My Thoughts on Jian Ghomeshi and the Women Who Fell For Him

judgment

Jian Ghomeshi’s trial indicates the need for a separate court to hear the testimony of women who are sexually assaulted by the men they date. Ordinary courts, jurors and judges lack the training to understand these women’s seemingly irrational and dishonest testimony.

A fair trial would require knowledge of the lasting effects of trauma on the human brain, just as The Family Court understands child development and decides “in the best interests of the child.:

I don’t know any of these women personally but in my years as a psychotherapist, I treated many women who were sexually abused by the men they chose. These women had all been sexually abused as children. (Conservative statistics say one in four North American females is sexually abused before the age of 18.) This secret epidemic is tied to the under reporting of sexual abuse. Only 3% of females who are sexually assaulted actually lay charges. The trauma to young brains resulting from child sexual abuse leaves the victims vulnerable to predatory men. The resulting shame and dissociation of traumatic memories is tied to under-reporting of sexual abuse and the inability of traumatized adult women to respond rationally to partner abuse.

The witnesses in the Ghomeshi trial have probably made it more difficult for women wanting to press charges for sexual assault in the future. The police, the women’s lawyer and the Crown all told the women to avoid talking with the press and with each other. Their refusal to comply and the resulting circus of contradictory stories further damaged their case – as well as the hope of women receiving a suitable hearing in the future.

If women are to be given a fair hearing, our courts need to realize the following:

  • children blame themselves for inappropriate touching and sexual behavior on the part of trusted adults. This continues into adulthood. Adult victims of abuse try to normalize an abusive relationship by convincing themselves they love the abuser.
  • Children are helpless to deal with the sexual demands of adults: they attempt to please and placate the assailant in the hope of changing his behavior and surviving the assault. Adult women, crazy as it may seem, attempt to turn the attack into a romance. They learn to dissociate, to remove themselves from the scene, as it were, and hence have “faulty memories” of a myriad of details. This too continues into adulthood.
  • Sexual predators instinctively recognize and seek out vulnerable women who were traumatized as children.

Until we have a court system that is competent to hear cases of sexually assaulted women, sexual assailants will enjoy the protection of our legal system’s innocent until proven guilty standard. Of course, it is essential to our legal system that the accused are given a fair trial. This leaves us needing a court system that can somehow protect the accused and also recognize the psychological needs of the vulnerable.

6 comments

  1. Vivian Treadwell says:

    Yes we women do stuff like that in order to survive and not admit embarrassment of it all.

  2. Vivian Treadwell says:

    Thank you very much for posting this Mary.

  3. Ben Uchytil says:

    Excellent points, Mary. I hope you will find a legal venue to work this all out; we need someone with the power to create the sort of court system you mentioned.

    Also, I just recognized something else. I just went through a one year period of placating, kowtowing, and even idolizing an abusive professor. Finally, his abuse went over the top and university officials have urged me (and others) to file a formal complaint.

    Anyhow, ALL of the issues you mentioned in your post – about how adult survivors are vulnerable to and even fall in love with, abusers – played out in my relationship with my professor.

    My point being: we adult survivors are not just vulnerable to sexually abusive relationships as adults, but rather vulnerable to relationships with ALL types of abusive people.

    Thank you so much for making this point clear.

    • Ben Uchytil says:

      Reread my post and need to make something clear: I was not in a love relationship with my professor. The abuse was not sexual.

      The professor is controlling and cruel, especially to disabled students. He is emotionally abusive. The college has known about this for many years. When they took legal action against him a few years ago, he sued the dean and campus.

      Even though I knew about all of this, I still chose him for a professor (long term advisor), still placated him, etc.,even while recognizing and acknowledging to myself his abuse. I CHOSE to continue the professional relationship believing I could shield myself while benefiting from the relationship. Boy, was I ever wrong. I ended up getting really hurt.

      So, the point I was trying to make (but didn’t do very well) is that we adult survivors are vulnerable to all sorts of abusive people. We need to watch all of our developing relationships carefully to make sure we are only aligning ourselves with healthy others.

  4. Eric Timm says:

    interesting post… to imagine a world where the justice system takes into account the human realities of which you speak…

    cheers

    Eric Timm
    Montreal

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