Shocked to see forums offered to public figures targeted by allegations of misconduct rather than survivors trying to rebuild themselves, a group of women launched an Instagram account so that they too could speak out publicly.
The investigation into Maripier Morin published in Press Saturday and his appearance on the show Everybody talks about it the next day was the straw that broke the camel’s back, explains Jessie Nadeau, one of the four instigators of the movement with linguistics student Alexandra Dupuy, activist Zoyanne Côté and art therapist. Mélanie Lemay.
“We had been discussing it for weeks. We saw public figures targeted by denunciations [l’été dernier], formulate unfulfilled excuses, talk about their long journey, their rehabilitation, promise that they have already changed. This discussion is necessary, but it must not eclipse the one on the progress of the victims and the consequences they experience on a daily basis since their aggression or their denunciation ”, estimates Mme Nadeau.
Instead of waiting and hoping that victims will in turn be invited to a television set to share their experience, the four women have taken the initiative by offering them a space to express themselves now, through the Instagram page “J ‘ve changed too ”.
I think it can meet a very scorned need in general to talk about the consequences of an assault or misconduct, rather than just recounting the event itself.
The idea is not to reproduce a new account of denunciations like those which appeared last summer, warns Jessie Nadeau. Above all, victims are invited to tell their stories, to share the ordeals they are going through to seek help and to rebuild themselves. “We want it to lead people to have a better understanding of victims and therefore better listening,” continues the entrepreneur, activist and content creator. Some may also recognize themselves in testimonies and realize that they are not alone. “
“We also wanted to restore a certain balance,” adds Mélanie Lemay. Seeing the gap between the speeches of certain personalities and the testimonies relayed in the media or that we receive in private, we felt that something had to be done. “
Their initiative is already generating interest. In just 48 hours, nearly 500 people subscribed to their page and dozens of testimonials have already been sent to them. They will be published in the coming days, promise the four women.
“I think that it can meet a very flouted need in general to talk about the consequences of an assault or misconduct, rather than simply telling the event itself”, comments Juliette Bélanger-Charpentier, a student in victimology. and criminology, which regularly popularizes these topics on Instagram. She said she was curious to see the account come to life, judging that it could indeed “sensitize” and “inform” many people on these issues.
Breaking down the myths
For Alexandra Dupuy, it was essential and urgent to break down the myths and stereotypes that still circulate about victims of sexual or racist violence. “I read a lot of horrible comments on social media. People downplay so much. They think it’s easy to report or file a complaint, that [les victimes prennent] the word to rot someone’s life and that afterwards life is good. This is not the reality. “
The young woman knows what she is talking about since she was the victim of a sexual assault in 2018 and filed a complaint against her attacker. His case was closed just two months ago when he pleaded guilty. But despite this victory, the page is far from turned. Alexandra Dupuy is still recovering.
She evokes the long legal proceedings that have taken a lot of her time and energy in a schedule already filled with her mastery, her work and its other implications. “It was a lot of things to assimilate, a lot of responsibilities. “
The student adds that she consulted a psychologist for anxiety problems. She is also immersed in the process to be recognized as a victim by the Compensation for Victims of Crime (IVAC), “another complex case”.
There is also this feeling that never lets go and guides her daily way of life, this fear of being subjected to a new assault, anywhere, anytime.
“The journey of victims takes a long time. It is not easy to be in therapy, to rebuild oneself, to have new self-confidence, to trust others as well, ”argues Mélanie Lemay, who is also the co-founder of the organization Québec contre les sexual violence.
Victim of a sexual assault in 2011, she says she took a long time to get back on her feet after her denunciation. In addition to dealing with a complex justice system “insensitive to the reality of victims”, she also came across doctors who, according to her, were not sufficiently trained to understand and help her. Not to mention the comments and judgments that people have made on his own story that has become public. “You don’t feel better in nine months, it takes a long time. “
Mélanie Lemay also confides not having slept much in recent days, tormented by the public outing of Maripier Morin. “It wakes up old wounds in everyone. So many people have written to me personally to tell me about their nightmares, their pain, their anxieties. “
In the eyes of Juliette Bélanger Charpentier, this type of public outing weakens not only the direct victims, but “all victims in general”. “The fact of seeing the aggressor in a posture where he will be honored, glorified, forgiven, that comes to invalidate his victims, who are also forced to return to the events lived and their consequences. […] It also generates symptoms of significant distress in many victims, because it brings them back to their personal suffering, their own history, ”she underlines.
“It also sends the message that it is easy to be forgiven for such gestures, especially when you are a known and loved person. What to discourage many people to denounce ”, deplores Mélanie Lemay.