The Other Side of the Coin

What's our first thoughts about Canadian Forces? Protection, security, strength, freedom. They're supposed to protect us, our country and our values. Nonetheless, no one knows what's hidden behind these stoic men and women.

If fact, according to Canada's Access to Information Act, there's an average of 178 complaints for sexual harassment annually since 2000. They estimate that there would actually be around 1780 cases of sexual assault per year because only one case in ten is reported. While the victims suffer alone, the perpetrators continue to assault other soldiers.

At first, I couldn't believe it until I read victims' stories.

For example, there's Lise Gauthier. She worked for the army for twenty-five years before turning in her uniform.

She got raped so many times that she can't remember how many it happened to her. She got raped for the first time barely one year after her enlistment. It was in 1982. It took one year before the situation repeated itself, but this time the rapist was a colleague. She had to go through an abortion because she got pregnant afterwards. Her hell continued until she quit in October 2007. She got no help and even had to go to a psychiatric hospital.

Once, I met another victim. I was curious to learn more about this issue. So I asked some questions.

How do you feel about sexual assault?

"It's degrading. You're not even considered as a human being. I felt like being use merely like a sex object with no consideration for my feelings. The rapists, I wouldn't call them humans."

Is there any help for the victims?

"In my case, I wasn't lucky enough. Most of the time, we stay quiet because of fear and threat. Finally, when someone spills the beans in order to get help, the higher-ups will most likely do nothing to stop the harassment."

What do you think about your work?

"I love my job, but I don't know how I can go in a country to protect freedom and equality. How can I say to someone not to oppress others, to respect their rights and to protect democracy while in our own army, there's no justice for the victims of sexual assault? I don't know what to say anymore..."

Some may say I'm biased, but tell me: how can there be a good side to sexual assault? The army might protect us, but it doesn't insure its own members' security. We say that there's always another to the coin and what a penny we've got here.

Isabelle Dansereau

AULD, Alison and Sue BAILEY. "Canadian Forces survey asks troops to shed light on sexual assault, harassment." National Post. Postmedia Network Inc, 9 June 2013. Web. 11 April 2015.

CASTONGUAY, Alec and NoƩmi Mercier. "Our military's disgrace." Maclean's. Rogers Media. 16 May 2014. Web. 11 April 2015.

SMITH CROSS, Jessica. "One in 13 women sexually assaulted in Canadian military StatsCan." metronews. Free Daily Group Inc, 15 August 2014. Web. 11 April 2015.

Comment Stream