Because i was twenty-one: Why i’m not done with the Jian Ghomeshi abuse story

[Content note: abuse, being disbelieved]

Since last night, almost as soon as the Toronto Star published the article wherein eight women — including Lucy Decoutere — came forward with allegations of abuse by Jian Ghomeshi, i’ve been reading a number of variations on the theme of being done with the Jian story. And i can sympathize.

I’m done with Jian Ghomeshi too.

But I’m not done with Lucy Decoutere.

I’m not done with any of the other seven women whose stories are reported by the Star.

I’m not done with the unnamed woman who spoke yesterday evening on CBC’s As It Happens.

I’m not done with any potential survivors who haven’t spoken yet.

I’m not even done with them if they don’t speak.

I’m not done with the women who have been assaulted by other famous or well-loved men.

I’m not done with the women who were assaulted by men who are less famous, women who will never be approached by a media outlet and urged to tell their story.

I’m also not done with the fact that i don’t speak to many of my own experiences — not on the internet, not under my own name — because of the shit i’m afraid to bring down on myself and my family.

I’m going to say this, though. It’s part of a larger story, but it seems especially pertinent now. When i was twenty-one, i was raped. I knew my attacker. I had broken ribs, and a pregnancy that ended in an abortion later that year. Even later, there would be a trial.

The day after it all happened — the attack, the hospital, the police, the two glasses of wine and painkillers i needed just to get myself out the door — i told a friend what had happened. (Eventually, I told several people, but this is about a particular friend. The first one I told.)

It was a hard time. I flaked on a lot of people. I showed up to class less than sober. I was either completely cold, or straddling the line between laughing and sobbing. Many people were kinder to me than i deserved — professors, friends, people who would become friends — but this one friend…

About a week after i told her, she asked to talk told me to look her in the eye. She said she did not believe me. She speculated that i was making the whole thing up for attention. She did not believe that anyone could laugh after being raped. She thought i was putting on the sadness, my responses to pain. She asked me to look her in the eye and tell her she was wrong.

I didn’t.

I looked down, gathered myself to the extent that i could, and i looked up again. I mumbled something along the line that she would believe what she saw fit. I walked away, clenching my teeth.

It took me years to figure out that her disbelief wasn’t my fault.

So i’m not done with Lucy Decoutere, or with any of the other women. I believe these women, and their stories, and i applaud their bravery, because i was twenty-one, once, and my friend’s disbelief hurt me more than i’ve ever said out loud.

And, because now i’m thirty-four, i believe these women, and i know each one of them is brave and strong and worthy of love.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 350 other followers