Victims of sexual assault are all unique. Though they are not all solely victims, it is impossible to deny the importance that the trauma has had on their lives. The Social Eyes has decided to give voice to these survivors of sexual violence.
We have changed their names to protect them.
“Men always protect other men.” – Gisele, 26
Gisele is a masseuse in erotic massage parlors in Montréal.
“I’ve worked at several places. In one of those salons, I worked with two of my friends. I felt at home. We used to have coffee together, chilling out in the spa. We’d interrupt our coffee to take on a customer, then we’d continue our conversation. We’d talk about who refused the oil because it stank so much, and who’d proposed marriage.”
On one occasion it wasn’t a marriage proposal that Gisele received. “One customer went too far. A lot of our clients think they’re irresistible, so it happens a lot. They think we’ll do anything, that they can do what they want to us. They tell us how much they worry over the pleasure we’re having. Obviously, it’s their big penis that can give us a lot of pleasure, not a big tip. That would be too simple.”
The customer violently made her do what he wanted. Shaken, Gisele immediately told the parlor’s manager. “He told me I could take the rest of the day off, and that I’d never get this customer again.” Except that the aggressor could continue to come to the massage parlor, but would be taken care of by other masseuses. “He was a long-time customer. That was more important than my safety and that of the other girls.”
Gisele quit the massage parlor. One of her friends followed her. Together they found another place to work. “Men always protect other men. I wouldn’t trust any of them.” She never thought of filing a complaint with the police. “That’s useless. My boss would never divulge the customer’s name. I’d just be putting the police in the way of the other girls still working there. They don’t need that.”
“I was less important than the family secrets.” – Vanille, 34.
“The justice system isn’t for everybody.” Vanille thinks that it can be difficult for people to believe in it. “I don’t recommend it all of the time. There are other avenues, like mediation. Or you can sue, in civil court rather than in criminal court.”
When she was a child her cousin, one year older than her, would come up with games such as hide-and-go-seek so that he could sexually assault her. “I’m sure that this was known. I have other cousins. He has a sister.”
She finally made a complaint to the police, thanks to the help of a family friend. The two of them were spat at, rejected, and detested. “It would have been easier for the family to know nothing. I was less important than the scandals and secrets of my own family.”
Even though the cousin was found guilty, it’s Vanille who feels like the convict, with no chance of parole. “My cousin got off easy, because he was a minor at the time of the offense. He can hide what he did to me.”
Her aggressor has a family now, unlike Vanille, who has been trapped “in crappy relationships.” She’s dated several men for whom she didn’t seem to count. “I’ve had enough. I went for therapy. At first I thought that I was the problem, that I was defective. I fell in love with my psychologist, so I changed psychologists.” She also tried to see beyond the sorts of relationships she was getting involved in.
This woman in her thirties now considers herself bisexual. Single, she thinks it possible that she can be well one day without diminishing herself and without submitting herself to games she doesn’t want to play.