Setting the scene… It’s a night like any other you’ve had for the past couple of months – your newborn gem has awoken at the typical hour of 5am after you had just gotten back to sleep following her prior wake-up and feed at 3am. Except that this time, you feel ready to cry, and wish fervently that she would somehow feed herself and go back to sleep all on her own.
This has been a couple of crazy weeks in Canada. As I wrote my article on victimization and have been speaking out on my own sexual assault and the subsequent police involvement, criminal trial and jailing of the perpetrator I have been flooded with many stories fro our beloved readers. And I believe you. I think those are the first words all victims should hear.
My inbox is flooded with your stories and I would like to give you a voice through us to anonymously get your sexual assault stories out there. If you would like to share and have your story published, please email us. We cannot publish names. Remember – tell as much or little as helps you retain your power as a victim and the more we continue this powerful conversation, the more society will demand change. Hugs to all.
Social media is pulsating at the news of Q host Jian Ghomeshi being fired from the CBC. I will withhold judgement on private sexual acts without having hard facts from either side. Where I do deserve to have an opinion is on the criticism of three women who chose not to report these crimes to the police.
Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star writes in his October 26th article that “None of the women has contacted police. When asked why by the Star, the women cited several reasons including fears that a police report would expose their names and worries that their consent or acceptance of fantasy role-play discussions in text or other messages with Ghomeshi would be used against them as evidence of consent to actual violence.”
Back off internet. It’s complicated and women who are ‘good girls’ by ‘doing the right thing’ in calling 911 after a sexual assault often become victimized over and over again. Like I was.
I was the victim of a break-and-enter and violent sexual assault in Toronto on February 1, 1997. I didn’t know him, but strangely he had lived in all of the same cities and had attended the same universities as I had. Freaky. That night he finished doing what he intended, and told me to not move until I heard him leave through my front door. I complied and then lay there, not quite knowing what I should do. The first call I made was to my boyfriend at the time and he told me to dial 911. So I did. I had no idea the chain of events that would ensue and last until 2008.
The national Canadian DNA Databank came into effect in June of 2000 and there was quite a backlog of samples to cross reference into the system. I was departing on a romantic trip to Europe in 2002 when I got the call from Toronto Police Services. Did I know a man by the name of X? No. I began to shake just like I am trembling now as I write this article. The police had matched his DNA to samples taken from the crime scene of my assault. I was to go to the station to look at photos. He was in custody and I remember calling the officer in charge from phone booths all over Paris and Rome each time he had a court appearance. What if he was released? How did he know me? Was I stalked? Why did he do this? I wanted to ask him all of these questions but nobody would let me.
The trial began in 2003, and the actual sexual assault was nowhere near as bad as what I endured in court. What I realized is that you call 911 and go to trial for the good of society – not for yourself. Years later it was hard to recall the aftermath of the morning of Feb.1, 1997. This made everything more difficult. Thankfully, I didn’t have alcohol in my bloodstream when they tested me after the assault. Thankfully, my outfit from the night before was conservative (yes I was asked). Thankfully, I couldn’t even identify him in photos and refused to perjur myself in the courtroom by assuming the man who stared at me was the actual guy who did this. I could only trust the DNA.
Questions like what I wore to the police station the next morning and why I didn’t return to the hospital a week later to have my bruises photographed (they didn’t appear right away) stumped me 6 years later. And then there was the jury. I’d said I took a streetcar up Bathurst Street to get back to my apartment in the Annex on the night of the crime. One juror, a life-long Torontonian, decided that I must be lying about everything because Bathurst St. has busses and not streetcars at that time of night. She wrote to the judge and we narrowly avoided a mistrial. I was on the stand for two straight days, and was proud of my strength and wit. They tried to spin it that I had picked up this man in a bar in order to make my boyfriend jealous. The police questioned the boyfriend days after the assault and he left the station with doubts about my innocence. Between my PTSD and the seeds planted in his head, we drifted apart soon after.
The trial was surreal. On one side of the courtroom sat my friends and family – even Jane Doe came to support me. Like a twisted wedding, his family sat on the other side and they scowled at me for making them pay a defence lawyer. I avoided his eye contact as much as I could. Christie Blatchford wrote a beautiful article in the Globe and Mail about our two families watching and the piercing level of emotion and sadness in the room.
I had been an actor training at the University of Toronto in 1997, and found that I couldn’t be in the public eye after the assualt, so I graduated early and left school. Later as an employee at Hart House I was in charge of producing theatre and music, which allowed me to be close to my passions without fear that I might be stalked. I did agree to go on stage once during my tenure for the opening of the Isabel Bader Theatre. Unfortunately while being cross-examined I explained that I left my future career in the theatre after being assaulted and ‘hadn’t been on stage since’. While the sentiment was correct in terms of no longer making a living as an actor, the defence found a photo of me ‘on stage’ and called perjury. I had already flown to Toronto twice for the trial and now the judge wanted to meet with me again. I hired a lawyer, met with the judge virtually and was cleared of any lies or misunderstandings. But I’m sure I got a few premature grey hairs during the process.
The jury convicted him and the judge sentenced him to six years in prison, which is one of the harshest sentences handed down for a crime like this in Canada. He was placed in the Don Valley jail for some of it and 3 days for every 1 spent there were taken off his sentence – because the jail was in disrepair. So he got out after a couple of years, and I would get calls and letters from the parole board every time he travelled to Vancouver. I wasn’t allowed to know what he did for a living or where he resided (to protect his privacy). I didn’t leave my house much when I knew he was in town, and still when I travel to Toronto I look around skittishly just in case.
If you’re ever going to get assaulted, my case was pretty perfect: DNA evidence, no alcohol, no slutty clothes, a guy I didn’t know, and no history of kinky sex. Yes, they asked that too.
So in the Jian Ghomeshi case? A celebrity? BDSM? CBC, our national pride and joy? Frankly I’m with the women who didn’t call the police.
If it all happened to me again I would only call 911 knowing that I’m sacrificing myself for the the potential of a safer society.
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? It’s been a rough summer for me, between a broken wrist, the British Columbia teachers’ strike, extended beach closures due to e-coli in the ocean, my son’s sudden-onset double vision and a few emergency stitches here and there. But it’s all over now, and I feel stronger than ever.
To emerge into this new stage – let’s call it igniting the light – I have been reading Gretchin Rubin’s Happiness Project, learning to care for myself a bit better, and actually having FUN. Life is too precious not to, and I don’t want to be a role model for my boys who complains about folding laundry, forgotten lunches and broken vacuums while rushing around and being overwhelmed with guilt for not being on the PTA. I’m trying to rekindle the joy of life. During this process I was invited by Covergirl to meet Katy Perry during her Prismatic World Tour. And I had FUN.
Not being able to choose just one of my boys to come with me, I took my husband to the concert (my girlfriends’ daughters had secured their tickets long ago!). After finishing her makeup (Covergirl, which I was wearing myself but didn’t quite manage the results Ms. Perry had achieved) we were invited backstage and met this sensation. My dress happened to be somewhat similar to hers, but in black not silver and with a bit more fabric. I made a comment about how I can’t expose my midriff much after having kids and she was witty and lovely in saying that she would be the same way is she has kids. My husband’s small talk was even better.. “Wow, you’re tall!”.
Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour perfprmance burst forth with neon lights, elaborate horse costumes and Katy swinging through the air. She included a few sweet and natural melodies unlike her previous repertoire. The highlight for me was the encore, or Prism-Vision. We donned glasses and my whole perspective of the space changed. Kindof like coming out of the darkness into a very happy place. It’s important to throw on a pair of glasses to see the world in a different way every once in a while. Thanks Katy.
Disclosure: I am a P&G Mom and receive opportunities such as tickets to the Prismatic World Tour through CoverGirl as well as a meet and greet with Ms. Perry. All opinions are my own.
Knee. Kick. Jab. Feel empowered? I sure did. Founded in 2004, the 30 Minute Hit is a series of women-only boxing gyms across Canada that are now expanding into the US. Unlike other sweaty, male-centric, dingy back-alley gyms, Jackson and Deanna Loychuk created a female-friendly and time efficient circuit system where women can fit in a workout with kids in tow. The child and baby-safe area in each gym is in full view of the moms who are setting a great example for heir little ones, and women can visit on their own terms, without having to feel guilty for being late for a ‘class’. This is like female nirvana – without the chocolate.
After signing in on the electronic board, you warm up by skipping. (If you remembered to do your kegels while pregnant.) Not only had I been lazy in that regard but I hadn’t skipped since the pink ribbons came off of my pigtails. Not to worry. The friendly environment and trainer helped get me warmed up in ways that suited my needs. Like in a traditional boxing ring, there’s a bell. I felt hard core – except for the gorgeous pink boxing gloves. At every ding of the bell I graduated to the next station, alternating between arms, legs and core strength.
It felt very strange at first. I realized I had never actually hit anything. Like, never. When my kids were toddlers and were ‘experimenting’ with hitting, I instructed them to hit a pillow or use art to express their anger. How hypocritical of me. I should have hit a pillow too instead of bottling my emotions inside. Example is everything.
During my workout I kneed and hit very clean bags and the emotions flooded through. Was I guilty? Empowered? Angry? Hopefully you will be less analytical during the experience! My mind rarely relaxes. As some of you are aware, about 15 years ago I was sexually assaulted. It happened in the middle of the night by a stranger who broke into my home and I was unable to fight back. While I took basic self-defense courses afterwards, I still had never actually hit anything. Shocking, really. As I did my ‘workout’ sweat bubbles from the enhance fitness, but I was also releasing emotions and memories from long ago. These negative emotions were being replaced with power, strength and even forgiveness.
As I went through the circuit, not only were my muscles getting stronger, but my confidence and self-esteem were improving in ways far beyond the tightening of muscles or slimming of the waistline. The end of the circuit involved ‘Bob’, a foam torso and head (who is actually quite ripped despite being attached to a pole). I was able to do anything I wanted to him using the boxing techniques I had learned. Sure I felt sorry for the guy at first, but I also felt fit, strong and resilient. And I was in and out in 30 minutes. I’ll be back, Bob. And sorry for that wicked uppercut.
Images: Bryan Ward Photography
Sometimes I just feel so tech-savvy. In Germany to visit a relative, I managed to purchase a SIM card for my android so that I could interview Jessica Mulroney by phone. While eating German kuchen. Speaking English on the phone and German to the waiters. It was quite the day!
She sat lightly on the sofa of the Shangri-La hotel and embraced me early as I entered. From the beginning it felt as if I was hanging out with a best friend. We talked of shoes, child rearing, philanthropy and music. I was astounded at Chantal Kreviazuk’s poise, her passion for knowledge and the way she broke into song to illustrate a point using favourite lyrics.
Walmart introduced the Mom of the Year award last year to celebrate moms as both role models and integral members of the community, and gives Canadians an opportunity to say thank you for everything moms do every day. “We’re thrilled to bring the Mom of the Year Award back for a second year,” said Emma Fox, chief marketing officer for Walmart Canada. Judges include notable comedian, actress and radio host, Sophie Prégent, the 2012 Mom of the Year, Katie Schulz, editor-in-chief of Walmart Live Better magazine, Sandra Martin, Emma Fox and Ms. Kreviasuk review the entries.
One of the most important jobs on the planet does not come with a paycheque, but Canadians have a salary in mind. According to a recent survey conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of Walmart Canada, Canadians would pay their mom an average annual salary of $161,287 for all of her hard work. Asking about how she will begin to choose the finalists, Chantal paused and admitted that mothers are so exceptional that it would be difficult. “I think that the good the amazing mom today to honor would be that woman who has life experience, has overcome some things but she still has strength and resilience.”
When I searched the #momoftheyear hashtag on twitter I was disheartened to see that moms across the globe use it in a disparaging way. They forget to bring diapers on an outing and they ridicule themselves. I asked Chantal about this trend. She has noticed that women in general are very critical of themselves. “Canadians are very different than Americans in that we have this bizarre thing in our particular cultural nature whereby we diminish our successes and dwell on our mistakes. Americans don’t do that – Americans are very proud and they tend to want to celebrate their success. I think also as mothers we make a mistake and it defines us. We have so much power as as a parent – we really need to define ourselves by the greatness, not the errors.”
Not only has Chantal Kreviazuk been influenced by Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace (her eyes light up every time he’s mentioned) but her mother-in-law has played a huge part in how Chantal has carved her style as a mother of 3 boys. She is “very graceful and elegant in her style of coping and resilience – the older generation just gets up and keeps going with that classic beauty”. Travel and philanthropy keep her busy but she is highly attentive to ensuring constant communication with her kids. “I’m really frightened of the idea of raising children to be too certain.” She admits her mistakes to the kids and takes time to answer questions. Remembering when she attended an event for a hospital foundation and the kids asked a ton of questions, she used it as an “organic opportunity to tell them why and who benefits from the charity and what it’s like for a child that you know is born three months early”. Highly involved in building schools in the third world and the charity War Child, Chantal continually exposes her kids to the notion that their circumstance is not reflective of the human condition. “Currency is many things. It’s not just money and I really believe that a value system for all those currencies is what creates a great human being because we are more than just you know money mongers and it’s not just living to work.”
An electric and intelligent woman, Chantal spoke about her passion for science and how our brains work. She always framed her thoughts from a mother’s point of view and it was clear that research and career exist to make life better for her family and the world around her. Yeah – beautiful, talented, incredibly smart and does some light neuroscience reading in her free time.
She focused our discussion on modeling for our kids – and why moms who are condescending towards themselves are not doing their kids a service. Modelling is vital (and scary) in parenting, and I personally believe that corporations and can help us model well for our children. That Walmart is celebrating moms who model beautifully for their kids is a great step. All I know is after spending quality time with Chantal, she can model what a woman should be for my kids anytime!
New this year to the Mom of the Year contest is public voting, where Canadians will have the chance to review the top 20 candidates and vote for one mom they want to see become one of the eight finalists. Each finalist will receive $10,000 to spend on themselves and the remaining seven will receive $10,000 for the charity or cause of their choice. The Mom of the Year award recipient will receive $100,000 for the charity or cause of her choice.
The Mom of the Year finalists will be flown to Toronto for a day of pampering and an awards gala on October 6, 2013. Nominations for the Mom of the Year Award close on June 16 and My Finalist public voting will begin on July 4 through August 1. The eight finalists will be notified around August 6. To participate in the program and support Canadian moms, visit www.momoftheyear.ca.
On the route to discovering better balance in your life, one of the key indicators of your success will be your ability to become more self-content.
One way to develop a strong sense of self-contentment is to give yourself the gift of self-appreciation. Offer yourself the same respect and kindness you give to others you care deeply for.
Fatigue is a common complaint in a physician’s office. Many people are feeling run down and tired. They don’t wake up rested and have a lack of energy in completing daily tasks of life. Naturopathic medicine aims to find the cause of fatigue. Although there are many reasons for fatigue ranging from insomnia to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, under active thyroid function – or hypothyroidism – is often a part of the problem. Your thyroid could be making you tired.