You know what turns me on? Consenting adults. You know what doesn’t? Absence of enthusiastic consent, behaving in a sexual manner in the presence of children, using coercion, pretending to be Pickton for staged photos, or treating consent as though it has a mystical grey area (i.e., it’s really black and white: you either have it or you don’t). Yesterday afternoon, I reported to the RCMP detachment to give a video- and audio-recorded statement about Mr. Charles and what his son should not have witnessed. It took a total of two hours to get every detail out, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since Cpl. Jim Brown — my former friend — was exposed on national news as a pervert, with his own photos and some of Mr. Charles too. This has been a very emotionally turbulent event that continues to unearth a great deal of repressed memories and emotions for me.
One thing that hadn’t occurred to me until I was half-way between the detachment and my home, on my way to give that statement, was that the rumour that was circulating for years about Mr. Charles and what he did to his son, may have actually preceded my presence in this province. Until I stopped to think about the way Mr. Charles’ son was when I arrived, it hadn’t occurred to me for the first time that the rumour may have had nothing to do with me. It certainly wasn’t associated with me, and no one seemed to be able to identify the woman involved when they were relating the story to each other — he was doing these things (among others) in front of his own son for years before I showed up.
A criminal investigation into Mr. Charles is now under way, and it is not going to disappear overnight the way it did for my perpetrator when my oldest sibling called the police and social services 18 years ago. The way his son was when I came into their lives is unquestionably suspicious, and I know that the three isolated incidents over the course of the month I lived in their home is not the cause. I do sincerely feel that Mr. Charles’ son was in danger then, and may still be in danger now. Certainly, anyone who has witnessed his default response to children who are simply being childish — as children tend to do — will know why I feel this way. In fact, anyone who looked at the photo of him that he demanded I take down, in which he is still wearing his wedding ring on the hand he’s using to hold a knife up to a terrified woman’s throat, should feel reasonably concerned for that child’s safety too. This is a man whose capacity to empathize is clearly completely absent.
But I don’t just jump to this conclusion based on a single photo. I know he is reputed for sexually assaulting and raping at least one woman. I know when I lived with him that he persistently pushed himself on me, as if he could convince me to beg his wife to let me have sex with him, simply by badgering me with either his erection, his fingers on my vulva, or a pathetic attempt at reverse psychology. I know he behaves as though threatened by nearly anyone with a spinal column. I know one of his greatest concerns is how other people perceive him — rather than being pre-occupied with the safety and well-being of either his wife or his child.
I also know how difficult it is for anyone else who could offer themselves as a witness, struggling with feelings of guilt and shame, or dreading the potential for RCMP to probe into your private life (which, for many, gives you cause for concern about your own children — I am childless but I empathize with your position here). But no one’s children are going to be taken away unless a crime has been perpetrated against them, and having your hair pulled or your ass spanked during sex isn’t a crime unless you’re making your child watch.
If your own child was exhibiting all the signs of early childhood sexual trauma by the age of 3, wouldn’t you want justice?
If someone told you that they didn’t know what to do at the time, but they needed to tell you now, that an adult was touching them in a sexual way in front of your child, wouldn’t you want justice?
If you had witnessed this (or been treated this way yourself by the same person, in front of the same child) and you knew that you did nothing criminal when you didn’t know what to do except express distress and discomfort at the time to stop it), but you found out it kept happening long after the fact with someone else, wouldn’t you come forward?
You don’t have to tell him you’re providing a statement, and you don’t have to talk to him (he doesn’t need to know where you are or how to reach you). You don’t have to find out where he lives or track down his contact information, because they already have it. If you are a witness of this man engaging in an act of child abuse (or sexual assault or rape), you need to phone the RCMP and tell them about it — for his son’s sake.