An Ottawa-area sexual assault survivor is being called brave after the 30-year-old convinced a judge to lift the publication ban on her identity in a high-profile sexual assault case in Brockville, Ont.
“She is brave, she is inspiring,” said Brea Hutchinson, executive director with the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston.
Bekah D’Aoust has been in a court battle since 2012 over an incident in which she claims 38-year-old Ryan Hartman sexually assaulted her at a party back in 2011.
On Monday, D’Aoust submitted a video to Global News revealing her identity.
“On one hand, it is that sense of solidarity, of moving from victim to survivor and being committed to make sure this happens to no one else,” said Hutchinson.
“It’s hard, it’s tear-felt, it’s sad,” Hutchinson said. “But every survivor who comes forward makes us a little stronger.”
WATCH: Sexsomnia victim speaks out
The battle has been long for D’Aoust. Hartman was twice convicted in the sexual assault case, which he appealed both times. The second time, Hartman admitted that he had sexually assaulted the victim, claiming he was not criminally responsible because he suffers from sexsomnia, a mental condition that makes people engage in sexual acts while asleep.
That appeal was turned down, and Hartman is once again appealing, claiming his last trial took too long to wrap up.
Hutchinson says after having gone through such a lengthy trial, having a sexual assault survivor come forward is very rare.
“We need to stick together,” said D’Aoust in her video. “Otherwise, this is just going to keep happening.”
Hutchinson says that with people like D’Aoust making the brave move of putting a face to cases of sexual assault, it’s a milestone moment for survivors.
“It means we have more allies in the community, and every survivor that comes forward has brought us one step closer to eliminating sexual violence,” Hutchinson said.