Raped then silenced: Nunavut case shows secrecy still prevails in sex assaults

Raped then silenced: Nunavut case shows secrecy still prevails in sex assaults
From CBC - November 14, 2017

She was nine years old when her uncle raped her.

It was 1968, and that year,her family had moved into a Nunavut community from an outpost camp on the land.

It was spring,and she was playing outside with other kids.

She often cleaned for her grandmother. So when her uncle, who was 16 at the time, called her inside, she thought he wanted her to clean.

"I went there, and he told me to take off my parka, he got my clothing off in the bedroom, and hewas getting this big thing in me," she told a Nunavut civil court this month.

The "big thing,"she later realized, was his penis.

The woman issuing her uncle for damages, for the effect the abusehas had on her life. This month, decades after she was raped, she flew to Iqaluit from her community to testify against him in the civil case in Nunavut Court of Justice.

She's one of four people, including two other women and a man,suing him for historical sexual assaults.

Heridentity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.CBC is also not naming the offender, in order to avoid identifying her through the pair's family connection.

"It was painful," she testified, sobbing. "I felt so scared. I felt ugly. I felt I was dirty."

Shortly after that, she says her father began sexually abusing her too.

"I started fighting off my father ... One day he dragged me to the bedroom, andmy three-year-old sister, he had sex with her. And he told me, 'It is your fault. You made me do it,'" she said.

"For the longest time I hated myself. And every time it got too much to think about, I tried tocommit suicide because I felt like I made my father hurt my little sister."

Between her father and her uncle, she says, she haslost count how many times she was abused growing up.

Silenced by family, police

As a child, she eventually told her mother what happened.

"She spanked me and told me never, ever to say anything like that. Those are not appropriatefor a child to say," she told the court.

"[My uncle] was my mother's favourite brother."

She could not bring herself to tell her mother she was going to Iqaluit to testify this month.

"I do not know what my mother is going to do to me when I get home. I am scared. I am scared. I amscared. But I say to myself, I have to get this out of my system. I ca not live with hate."

The other person she says she told when she was younger was an RCMP officer.

"He just patted my head and said, "It will be over some day, do not worry.'"

Emotional toll

Assaults underreported


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