More than 150 sexual assault survivors are sending $7 million worth of invoices to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Their goal? To demonstrate just how expensive it is to be attacked.
“Often we talk in terms of trauma, emotional harm, but we don’t think about the actual logistics of, ‘Can I actually afford to be sexually assaulted right now,'” said Mandi Gray, a York University PhD student who was sexually assaulted in January 2015.
Gray put out an online survey asking survivors to attach dollar amounts to costs they have shouldered. The answers that came back were “heartbreaking.”
“Tuition costs were huge,” she said. Many of the respondents said they dropped out of school after being assaulted. Also substantial were “legal fees, paying for therapy, paying for medication and other medical procedures.”
Gray is intimately familiar with the heavy cost of being attacked, citing major delays in her PhD studies and “thousands of dollars” worth of therapy, as well as the cost of hiring her own lawyer during the trial of the man who assaulted her.
On Tuesday, Gray was among a group some 20 survivors and allies demonstrating at a downtown Toronto courthouse, bringing with her a novelty cheque made out to “all the J. Doe’s” and printed with a replica of Justin Trudeau’s signature.
“Who’s the boss of my body? I am,” the demonstrators chanted.
The timing of the demonstration was no coincidence.
On Tuesday, Mustafa Ururyar, the man found guilty in July 2016 of sexually assaulting Gray, appealed his conviction at the Superior Court of Justice.
Ururyar was ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to Gray to cover a portion of the money she spent on her own lawyer.
“I felt that everybody else had lawyers … I was the only one who was unrepresented, and I was the most vulnerable,” she said.
The $8,000 restitution order has proved “controversial,” said Gray, with a national criminal lawyers’ association joining the appeal case as interveners to argue that Ururyar should not have to pay.
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