On December 12, 2012, I woke up to the sound of a shouting match. Within an hour, a hand was wrapped around my throat, tightening its grip and preparing to squeeze my life away. Just shy of a year later, the perpetrator was issued a court order to be a nice boy for a year, and to pay the fees for the Queen’s lawyer (my legal counsel). He has not been given a criminal record in relation to this event, didn’t even spend a day in jail, and won’t face any further repercussions unless he finds where I’m living and/or tries to contact me through a third party. Go, go, gadget Justice System!
I, on the other hand, experienced such an acute and overwhelming grief both immediately after the event and the day of the trial that never happened, that my thoughts boarded the express train to suicidal ideation. Words cannot even begin to describe how vexing a sensation it is to experience spontaneous and vivid thoughts of taking my own life in outrage, even though I have no actual desire to do it or even consider attempting it. That started as soon as I left the residence where I was almost murdered, and it came back again as soon as I left the federal court building. I started suffering night terrors specifically about that man immediately after the event took place, and still continue to have them. My throat maintained a crushing sensation for days after the attack. Injuries I sustained while being hurled up against the solid wooden door where I was being strangled facing away from my perpetrator started aching and continued to remind me, for weeks, of the scale of the violation I had experienced. I’ve had attacks of post-traumatic distress and anxiety when I’ve been in public transit through the neighbourhood where the event took place. I’ve had to turn down housing when I was in urgent need (which was twice after the crime) because of its proximity to the location of my attempted murder. I’ve also had to turn down housing when I was in urgent need because of the money my perpetrator successfully stole from me by making it impossible to stay in the residence to collect what was legally owed to me — my entire savings, which I still have not recovered and now literally can’t because of that court order (among several other things), which I otherwise would have used to secure housing in the very manner I secured residence in the home where the crime took place six weeks later (i.e., a goddamned damage deposit and half a month’s rent—he stole enough from me to pay that $500 fine and have change left over).
For a full two days after the crime, despite a temporary court order to have no contact either directly or indirectly with me, my every movement and word was being reported to my perpetrator all day long by the remaining drunk in the next room, but this fact was never considered by either the Crown counsel or the RCMP’s program to assist victims of crime—which actually consulted with the accused, rather than myself, about the circumstances under which I left the residence. I think it’s reasonable to assume he left out that part about stalking me through a third party for a full two days until someone I barely know helped me pack my entire life into the back of a pick-up truck. I didn’t eat at all the day of the event, or even until the next evening. And as the drunk hadn’t committed a crime, and was free to antagonize me as he pleased, he took full advantage of that while I confined myself to a room no bigger than a standard jail cell until I had the power to leave without looking back. Both the drunk and my ride away from that house sought ways of blaming me for being spat on and strangled with my face against a wall. The drunk was just more openly aggressive about it.
And in fact, a surprising number of people openly blamed me for nearly being murdered over a stove top sprinkled with olive oil and dishes that weren’t washed for a whopping three hours the night before. I mean—three hours! Can you imagine? And tiny little drops of olive oil that splashed out of the wok while I was cooking for two adult children I hadn’t agreed to look after when I became a tenant of that house. Olive oil! Why, if it didn’t come off on his hand when he was stomping back and forth, waving his hands in my face and shouting obscenities at me, he’d have no other option than to liken it to a full blown spill of liquid epoxy. The filth I subjected my co-tenants to! Surely, I must have done something to drive him into a fit of murderous rage, and as that filth was his central concern before he spat all over my face and shouted the words “you ignorant fucking cunt” as he reached out and grabbed me by the throat, that filth must have been that something everyone else of the male sex was looking for to defend his actions. Apparently, to a frighteningly large proportion of white cisgendered male “friends” who even call themselves feminists and social justice allies, it is actually perfectly acceptable to attempt to kill someone over a dirty kitchen, as long as that’s an escalation of a shouting match between victim and perpetrator (because yelling back makes being nearly murdered OK!) Even though he started that, too. And even though he attempted to start one nearly every day for six weeks; and for six weeks, I kept my tongue clamped between my teeth, my head down, and my bedroom door closed. And even though over just six weeks, he vocalized nearly every openly misogynist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic thing I’ve heard over the entire course of my life, all while in my immediate presence — including calling me an ignorant fucking cunt loud enough for the entire block to overhear. None of this was considered by either the Crown counsel or the RCMP’s crime victim assistance program, either.
Over the past year, I’ve also been afforded a generous amount of time to relive every little detail of the crime, both in my waking thoughts and in my nightmares. I’ve had nearly a year to remember how exactly this same thing happened between my father and my oldest sister, right in front of me, when I was 11 years old and completely powerless. I’ve had nearly a year to get angry about and fight with myself to let go of the fact that while trying to kill me, my perpetrator couldn’t even look me in the eye. Instead, he literally sprayed my entire face with his spit like a fucking baboon, and turned me 180 degrees while he was hurling me by my neck against the closet door. I’ve had nearly a year to think about exactly how much movement he had the freedom and power to make, relative to the suffocation and confinement I struggled through for the full six weeks before I stood on one spot without moving. In my mind, when I go back to that event, I watch him from that one spot where I stood in front of that closet door, right next to the entrance to my rented bedroom where I slept on the floor so I’d have more room, and I watch him storm back and forth across the remaining length of the main floor. I think about exactly how much space he had to just walk right out either of two doors to just keep walking, and I think about how many times he chose instead to pick something up or smear his hand through the little sprinkles of olive oil on the stove, and come right back at me within an inch of my face, waving it in front of my face as if to threaten to hit me with it. I think about how many times he slammed the sliding kitchen door shut and then just kept fucking yelling at me. Or about me, as if that was a sound-proof barrier and not, in fact, the very problem that started this one and only yelling match between us in the entire course of that six weeks. I’ve had nearly a year to think about exactly how many times I gave a statement to RCMP before one was at last recorded. I’ve had nearly a year to think about that entire two days from the moment he was finally arrested. And I think about how virtually none of this was heard by the judge who agreed with the defence attorney’s pleading to Crown counsel for a peace bond with no trial, which essentially amounts to a court order of “try being nice” to anyone but me for a year.
On paper, my perpetrator was charged with assault. In reality, he didn’t simply walk up and smack me around, and I think by now, that should be fairly apparent. On paper, my statement to RCMP is conspicuously different from the detailed statement I vocalized to Crown counsel. For this reason, Crown counsel (my attorney) advised me not to take this to trial, because the defence attorney would be able to exploit this incongruous detail to have the charges thrown out entirely—but not before putting me through the feat of blaming me for instigating a man who was already working himself up and whirling out of orbit in a fit of rage (not unlike the first time he called me an ignorant fucking cunt), to try and kill me over a dirty kitchen. So thanks a bunch for that, Burnaby RCMP. Give yourselves a pat on the back for all your training and experience, which in this case, allowed a fucking psychopath to walk away from nearly killing someone over a greasy stove with little more than a slap on the wrist and a fine of mildly inconvenient sum (I’m sure he’ll make fast work of that though, either with the rental scams he insists on running or the money he stole from me). I’m sure this will really help me with my existing trust issues. Especially towards cops. I fucking hate cops.
Crown counsel also advised me that because the statement I made to police was rather conspicuously missing certain details around physical contact I initiated to remove my perpetrator’s hands from mere fractions of an inch away from my face, by taking hold of his hands and pushing them away from my face, that the defence attorney would claim that it is therefore my fault that my perpetrator spat all over my face and hurled me against a closet door by my neck—that I pushed him too far and he was completely justified in flipping the fuck out. But more than that, the police statement suggests that the timeline between me removing my perpetrator’s hands from my face and his hand squeezing my throat is cause-and-effect. In reality, he kept shouting at me after I removed his hands from my face, then stomped off into the kitchen, slammed the sliding kitchen door, and kept on shouting about me and stomping around while I went into my room to try and wait patiently for him to finally shut the fuck up or go take a walk. When it was clear he was going to continue, I stepped back out of my room to the same spot on where I had stood for several minutes demanding that he stop talking about me like I’m deaf, stop talking to me like it’s acceptable to shit bricks over every fucking thing I do that annoys him, and to keep his fucking hands out of my face. I said, at full volume, “By the way, I fed your kids last night. You’re welcome.” And that’s when he stormed back out, spat all over my face, and began strangling me. But that’s not what the police statement says, thanks to RCMP badgering me repeatedly for a statement before at last recording one as quickly as possible, full of gaps that directly undermined my right to justice. The judge never heard (or read) this sequence of events. Really. I fucking hate cops. The only thing more patronizing than this detail is the demeanour of my legal counsel. I’m surprised he isn’t the defence attorney.
This three-ring circus isn’t a fucking justice system. It’s a joke with a punchline that forces you to laugh just to stop you from spontaneously vomiting.