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.