When I was 11 years old, I was molested by my 76 year old neighbour.
I remember almost everything about that day. The blue pants I was wearing, the weather, the sound of a basketball bouncing outside. He said, “if you don’t tell anyone, I promise never to do it again”. In a way, I think it changed my life forever. By any means, the next few years to come were hellish. Everyday as my school bus would turn the corner on to my street, I would pray, I hope, I would fumble, just asking God for my molester not to be watering his lawn as we pulled up. It felt like Russian roulette. You just never knew. All I wanted was to avoid him, but our houses were attached, and that was practically impossible.
He even came to our house for dinner. I would hide in my little brothers room. I didn’t eat. I just wanted to disappear. But when you’re that young, there is simply nowhere to go. So you just fold inwards, looking for something greater than yourself. Finally, when I was 17, I told my parents. It came after an incident where my molester had actually successfully kicked me out of my own house after reporting on a house party that I had thrown while my parents were away. My parents did nothing. When I told them that we should report him to the police, they said there was nothing the police could do.
Nothing the police can do. That’s something that repeated itself in my mind frequently. The idea that someone could do something terrible to you, but that there was nothing anyone, not even the people charged with protecting you, could do. For years, I believed it. It’s exactly for that reason that I believe that the woman who were assaulted by Jian Ghomeshi chose not to come forward sooner, because maybe they legitimately believed that there was nothing that anyone could do.
When the story out of Jian Ghomesh first came out, I had no idea who he was. Although I’m Canadian, I’ve spent my adult life in New York. In the beginning, I thought the story would be one quick to fade. But as articles kept filling my newsfeed, I started paying more attention. And so I came to the realization of how collectively important it was to have this story surface. To just get people talking about this stuff. Given the statistics of sexual assault, it is absolutely certain that another 11 year old child who has been the victim of sexual misconduct is watching the news, who has not told anyone yet, and who is slowly coming to realize that he or she is not alone. I want these children to know, unlike I knew when I was 11 year olds, that there is something that the police can do. I want them to know that not telling anyone is not the only to make sure that this will never happen to them again.
Jian Ghomeshi’s recent arrest is living proof of that.
– Written by SC, past Trip! Project outreach worker