It’s my opinion, regarding the Ghomeshi trial, that it was doomed due to one thing: Shame.
I just don’t believe the criminal system is capable of handling the incredible complexity of abusive dynamics in relationships.
Having gone through one myself the shame and doubt that was fed to me daily by my abuser, limited my ability to think clearly and to think strategically. Otherwise, why would a seemingly intelligent and capable woman STAY in that circumstance?
The shame for me was that reality. What the heck was wrong with me? It must have been my fault because I was unable to SEE him as a threat. I had been conditioned to believe it was all in my head, by him AND by a majority of the culture all around us.
I remember one circumstance where I had been repeatedly hit in the leg, but at the same time being told that I was the abuser, I was causing the problem. If I would only stop with my attitude and my issues. My abuser was constantly pushing me, gaslighting me and questioning my sanity. After these repeated hits to the leg I lost it completely and grabbed a frying pan with the intent to stop the pain, both emotionally and physically. There was only a split second of decision on my part – and a decision that was led by some deep rooted strength that saved my life that night and moving forward. I aimed for his head, but turned at the last min to strike the sink.
I know, without a doubt. I would have been arrested for assault and probably charged. And I know, without a doubt at the time, I would not have had any idea how to defend myself. I was ashamed I was even there to begin with. I felt guilty because I had been taught to feel that way – every day by the man who was supposed to love me. The way the criminal system works, I probably would have failed to be found not guilty. Because I was feeling guilty. I had no idea where true north was, and I had no idea what the RIGHT thing to do was. I was a mess, and I would have looked completely un-credible. And I would not have been able to afford the best lawyer. Another flaw in the system.
This verdict is another glaring example of the lack of understanding by MANY about the subtleties of this horrific dynamic. It’s not cut and dry, and it’s not easy to fight the shame. And it is almost impossible to understand the boundaries when you have willingly walked yourself into the situation. And then try explaining that to someone who has never experienced the magnetizing pull and slow plumet of the abusive dynamic.
It’s the shame we need to fight against. It’s the shame we need to eradicate. Not only did this judge acquit the abuser, he carried on to SHAME the victims. It’s more of the same. The Shame is the norm. The Shame is acceptable. The Shame will keep further women from stepping forward out of fear. The Shame will destroy every ounce of confidence that there may be.
How do we fight that shame? With awareness. It may seem ineffectual and stupid. But, the more we talk, the more we share, the more we are there for eachother the more power we will give to the ones who need it most.
Social Media is a powerful tool, and one that I have dedicated my career to creating the vision I see for it in my head as a monumental tool for change all around the world. Keep talking, keep sharing, keep building up that confidence and share that energy with the victims both in this case and all around us. Some of these victims may be right beside you on the bus, at work – they are the ones you might not even realize are caught in the cyclone because they are quiet because of their own shame. Normalize it by continuing to rebel against it. But rebel by BEING the change you wish to see.
Change happens when the majority awareness shifts – its a basic law – like gravity.
Once the awareness is heavier on one side, it cannot help but be the one that hits the ground. There will always be those who are unaware. Ignore them. Keep spreading that message.
Things have to change and they start with you. Lets fight the shame, not the people who are totally unaware of what they are doing anyway. Fight the shame and they will go down with it.