Some years ago I sat in the witness box of an Ontario courtroom telling the judge my story of abuse at the hands of my husband. I remember the fear and the shame. I remember feeling that somehow this was all my fault and if only I had done things differently I wouldn’t be here telling my very personal story to a courtroom full of strangers.
Another, healthier, part of me knew that this public testimony was the only way I could exit what had been a disastrous marriage. I knew that if I stayed in the relationship, he would find a way to kill me, likely in a drunken rage, and that alcohol would provide his excuse.
Lucky for me – the judge believed my story. He believed me. I was finally able to come out of hiding and move to another town to restart my life.
Recent media reports of Wab Kinew’s troubled past have reminded me that violence against women remains an intractable issue in the forum of public conversation. The silence around Tara Hart’s story is astounding and there are now allegations that her coming forward has led to much harassment online and elsewhere – which, if true, means she is being re-victimized.
Where are the voices of longstanding feminists, women’s rights advocates, and community leaders decrying this harassment and speaking in support of an Indigenous woman’s right to tell her story? To describe her own experience?
Where are the organizations who tell us that their mandate is to empower all women and girls? And, because we believe them, we attend the marches, the fundraisers, the countless events they organize to justify and maintain their existence.
When push comes to shove – and I am deliberately using this expression in its most literal sense – when push comes to shove, where are these people?
As the dust settles, a door is closing, and the silence is deafening.