When I heard the rumour that my half brother was living with a woman who had two young children, I was filled with dread. Within a few hours, I was at the local police station to report the sexual violence I had endured at his hands for over 11 years. Little did I know of the roller-coaster ride I was embarking on.
Yet, if I had to do it all over again, I would. I was five years old when my innocence was stolen from me. His depravity wounded me profoundly. I was imprisoned for years in a cage of shame and silence.
The judicial process was a draining and frequently distressing experience. Even though I was quite naïve about the process, I had watched enough Law & Order episodes to know that I would be cross-examined. I respected and understood the need for the presumption of innocence.
I knew that it would be difficult and certainly unpleasant. The case was assigned to an amazing crown prosecutor whose demeanour was enough for me to assess that I was in good hands. We met sparingly, but she made great efforts in explaining each step of the process to me and of reassuring me that she would be there to support me. I was lucky to have her prosecute this case.
And I was lucky also to have been allocated a social worker from the OPP who managed to make me laugh even in the most confronting of times during the process. However, despite all this I didn’t expect that I would feel so victimised and re-traumatised by the process.
I received a subpoena to give evidence in a trial by the OPP, with a warning of a contempt of court and arrest if I failed to comply and approximately $9 of travel money. The memories of my assault were stripped of all the pain it carried and reduced to a legal term.
I felt like I was a tool in the OPP’s case against him. I was a mere witness. I felt dispossessed of my story and disenfranchised of the role I needed to take on this journey of healing. I had no control and was propelled back into a victim role.
I was made to relieve my early years of trauma and recount those intimate violations perpetrated against me to the jurors and in his presence. Memories I had spent decades burying away in the furthest part of my mind were brought back to the surface, in the presence of my abuser. I felt violated. I hated knowing that he was hearing all those details from my mouth.