Bits and Bites on sexual assault

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Sexual assault is a vicious crime

but especially pernicious when applied to children

'Shockingly, more than half of all sexual assaults take place in private homes'

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

“The mind, body and soul know that there is a right way to love and be loved.” (Lucie G. Spear, A New Legacy for Incest Survivors)

  Image: The late Rehteah Parsons.
  The late Rehteah Parsons.

As I write this introduction, I am reminded that Rehteah Parsons, a beautiful 17 year-old former student of Cole Harbour District High School in Darthmouth, Nova Scotia, attempted suicide by hanging on April 4, 2013. Rehteah died on April 7 of that year when taken off life support. What caused such a beautiful young teen to end her life? The villain was a gang rape photographed and later posted. What ensued was constant and humiliating bullying and harassment.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, education, sexuality, or culture. Sexual assault includes rape, unwanted sexual touching, incest, sexual harassment, cyber sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, voyeurism, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and degrading sexual imagery.

Sexual violence is not about attraction, intimacy or desirability. It is about power and control, and is defined by the absence of consent by the victim. Sexual violence can occur in any relationship, whether it be a marriage, an established relationship, a casual date, or a chance meeting. Statistics place men as perpetrators in 99 per cent of the cases while 81 per cent of the victims are women. Sexual violence affects everyone: the victim and the immediate family, friends and neighbours, coworkers, and acquaintances.

Shockingly, more than half of all sexual assaults take place in private homes. Unfortunately, cultural belief systems and traditional attitudes around sexual violence often lead to blaming the victim or encouraging the victim not to make it public, thus letting the perpetrator off the hook or excusing him. As a society, we must become more aware, more responsible and take a stand against all forms of sexual assaults because they are crimes.

This brings me to a particularly insidious form of sexual assault: incest! The perpetrator in this case is most often known to the child: a family member, the father himself, a sibling, an uncle, a grandfather . . . For the perpetrator, opportunity is essential so he will orchestrate time alone with the child so they can have some privacy. He will then use his power and authority over the child, often making the child believe it is acceptable, special, and fun. Of course the child is sworn to secrecy, which opens the door to repetition. The perpetrator may offer rewards, tell the child she is special and dearly loved and threaten that the family will dissolve if ever the secret is discovered. This may go on for months, even years, causing ongoing damage to the child’s sense of self esteem.

Image: Author Lucie G. Spear  
Author Lucie G. Spear  

When disclosure happens the child may be asked to retract or forget the assault. I know two women who incurred their mother’s wrath when they dared to disclose their older brother’s abuse. The mother-daughter relationship was ruined and nothing done to protect the child. Other family members may gang up and threaten the child if he or she pursues the allegations. The perpetrator may use verbal abuse or harm the child who is then caught in a “bench vice” situation that causes more pain and anguish than relief.

  Image: Cover of A New Legacy for Incest Survivors, by Lucie G. Spear. Click to buy.
  Click to buy at Amazon.

My dear friend, Lucie, was a victim of incest from ages nine to fourteen at the hands of her own father. This damaging experience created repressed anger at being victimized and damaged her self esteem for years to come. As a consequence she became numb and deaf to the common joys of childhood and adolescence. Fear became a constant. She felt guilty and it distorted her perception of what a normal, close and intimate relationship should be. What she didn’t know at the time was that other siblings in her family were going through the same traumatic experience.

Thankfully, Lucie decided she would not live her life in the downward spiral of negativity and self-loathing that can result from incest. With the guiding help of trusted professionals, Lucie faced the demons of her past, rebuilt her self esteem, tore down the protective walls she had built around herself and opened up to a new life exempt of lies and shame with the confidence that true love was within her reach.

Writing came later as she felt the need to reach out and help victims of incest. In her book A New Legacy for Incest Survivors Lucie G. Spear (her pen name) shares her journey to recovery. The book serves as a source of inspiration for all individuals who want to put a stop to the senseless crime of incest and the silence surrounding sexual abuse.

“My heartfelt compassion and understanding goes out to all incest survivors. The mind, body, and soul know that there is a right way to love and be loved. I dedicate this book to all of you, for your courage in changing your legacy,” says author Lucie G. Spear.

· In case of emergency, should you need help for yourself or someone else, you can call the Ottawa Rape Crisis Center. Here is their website:

· In Prescott-Russell Centre Novas is there to help. Although the center is francophone, it is open to any woman who needs help. They can put you in touch with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Center, arrange for transportation or have a professional meet you at their center. Here is their website address:

I highly recommend Lucie’s book:

A New Legacy for Incest Survivors by Lucie G. Spear 
Publication Date: March 10, 2011 
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 168 pages; 978-1-4568-8432-1 
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 168 pages; 978-1-4568-8433-8 

· P.S. The book is available in English and French. See attachments.