that I have to thank for that, but no one else seemed to think that it was a problem to fire and poop on someone's entire life because of their religion, so I will harbour a bit of resentment for that. Especially when we had a baby to take care of! It does inform some of how I deal with them, even though I try to see them as people dedicating their lives to helping others.

One of the things I noticed most is how much they insist on control. Controlling the conversations, even if someone is telephoning, and how the citizens calling or showing up are treated more like supplicants - applying for assistance and compassion, and hoping, hat in hand, that someone will give them the attention their matter requires. They often lectured me on taking control of interactions with the public. Or complainants are just seen as the Adversaries, not citizens and most certainly not their tax paying employers. EPS are a power onto themselves, or at least, that's what they perceive and perpetuate. And that is terrifying, seeing the utter incompetence, power tripping, and complete closemindedness I witnessed. Now, these qualities were of course most notable in their extremity. The rest of the time was simply regular office atrocities of lack of safety, imposed soul crushing boobery, and the same lack of care for the work that you get anywhere. Those actually shouldn't be in any work environment. But they *really* shouldn't be there...

I remember hearing discussions of racial profiling in the cafeteria. I remember filing fraud cases, with so many letters to the victims stating that there is no way their case will *ever* be investigated - not because it isn't criminal, but because they didn't have the funding for their three member fraud team to lay charges for everyone. I worked for the new Staff Sargent of the Fraud team just before I left. He told me he had no qualifications for finance *at all*. HIS suspicion was that he was promoted to that work because he was Asian. Seriously. I remember having to use less complex vocabulary because many of the officers didn't know basic words, because only a high school diploma is required to join up, and most of them have never gone beyond that education. Which is frightening by itself, knowing how complex many of these problems coming to them are. I remember being not at all shocked at the numbers for underage sex workers and missing Indigenous women in this city and the country, because coming across MY desk, as a temp worker, was some 5-10 missing children's reports PER DAY, and I was one of a small army of the same kind of support staff. Many came from BC, most were reported by foster parents or care workers, most were native, and most were female. I was told that after you stamped them and put them away, they were rarely followed up. Because they are considered "minor" activity. Losing your wallet, or property crimes, are considered 'major". And now you know one of the reasons why missing and murdered FN women is such a problem. Because it's treated as minor. Literally.

No Sex Crimes Specialists for YOU!

So you will understand my reluctance to bring this to the attention of the police and court system. However, I was encouraged and motivated by the national discussions on the Ghomeshi cases, which surfaced in October of 2014, and how far more people are expressing the correct kind of shock and disgust that non-consensual BDSM acts should bring, rather than, as in the past, simply dismissing anyone who claims to practice it as a perv already "so what did you expect?", and that "victims of it are deserving of rape". The police in Ontario in particular were most insistent in the national interviews that there are sex crimes units across the country specializing in such cases, and that there is no longer any reason for victims not to come forward and tell their stories. Well, apparently, Edmonton hasn't gotten the memo on that yet. The justice system culture in Edmonton is SO behind, in fact, that when I finally decided to do this, every single person I tested - from the B&W who came to my door to the court clerk to the process server - NONE of them had even heard of Ghomeshi yet. Which is shocking on many levels. One) that is actually a prominent celebrity figure in Canada, with a former music career and host of popular CBC programs, and two) that his case has facilitated this national discussion on sexual assault and consent. Except of course for here. In Alberta, we produce judges that say in court that victims of rape should keep their legs closed, which gives you some idea of what we are up against in the system here. Though maybe I was correct to wait until the Harper government was no longer our moral leader. Under the re-establishment of normal in our Canadian system, this judge was suspended, so maybe there is hope for me now...

Knowing the culture in this city then, I was thoroughly convinced that filing a complaint was pointless. Not to mention the huge cost to my life and family, but I seriously doubted that I could make a case at all. I doubted myself, and my feelings, as is usual in sexual assault, especially by someone we know. Abuse is like that. That how they can keep doing it to you. However, when the Ghomeshi case broke, I was glued to my computer for days, and followed it for weeks. Everything about it had some relevance to my case - from the narcissism and sadism of the (alleged) perp, to his feminist public face, to the 'defense' that it was BDSM, to the consent issues, to his dismissal that the victim was a 'jilted girlfriend'. I was shocked and saddened and inspired and validated. Even with the initial influx of support for him as the injured party, with his poor character besmerched, and his professional press releases that championed his right to bedroom antics and damn those lying bitches after they get dumped, armrite? which was depressing but predictable. It took very little time for most people to see through the lies and call him out. The attacking of the character of the victim, the actual videos he took, the pathetic defense of 'preference' for assaulting women, the discussion that personal injury is not something where consent is easily granted - all were laid out as typical of rape culture, and now the public was having none of it. It was heartening, enlightening and revelatory that our sexual assault laws, which are written to include this, were actually being applied appropriately. And to a case that was so similar to mine! I admit, I took heart. It really was assault under the Criminal Code, and Ghomeshi was actually being charged. Instead of being supported and believed and his victims destroyed.  Huh.

After much discussion with my husband and boyfriend and circle, I made the decision in November of 2014 to finally contact the police about my case. Arming myself with hundreds of hours of communication (though I didn't print them all out and underline them, which proved problematic later) and my blog post, which I had untangled the narrative in, and an actual male witness, we made the call to the police. I had to get my boyfriend to do it at first, since I was still so freaked about the process. The woman handling the call was both bored and belligerent, if you can picture that. She was abrupt, and insisted that we have all the info she wanted ready, like the address where it occurred (which we were able to find later, even though he moved by then) and eventually told us that we would have to call in a patrol car to take the statement. I insisted that we were calling to make an appointment to talk to sex crimes, not a patrol. The officer did tell us that we could do that, AFTER we have all the info, and come down to the station. Gods. I know I've heard the stories, but this is just as bad as it has been reported for decades, now. You'd think it wasn't the 21 Century. So after we gather everything we think they will need, in a huge file, we head down to a local station. We sit and wait for over an hour, listening to men, entirely men (I was the only woman in the whole station) talk about their car accidents and missing wallets and such. When the male officer finally got to me, I had to state in a loud, clear voice that I was looking to being a sexual assault complaint. And the place stopped. I have rarely been that humiliated, but since this involves my sexual dignity, further humiliation should be all part of the process, right? And public to boot! Oh, wait... The officer was friendly and sympathetic, more so to me than most, but wouldn't discuss it anywhere but at the common counter, in front of everyone. And he still couldn't help me apparently. I had to go down to Main Branch and speak with sex crimes there. I asked if anyone here could help me, since I'm feeling a little like I'm being tossed around, but no. Not here. Though he *did* give me the advice not to take "No" for an answer when making my complaint! Except for him, of course. He wasn't going to help. It's the same advice my boyfriend got when he contacted an old friend who used to be a cop. Don't give up! Because apparently, this is a Thing for sex crimes in Edmonton. They will totally shut you down at every turn.

So now, after two contacts with police and still no one would take my statement, we take *another* day off and head down to Main Branch. After waiting in line for only 20 min or so, we again find ourselves at the counter, talking to a very bored and annoyed gatekeeper. She won't make us an appointment with the detectives, either. The procedure, since we have not yet been correctly informed, she sneeringly informs us, is to go through a patrol car. Only then, if the officers deem it worthy enough, will it go the detectives.

You will have to forgive me that, even with my usually indomitable will, that I put the process on hold at this point. Because seriously? I have enough on my plate. Like most rape victims. Maybe that's one of the things that rapists, and apparently cops, count on. That we will just go away. And we often have to.

It was only when my rapist decided to take this up a notch that I felt I had to get back at this and push harder. I documented most of it in this post.  After that incident, I felt compelled to return to pushing for my complaint to be heard. I could no longer give him the excuse that he was young and inexperienced and ignorant of the pain he had and was causing me. Now it seemed far more deliberate, abusive, and vicious. He was out to literally destroy the rest of my life, and he was largely succeeding. My sense of justice requires that he be stopped, in part to prevent him from doing this to others. So we began again.

Biblical Rape: White, married mother, with a male witness, and you STILL won't believe me?

After booking my husband to take care of the kids, and setting aside the day, we made the call on Sunday, July 25, 2015. We were told they might take hours to come, so we had to wait somewhere. I didn't want to wait at home, and freak out my kids and neighbours, so we made the choice to be at my boyfriend's place; in part because he was an actual witness and we assumed that his statement might make a difference, especially because he was also threatened by Ryan when he tried to talk about it. We shouldn't have thought his statement would make any difference, it turns out.

We played some games while anxiously looking at the door, and after a few hours, got relaxed again. And then they showed up. Two burly men. They introduced themselves at the door, but I didn't catch their names. They presented no cards or anything to help me identify them later. After we tried to explain the situation, one of them insisted that we make our statements separately. I know the procedure, and my boyfriend really wanted to stay to support me, but I told him to go into the bedroom with the other officer so we could move this along. The nicer and more reasonable officer stayed with me in the living room. I offered to have him sit on the cushions, since we have no chairs, but he refused. Maybe he didn't want to seem undignified or lacking in power? Seems a bizarre and Eurocentric call. At any rate, we had to spend the entire interview standing up. We both stood without moving, but it increased my discomfort and humiliation, but that's what this exercise is all about, isn't it? Yay! I gave him all of the documentation I had printed out, and did my best to articulate the incidents. It didn't take as long as one would think it should, because soon his partner emerged with my boyfriend from the bedroom. That was when I wish I had listened to my own advice and taped the interview. Because what happened next was disgusting, and my boyfriend saw it all. My officer's partner stalks over to me, gets right in my face, and sneers "Did any money change hands?" Now, this is the very first thing he has ever said to me. I blink repeatedly, and control my temper. Already, he is making the clear accusation that I, or Ryan, I don't know which, is a sex worker, and that makes all this irrelevant. Because that somehow justifies rape at all? Dude, sex workers can still get raped, you know? I mention that we exchanged gifts, like I do with many people, but that was all. I admit I got a bit warm when I pointed out that I was a married mother of two, and I'm not supplementing my income in that manner. He then began stalking the room, gliding behind his partner and me and my boyfriend. It was creepy, like a shark. All the while his partner is reasonably continuing to ask me questions and taking down my answers. He asked if I would come down to the station and make a taped statement that day. We would be thrilled, I said. The next thing out of his partner's mouth was a belligerent accusation "You know you can't take it back then? You can't just change your mind three years later?" I almost felt his spittle on my face as he nearly screamed it at me. I told him I had no intention of doing so. I didn't emphasize any of our religious work, though it was included in my statement, but Belligerent Cop sneered "If it's religious, you know we can't do anything, right?" No, that's not right, actually. You can't claim to do ANY crime to another person and claim religion, *especially* assault. Honour killings, child molestation have all tried to use that pathetic excuse. Of course it's utter nonsense, but the cop doesn't seem to know that. Or think I don't. Seriously. You just REALLY don't want to bother with this, do you? But naturally after all this, Relatively Nice Cop decided that we wouldn't be coming down to make an interview, and that instead he would call us in a few weeks, after they 'looked into it.'  They had no intention of doing anything about the threats to my boyfriend, and his witnessing of the events in question was actually snorted at. Love that contempt! They didn't leave me any cards or numbers to contact them, they didn't tell me even what station they were at (though I assumed main branch), they didn't say they would call me with a case number so I could check on it's progress, and they implied that they would call me at some unspecified time in the future. Maybe.

So the only thing I could do is wait and hope they were going to get back to me. Turns out, Relatively Nice cop called me back a few weeks later after his vacation. He pushed me for a second meet, this time at my house. I arranged to have my husband take a walk with my son, while my daughter remained upstairs, since she wouldn't leave. I was slightly worried that she might overhear, but as a teen, she spends most of her time with earbuds on, so I wasn't too worried. And I did warn her.

I was puzzled by his reaction by seeing my family leave. It looked to me like he thought they either shouldn't be supporting me, or didn't seem to understand that we had to go to some trouble to accommodate this interview, but it did throw me a little. This time, at least, it went the way one thinks those things should. He took down notes and asked respectful questions. I didn't get any impressions of judgement or weird vibes. And he took his time. I felt that we had bonded a little and rather hopeful that he took me seriously when he left. I should have known better.

I wrote down his name, though it's one of the few items that I have misplaced, so I don't remember it now. I'm gonna say "Stevenson"? Still, I also forgot to ask where he was stationed or any contact information or even a case number so I could check up on it. And of course, he didn't offer such. Again. So I was forced to wait. Yet again.

*Another* few weeks go by, and I finally get a call. He sounds bored and annoyed that he has to explain this, but of course *he's* not going to press charges. Now, I know that cops are the ones who do that in Canada, and that complainants are only witnesses to a crime, but I was shocked that he was the only gatekeeper in my case. I kept him on the line far longer than he seemed to want to, and asked if there was anything he needed to help clarify or push for this, and asked why it wasn't going forward. Remember: I have reams of communication between us that prove coercion and lack of consent, and which the police have never asked to see, though I have provided some examples. AND I have a male witness, who was also threatened, though they seem uninterested in the lot of it. The officer explained in a rather condescending tone that the courts would "have doubts". Did you know that cops only press charges when they are 100% certain they can get a conviction? Me, either. They must hardly charge anyone with anything ever! He did assure me though that if Ryan does this again, then they have this on file. Now. Let that sink in. The cop acknowledges what happened to me is a crime, and that if my rapist makes this a pattern, and other women come forward, the police will finally believe me, and them, and he might actually get caught. And that he will have to assault multiple women before they make an effort to stop him. I even mentioned that other women have made similar claims in our circle, and I can provide him with names. He told me that if they come forward themselves and make a complaint, he can help them. But he wasn't even slightly interested in the police work to track them down and inquire about these crimes. He was however VERY focused on the goddam "mutual' restraining order. It was very important that I obeyed that, and not seek out my rapist. Because without a car and desire to have my guts ripped out by encountering him, that was totally likely. I'm glad they have their priorities straight. I wasn't even sure how to ask "Is there anyone else there who would help me?" because he didn't seem interested in any of that at all. He was my only gatekeeper, and he was gonna keep it that way. He hung up on my life with a click.

So I make a FB post expressing my disappointment in the process; my boyfriend's is a bit more strongly worded. Cue the inevitable "you just need to get on with your life, then" comments, which most women might feel they should adopt at this point.

Rapesplaining: Traffic lights, hockey rinks, and bar fights

Another few months go by. I'm getting worse and less able to leave the house, feeling far less safe in public. I often can only go out with an escort, because I'm now anxious not to see him or any of his crew, since they have made my life so difficult. Small wonder. When I get another call from the police. This time, it's a new officer, Detective Brad Kline, actually from Sex Crimes division. Shocking, right? I never did find out how he gets my case, but he was reviewing it, and a couple of things "struck him." What exactly struck him, if I may ask? Well, my abuse from my stepbrothers in particular, he said. I deflated, but I supposed any interest is better than none. He asked if I would come in to talk about it, and I shrugged. Although it shattered my life, it was so long ago, and there is no proof at all, except my testimony, and my brother's, who they also abused, so there is even less chance that justice would be achieved, but still I gave a sighing Yes. My duty is always to Truth, so I'll take the time out for that. He gives me his name and actual cell phone number to call him if I can't make it, and we make an appointment to meet at the station.

So on November 25th, 2015, though a bit more harrowing, I ask for Det. Kline at the desk and he comes down to meet me in the lobby. He is, naturally, a white male, rather imposing, but almost a senior citizen. We chat as he takes me upstairs to one of the Interview Rooms. He then informs me that we will be recording this. I'm a bit taken aback, but I suspected something like that might happen, so I roll with it. Then he comes to the point. He really wants to ask me about Ryan. I'm surprised, if gratified, but why didn't he just tell me that first? I assume later that it's because he didn't want me 'practicing' my statement or anything? I never did find out. Because women lie, right? Luckily, I had written everything out in my past blog posts, I'm an excellent speaker under pressure, and I can mostly deal with this. Again, all those skills and prep are not available to everyone, and it is very disingenuous to call someone in for a different issue, and then expect them to handle such memories on the fly. We're witness and victims, not the accused. The very basic we should expect is respect and compassion. But I soldier on. This time, however, I also was recording, just to make sure I don't regret not doing that. He was, too, but I doubt that tape is for public consumption. I can post mine, though!

The session lasted for four hours, with two bathroom breaks. Even those were slightly humiliating, since he had to walk me to the bathroom and wait for me. Because security in the building. Not unreasonable, but unnerving. He offered me water, which I occasionally sipped, as we went into pornographic questioning that I would have a difficult time telling my therapist. If I could get one... He seemed focused on our encounter in November 2014, where I established that I wouldn't have sex with Ryan without protection, and he rejected me and threw me out, grooming me for later abuse. Not that the officer used any of those terms, and he seemed rather fixated on it. No crime occurred, and I had tried to demonstrate the concept of positive consent to Ryan at that time, which is what I had hoped he learned from that, but I still have no idea why the cop was so interested in it. I had already described in detail about our first time in February, where he made me bleed, and the officer did seem inordinately interested in exactly what parts of our bodies were involved. And, for the anal rape incident, he asked me just what I thought Ryan wanted to do to me when he asked me to turn around, implying that I should have known and therefore I must have consented. In 25 years, I haven't ever done that before, so why would I expect it? It was rather disturbing, to put it mildly.

After one of the breaks, I see him talking to another old white guy. Turns out, the video tape is being monitored by his partner, who he consults about some of the pornographic details with, correcting some of my terminology. Thanks, old white guys! This wasn't terrible enough. You DO know that I know those terms, but I'm kinda having trouble discussing this? Great! I'm thrilled this is just another night on the job for you...  

After this is mostly over, he decided to rapesplain to me about traffic lights. Because you know, if you have a red light, you're supposed to stop. And if you have a green light, you can keep going. But if you have a yellow light, you might only have to slow down. And if you have no signals at all? I guess that means there are no rules to follow! Yes. Women are streets to be driven on, Never forget that. I never will now... He does have the nerve to give me a soulful "I believe you" before parting. I'm not sure what seminar he learned that from, but it sounded pretty darn insincere. And I didn't believe him. Of course everything I say is as precise and truthful as I can make it. I haven't spent the past 25 years honing my radical honesty for nothing, so I *expect* to be believed, thank you. That is kinda the bare minimum. Best part? He tells me I can come to him if I want to do something about the abuse done to me as a child. Think about that for a minute. There is literally ZERO evidence about that, other than my testimony (which has already been sneered at) and maybe my brother's, if he wants to go through this, too; the case is decades old, and still the cop thinks there might be any success in pursuing that? Seriously? I almost laughed, if there were any laugh left in me.

This time, at least, he gives me his card, with his cell number, and calls me to make sure I got back okay, since it was nearly midnight and I was pretty distraught. Though it is certainly an improvement from my last officer. I was personally a little worried that I was going to throw myself off a bridge or jump in front of a car after that. I wasn't terribly optimistic, but I knew this reporting was the right Thing to do. It's supposed to be, and we are required to do it to be believed, you know. I also really needed to do it to make sure that Ryan knew that this consent problem he had was very dangerous; for him and others.

More months go by. I don't bother to call. The Ghomeshi verdict comes in. Exactly the same type of crime as this one. Naturally, the women are eviscerated by exactly the same criticisms that my cops have given me. Only these victims enjoy the privilege of having it done to them in the most public setting. I give up all hope of ever hearing from the police, much less in a positive way. Out of the blue, in May, I get another call. Detective Kline asks me to come in for a chat. I am pretty sure I know what he's gonna say, and it probably won't be to ask for clarification, but I'm prepared for anything at this point.

So on Friday, May 20th, I wander into the downtown Police station yet again. I'm pleasantly surprised by the decor. They have been renovating the reception area at least. Does that indicate a modernizing of their thinking? No such luck. The inside is still the same 70's orange, for good reason, and he takes me into a public lounge. Yay. His partner is with us this time, maybe as a witness. Or to help browbeat me, who knows? At any rate, it's rather intimidating, and I think that is part of the point. After he asks me how I'm doing, which is not well, thanks, he proceeds to tell me why he's not pursuing charges. Of course. But he gets to do it - with more condescending rapesplain metaphors.

"If you report to me that someone punched you in the nose, but I don't see any evidence of that, like you aren't bleeding, then..."

But what if I had a witness who saw that I wasn't bleeding, and then after that I was? Would that help? He looked shocked. He had forgotten that I had a witness, who saw that I was cut that last night with Ryan. Who was right there and saw almost everything, and can verify everything I said. Well, that wasn't going to stop the cop from soldiering on to his conclusion.

"It's like hockey. If you go onto the rink, you are tacitly agreeing to other things that may happen, like a fight".

Wait. What? First I'm a road, now I'm a hockey player?

"Two guys can agree to fight, like boxing or an alley, but one guy can't put the other one's head through a car. That's grievous bodily harm, and you can't consent to that." But for that to occur, one guy has to say to the other "We'll settle this out back" or some such, and other agrees and goes into the alley. You can't just be suckerpunched and swing back to defend yourself in the bar, with the assailant later claiming that "he didn't say no, so I thought we agreed to fight."

You can never be the perfect victim enough for them to believe you

I have all my documentation, including dates and times. I normally have a very organized mind, and I'm a horder. I took notes at the time and kept every scrap of correspondence. I'm a mother tongue English speaker, who is 'reasonably articulate", even under national spotlights. I'm a mother of two and a wife of nearly 20 years. I'm white. I have an international reputation as a professional religious with scrupulous honesty, even under political pressure not to be. I am mature and experienced. I have an actual male *eyewitness* to the lack of consent, the cutting and bleeding, and who has insisted on going over every scrap of documentation. He knows the evidence better than I do, since I haven't been able to look at since, and he is eager to testify and get some justice. I can go on at some lengths about my privileges. I have almost no strikes against my 'credibility' from the rape apologist handbook. And yet, I still encounter enough gatekeeping to dissuade all but the most determined of victims. They refuse to take my boyfriend's statement at all, and finally, they still manage to make enough excuses to find my rapist somehow more believable, to rapesplain to me and 'correct' my 'interpretations.' 

Even though so much of my experience falls into their stated categoriessome of the best excuses for not taking this seriously included:

"Age Gap"

Wait. What? So if I was his age, it would be a crime? Or if he were mine? That was all. It was just a 'factor'. How exactly, and why, they never said. It was just understood. Not by me, of course, which is what the session of rapesplaining was for. I literally have no idea what they were talking about on this one. I'm pretty sure the law doesn't give an age limit for anyone over "minor". Quick tip: get raped by someone close to your own age, or it's a 'factor' in whether it's real rape or not. Boys, rape MILFs 'til they bleed and she seduced YOU! Old crones should be grateful for that attention, amarite?

BDSM is a free pass for rape!

From what I can glean from all this, they had decided that I was involved in voluntary BDSM play, because that is what Ryan told them. That means that any injuries, even "surprise" anal or being penetrated so hard you bleed or making someone drink their blood, is just one of the risks you take with that. I told them we didn't negotiate any of that at all, but the Detective looked most skeptical, because he thinks I agreed to it. How? Because we had a relationship and Ryan told me, and them, that he was a sub, so that makes me into BDSM with him. Right? And they stated that means pretty much anything goes, since that is what you signed up for, other than grievous bodily harm, like if my arm was cut open wide or something. Even without explicit consent, apparently. They never "touch" the BDSM crowd.

I never agreed to any of that. Not before, not during, and not after. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt that he simply didn't understand how this was supposed to work, and tried to be supportive of him, because love and compassion and exploration, but in no way can that be considered consent to *make me bleed* or anally rape me. The cops took my desire to be GGG as proof of consent for ALL acts. Keep that mind, ladies! If you go out on the ice, be prepared for anything! Because whatever they do to you isn't a crime if you are in a relationship with them... They can tell the cops you wanted some BDSM and no matter what you say, it's all okay!

Apparently, Ryan had given them enough selective material to demonstrate that I was eager for BDSM. "He had the emails", they said. "So do I. ALL of them." They seemed shocked. Emails work like that, you know. I have them all, too. But you never asked me for them. And they didn't want any from me, especially to refute their beliefs. Their investigation was over, already! Let me re-iterate this, because it bears repeating. If your rapist claims it was BDSM, and the cops said this to my face, *you have to prove that you DIDN'T consent to everything*. And your word alone isn't good enough. I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that any of the assault laws don't work that way. But that is exactly how they are applied here.

Look. I'm not a member of the BDSM community, but many of my acquaintances are. Alot of feminist and LBGT activism involves kink and consent, so by doing work in those areas I'm familiar with much of the material, which is one of the reasons I tried to help Ryan when he wanted to explore that. I know that it requires negotiating ahead of time, and explicit and ongoing consent during, and aftercare and discussion later, so that everyone is safe and having fun. I am pretty certain that assuming silence for consent in *making someone bleed* is absolutely NOT what the community stands for, and they would be appalled that the justice system is hiding behind BDSM to not prosecute rape.  But if any members of the kink community want to speak to that, I'd love to hear their comments. Since, as I say, this isn't my forte...

Can't get into the psychology

Actually, you have to. Criminal laws are written with that basic principle in mind. Intent of the criminal, coercion of the victim - those are *integral* to the laws. When the cops told me that they couldn't take into account what I *felt* like, including "terrified", a word which I used frequently in my communications to Ryan, what they were saying is they don't want to bother to apply the actual law in this case. Or don't really understand it. Or that part of the law isn't really used here. I'm not sure which.

"Courts will have doubts"

About what? Exactly? When do they NOT have doubts? That's kinda what they are paid to do.  And how does that justify you not pressing charges? Is that how Edmonton does things?

More than once

"Well, if it was just the one time, then maybe. But it was more than once, and you were in a relationship, so we can't help you." I think this is my personal favourite. By that logic, no domestic violence cases ever occur at all. Because we all know those only ever happen once, right?

F*ck your male witness

My boyfriend, who was in the apartment on the last occasion and actually saw the cutting and blood, is horrified that he was used as a weapon to harm me. He has offered his statement to the cops, really a confession, twice, and been very clear that he is willing to be charged *with assault and go to jail* if it means justice against the man who set us both up.

The cops literally laughed in his face. And in mine. "It doesn't work like that", we were told. They have dismissed his statement, and refused him as a witness. I'm not even sure how they manage that.

"Take my confession for assault! Help me put this guy away!"And they literally laughed in his face. I have no idea what anyone has to do to be taken seriously here.

From a different place

Anger is one of most primal emotions for a reason. It demonstrates when our boundaries have been crossed and, like pain, shows us where we need to put our most immediate attention. It is one of our most vital tools. Men are taught to put their anger in stupid and dangerous places, like violence, so it usually does nothing to change the conditions around them. Women are taught to bury their anger, or risk the violence of men. Normally, my spur to my activism comes from rage. Injustice enrages me, as it should for more people. It helps lift me out of depression and immobility and gives me the fuel I need to keep pushing for change. There is a reason why my motto in my activism work is "Powered by Rage". For me it is quite literal.

The fuel I need to keep going in this is more meager fare, hence the far longer delays in it's implementation, but comes from a more complex place. It comes from justice, duty, honour, love and compassion. I can't get up the energy to hate him, or be angry very often, no matter how my boyfriend encourages those feelings. Sorry, not all rape victims feel that. That still doesn't mean they weren't raped, btw... That "Love thy enemy" and "everyone deserves a chance to be redeemed" stuff? That is real to me. I live it. I am doing my best to be the change I see in the world. Just because dishonourable people take advantage of it doesn't mean they are my teachers. For these particular violations, I usually feel tremendous grief and despair and sorrow, for the deliberate shattering and use and punishment of someone who loves unconditionally, and surrenders to it. I can feel used and abused and abandoned, and still not hate the person who does it. And I don't need to hate him to deserve help or sympathy. Only my pain and the harm done me should be necessary. My constant anger should not have to be the price of anyone's assistance or my believability. 

I left off forcing him to deal with this for months. I had hoped he would be able to reflect and understand, outside the heat of the moment, that what he did was deeply harmful. I had a great deal of trouble dealing with it myself, but it would have been so much easier with his help. I would have left it even longer, but he chose to harm me further by deliberately inserting himself in one of my only safe public spaces. Instead of trying to destroy his life as he destroyed mine, I asked him to resolve this in a mature manner, face to face, with backup amoungst our circle. He chose not to take the option where I am helped and he learns, but rather he lied repeatedly, to me, to a judge and in his deposition, and sandbagged me with the legal process. And then began a hate campaign on FB and other social forums. 

I don't want any of this. Like the majority of rape victims, especially ones whose attackers are their friends or lovers, all I ever wanted was to *not get raped*. And make sure other women don't get raped. Many areas in the world offer badly named "Reconciliation" courts (btw, rape victims have no need to 'reconcile', except their own experiences). Instead of a criminal system, victims and assailants get together with facilitators to ensure that victims actually have their concerns heard, and how it affected their lives. Many rapists refuse to believe they did anything wrong, and that means they will inevitably do it again. But others can be made to understand that they aren't irredeemable, and their mistake had serious consequences, which they can prevent in future. So many victims say they would choose this option if they could. It is less adversarial, decreasing their trauma, and the emphasis is on their healing, not their re-victimization in a public forum.

When Det. Kline asked me in my interview what I wanted as an outcome, I told him exactly this. I just wanted Ryan to know how much he had hurt me, and what lead to it, and how never to do it again. I could never get him to hear me in person, but I could make sure this ordeal scares the heck out of him into taking consent more seriously. This was possibly my only chance to get him to understand how he utterly destroyed my life, and how he will also destroy others, possibly his own. I felt it necessary to discharge my duty to teach him this lesson. I think I may take this duty thing a bit further than most people these days do... So many opportunities I gave him to make this right. I still cannot believe that this is the only way he has chosen to do this! But I am nothing if not tenacious...

My life here is over. He has taken everything. Not an hour goes by that I don't think of this, or worry that I will see anyone who will abuse me over this, or remember that I've lost my family and my home. I often can't sleep, I sometimes can't leave the house without an escort, which both my husband and my boyfriend generously do for me. When the cops asked me how I was impacted by all this, I told them. They interpreted it as a lack of physical safety. Their helpful advice? He seems to be installed in Sherwood Park and never wants to see you again. You should just stay away from any place you think he might be, and you'll be fine. Gosh! I never thought of that! Thanks so much! "I know how PTSD works, thanks." I was starting to get terse and just wanted to get out of there by then. And they have demonstrated that they are such good investigators and judges of character that I should just be satisfied with their assessment of what he's doing and where he is. I'm SO relieved. Me and my tiny lady brain, you understand...

Remember: my rapist is trained in combat, hunts, has access to guns, has proven he will go out of his way to harm or torment me, and the officers are perfectly satisfied that I'm not in any danger, because *he* doesn't want to see *me*! Awh, I can feel the safety warming my innards now...

Knowing me, however, this won't be It. I have resources, like visiting city hall, since the Edmonton Police are actually city servants, like janitors. Only with guns. Or bothering some of my political buddies to shake the tree, as the justice system is federally written and provincially administered. I wasn't able to do that right away, of course, since I needed to recover from this, but I immediately started thinking along those lines. I even started to make some inquires. For those women who do not have such persistence, or can't afford the strength, that would indeed be It. Especially for women of colour, and most especially native women, I can understand entirely why they would not even bother to initiate proceedings. From the accusations of sex work to the 'courts having doubts', they have far more strikes against them than I do.

There is a fiery moat in front, the door isn't even labeled,
and there is no Welcome mat.


If you decide that you absolutely MUST go through this process in Edmonton, here are some actions that will make your ordeal just slightly less odious. 

Call 911 first to have dispatch send a car out, no matter how old the assault. That is apparently the procedure in this city, so don't let anyone tell you to go into a station. Even their website misinforms. You can tell the dispatcher that it's sexual assault, but it won't make any difference in who they send out. You get whatever is available, and it's usually males who aren't trained in this. If you don't want to upset or generate curiosity with your neighbours and family, have them meet you at a coffee shop or a friend's place. And be prepared to wait hours.

Record every encounter with police. It can be out in the open, or surreptitiously on your phone. As long as one person in the conversation knows it's being taped, like you, it's legal in Canada. You will need that recording to push your case in future, or to lodge a complaint when the police don't take you seriously or accuse you of anything.

Have all your documentation ready. Nothing cops hate more than this investigative police work thing. If you don't spoon feed them, they won't ask you for additional information to help your case. They WILL do so for your rapist and be prepared to believe anything that contradicts your story, unless you get the jump on it with everything you can think of, up front, in advance. So make sure you have extra copies, and don't give them the originals! You will never get them back.

Write down their names, station, and the case number for your file. Without this information, it is almost impossible to find out anything about your case if you want to follow up.

Have valid ID if they call you in to the station. Weird and privileged I know, but they apparently "need" it to record who you are, and who is entering the station. I don't know if they even have a procedure if you don't have ID. 

The system is not designed to create justice for you. It is entirely to protect your rapist's 'rights'. His right to 'fair trial' and apparently, his right to our bodies. Getting them to even hear you is a huge challenge, and they will attempt to make you give up as often as possible. Until they close the door entirely. I don't know how to solve this, but I know that this is an evil and misogynistic system, put in place to oppress and defeat us. I wish I could give you hope. I wish I had much left myself. My iron will and warrior heart is the only thing keeping me going. And I will keep going, until that fails. Though knowing me, that still can be pretty impressive.

I can only pray that by moving across the country, I can have some peace. I won't be reminded every second of every place and person this has touched. If I can manage the money and strength to do it, since I leave my family and my entire life and network here. Good wishes are nice, but at this point, I'd settle for people making it less hard for me. And that is the best many victims can hope for.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rape Culture Update: Yes, even the young folks in Edmonton...

Edmonton is a cesspool of misogyny, and has been for decades. It's considered one of the worst cities to be a woman, anecdotally AND statistically. We have literally the worst wage gap in the country. Woman make just over half of what men do. We have some of the worst domestic and animal violence records in the country. Those go together, as harm to more vulnerable beings, and perps work their way up the food chain as they are emboldened, due to encouragement by the culture around them. We have one of the highest underage prostitute rates in Canada, especially for native women. All of this is in large part due to the tarsands economy. Studies show that places that rely on that kind of resource concentration, particularly those that require such environmental destruction, and high pay for high risk, with disposable workers, are far more prone to importing vulnerable sex slaves, taking out the instability on their families, and treating women like the earth they are forced to rape for their jobs. It's a cancer (which we also have one of the highest rates of) that disproportionately affects women, and increases the culture of sexual violence.

Since my previous post on my assaults was published, all the old rape culture chestnuts have been hauled out and dusted off by his camp. Which still surprises and of course deeply disappoints me. I had thought that with all of our work on this issue, his cadre would be less inclined to perpetuate such garbage. Even in this place...  For more proof, here is how the cops reacted.

Rape can't occur if the relationship was consensual.

Up until the 80's in Canada, it was still legal for a husband to be able to rape his wife. Because rape originally means a 'violent and unlawful taking of property". Since she was his rightful property (and being a cold bitch denying him sex amarite?), there could never be an unlawful taking. Therefore, no husband can rape! Ever! It was one of our greatest achievements, and still is bizarre that we had to fight for it, that sexual assault could now be a crime for intimate partners. Seriously. This isn't a Thing. I freely admit that I was in a consensual sexual relationship with Ryan, and would do so again, in a heartbeat. I still deeply care about him, which is why I wanted to arrange a meet and settle this without destroying his life, because I still think he's worth it. That still doesn't mean that he achieved consent on these occasions. And that is where the problem lies. Mistakes can be made, and that's where communication and forgiveness come in. If he doesn't learn this lesson, I can't be sure he won't do it again. I would take a bullet for him, and forgive him the moment he sincerely asks, but I will not usurp the Truth for his sake. The boys in my camp think he is human refuse and shouldn't be allowed to walk among others, and it is a source of much consternation that I hold my view. Attribute it to PTSD, or sexual abuse training, or entralldom or Fate. But how I feel is the Truth, and I stand by it until it changes.

My rep. (What was she wearing?)

The fact that I have worked hard to overcome my issues and appear as sex positive, particularly in public, is no longer a source of praise for my bravery as I try to reClaim my sexuality, but an indication of 'how I operate'. The fact of the small number of sexual partners that I have ever engaged in intercourse with in my rather longer lifetime (I mean, duh) doesn't matter. It's how I 'appear'. Because he just assumed? And that somehow justifies rape, right? I'm still having trouble about how that one works, quite frankly... Prostitutes can still be raped, you know. Every. Single. Act. to another human body must be consensual. Especially ones that involve bleeding.  It's kinda mandatory. Regardless of what I was wearing or how friendly I am to him or other men at events, or how much I try to forge trust bonds with others...

The rep of brutal honesty and total integrity that I have spent a long lifetime building up doesn't seem to enter into it, though. Remarkable how that works...

No one forced her.

I had really thought we had finally gotten rid of this one as a society at least. Consent is more of a 'Yes' thing, not a 'I didn't hold you down' thing. And anyone who suggests that I would seriously recommend running away from. Because they have indicated they are kinda rapey. I went into such painful detail for a reason. Consent can sometimes be harder to achieve, especially in more difficult circumstances. That's why communication, particularly ahead of time for people like me, is essential. As well as continual checking and aftercare. And let me reiterate this - especially when you make someone bleed for you. Because it's an actual crime. Yah-see?

Her boyfriend is a...

Of course they have to attack his character as well. It's kinda necessary, since I'm one of the few folks who has an actual witness. Rumours are already being flung at him, too. Somehow, that means he isn't reliable or to be trusted.. The undercurrent of racism inherent in these claims (he's Chinese/Filipino) makes it all the more charming. I'm not quite sure how that is supposed to make what Ryan did seem all better, or maybe they are trying to pretend that we have concocted everything, for some monumentally bizarre reason, but this does seem a necessary tactic to protect their friend. Which brings us to...

She's making it all up (false rape claims)

Because for some reason, I'm laying everything on the line: my marriage, my home, my career, their careers, my kids, my family... Everything. Just so I can smear this young man and ruin his life. Even though I never came forward at the time, and didn't want to now, but for the fact that he was suddenly went out of his way to get in my face and hurt me more, and not admit that any of this happened. It forces me, in the name of Justice and Truth, which are a big deal to me as a spiritual elder, to come forward to protect any other women he might try to do this to, and to get him out of my spaces so I can at least have some small joys in my life.

And just when I thought they had covered all the bases, here's a new one that was just hurled at me last week. If there's a rape apologist award, this one takes it!

If a much younger man rapes you, you're a pedophile!

Okay, ladies, keep that in mind. Stick entirely within your cadre, or you deserve to be raped, I think is the takeaway here. I'm not quite sure the reasoning on this one, either... If young men con seniors out of their life savings, the thieves get a free pass, because the older folks shouldn't have trusted them? How about murder? Those older persons shouldn't have been hanging with them in the first place! Oh, wait... No. If a young man is old enough to buy a condo, drive his own car, get a job and sign contracts, he's old enough to take responsibility like an adult for making the choice to rape someone. Even if that someone is older and took him at his word like a grown up. The trusting and relationship part is not the mistake here.

That one came from a few new twists on this whole story. I am a fairly well known member of the poly and pagan communities. There is much overlap naturally, and in an attempt to introduce Ryan to other folks that he could connect with, I took him to a poly potluck, a monthly meet up put on by the Polyamory Edmonton Association. I was still very nervous about being his only contact to these communities and wanted him to have more exposure as just himself. There was only six people there this time, since those are less well attended than the drinks nights for example. There I hung out with some old and some new, including one young man, Damien Hildebrandt. I did my best to let Ryan get to know everyone, but also not let him feel alone, so I concentrated on being *with* him and also social, including talking alot to Damien. He seemed reasonable and intelligent, so the time went by pleasantly. Later, he Friended me and Ryan, which I almost always accept, my FB being more buisnessy than not. We chatted at some length, and he shared his loneliness and insecurities. His plight appealed to my compassion, 'cause I remember what that is like, and he seemed to need a friend, so I offered to take him out to dinner to discuss it. He knew I had a husband and I came to the meet with Ryan, so it's nice to hang with folks who aren't polyphobic. The evening was a bit awkward, but I felt enough sympathy to invite him on another one. I did find his arrogance and privilege his main issues, however. He really did think he and his opinions were all that and a bag of chips, and even though I tried to gently probe that, he was bulletproof on it. And at no time was there even a hint of a physical relationship. I can do that. I actually *like* hanging out with people of totally different ages in a complex and satisfying manner that isn't sexy times. Shocking, I know...

It turns out, I knew his mom, too! Sherri Ingrey was a long time FB correspondent of mine from the pagan community (hence how Damien and I were able to hit so many topics) and she chatted to me about our going out. She expressed only amusement at the time, even though her son is much younger than I am. (And not, say, the horror and disgust she later pretended.) I did mention, delicately, how his arrogance was hard to get around, and she concurred. She insisted that it was his father's flaw, whom she no longer got on with at all, and she hoped her son would grow out of it. Our next dinner out went even less well, and I distinctly remember his racist comment that cooled me completely. I was done with him, and was rather distant the next times he tried to contact me. I didn't actually want to hurt his feelings, so I didn't want to critique him, but he really was unpleasant. He stopped bothering to communicate with me in late August, and I thought that was the end of it, and I had successfully Ghosted. Guess what?  Hel hath no fury like an entitled man scorned! Imagine my surprise when I saw him *at the courthouse* attempting to get the judge to accept him as Ryan's spokesperson. The judge didn't allow it, of course, because he's not a lawyer, nor does he know anything about this case, so he can't even be a witness. Other than he saw me and Ryan together once, while we were still in a relationship. And we don't need a witness for that... I still haven't figured out, or been able to ask him, what the f*ck that was all about! Because he unFriended me that afternoon. Apparently, he had just remained Friends with me all this time to stalk me on Ryan's behalf or something. I mean, deeply creepy. And it gets worse. It seems that he is the source for 'how I operate" or the main trashing of my 'reputation' as an excuse for my rape. Since he did see us together, that must mean I'm either lying or I can't be raped in a consensual relationship? Polys, snatch this one up fast! I have no idea why he's still single. He's clearly a catch. Except he might rape you if you get into a relationship with him, and he's more than willing to use your polyness as a slut shaming justification for it.

Naturally, I assumed his mom would be revolted by this turn of events, and would want to smack his bottom thoroughly for the rape apologist harm he was doing to my life. I mean, *I* would certainly want to know if my son did that. Hah. No such luck. She seemed already familiar with this (thanks for the heads up, Sherri) and called me a pedophile, which she needs to look up the definition for. Persons who are of legal age have agency, and are treated like adults in every possible institution. They aren't children, which is the "paedo" part of that. There have even been relationships of age disparity throughout history, and as long as there are no great power issues, like old men forcing girls to marry them, those relationships can offer much exchange and affection. We even have an idiom for it! There are plenty of happy consensual May/Decembers (even though I'm not really December yet, more of September), and even if you call all of them pedophiles, it still doesn't make it so. And it certainly doesn't give anyone a free pass to rape. I normally don't blame the parents for rapists or their apologists, but in this case, as a rape apologist herself, she's clearly a contributor.

So really, the *only* people making a mess out of my life is Ryan, of course, his female allies Izzy and Roo that I still keep trying to protect and I'm so disappointed in, and this Damien and his mom. All the stories and smearing come from them, with other folks repeating without considering the source. Or even thinking about it, apparently. I mean I know he's charming, but doesn't *anyone* bother to look at these for more than a second to see how stupid, impossible, and repugnant this narrative is? What have we been working for all these years in fighting these incredibly harmful rape culture myths? It almost seems wasted...

Ryan's honour must be taking huge hits for this victim blaming and manipulation. He's willing to corrupt the truth and all of his circle, when the only thing he is currently protecting is his rep, and his desire to go where I usually am while I'm actually there. He's not even defending himself from criminal charges or civil claims. I have yet to do those, because awful for me (I'm pukey enough as it is), but I will if I have to, to force him to hear how much he can hurt others, and has already hurt me. I can't imagine what horrible tactics he'll pull out if he makes this continue. All I have ever wanted is an acknowledgement, and an intense discussion on consent, to make sure he understands. Mistakes can always happen. I could easily chalk all this up to his inexperience and sudden freedom and forgive him and let this go. But not if he is willing to harm me even more, by denying these events and defaming me, simply to protect his rep alone. Because then, he's becoming an actual dangerous rapist. And that I am required to fight. I promised to teach him, and I don't break my word, no matter how much this kills me.

I miss my crew from #Artsjam at the Legislature. Just one of my many losses from all this.

Monday, June 29, 2015

An Appointment with My Rapist *Trigger Warnings*

Admit it. You'd do almost anything for that. I know I did...

How the cops reacted. Hint: you can guess.

How social circles reacted. Hint: you can guess.

I shake with terror. I can barely breathe. I made an appointment to see my most recent rapist. For over a year, I lived in dread that he would show up at an event where our mutual friends were. I've tried to speak to three of them about it. They won't believe me. They shut me down, or actually say that it didn't happen. But I really hoped that I could make them see it someday, when they knew me more or were willing to listen. I wasn't nearly as confrontational or blunt as I could have been, and am rather known for, but I didn't want to lose them because of him, too. ("What abusers count on is the silence of survivors, and the supporting of that silence by the community." ) I also suspected that he was grooming other victims, so I wanted to both keep an eye on them and warn them, and that meant sticking around. A young woman named Izzy in particular was vulnerable. She has been able to avoid most of what I went through because she has insisted on no sexual intercourse, which she brags about, and that gave me more time. Which I needed, since I was so devastated that I was almost immobile and could do very little. Hearing about his predation would have spurred me, but I both couldn't see him, and yet was desperate to know if he was harming more women.

We managed to avoid him, only hearing stories that he had arrived when we had not. I started to feel safe. Maybe he wouldn't feel it necessary to increase my pain by taking away yet another piece of my life. But of course it was too good to be true. While I was chatting with those mutual friends, he came without warning. I jumped up, dry mouthed and shaking, and started to pack my gear, and he sat down where I had been. Many came by to hug him and wonder why he wasn't around lately. Each friendly pat or word to him was a blow to me. It took me awhile, but I was able to get up the strength to confront him and demand an audience. I had to interrupt because he wasn't going to stop talking to acknowledge me, even though I was right beside him, waiting. I told him he could meet with me or talk to the police. It was his choice. He was indignant, but I was firm. I gave him a week. I still had to contact him to make the arrangements, though. I really needed this, so I told him to do everything he had to do to make himself comfortable, so that he would agree. He decided on the most inconvenient time and place for me possible, or almost, and decided he was bringing his two girls, Izzy and Roo, for his comfort. Yeah, I'll bet. They are the ones I was most worried about, who don't believe me, and who are in the most harm's way. I love them both dearly, but he has their complete trust. He's such a progressive gentle feminist!  He would never Ghomeshi me. Izzy even considers themselves dating these past two years! Though she lived in another city for most of it, and really, I know *exactly* when they would have gotten together. Which is why I felt like the risk of my further vulnerability from an intervention wasn't as vital just then. If the girls do come, I will have to shatter everything. As much as I loathe all of this, and exposing my own pain even more, I have no choice but to be as frank as possible and destroy as much of his narrative as I can. For their own safety. Which they will hate me for, and never, ever thank me. I will be the Bad Guy by insisting that we talk about this. I will take that hit and sacrifice any relationship with them to make sure they have more tools to protect themselves. If I can, I will negotiate a peace treaty that ensures he stays away from me for as long as necessary, and I need to be convinced that women aren't in danger from him anymore. It's a long shot, but beating up someone once doesn't make them a thug. It's the habitulizing and the minimization of the criminality that makes one a thug. Or a rapist. (Though my boyfriend insists that it only takes one murder to make one a murderer. Go figger...) Maybe I really was the only one, and he was just experimenting with that kind of hard core sexuality. And maybe he really didn't understand that consent for that kind of damage means discussing it thoroughly beforehand, including safety, before all parties can agree properly. Maybe he didn't mean to harm me, no matter how much he actually did. I really do need to know.

It took me a long time to acknowledge him as my rapist. I'm still stuck on it sometimes. Obviously. As a past survivor, figuring out how to contextualize sexual violence is a far too everyday event. From childhood, my experiences were minimized, shut down, and the deafening silence which was enforced was considered the most preferable response. No child should have to experience their first sexualized encounter as a stepbrother sneaks into their room late at night to put their penis into your open mouth. Not me and not my even younger brother. I remember hearing the door open and knowing, as only the instinct of an aware animal, that someone was entering stealthily to do harm, but not what that harm consisted of. I remember clutching my stuffed elephant Elle, hoping that if he sees that I'm just a child, he will have pity and not harm me. But for all I know, that show of helplessness turned him on even more. To this day, I have no illusions that stuffies help deal with fear. Because they don't protect you. Nothing protects you. Not ever. And why did I pretend to be asleep? He was huge and bigger than me and what the fuck was I supposed to do? Damned if I knew. I certainly never considered biting it off. I was 9. Those became routine, of course, and dismissed in various ways as I grew up. Whether I tried to speak about it or not. At 16, when I finally got up the courage to speak as bluntly as I could to my mother, which still wasn't much, filled with shame and all the other victim baggage, I still recall her saying "Awh, is he touching your widdle body again?" So..she knew. All that time. And never protected me. So I learned then how much I wasn't valued, how I was to be pimped out to save her relationship with her partner, the boys' father, and how I was supposed to keep silent or be mocked.

All this informs my later experiences of course. From relatives attempts to molest me in public in front of other family members to abusive partners to assaults from strangers who come into my home selling insurance to men who answer roommate ads and then proceed to convince, coerce and then abandon, once they got the tap that was clearly their goal all along. As I got older, I did actually attempt to do what victims are supposed to do to earn the right to be believed and protected - I tried to report to police. The insurance guy who I could not get out of my house and continually groped my breasts when I was 25, calling me a 'fun girl', was a pretty clear case I thought, but it still took so much for me to feel justified enough to try to make a statement. Edmonton is a particularly bad place in Canada for violence. It has one of the highest levels of animal and spousal abuse in the country. (They are related, in that other lives and bodies aren't valued, and power, entitlement and the ability to create suffering are identical.) So despite the shaking, I got myself physically down to the main police station. After getting through the receptionist, saying what I needed, which was humiliating enough, a policewoman deigned to come out to speak with me, in the waiting area, to tell me, most sympathetically, that I had to call in to start the case. I mean, I just couldn't make a statement here? Apparently not. The guy was still trying to come back into my house, so I finally got the courage to call the station. The male officer on the other end barely listened to my story and then burst out laughing. "Oh, yeah, that's sexual assault all right!" All the while. Laughing. Needless to say, I didn't complete that complaint, and when the assailant kept calling me, though shaking, I was able to find the words to keep him away. And I guess that's all that matters, right? The fact that the officer acknowledged that it was criminal, but that somehow it was a matter of jest is a reflection of how rape culture silences victims and protects those who commit sexual violence.

Sought Me Out

One of the aspects of rape culture is the silencing of victims, encouraging them to believe that they are responsible for preventing sexual violence. We are supposed to watch out for those who would harm us, and stop them from doing so. Even if we can't tell them apart from the "Good Guys", the ones who demand we trust them, and why should our past pain paint all of them with the same brush? But if we guess wrong, and trust the wrong ones, we are still to blame. Because hey! We should have known, right?

As a semi-public figure, and a survivor, I am very familiar with online violence, as well as the up close and personal kind. I am often attacked online, though not usually to the extent that my racialized sisters report, or those who confront misogyny professionally. And as a pagan elder who teaches anyone who asks and  is dedicated, I not infrequently receive unsolicited communications from young men who ostensibly want to study but really want to indulge in all this 'sexual magic' and pagan freak sluttiness they keep hearing about. My radar is pretty tuned to them, and usually it doesn't take long for their agenda to reveal itself.(This white boy, for example, I rejected rather harshly when he applied for training. And you can see why. He subsequently confused me with someone else he didn't like, then apologized because he claimed non-nureonormative, so I forgave him. THEN he spent the subsequent years posting crap. Because Wiccan Do No Harm! It's seriously scary to be a woman with a voice here sometimes... These people are just awful.) Since I know my own prejudices, though, I do make it a policy not to assume, but only to watch for, and create a few easy tests that almost always expose them for the posers they are. Most of that ilk, for example, will hightail it as soon as they know I'm married. That doesn't matter for my sex life, of course, since I'm poly, but it does clearly show *their* intentions. However, I have always been hopeful to receive an inquiry from a young man that seems sincere and genuine. In October of 2013, I thought I had actually found one. He contacted me through my Abbey, and made very respectful inquires. He did fit the profile for the danger signals, though - beautiful, privileged, newly legal, formerly fundie Xian looking to finally explore new spirituality, first out in his own place away from his parents... The most likely scenario that he was just interested in some hot pagan action in his current no consequence and obligation free environment. Because I had met those entitled a-holes many times before. But I never brush off, because I understand the stereotyping, so no matter how many times I encounter this dynamic and it goes badly (though *never* this badly before), I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. For Justice. This particular one worked so hard to stand beside me, to give every indication that we were growing as best friends, teacher and student, as well as helping me in my work. He didn't leave, he performed every task, no matter how difficult. He made time in his first year university schedule when I requested it. Though I tried not to... In short, there was every indication that this one, finally, was worthy of my trust and putting the energy into for a long term and intense relationship. Much like my now journeywoman, I began to have hope that this lovely, charming, dedicated young man was going to be in my life for the rest of it, as we worked together and taught each other. Because as a mentor or best friend, this is the one of the highest goals. For someone who has been so hurt by men, this kind of trust does not come easily. I try very hard to keep my shields lowered deliberately for that reason. Yes, he was barely legal, and I had ethical questions about that, too, but if I am to respect agency at all, I can't make decisions for folks that are of age. Not for women, and certainly not for men who own their own apartments and don't have major power discrepancy concerns. (When my husband met him, he called Ryan "the Enemy". I brushed off his advice as 'overdramatic.' But he's always been a better judge of character than me.)

So when he first started to make even slightly rude jokes, I sidestepped. I mean, I make rude jokes, too. I'm a grown up. But still, trying to make sure here... But he worked so hard at convincing me. By the time November rolled around, I was hooked. But not yet sunk. This was very traumatizing for me, in part because he triggered so much of my own PTSD. His energy, his style, his story of his own abuse and our sharing brought me closer to it, and more raw that I had been in decades. My compassion and pity for his victimization and isolation and suffering overwhelmed me.  I shook and cried and was able to shatter my shields more than I ever had in my life, and it was terrifying. It was however incredibly freeing, because we began to work through some of our greatest pain, exploring our spirituality, dark sides, and healing those. Of course I had done the same with my journeywoman, but we worked on different areas, since the synergy varies with the relationship and the persons involved.  I had always thought that I was simply doomed to hear the screaming in my heart and my head for the rest of my life, with variants on the volume, but he changed my belief in that. There was, finally, someone who could actually help this part of me heal. I had never thought that was actually possible, and I sang with the joy of that discovery.

No Because Unsafe

Doing rituals at my house was always problematic, especially at night, since my house is a zoo. What with kids and husband and all that. He lived alone, and so it was a natural to have them there. He spent so much effort on convincing me of our relationship that I admit I totally fell for him. And after the rituals, he wanted to prove it. The first time he tried to push me for actual intercourse, though, I balked. I have always had an arrangement with my husband to play safe, as nearly all polys do, and he refused to use any protection. I really thought about it, because he was just so much and nearly broke my resolve, but while I was considering, he withdrew consent. He picked himself up, moved away from me, and refused to engage me as he intimated that I was to leave his presence and his home. In silence. I literally couldn't move. His sudden and complete rejection shattered me to my core. I almost forgot I had a body. We had become so close, and shared so much. I was recovering and rediscovering my own worth as a person, I was finally feeling intense joy at my own sexuality for the first time in my life, and he was rejecting me because I wanted to keep myself, my husband, and ultimately him, safe. My brain knows it's a abuse technique. I'm pretty goddam well versed in this. But when the one you opened up to, who made such an effort to be there for you and convince you that you really could become the person you always wanted to be, and thought you would have been if you weren't broken, demands you break your word and treats you like a object to take risks with, well, it's just devastating. I finally did manage to move, much to his annoyance, since I had collapsed on the floor, and walk out under my own power. (He wrote to my journeywoman that night claiming that he thought he was going to hurt me. I didn't know that at the time, and at the time of this writing, I still have never seen that correspondence, because it wasn't addressed to me.) But now the games and abuse began. I waited for a week to contact him, and he was cold and distant. Naturally. I held back, keeping out of his way for as long as I could, but I was desperate to repair this. He occasionally engaged with me on FB, though would Friend and UnFriend me on perceived slights, but sometimes, shadows of the depth of our relationship were still there. He still invited me over to his house in text usually, so of course I went. And he still kept coming closer, and on, to me, and then changing his mind, calling it 'bullshit', and seeming to regret it later. He would dismiss me after, by silence and just his hand in the air. I should take my leave quietly and not bother him now. He didn't push for intercourse again yet. I couldn't have cared less, I wanted to be with him so badly. But after all, you know, he HAD a real girlfriend. In another province, usually... I would text him and if she was with him, he'd be entirely cold, warning me that he was with "his girl'. Because I wasn't her. Obviously.

Did I mention the blood drinking?

And the blood drinking. When he cut himself to make his offering to his Deity, he made me lick off the wound. Again, without warning or consent. I shook with terror, because I know how much it puts my body at risk, but bravery! And commitment! I was convinced that someone who wanted this kind of bond with me must want me in his life for a long time and cared about me. Francis believes it was entirely because he got off on controlling me.  This is why it can help to examine the evidence from different perspectives...

If he had said that he wanted to experiment, which was reasonable being newly out on his own, or wanted us to be causal, or asked for training, or to be friends - I would have been happy with any combination of those. I'm perfectly capable of handling many kinds of relationships, and I'm always honest and clear. Poly kinda insists on that. But he kept switching intimacy levels and I had to follow all of his many changing cues...

This went on and on. I went insane. I seriously worked out for the first time in years, hoping to earn him with a new hard body. I grew my nails because he always requested being raked with them. (He prefers being a maso sub, doncha know...) I wrote copiously. Like, 20 pages a day. I went more mystical than I have ever experienced as I attempted to contextualize and regain control on my emotions and my life. I was always at risk at various times in the past. My anorexia for example, which I've had under control for more than a decade, came back in full force. At one point, I literally could not put anything in my mouth for nearly three weeks. Food is nurturing and love and control issues. I made a rule to eat after dark, and that kept enough calories in me so I didn't noticeably lose too much weight.  Yay. Pro tip: Call it fasting and no one will comment. They may even praise your discipline! I was in such despair that no joy or worth or comfort could reach me. There were many, many episodes where I had to convince myself to keep breathing. Because I really, really didn't want to.

Because if that is what he needs, right?

I finally couldn't stand it anymore, and tried to cut myself off. I wrote him an artistic love letter in early January and sent it to him in the mail. I was pretty desperate and poetic at this point, and that was one of the only communication avenues left open that he hadn't punished me for using. For almost two months, I hoped that I would be able to get him out of my head by not contacting him at all, but it only got worse. Around the end of February, I decided to break radio silence one last time. My text messages were laid back and casual. He responded in kind, and eventually, he requested that I come over to his house and he would be ‘fully submissive in whatever manner I pleased”; his main kink being masochism and submission. I was nervous, but agreed. I’m not very comfortable with domination. (Copies of all our SMS available to those who think I'm making this up!?) I'm like "what?" Yes, I know. I should have run. But seriously. Have you SEEN him? And I hoped so much that my best friend was back. So I did. And that night, he was all over me. Turns out he had just broken up with his girlfriend the week before, but I didn't know that yet. I just got the timing right, I suppose... But even with all the mention of consent I made, he never brought up the condoms again. And I made the decision that if that is what was necessary to be with him, I would break my word, take the risk of STD's and pregnancy (I have kids with my husband and we used condoms. I wasn't on the Pill!), and go without protection. It was very hard, but I convinced myself I was being courageous, and this relationship could change my life. Because brave and healed sexuality! But realize - he never asked. He didn't know any of that, and I don't know if he cared. In the same spirit of bravery, when he fisted me so hard that first night that I bled all over his sheets with the microtears, I didn't protest. He never asked, but I hoped that we would talk about it after, since he must like that, right? And GGG! I can handle this... I'm no prude...

I don't know how many times I used the word 'terrified' to him in our correspondence. With good cause. I should probably count. But he forced me to discuss things when I didn't want to or had too much trouble with, and didn't talk about other things when I needed to. His gaslighting techniques were impeccable. I still hoped to reach him. I remember once asking him how do I access his compassion. He never responded.

He summoned me by text usually once a week. Condoms never came up again, nor did anything else he wanted to try before he did it to me. Our talks were deeply moving, though, and I mostly loved the time I spent with him. And I loved him personally very much. His hurting me was clearly an oversight, or he just didn't understand, right? He couldn't hear me, but he was young. We could fix this. I just had to get through to him.

The second last time he summoned me for one of his shower cuddles was in March of 2014. While we were actually in the shower, he said "There is something I'd like to try." This must be big. He didn't just start doing whatever it was, which was his usual habit. I'm in for a penny, in for a pound at this point. I've already worked so hard to overcome my fears and try to move ahead on this new adventure that I wanted to be up for anything. Turns out, anything was anal. With no prep, no discussion, no protection, and no lube. I admit, that shocked even me. I have never done that before or since. It's not as though I never wanted to, and I really did want to try it with him at some point, because he was my new dream, but like that... That was awful. It was incredibly painful, and I couldn't transpose the pain into pleasure or contextualize it or anything. And I gave birth naturally at home without drugs. Twice! So I do know how to do that somewhat. But I couldn't say anything. I was too shocked. And he was hurting me so much. Afterwards, he must have considered it a rather unsuccessful or unsatisfying experiment, because he *never mentioned it again.* I felt like I couldn't even use that orifice for a week. It bled and was torn. I tried to bring it up a the next day, all casual and everything, but he wouldn't deal. His complete and utter lack of concern for my well being was devastating. Even more than usual. But he was done with me. There was no other conclusion that could be drawn. Even in my devotion and bravery and adoration... He had gotten all he wanted, so I was disposable. (In his restraining order, he claims we made a mutual agreement to break contact that point. What he means is, he wanted to completely stop communicating with me after that. Because he sure didn't tell me, and I most certainly wouldn't have agreed to it. Not even a 'break up' text!)

Civilized folks generally agree that the person being penetrated should have the most control for consent to be valid. Most people would also consider rather dangerous anal sex, especially for the first time, without full discussion and agreement beforehand, as non-consensual sex. And what is the term for non-consensual sex? Rape. His abandonment immediately afterwards is kinda the clincher - that we really weren't in a relationship and that he manipulated me into those situations for that purpose. But still. I was desperate and hopeful. There has got to be some way to get through to him. It couldn't have all been a lie...

I Let Him Cut Me and Invite a Friend

This wasn't the usual pattern for me. This was new.  For most of my life, including nearly all the time with my husband, sex was always half pleasure, half pain. Too intense, and it was like knives. Not enough, and negative imagery, particularly coercion and gangs, was one of the only visions that would get me off. It was very unpleasant in my head and in my body, but I was resigned to it. It was my Fate, and that is all I would ever be able to get out of it. (I'm even worse now, for some reason, only now without any hope in sight.) The synergy that I had with Ryan was the most soothing balm to my pain that I had ever had. All of a sudden, it was all good. All the time. I was supercharged. I could actually orgasm without pain or shame. It was joyous and freeing and releasing. Even with the acts he continually shocked me with. I finally saw a chance to heal that part of my life completely, so the risks and the bad relationship practices (which were obviously just a lack of experience and not deliberate viciousness on his part, right?) were worth it. I would have done almost anything for him. But now, he was abandoning me. He didn't even tell me. He just cut off contact. I was worthless and used up. My despair and desperation spiraled me out of control. I was non-functional. I had been shown what I could be like, how I could live, but that was never going to happen again. Small wonder that I tried to find any excuse I could to see him again. And this one was a doozy.

I asked him to cut me. He's a cutter, you see, and I'm totally not, so it wasn't outside his experience to help someone with that for the first time. So on April 15, 2014, we arranged for a meet up at his place, as usual. I got dressed in my black garter belt and stockings because I know they are his favourite, and headed out. He sent me a text message *en route* that he had a friend over, and would I mind that? But  I didn't check my phone before I got there, so I didn't know until I arrived and saw them both. Now, this was to be a very intimate evening, and very possibly my last with him, unless I could make some serious inroads on his feelings, so I knew, when he had invited another, that he was setting me up for a threesome. I knew it. I've had them before in my life. They are almost always fun, can often be spontaneous, but they aren't just 'set up' by one person. That's more of the sleazy non-consensual kind of evening... But I would do almost anything at this point, and the instant I saw him, I knew I would do this, too. I didn't protest, but my heart fell. He used a disassembled disposable razor blade in the shower on my arm. (I didn't even know you could take those things apart!) I tried, but I couldn't do it myself. I was so scared and shaking. I still have the scar. Then, vulnerable as I now was, he ordered me to invite his friend into the shower with us. Again, I did as I was told. How could I not? Again, there was no discussion of protection, and the boys were both bareback. I couldn't say a word. His friend spoke only to him, not to me, and asked the things he could do to me. He even asked Ryan if he could come inside me, and I was so shocked I almost found my voice then, but Ryan answered that probably wouldn't be a good idea. I was so relieved that he finally thought a bit about my safety that I was grateful. Grateful.

He made some comments that gave me some insight into why this kind of evening. They had had a threesome once before, with the friend's girl, and I was his payment back. A transaction, if you will. He also thought of us as his "high sex drive" friends, so in part I think he was pawning us off on each other so I could be pushed off without too much trouble. But I will probably never know. Because he never asked me ahead of time, and never discussed it with me after. You know, like one would in an actual relationship, and not just a fleshy Thing.

After a few rounds, Ryan got a text from Izzy to join him. So he left us - me - with this stranger in his apartment, while he went to the person he cared about. I was destroyed, but there was nothing I could do. I stayed with his friend, doing my best to seem all sex positive and giving and crap, because I hoped that would please Ryan. After all, I was the present for that night, right? Turns out, Ryan set up his friend, too. He had never even been told my name, and he was under instructions not to ask me questions or bother me... He joined us in the shower because I asked him to (which is why Ryan had ordered me to), and he genuinely had no clue about all the subtext and lack of full disclosure and consent all around him. He rarely does that sort of thing, too, but he wanted to be all bad ass and brave and stuff. I can sympathize. He really liked me, though, and just before I left, he got over his shyness (shyness!) and asked me my name. I gave him my card. We have been together ever since.

This new relationship hasn't been without some serious problems, of course. Like starting off with a rather rapey first night. When I told him what had been going on, he was mortified and horrified. He didn't quite believe me, I think, because this was his friend, and insisted on seeing all the correspondence, to make his own assessment. I permitted it, despite my deep embarrassment at my own lack of control and wisdom. I told him I forgave him for the first evening, but he is now livid and enraged that he was an unwitting participant in harming me. He wants to see Ryan punished in every possible manner. He's even willing to go to jail for it, if that means Ryan does. I really don't want him making that sacrifice. Confronting him about it all, and only once when they were both present at a function, Ryan threatened to 'burn him alive'. But not in front of anyone else, of course. I remain deeply grateful to my current boyfriend for being there to witness for me, to condemn these actions as intolerable, and to support a view of events from an outsider, who is also an insider, that doesn't leave me questioning my own perceptions.

Actual BDSM is "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" 

For those of you unaware, the Ghomeshi case usefully pointed out what exactly is legal consent and what is not covered by that under the Criminal Code in Canada. BDSM is supposed to be an enjoyable game where all persons agree on roles, activities, and choices ahead of time, because most BDSM becomes an illegal act the instant consent is withdrawn. Nearly all players are therefore very careful to check with their subs or bottoms about their safety and comfort before, during, and importantly, after. Aftercare is a BDSM requirement. Most bodies and minds are made vulnerable, so the upmost concern and diligence is given for post-play. Usually a blanket and cuddling. It reinforces the trust required to ensure further play in future, to check for no unintended harm, and to prove respect for your friends, their bravery, and their experience. None of that looks anything like being fisted or anally penetrated without warning or negotiation, and then thrown out of a house in silence. With no apologies or even debriefing after. So if I can't be certain that I was an aberration, that he has learned his lesson about consent and sexual violence and abusive behaviors, then I will have no choice but to give my complaint to the police. To protect others, no matter how hard this will be on me and my family (and it will). Because you still can't cut or make another person bleed, even if they are in a shower with you. It's actually real assault. And this has really, really destroyed my entire life.

And you know, after all of this I could still forgive. I still want to. I still want to believe that he didn't harm me on purpose, and that if he understands, he will ask me to forgive him. He could still help fix the harm he caused me and help me heal. I truly don't believe, or don't wish to, that he is that evil. My current boyfriend is convinced of it, though, and he's seen all the texts and FB chats. I'm kinda glad that he is around. Helps keep all this in perspective...

I know some folks were wondering why I was offline and in non-contact mode for nearly a year. Well, this is some of what I've been doing! I hope I can finally get back to my life now. Though really, it looks like this IS my life now. A rather unpleasant Fate. Some days, the struggle consists largely of justifying its continuance.

I've never had a chance to finally confront someone who committed sexual violence on me. That's one of the reasons I need to do this. If I can meet him without my nerves making me throw up, I'll consider that a victory.


So I wrote all the above before our arranged meeting. When we arrived, only Izzy was there, saying nothing at all to me, but handing me a restraining order. You know, he didn't have to make my husband take a day off work, have us go out of our way to the other end of the city, to do that. He knows where I live... (I have often complimented him on his artistic cruelty.) There are a huge bunch of lies in the order, which he made under oath. He claims that I've threatened him, which I never have of course, since I'm closer to impeccably civil, and that we martial artists are scaring him. Him, Mr. Cadet Trained. And that somehow, even though I've gone out of my way not to be where he is, he can show up where he knows *I'll* be, then use the courts to stop me from being near my friends. It's that extra vicious touch that almost manages to evaporate that last bit of compassion and pity I had for him, that perhaps this was all just a mistake on his part, and he really didn't mean to rape me.

He claims that *we* (meaning him) broke off contact in March, 2014. Which is provably untrue. Since he enjoyed sending me abusive texts much later than that. And I am spreading 'rumours', even though I very specifically only hinted to very few, because I knew this could escalate, and I wasn't prepared for that. Now, I have no choice. He has forced my hand. We are going to the courthouse today and preparing our statements for the police. Any good wishes sent will be greatly appreciated.

In all this, I remain deeply grateful to have a witness in all this. Having a man who was there one night, who looked through all the evidence, and can offer what he has seen, is the *ONLY* reason I can go through any legal proceedings at all. By this latest tactic, Ryan is going with the 'crazy ex bitch' motif. And he might have easily gotten away with it, even with all the actual evidence I have. But I actually have a real, live, male witness to much of it.... For that, I need to be grateful. Because otherwise, I would not even be able to pursue Justice. It's almost Biblical, really. Except don't I need five males witnesses to be believed? Because they can't just take my word for it, right?