by KORIE MARSHALL
Last week, an Ontario Court judge found well-known former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi not guilty on four charges of sexual assault and one charge of overcoming resistance to sexual assault by choking. The judge found the three complainants, who were the only witnesses, were not trustworthy enough to find “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” The case has sparked varied discussions across the country about sexual assault, about why women often don’t report sexual assault and their experiences when they do.
The Ending Violence Association of BC says 97 per cent of sexual assaults go unreported in Canada, and of those that are reported, most do not lead to charges, let alone convictions.
“Focusing on the behaviour of victims doesn’t help us to understand this violent crime, nor does it help us to hold perpetrators accountable for the crimes they commit,” says a news release from the association. It says 75 per cent of sexual assaults are committed by somebody known to the survivor, and it is not always simple to fully understand the short and long-term impacts of this particular kind of trauma.
“Everything you do or don’t do is your choice,” says Donalda Beeson, counsellor and facilitator with the Robson Valley Support Society, regarding what you can or should do if you have been sexually assaulted. Below are a few reminders she wants to share, taken from Robson Valley Sexual Assault Response Protocol which is just being finalized.
Did You Know… if you think you have been sexually assaulted:
• You can choose go to the clinic/hospital and NOT report to the RCMP.
• Evidence can be collected up to 5 days later.
• Evidence collected can be held on ice for up to 6 months while you decide if you want to make a report to RCMP.
• Testing for date rape drugs can be done up to 72-hours after.
• Medications to prevent STD’s/pregnancy should be started ASAP, ideally within 72 hours, but other options exist.
• A confidential sexual assault worker can provide information, support, and accompany you to the clinic/hospital or RCMP if you choose to go.
• Third Party Reporting is an option in BC for those who wish to report to the RCMP but remain anonymous. It’s a statement made with the help of a worker, outlining the incident, giving as many details as possible, but does not reveal the identity of the victim.
• Sexual Assault is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada, and there is no Statute of Limitations on reporting it; it can be reported to anyone (including the RCMP) at any time – by anyone, even many years after the incident.
• You can access confidential information and supports locally at the Robson Valley Support Society:
Valemount: 250-566-9107 /
After Hours 250-566-1248
McBride: 250-569-2266 /
After Hours 250-569-7453