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Hashtag Been Raped, Never Reported

Even after two weeks the Jian Ghomeshi story is not going away. Two weeks is an extraordinary amount of time in today's news cycle. Since CBC fired Ghomeshi just over two weeks ago, the change in narrative has been remarkable.

purplelights.jpgGhomeshi proclaimed his innocence and accused the CBC of wrongful dismissal. He wrote a lengthy description of his sexual preferences that showed he understands consent – “we discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM)” - and that some form of "no" would stop unacceptable activities at any time – “we talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels.” His explanation was timed to pre-empt a Toronto Star investigation that would reference the experiences of a number of women who accused Ghomeshi of physical and sexual assault. 

There was an immediate outpouring of support for Ghomeshi. Many were critical of the fact that the women had not reported the abuse to the police and that none, at the time, had made their names public.

Once the Toronto Star published the story, people rapidly distanced themselves from their support for Ghomeshi even though the “why won’t they report” criticism of the women remained. The information provided by the women was persuasive; the stories remarkably similar. Subsequently, two women went public with their experience and so far three women have gone to the police.

Much of the support has now shifted to the women. The court of public opinion may be the closest any of these women get to justice. Jian Ghomeshi’s career as a public figure is likely over but it remains to be seen if he will be held accountable for his behaviour except through disgrace in the eyes of the public.

On Social Media, there seems to be some suggestion that the CBC may have minimized complaints. It appears it was left to women “in the know” to warn other women.

This is another side to the experience of violence against women. Institutions tend to protect the perpetrator.

The Ghomeshi story has amplified a growing consensus that violence against women is not acceptable and that there is a society and community responsibility to stopping gender-based violence. Professional sports teams are now firing men who hit their wives or partners.

In the last two weeks, there have been a number of important articles that have helped educate people about what constitutes consent, why only 33 in a 1,000 women report sexual and physical abuse and what happens when they do .

When two journalists started the twitter conversation Been Raped, Never Reported, the response was global and explosive with over 8 million participants in three day. The conversation about violence against women appears to have shifted.

The stories are heartbreakingly familiar to the staff at Cowichan Women Against Violence Society (CWAV Society). 

CWAV Society is one of over 100 similar organizations in BC and thousands across Canada that work to protect women who have been abused by their intimate partner or who are at risk of being abused or who experienced childhood abuse. We are reminded each day of the resilience of women who have experienced horrific abuse. We help them explore strategies to prevent that trauma from defining them and to plan for their safety and that of their children.

The Society was incorporated as the Cowichan Rape Assault Society in 1980. It was created by a group of women who recognized that there needed to be a place in the Cowichan Valley where women could seek refuge and programs for women and children who had been abused. In addition to direct services for women and children, CWAV Society has been committed to the prevention of gender based violence at the community level. We advocate for the conscious consideration of the needs of vulnerable and marginalized women, youth and children in community and regional planning. We work with community partners to reduce barriers and to provide opportunities for civic inclusion.

Every year in Canada, there will be almost 500,000 sexual assaults. That number tells our story too. Every year there is increased demand for our services.

To heighten community awareness, CWAV Society is promoting 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25th to December 10th. As part of Purple Lights, we invite people in the Cowichan Valley to our Together Against Violence Community Workshop on November 26th

Join Us Today!