Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Fallout from an assault


My column in today's paper deals with the aftermath of this story, Sexual assault rescuer charged. I thought it would resonate with those among us who are tired of seeing victims of crime get the short end of the stick. I speak from experience (read about it here first, then here, and finally here.)

Here's what I wrote:
Protector's reaction understandable
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The London Free Press

It’s unfortunate that a man who rescued a sexual assault victim last week has himself been charged with assault.

Police say the victim’s boyfriend used excessive force when he attacked Marcel Ianni, who had allegedly attacked the female gas station attendant.

I wasn’t there, but I understand what he might have been thinking. Last year, a motorist assaulted me while I was cycling to work. He later pleaded guilty to assault and received a year’s probation.

As he walked back to his car, I felt torn about what to do next. I wanted to jump him from behind and pummel him until someone pulled me off. I wanted to do to him what he had done to me. I ultimately did nothing more than call 911 and allow justice to take its course.

I’m not saying citizens are justified in taking the law into their own hands.

I’m simply saying I understand what went through his mind when he heard his girlfriend had been sexually assaulted.

Who among us wouldn’t empathize?

-30-
Your turn: Thoughts?

15 comments:

kontan said...

It is hard not to react when someone we care about has been wronged, especially if it is something as serious as this.

Bess said...

I agree. In some ways, I think it's easier to stay cool when you've been wronged yourself. When a loved one is the victim, in some ways it's more difficult not to leap to their defense. And it's hard to work up much sympathy for someone who's trying to sexually assault another.

Right now, in my criminal law class, we're talking about the decision to charge a crime. I don't know how the process compares in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., at least, the prosecutor has a lot of discretion as to whether to bring charges or not. It'd be interesting to see what went into that decision here.

Better Safe Than Sorry said...

i think it was a natural reaction, it would never have happened if the first assault had'nt taken place, hopefully, that will have some bearing on it. i guess it has to do with whether excessive force was used or not, but given the circumstances, who decides what excessive force is?

moon said...

It's so true that as a victim often we do less or invert into ourselves or become passive..(anything is good if it helps) but like kontan and bess mentioned..if its someone we love and your in the right place at the right time..its like a mother bear with her cubs..or your invinsible...you feel no fear nor pain you just attack to save another if warranted.

Wendy said...

You throw a whole different element into the mix when you are coming to the rescue of someone you love. I think there is a whole other level of rage that is reached when you see your lover being sexaully assaulted. If I ever saw anyone laying a hand on my partner in a malevolent way, I know that I would likely use excessive force because part of me would want to stop him/her from hurting another human being, while another part of me would want to punish the person hurting my loved one.

Stranger or friend, I would jump in and try and stop an assault, but if I knew the person being assaulted, I just know my rage would be greater!

I am very sorry for what happened to you. Being assaulted in any way, verbally or physically, is a terrifying expereince!

Michael Manning said...

Carmi: You've read about the assault I was able to successfully stop with the help of the Police recently. The two punks are now behind bars. Will it change their behavior? Will the girls who were with them change choices in guy. My girlfriends whom I asked all said "I doubt it". Sad commentary. If the girls I encountered had a higher self-esteem, I dount they would have been with the jerks who were beating up the one girl. It doesn't sound like there was any justice in your case. And I'm sorry to read that you were a victim, Carmi.

Beanhead said...

Shaking my head....
A sad world we live in.

Sheesh said...

In reading the original story, it sounds like there's more going on here than just one person responding to the sexual assault of a gf. I would be interested in knowing the facts that aren't yet being talked about.

But, if there are no other extenuating circumstances, then I find it very difficult to believe that they would charge the responding bf. Many others (police officers included) would probably have responded the same way if they saw a loved one being assaulted.

Lisa said...

Carmi, I'm so sorry that happened to you! It must have been so scary. To answer the question, I do NOT condone anyone taking the law into their own hands. However, that being said, I can totally understand why someone would want to in certain situations. If someone harmed my children in anyway, I think it would be hard for me to remain rational. I've heard about mothers who have killed the sick person who killed or molested their child... While I don't condone that, I can certainly understand the emotion...

kenju said...

It would be perfectly natural to want to spring to the defense of a woman you love - but a situation in which a person must hold his emotions in check - lest he end up being arrested for assault as well.

Michele sent me today.

Carl V. said...

This is where the law gets ridiculous in my opinion. If you attack someone, or attempt to attack someone, you should'nt have ANY legal recourse if someone turns around and beats the shit out of you for doing so.

Russ said...

In Florida we a good samaritan law that protects us somewhat.
Here from Micheles place.

MJ said...

wow, so hard to be rational and not become as violent as the bad guy.... here from Micheles

Goodbye Mes Amis said...

I think that there are several different scenarios that change my opinion on this. For example, if the boyfriend (in this case) stoped the man from assaulting the girlfriend at the time it was happening and used accessive force to do so, I think that is justified (passion/fear etc.). If the boyfriend tracked the guy down after and used accessive force, that is quite another. We have laws for a reason, and we need them to protect us (for example, in the second scenario would if he tracked down the wrong guy? Would if the girlfriend lied?) and we have to hope that our justice system won't fail us. What happens if they don't? Then what? I am reminded of the book "Life with Billy." The law really didn't protect her against her husband, and it really seemed in the book like she had no other choice but to kill him. In fact, I would have done it long before she did!
BTW, Michele sent me!

Isabella said...

You're right, we all empathize. But, just as you didn't, very few of us would act on those emotions. That's why we have a justice system.