So what about if someone has done something you didn't like or want in the midst of stuff you did like and want? And what if you have a history as someone who has been told you are responsible for your partner's self-esteem? Or you have a history of being an incest survivor who got raped at night and then chatted with your rapist over the breakfast table the next morning? Or the person who raped you was also your boss? Or you intuitively know your family or peers will approve of you more if you are in a relationship? Then there would have been an internalized set of 'norms' that wouldn't be congruent with an outside observer's idea of 'normal' regarding boundaries and consent. I am not here to vilify anyone. I don't believe that there are good guys and bad guys in the world. I think there are people who are behaving in hurtful ways and, in my experience, when they are not in denial and justifying their behaviour, they can become very confused and full of shame......whether they are the victim or the offender.
**** I feel like I need to state clearly at this point that I abhor and feel huge sadness and anger about any kind of violence in relationships and I understand the feelings that sometimes make people hate and cut off from the people who have abused them. And I also believe that our society is still in a state of evolution.... so the court system and all of the people on the jury and in the courtroom are often also unclear about how a situation could get so confusing, hurtful and out of whack.
So here's my take on things. I know that I used to say "Any day is a good day when it starts with Jian saying over the airwaves....'Well Hi there......Happy Tuesday'"! I can imagine how easy it would be to be seduced by his charm, good looks, intelligence and fame. And when you want a certain outcome it can be easy to overlook the process. What do I mean by that? Well.....if any of these women wanted to have a relationship with him and liked everything about their experience of him.....except that really violent thing he did.....it is possible for them to minimize that specific behaviour in their minds in order to get the outcome that they wanted which was to enjoy a relationship with him for all of the other behaviours and gifts that he had to offer. It is possible to people to think "if I just tell him or do something differently then maybe he won't do that again".
And relationships have an inherent ambivalence to them. No one is perfect and all relationships have their pros and cons. Even the CBC is guilty for having maintained the relationship with Jian because of what they were getting out of it rather than firing him earlier on in their relationship with him because of his mistreatment of some of the female staff.
Ideally, it is healthy for people to say what they mean and have their behaviour match their words and be accountable for their behaviour towards other people. However, what I had read in various articles when this story first broke over a year ago is a pattern of Jian not asking for explicit consent and minimizing the consequences of his behaviour. Add to that the fact that the women are being grilled by a courtroom that is not set up to take traumatic reenactment into account. What do I mean by that? When someone has survived a trauma, such as incest, in childhood, the person will subconsciously choose to participate in relationships that provide them with the opportunity to master the dynamics which caused them to feel some kind of shame from the original experience. This can be true for both parties. 'Abusers' are reenacting the powerful position of the original abuse and the victims are reenacting the victimization. Both are trying to learn and obtain a different outcome and release themselves from the shame of their past.
***Again, let me reiterate.....this does not make what the offender did OK. It is a way of understanding the unconscious motivations. (Conscious motivations are another thing altogether and I'll let the police handle that one!!) One of the clues for me that Jian may be reenacting some kind of abuse from childhood (and I'm guessing here from my experience as a therapist.....I don't have any actual facts) is that he would turn his teddy bear around so it wouldn't see his behaviour with women. This would be the kind of behaviour exhibited by someone who is able to disconnect from their own vulnerability and doesn't want to face judgements about their behaviour at a conscious level. And all of the complainants testified to having had contact with him after the reported assault which would fit with a traumatic reenactment template. However, the problem with traumatic reenactment is that, typically, the offender is cut off from their feelings, looking calm, able to think and minimizing their behaviour while the victim is flooded with feelings and unable to think clearly about their choices. MRI's will show that sufferers of PTSD will be unable to access their frontal cortex when they have been triggered or flooded re: the traumatizing events.
So life isn't black and white and it is easy to think that if we experienced violence then we would just walk away or tell them to stop. However, a 2012 report collecting data from Stats Canada states that 460,000 sexual assaults were reported to have occurred last year and only 15,000 were reported. That tells us something about the cultural context we live in I think. I don't know what exactly it tells us but I'm sure it doesn't mean that 445,000 people are stupid. For me, I think those 15,000 people were BRAVE. I wouldn't have wanted to take the stand and be grilled like those women were while seeing that he didn't have to take the stand or say anything! Just sayin'........
Have a look at these videos and the Huffington Post article. They shine even more lights on the concept of consent.