People in Halifax are flocking to social media to voice their support for victims of sexual violence after Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty of several sexual assault charges and one count of overcome resistance — choking.
Sarah Dunsworth is a Nova Scotian actor who played Lucy DeCoutere’s best friend on the Trailer Park Boys.
The two have remained close ever since and Dunsworth supported DeCoutere’s sexual assault allegations against Ghomeshi.
Dunsworth believes the verdict reflects a flawed criminal justice system for victims of sexual violence.
“I think that a lot of people were expecting this, which is disappointing in itself. That speaks to the system and how flawed the system is that most people were not expecting a guilty verdict and that we’re not surprised,” said Dunsworth.
She says regardless of Ghomeshi not being convicted for any of the charges she admires the strength showed by all of the women in the trial.
“I think that being on the stand was an incredibly draining experience for all of the women and I know that Lucy has a lot of support and I hope that the other women involved do too,” said Dunsworth.
Since the “not guilty” verdict was handed down, there’s been a surge of social media support for the hashtag #Ibelievesurvivors.
Dunsworth says the movement is a sign of unity and solidarity for sex assault survivors and their supporters.
“A lot of people have been very triggered by this trial. It’s brought up a lot of bad memories and feelings for people who are survivors. I think that the #Ibelievesurvivors hashtag can help us to further our conversation and it can help people sort of reach out and hold hands with strangers in a way that we can be supportive to each other,” Dunsworth said.
Advocates say criminal justice system is unsafe
Officials with the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax released a media statement expressing their disappoint with the verdict.
Since the trial began they’ve seen an increase in people seeking support for sexual violence.
“Certainly during the Ghomeshi trial we had an increase in people calling and wanting to talk about it or people needing services and that certainly has been happening across the country,” said Jackie Stevens, executive director with the centre.
She says despite the verdict not falling in the complainants’ favour she wants survivors and supporters to rally together.
“I think it’s really important in light of this case and other cases, that people know that there is solidarity and support for people who have been sexually abused and assaulted,” said Stevens.
Below: The statement released by sexual assault centers across the Atlantic Provinces.