Yesterday, when Mr. Charles phoned me and outed himself as the man in the photo holding a knife to a terrified woman’s throat, I acted on something for which I’ve been waiting nearly ten years. Because nine years ago, I didn’t have enough information about him (and still don’t, but the RCMP do now). And although I was worried and terrified for his son, for the entire nine years that I’ve been waiting to act on what happened to him, I felt completely helpless to do anything about it. Powerless. The way Mr. Charles wants me (and his wife and son) to feel. The way he wants everyone reading this to feel, too. He wants all of us to feel like his victim, and if that’s what we give him, he gets off on it and gets away with it in the same gesture.
But that feeling is optional. He doesn’t want you to know that fear of retribution is optional, but I am alive and spiritually awake, and writing to tell you that it is your choice to feel empowered. Whoever sent his photo to CBC wanted you to have that choice. It is the choice I never had when I was being molested and raped by my parent in my natal home, and it is the choice Mr. Charles’ son never had in his natal home when he was being sexually abused.
Be brave for Mr. Charles’ son, because it took a lot of bravery for that 3-year-old boy to get through what happened to him. While I can’t possibly quantify how much, you’ve all seen what happens by adulthood when no one is brave enough to step forward for a kid like him when they have the chance: you’ve all been watching me at my worst since I arrived on the scene in 2003 on the arm of Mr. Charles, until I finally got help in 2010 after just barely surviving a bid for my own death. I could have vanished that night (that was my plan), and no one would have had any idea what happened to me.
His son doesn’t have to go through life the way I did. You can do something about it, like I did when I phoned the RCMP and disclosed what happened and why I didn’t come forward sooner. Believe me, they understand more than you know.
If you have had an experience with him, in which he perpetrated a crime against you (or against his son in front of you too), you need to come forward and tell your story. I know you’re out there. What happened to you became part of the gossip mill just like what happened to his son. What happened to you wasn’t taken seriously because it was all unsubstantiated hearsay; and even if it wasn’t hearsay, we live in a culture that automatically blames the victim and shames them for being victimized. But Mr. Charles is the one at fault. He is the one who should be ashamed of himself. He is the one who stands to face irrevocable losses for having perpetrated a sex crime, and he just figured I’d be repeatedly raped into aggravated suicide or permanent silence, but he was wrong.
Be brave. His son, now 12 or 13 years old, needs you to be brave. Now is the time to act.