Somewhere in Victoria, a young man is finding it difficult to look at himself in the mirror. He’s frightened of the dark and crumbling visage that he knows is lurking beneath the reflective surface — a monster’s face with guilt-ridden eyes. He’s thinking it might get better with time . . . that maybe he can learn to live with what he’s done.
But no matter what his friends tell him, and no matter how drunk or stoned he gets, the guilt will grow teeth to gnaw deeper and deeper into his guts until his soul becomes a weeping charcoal stain.
On March 25, this man was involved in a heinous crime. He took part in the physical and sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman. He was one of up to four men who picked up the victim near the intersection of Cedar Hill Cross Road and Cedar Hill Road. After assaulting and terrorizing this woman, leaving her with mental scars that may never heal, this man let her go in downtown Victoria and went on with his life.
But it’s not that easy.
And no matter how hard he tries to justify his actions (or inaction), no matter how much his so-called friends try to convince him that loyalty is more important than appeasing his guilt, he knows that he won’t be able to live with himself.
His life will crumble. Relationships will fail. He’ll turn to harder liquor and harder drugs just to block that nagging voice inside his head that whispers and snarls, chews and spits.
The spiral will swirl downwards — deeper and darker. The thought of laughing again will seem foreign, and he’ll wonder when the last time was that he ever felt happiness.
There is only one cure.
It won’t turn back time and make it so that the horrible events never happened. It won’t erase the scars or the trauma from the victim’s mind. It won’t stop the weeping of her family and friends, nor the anger that surely churns in her father’s heart.
But it will make a difference.
It’s the first step to being able to look in that mirror. It’s the first step to stopping something like this from ever happening again. And it’s the first step to saying to all men that this is not acceptable and that we won’t put up with it. We won’t cover for a rapist. There is no male bond strong enough to allow this terrorizing of women to continue.
This was a crime of opportunity; somebody’s sadistic spur-of-the-moment idea. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to go this far; maybe it all got out of hand. But of those four men, one must have a conscience.
This column is for him.
You can probably still see her terrified face everytime you close your eyes. You can likely hear her struggles, her protests. You can still smell her fear and panic. One of your friends likely can’t stop talking about it — for him, the fear was a feast.
But not for you.
You’re still human. You still want to be good, to have a life, to clear your plate and move on.
This crime will sit on your chest like a preying mantis, always watching, always waiting, always pressing into your flesh with tiny, sharp claws.
It’s time to look into your heart and do the right thing.
Anyone with information on this attack is asked to call the Saanich police main switchboard at 250-475-5321.
Song stuck in my head
“Stagger” by Jess Hill.
Vancouver-based folk noir singer-songwriter Jess Hill has a haunting quality to her voice that perfectly complements her storytelling lyrics. Her newest CD, Orchard, is filled with stinging emotions and raw energy that skillfully moves from blues-draped guitar to folk to alt-country and back again.