Saturday, March 26, 2016
Jian Ghomeshi, The verdict and the Aftermath
In the aftermath of the Jian Ghomeshi verdict, my heart aches.
My heart aches for so many reasons, and yet none of the reasons have to do with the verdict. The Judge's decision on a basis of Canadian law made perfect sense. Even though I disagree with the outcome and decision, the basis of how the Judge came to that decision is understandable, and accurate. In fact, the Judge's decision could enable Women to understand a greater, more beneficial avenue to justice. So in that sense, although this appears like a defeat, Canadian law is one step closer to justice for equality for all to live in a safer country.
Before I start, it needs to be said that these Women who came forward were brave and courageous. They told their experiences, and had to relive memories they most likely suppressed. I have no doubt that they were haunted and scared about the fallout they would go through, the judgement they would endure, and for how they responded to the sexual abuse.
But herein lies the issue. It took courage and bravery to come forward, and it was going to take much more than that. It was going to take vulnerability, honesty, faith and forgiveness. The Women who testified didn't come from that space. Instead, they seemed to come from a space of vengeance, which is understandable for what they endured, but was ultimately ineffective. It simply created reasonable doubt for the Judge to clear Ghomeshi of all charges.
Marie Henein was a master at discrediting the witness's credibility to create reasonable doubt. The Women on the stand were only going to be believable if they gave full disclosure of their experiences, and the justifications they had at the time for doing so, AND not be defensive about it.
If these Women gave their testimony from a place of authentic vulnerability knowing that their experiences, although horrific for them to go through, would save future Women from going through it, it would be more believable than the "I want to make Jian Ghomeshi pay for this" delivery, and take the element of collusion out of the equation.
By not including information by omission, it creates reasonable doubt. It creates the illusion of hiding something, and that creates reasonable doubt. This case was won solely on the factor of the witnesses testimony, and whether or not reasonable doubt in their reactions or behavioural analysis was believable. And in that example, case law won.
If that was the case, this case would've been judged on a basis of, "On a scale of yes or no, did you hit the defendant?" There is no ability under Canadian law to make abuse consensual. However the defendant behaved afterwards, is a moot point. Whether they sent pictures of themselves in red bikini's, said they Loved his hands, or whatever.
How these Women coped with his abuse is an individual response to what they thought they wanted in the moment, and what would make them feel better. Consistent with abuse victims, logic is not a strong indicator in why they stay with their abusers. You show me an example in your own life where you should have made a different choice in your own relationship when your feelings were altered by adoration or Love, and I stand clear on my point.
The reason these Women didn't disclose their embarrassing behaviour choices is inherent in our society in how we judge Women. It was obvious in the cross examination by Marie Henein, in how she attacked these Women with shame, judgement, and contempt as to why they behaved in a manner that defied all logic. These Women probably couldn't tell you why they had contact with Ghomeshi after his alleged abuse of them. They reacted consistently as many victims react to their abusers when they think there is goodness inside them. They wanted to change his heart. They wanted him to have kindness, not the contempt he had. Consistent with many Women, they wanted Ghomeshi to be how they envisioned he COULD be, not who he really was; a tormented weak man, who allegedly abused Women and hid behind the curtain of sexuality to justify it.
These Women projected fear in not sharing the full disclosure of their experiences because of the judgement they would face in the aftermath. They knew their behaviour couldn't be justified in retrospect. They probably didn't know why they stayed with him, why they gave him second chances, or why they tried to appease his violence with pictures of red bikini's. They didn't want him to be abusive, and they hoped they could change him. Classic behaviour from a good-hearted Woman with a weak male partner. The problem wasn't that Ghomeshi didn't want to change, it was the Women wouldn't recognize or accept that Jian Ghomeshi was a predator, when they didn't want him to be one. Weak men like Ghomeshi will always exist. The power isn't about making men like him change, the power is in recognizing it, and letting him move past you, well and clear of your life.
If the prosecuting attorney would have prepared each Woman by saying something like, "I know that you want Jian Ghomeshi to pay for his actions. The best way in doing this is by being completely transparent about your illogical behaviour, and the justification as to why you still wanted to have contact with him afterwards. Being authentic will create empathy and allow others to see your story and connect with it. Being defensive will only smear reasonable doubt and question your motives. If you are doing this for yourself, you will be angry. If you are doing this for all Women, and want to change Canadian case law forever, your story can be used to save them the same experience you endured."
If the witnesses had understood this, perhaps the trail would have gone differently. Instead, they withheld information, and had inconsistencies which created reasonable doubt in the eyes of the Judge. All our law system requires is a reasonable doubt, so although I believe the Women, the Judge's decision was the accurate one according to Canadian law.
Moving forward, this case has shown that we know what it takes to remove reasonable doubt. It stems from the power of forgiveness and understanding. Not because Ghomeshi deserves it, or his behaviour is condoned, but because the Women deserve it. They deserve to allow Ghomeshi to stop living in their heads, rent-free. It's a burden that can be released, and then peace of mind will find them. I wish that for every person who has suffered at the hands of an abuser. The Journey it creates is an arduous one, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the reward.