Keeping the peace

[Warning: This post contains discussion of sexual violence and intimate partner violence]

It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Ontario and right on cue, Jian decides he is going to agree to a Peace Bond in return for having his charges dropped. 

If you're here, reading this, you know that already.

But it seems that what many of you don't know is what a Peace Bond is or what the process is like. I know that because Google was bumping with searches for the words "Peace Bond" this week and I got asked a million times by a million different people to explain it to them.

If you want a brilliant legal perspective on what a Peace Bond is and its use in sexual assault trials, listen to the latter half of my radio show, recorded May 10th, with feminist lawyer Pamela Cross. You can listen here.

Because I am a woman. Because I have been raped. Because I was in an abusive relationship. Because I've worked with sexual assault survivors. Because I'm an empathetic person who gives a shit about the well being of the world. For all these reasons: Jian Ghomeshi's trial of the century has been really, really tough.

I thought the worst of it was over. That we'd have to endure another "Not guilty" verdict this summer. That we'd have to endure the trolls screaming "SEE! BITCHES LIE!" and then we'd all go back to the daily grind of trying to end rape culture.

But I got thrown for the most major of loops with the news that he would be signing a Peace Bond. 

I tried to get a Peace Bond and it was the most humiliating experience of my life.


[TRIGGER WARNING: This post talks about violence against womyn. Exercise self-care, folks.]

The law fails womyn. We actively enable abusers.

We've known this for generations but 2K16 seems determined to drive it home.

Bill Cosby is suing. The Jian Ghomeshi trial is a fucking mess.  And now, we're trying to set Kesha free.

We need to #FreeKesha. We need to free all the Keshas, because girl is not alone.


But if enduring countless media interviews this year has taught me anything, it's that the average person does not understand abuser dynamics.

After I was raped

[Obvious trigger warning]

I think a lot about rape. But I rarely think about my own.

Thinking about rape is literally my job. I'm a sexual violence expert with a focus on public education. I spend my days, training people on how to prevent rape; talking to the media about better ways to talk about sexual violence; advocating for sexual assault survivors through the government and justice system; encouraging folks to build communities of accountability.

Most of my walking hours are spent thinking about rape in all its nuance and complexity.

But my own rape? Until recently, I had pushed it to the back of my brain or chucked in the pile of "Horribly traumatic things I've survived and never want to think about." 

I feel you in my bones

[CONTENT WARNING: This post is about gender-based violence. Please exercise self-care.]

There are things I lived through with my abuser that my soul has receded to the background in order to allow me to breathe, function and live a normal life.

There are things I have fought hard to keep only in blurs, because sharpening the edges would bring me to my knees.

But there are other moments so vivid in my memory that I know will remain in focus well into old age.

Now what?

So, your abuser just died. Holy shit, right? 

I'm here to tell you there is ZERO guide book on what to do next. And because so few people (if any) people talk about it, we're not even able to chat with each other and compare notes.

Now what?

What does freedom feel like?

My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.
My abuser just died.

I see the words. I say them. I write them.

But it does not compute. My brain does not absorb them.

Let's talk about the elephant

So, the past 10 months have been interesting, to say the least. 

I don't need to provide you with links because the words "Julie Lalonde" in Google and especially, "Julie Lalonde + RMC" bring up a stream of articles, clips, creepy blog posts and commentary on what happened (and what didn't happen) when I gave a series of briefings to the Royal Military College cadets on October 4, 2014.

The response was swift, intense and as of this writing, ongoing. 

I've never been contacted by more complete strangers in my entire life. My inbox was flooded, almost immediately, by allies, colleagues, internet randos, etc. Due to General Lawson's recent "Foot in mouth disease" comments, the issue has reignited so it is far from over.

This experience has taught me so much. 

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