Episode 131: Domestic Violence Awareness Month Community Conversation on Police Violence
Either podcast listeners. Welcome to engendered. The show that features stories that explore the systems practices and policies that enable gender based violence and oppression and the solutions to end it. We used gender as a lens to understand power and oppression teach feminism and decolonized hearts and minds one story at a time gender sponsored by candu. It spelled k. N. d. u. I t. and i'm your host terry. Un this year in recognition of domestic violence awareness month the gender collective hosted a series of community conversations to bring greater awareness domestic abuse and gender based violence. Today's conversation deals with the intersection of sexism. Racism rape culture and policing welcome. Everybody my name is terry your head. And i'm the founder of the gendered collective and today we're going to be having her community conversation domestic abuse and police violence Were happy to have three guests to talk about this issue. I'm a survivor. I'm an intersectional feminist. And i am also an advocate to end gender-based. It's systemic sexism In all forms texas oppression. And that's why. I founded the gender collective which is a community of survivors advocates and pro feminist allies. To come together in community advocacy and learning. And so the three pillars that we have for our work is number one. We engage in in knowledge building and knowledge sharing So we have a weekly podcast called gendered this community conversation as well as the other ones that we have scheduled for oct for domestic violence awareness. Month is also part of that. We have a platform where members it can engage share and house questions. The second pillar. Is we gaijin community chair community healing so we have weekly survivors offering support groups that are based off of the feminist consciousness raising classes and workshops from the battered women's movement and we also engage in advocacy to end sexism. And to increase accountability around sexist oppression violence and exploitation So there's a working group that we have comprised at international members who are working on course to control what the gender collective is about now just to sort of frame the expectations for this conversation and future ones what these community conversations are is an opportunity hopefully for survivors and advocates practitioners researchers. Everybody who's working the space and cares about the issue to come together. Sure experiences via source of inspiration in hopefully learning. They are not definitive in the answers that we offer What i say today. And i might be very strongly advocate for or against a particular position. I'm open to change and And so it is not a place where we are setting rules and agendas for how things should be in a final way so please please keep that in mind. The three speakers and panelists we have today are efi's robbie had their make william and the net chelsom so i'm gonna give everybody a brief opportunity to just introduce themselves directly so we're gonna start with efi i So my name's efi sarabi. Thank you for having me. I've been a police officer since two thousand eight. I was hired. When i was twenty seven years old and i worked in the same division from two thousand eight or two thousand nine on main until two thousand eighteen. When i went off sick. I worked in the same division the entire time and throughout the years i came to realize that policing has serious systemic sexual abuse problem racism problem and you know it set it was. It was a tough ten years to be nine environment. And you know every time we spoke up everytime myself and other officer colleagues brought this issues forward Lever told the same thing over and over again you know think about the ramifications of careers about your future these people you work with so there always that fear of of reporting stuff and that was one of the reasons why women don't feel police women don't feel safe is that we know that there is very little avenue if any for us to get support when we come forward so two thousand eighteen i follow the human rights complaint and I've been speaking basically publicly. And i've been meeting other women in policing across canada and in other walks of life their career's going through the same issues. So i've been very fortunate to meet some amazing women and so we can help each other. Get through this. And and hopefully. I'll make change and demand for change in the next. Is heather please terry. Thanks for having me. I'm a police officer. I work at the same organization that epi works out which is in charge. Oh for the police service there. I joined policing in two thousand and four worked for the national police force for the rcmp. Originally and then continued my career mostly with the toronto police service. And i've been a police officer for fifteen years in two thousand and fourteen. I left my service in one on a medical leave due to the toxic workplace and experiences. That i had from colleagues supervisors in my workplace throughout my career and due to the experiences that i had wires leading work. Afterwards i filed the human rights complaint that i fought alongside with very experienced lawyers. I'm with regards to sexual harassment sexual abuse in the workplace on systemic toxic Replace out in policing women and recently after six years of just In june this year we won the case of us instead of sexual abuse in the workplace in so there was changes implemented and there was a lot of awareness brought that decision i worked in different Units within the organization. I had experienced in homicide drug squad and in the intelligence bureau and With all that experience in all the other women that i saw going through similar abuse. I decided to continue my career now as an advocate for women's rights and an ally to humanity for others to help make a difference in other people's lives so that we can all collectively have a better tomorrow in q. Heather and finally ninette low everybody and thanks for joining us today. Minus ninette cheese him and i live in colorado and in two thousand fifteen i began relationship with a law enforcement officer and it was a relationship that was filled with emotional psychological and verbal abuse and after i reported him to his chief of police i was able to finally begin the healing process part of that healing process involved learning as much as i can about police culture speaking with law enforcement about police culture and officer involved domestic violence awareness and researching everything i possibly could about domestic violence and speaking to advocate survivors etc. That started me on a journey of deciding that. I'm not going to be silent. And i'm going to speak out and that's what i do now. In addition to a corporate job day to day job career. That i have i am a public speaker. And i educate advocates law enforcement and the general public about involved domestic violence with an emphasis also on the verbal and psychological tactics that my perpetrator used on me and the tactics that abusers use in general. So here we are. And thank you terry for giving all of us this opportunity to speak today and cuna net. So we're going to get started with. Just framing the problem. I don't know how many of us in this conversation are aware of this. But i i became introduced to this problem when i entered when i interviewed for zara. Tourists thomas for the podcast. And i was looking into the statistics around domestic abuse amongst law enforcement and apparently law enforcement is the sector with the highest rates of domestic violence. There was a study in nineteen ninety one by arizona. State university that estimated based on based on its results that at least forty percents of the Law enforcement engages in domestic abuse and this was based on questions where the term of violence or behaving violently wasn't even defined and so if we extend the definition of abuse to beyond just the physical incident model. It's likely that it's much higher than forty percent. So i wanna start with the net in terms of your own personal experience. You were involved with an officer in an officer involved domestic violence relationship. Can you tell us briefly some of the ways in which he engaged in abusive behavior. Because most of it as you explained in our podcast interview was not physical cracked some of the tactics that he used on me. Were commanding tone of voice. Also a commanding presence and that was exhibited through his body language. Much like law enforcement officers are trained to have a commanding presence when they're on scene to investigate an incident He wrote that tactic home. Some of the other behaviors that he engaged in were were controlling behaviors course control and a few examples of that would be early on in the relationship trying to gauge my boundaries. So that would be things. Like i drink almond milk and not dairy milk. So he was very vocal at at at boise his displeasure at new drinking dairy milk in trying to get a swit- or almond milk and trying to get me to switch to jerry melt Examples like didn't load the dishwasher correctly. I didn't hang my bathroom towels correctly. I wasn't very good at giving directions. He nitpicked everything that i did. Some the other behaviors that he exhibited is blaming others for a lot of the problems that he experienced during the course of his life. And i picked up on that in realized that there's one common denominator in in all of this in. That was him some of the other behaviors that he used. Were gas lighting behaviors for those of us joining today. Who don't understand what gas lighting it is. It is distorting it was distorting my perception of reality. So if i said the sky was blue he would have a way of manipulating that for me to look up at the sky and say yeah maybe maybe the sky isn't blue. Maybe it's another caller and and for those of you who have been in a relationship with gas lighting. You'll understand exactly weren't talking about. And eventually he did start to escalate and some Some physical traits that that are physical. Harm that concerned me. Such as pounding his fists on a strain well for example which concerns me so just a lot of course of control a lot of a commanding tone and blame and trying to switch situations back onto me to make me feel like things were my folks when they were really truly his doing so. In the context of a regular relationship many people might interpret these behaviors as quote unquote harmless and obviously in the we who are advocates of Reframing domestic abuse as course of control in a non physical incident only model perspective. We understand that. That's not the case but with this additional layer of knowing that your partner was a police officer and carried a gun. What was that like in terms of the impact on you and the kinds of thoughts and self policing behavior that you might have prescribed as a way to manage the situation. Well in the very beginning. I speak about this. Whenever i give a presentation. I initially placed a lot of trust in him because he was a law enforcement officer when when he told me in the beginning that he was a law enforcement officer and so i think as a result of that i let my guard down a little bit because he was a law enforcement officer. And you know i. It's it's it's a strange feeling when you're being perpetrated against but you don't realize you're being perpetrated against and it's especially in nursing when it's a law enforcement officer because they do have access to a weapon and you know there's intimidation factor. You know. who am i gonna talk to. Who's gonna believe me. Who can i reach out to if the incident if any incidents needed to be reported that we're in his his town his his neck of the woods. Who's gonna believe me. It's a small rural community. So anyone that's gonna show up most likely it's going to be who he leads on his force. He was the second in command at this particular agency. So who's gonna believe me. So that was a fear factor. Another piece that is always intimidating. Is if you do need to leave if you wanna leave if you want to end the relationship if you want to escape along officers have access to a lot of information traceable information so that was also a concern especially after the relationship ended. I don't personally believe that he was stalking me. But i'll never know. Because i'll never know because he's that good at the seat in deflections and whatnot so it adds another layer of worry win your perpetrators actually in law enforcement and cuna annette. So just the interpersonal setting. Let's talk about the institutional setting efi. What you and. I spoke about the experiences that you had. They were initially things that you discovered through your partner and through a group chat that he was part of so. Can you talk about that. And what what it was that he discovered and shared with you. My fiancee works on the same shift and the same station downtown with me. He was part of a group shot and like group. Chats are a common thing with officers and mostly it's like a very tricky thing so you know officers do all the time and I wasn't part of this group. Chat the specific group chat. I m my fiance was part of it. And i don't know most people that have been on group chats with know that a lot of the conversations you don't see because you're either busy and it's always people talking so one day he came to me and said there's a good chance that you know about but this is this is what they're saying about you so he showed me the message that that was discussed between these fourteen officers About myself and so it was really. It was disheartening to see that the people i worked with known for years. And you know you. You go to their weddings. You see their kids are born there. You know it's like a family thing right like you. You feel like you're part of the team and to see the way they were speaking about myself and my colleagues and just members of the public and the that were sharing amongst each other and posting it was very very disheartening. To see and it was very alarming. Because you know when you see that the group of guys that you work with are the way they speak a really affects your the you see them and how they treat the public and so that was a hard thing for me to realize that i was working with these guys on. This is how they were really treating us on and everybody else anc you and heather. Your experience utah. You shared with me your experience around. How your colleagues Behavior not just towards one another and to the women in the department were but also is indicative based on their response to domestic violence and sexual assault incidents in how they're responding to the public Was in your words. You know something that the public would be shocked about. Can you describe some of the things that your fellow officers would say or do when responding to sexual assault and gender based crimes in for one example are a few examples I was detective constable in the detectives office at the time. And i was working with male supervisors and win there was sexual assaults investigations. That were being conducted. We would induct interviews with the sexual assault victims in their survivors. In afterwards after the interviews there would would-be comments made as to whether or not the victim of the survivor was telling the truth and the only part of the investigation that had commenced at this point was the interview so there had been no evidence collected. There had been no other parts of the investigation that collaborate someone's integrity whether or not someone has something happened had not been conducted and they were making comments that they were the comments were she had faked brass. You probably deserved it or she was asking for it. Or the comment was i. Don't believe her right off the hop just because they didn't believe her from whatever symptoms at they were showing at that time that they felt that they didn't believe her likely didn't have the background and the experience and the knowledge to wet symptoms present trauma. In what do not end. So you know comments when a female would come in to make report one of my abusers sept up to me and was commenting on her physical appearance in what he liked about her physical appearance. And i remember another situation where there was a young young survivors. Speaking about her experience about sexual assaults and my supervisor had went back into the room and basically read her herat's and cautioned her Something that were trained not to do is If they're making false allegations that they would be charged so my experiences and as i was going through my own experience of sexual harassment and i was sexually assaulted by one of my bosses. The response was These women were to be believed. They were called dame's derogatory names. And there's also a checklist. After interview is conducted through in canada called by class that has to be submitted so that we can track known or unknown suspects in sexual abuse or sexual assaults and they would complain about having to fill this report out so there was a lack of motivation to want to pursue conduct these investigations all surrounding all of it was so concerning on a larger scale than just that that one person that we spoke to. How many times has this happened to someone when they don't even know when they've come to us with courage to ask for help and this is the response. They're getting behind closed. Doors with police. Officers not understanding what trauma is for sexual abuse in how that affects people versus different other kinds of abuse or different other kinds of harm. That's conducted that they respond to that. This was last than important than other offenses so you. You mentioned trauma. That's something that's been covered. Very broadly in the media for example unbelievable is a docudrama. i guess i'll net flicks About a serial rapist and shows very clearly how women are not only disbelieved but that they're penalized for potentially in the view of law enforcement Making false reports and so the the. There's a common argument that if only police officers or if only xyz groups of people were trained they would do better. So are there. instances. I'll pose this to you know All of our panelists are there. Instances where you know. That training has lead to better outcomes That if they understood trauma better that they would be more empathetic for example or at least not. Make you jump to this stereotype. So any of our panelists on feel free to to answer this. I'll speak briefly about it just in my own experience having going gone through what i've gone through with my health and Plus your attic stress in all of the other things that went along with that. Is that the more i personally learned about trauma. The more i was mental health more. I was able to understand others mental health and their trauma and their symptoms and their experiences and what affects them on a daily basis. And what they're presenting to me and how it's being perceived by others and so just you're my own experience because i know that through policing we aren't i wasn't trained to the degree that we should be trained with regards to mental health and how it affects someone and What that truly looks like. I mean ar experiences police officers has a lot to do with physical training rather than mental health training with anybody else like to answer before we continue. I agree with heather on that point. The more you you educate and train people the more. They're able to to deal with issues. And when they're facing those circumstances so training and education has to continue. It's very important that we continue because times are changing people. People are changing ideas. It's always changing so we have to continue training but there's also the aspect of transparency and accountability. That's very important that goes hand in hand because at the end of the day there are people that are not that are doing things on purpose that are causing harm purpose and so if you're not holding anyone accountable and if you're not doing it transparency for everyone to see the consequences on these actions than that's the would then we're faced with just training after training and nothing changes so to go on to the next part so that. Let's let's talk about the responses to each of your experiences Ninette at some point. You decided to break up with your partner and report Can you tell us about that. Experience what it was like what you were considering weighing the pros and cons of of what made you decide to actually move forward rather than keep quiet well. After the relationship ended in september. Of twenty. Fifteen i as i mentioned earlier once it was related to me by a friend that what had been happening to me was considered domestic abuse. I was stunned and shocked. And i started researching as much as i could about domestic violence and that led me to being curious about rates of domestic violence within law enforcement. So that me. On a whole other whole other journey. Learning all i could and as i began processing not only what had happened to me as far as the domestic abuse is concerned but also started learning and understanding the high rates of devi within the law enforcement community and hearing from other survivors of dvd. And a couple of female officers actually who had experienced officer involved domestic violence at the hand of their their partners who were also in law enforcement. I really started to to understand the totality of this problem. And as i mentioned earlier i decided not to be silent and so after about five or six months after the relationship ended. I had been therapy. I was doing all that. I could to heal and to move forward in my life and i was stopped and i couldn't figure out why i was stuck in could move forward and i hit actually just to vent had had months ago. Started writing an email letter to his chief of police. And i had no intention of sending it at the time that i that i wrote it and i filed it away in my in my email file in about five or six months of you know just being in at one point. Got angry at what he had done to me. I pulled up the email that i had written to the chiefs. The draft and i made a few revisions and i hit sant. I did not wake up that morning deciding to hit. Send on that on the email button. And i tell you what i refer to this. Whenever i speak the minute i hit that send button. I felt the sense of relief. And i thought empowerment and to me. That was my justice. That was me holding him accountable. And when i hit the send button i was happy. I was climbing. Okay and to my surprise and amazement about a week later in investigator from a neighboring district. Attorney's office actually reached out to me and asked me. If i wanted to talk and i said yes yes i would like to talk. And i met with that investigator in sporran hour and a half and he recorded me. And i prepped a an incident list. I call it of about sixty four individual incidents of verbal and psychological abuse that he inflicted on me and i left a copy behind for the investigators file and when that meeting was over i felt this incredible sense of relief. I felt like the weight of the world. Lifted off my shoulders and for me personally. That is exactly what. I needed to move forward. That did it speaking to that investigator. And i remember driving back to work that morning and feeling relieved and feeling like this is over. This is it. That's what i need. Was there any sense of fear that accompanied those other emotions. No no not. At that point time. I had already started to speak publicly about what he had been doing to me. And enough people in my personal world knew who he is and any any sense of fear that i would have felt flew by the wayside because i felt confident i powered and i knew i was doing the right thing for me. Okay so that contrast obviously for someone who actually works what their abuser or their harasser for those folks like f. e. and heather who had to go back to work and deal with it every day different set of consequences of so efi. You shared that. Your fiancee was the first person to introduce you to sort of the the the web of on the ecosystem of meal entitlement and sexist and misogynistic behavior not just towards the public but obviously also towards their colleagues So how did that play out in terms of its impact on your fiance. Because he obviously weren't arguably call him a whistle blower by having you know by by telling on his buddies. How did it impact him And that what subsequently happened when you reported so when i reported in when i reported in two thousand eighteen september on that's when the report came out and he was basically very very well liked he he was an auxiliary officer before he got hired. He knew he knew the officers who got along with. Everybody played hockey and they loved him. Great guy you know. He very level person. As soon as my human rights report came out within a few days. Nobody talked to him at work. He was sharp whose isolated he was may be called him a rach they he wasn't he didn't even feel safe going to the bathroom oneself. He nobody talked to him. He wasn't invited to the christmas party and short for people that here this. It sounds like you know okay. It's not a big deal you can get over it. You can get posted but when you're in an environment where you depend on people as a young officer. He has less time than i do. He was very very badly affected by that To a point where he was having suicidal ideologies that i felt such fear of leaving him to go into the grocery store. I was so much fear of coming home and finding him. God forbid like dad and you hear other officers that are going through things and you hear other wise or girlfriends or grieving on family members. Talk about they didn't realize that they didn't see it coming. But i saw dot com and it was scary so as a police officer someone. That's on the inside. It's not much more scarier because we know we've seen our. I have two friends of mine. Committed suicide. And i saw how things just unfolded over the years with their trauma with their stress and their abuse. So this was really alarming from me and it was so hard to see them. Treat him that way because he had nothing to do with anything other than just show me what was saint what was being said behind my back but the way they treated him. It was like a double betrayal for me. It was so much harder for me to deal with what he was going through than what i was going through. The deal was unbearable. All factors played a huge. It's a huge part of the problem. Thank you and could you talk a little bit. More about the human rights tribunal that you brought your case too and its impact on you. Obviously you were basically shouldering this double burden feelings of how it was impacting him as well as carrying your own grief and trauma around the experience. So what happened with a tribunal on so they haven't assessed the case yet is two years later. I have spent over sixty thousand dollars out of pocket for for human rights tribunal. That hasn't even started. I had to pay out of pocket for lawyers. I have been getting seventy five percent of my salary. I'm not getting full full salary. And most of that is going to lawyer's fees legal defense and stuff and so they drag it out day just waste time. They keep and they have all the money in the world. They have taxpayers pocket purse. They can just take out money and pay for big lawyers on so this is like so many layers of issues that we have to deal with. You know financially mentally family. My family is affected by this. My fiance's family is severely affected by this and there seems to be nowhere to for for us to go for help in q a so heather in your own experience. You talked about The lack of disciplinary action and This trend in a way. We wanna call it that of people who are power some of who may have been accused perpetrators for either moving up or two different positions where they're still employed in policing and up meaning. They're promoted so not only are. Is there not a negative consequence that there's a positive consequence so just default on what effie said. There's this financial costs. So can you talk about with regard to your case. Why is it that there is this financial burden that the victim has to shoulder herself. Rather at who's is paying actually for the alleged perpetrator so when i came forward and decided that i wanted to go ahead with the application. For the human rights tribunal. I had asked. Our association arch are police association which is like a union and they had stated that they would not support me financially with regards to human rights and so they have experienced a decades in more than me in policing they also have a history of family members that have also been in policing for decades before me as well and so it was a choice that they had and so they have this discretion that they can say yes or say no to where they decide to allocate the money with which the association provides support to and so the officer is mainly in our organization that get support our officers that have been charged criminally or they've been facing some sort other workplace problems not about female officer problems that that were experiencing so in the past. Lobsters have just prior to my experience in going forward. There's a few male officer that was leaving the job and she had a lot of female officers take Nondisclosure agreements so that they financially cannot go through with a standing up for themselves without the the support of the association and so in my experience. There's my financial statement. Was you know above a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That i paid a pocket and you know that's the example of what it takes or what it took. In my circumstances there is thirty. Police officers that they put on a stand against me to which were not found to be credible i was but again that is the example of why women won't come forward. Is that this is what they're going to face. Because i had no support at all everyone was too fearful to speak up about the truth about it. Fear of reprisal within the service so just to go over is that we don't have the support it's decades of this culture flourishing in the way that they've liked to suppress swimming from being able to change the way that things are the status quo but A lot of the power in control comes from you know those that are at the top of our organization and they did move people that were involved in my case to positions as to where they could have further power and control over my career over the situation to further harm me and these individuals who were moved up they were involved in your case and a guessing they're stolen in those positions. There's no accountability still at this point for them. Even after the human rights tribunal after. I've been found. Credible though. Is that stayed in policing didn't retire. Since the case are still in positions of power are still in positions of control in which they have access and have used against me my personnel location and various other ways in which to intimidate me and my family though actually recently there was a counselor within our city that decided to start involving the city with regards to the accountability of service since there has been zero accountability with regards to what's happened since the decision. Come out yeah. And and i just want to highlight for our attendees that in the resort tour thomas episode. We actually shared resources where there was an article about the incidence and prevalence of domestic violence amongst police officers amongst law enforcement add. The article highlights that the lack of disciplinary measures is so severe that there are so many other disciplinary problems. That police officers do actually get citations for negative consequences for the fall above Domestic violence and they include drug use theft embezzlement another words false statements or perjury assault and all of those actually have a higher incidence of negative outcomes than domestic violence which falls below all of that. Which i think is very indicative of how women and sexual assault and sexual violations are viewed in this culture. So let's talk about some of these structural impediments to accountability. that exists. one of them is data. I think f you talked about the lack of transparency. Part of the reason that there's a lack of transparency is the intersection of what normally exists in domestic violence. Which is the fear of reporting. We all know that when there is an experience of domestic abuse or course control that there's very low rates of reporting because of what the potential consequences are of engaging in criminal justice and all the other systems that you might have to engage in but there is also another complication in data which has apparently that in the us at least in nine hundred ninety six there was an amendment to a federal law that prohibits anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from owning a gun. And so this amendment is very valuable. Obviously from women who are in relationships with partners with guns but if your partner is a police officer who can't use a gun to go to work that obviously if you report your partner or if you report of anyone in that situation who has to use a gun for work there's going to be greater risk of retaliation and if you're in the relationship itself there might be economic considerations around your partner not be able to provide for the family. So that's one reason. I want to go back to heather efi with regard to the role of unions as gatekeepers after you talked about the cost of trying to achieve accountability love for you to delve into more. The cost of just trying to be healthy and stay and be employed still and what the role the union plays in. If at all it advocating for your interests as victim over the perpetrators so personally. I have gotten zero support from the union and from the moment i came forward with the reports. I had notified my union. The president two. I included him in the email and i told him the situation and i asked them for help and over and over again there was no help. They just don't care to how women union board is all men all white men. There's one woman. I believe she's a civilian but it's not enough. No have enough women on the union words. We don't have enough. We don't have any women looking after our interests. Sexual violence is not sexual. Violence is not a priority for them. Frankly so the last thing i said to my to my union was i need help. I cannot pay my bills. Pay my mortgage pay my lawyers and keep on top of everything this is this is just is too much for me and the response was just go to human rights. Just go to x. And you know it's the same complaint so we don't wanna do a double thing and so that's the last thing they said to me. And they know that human rights tribunal pigs years being known like heather mcwilliams. Said you know seven years later. All these officers lied. All these officers were being dishonest and the fact that has on our mental health is so severe. And just so that just before that you know that the union doesn't have any support for women so we have that much more offcicals in front of us and personally and my colleagues who were forced to resign. Last you're with nondisclosure agreements. None of us got help from our union. Not one of us and right. Now you're on leave. Isn't that right right now. i'm off sick. i've been diagnosed with. Ptsd you know and it's been a fight. It's been a fight. We are constantly fighting. We're constantly trying to get help from our organization and they expect to recover and expect you to come back to work. And you know they don't they. It's all lip service and all the things you know pictures. They taken all the ribbons on the pink shorts they were but it's all a facade. There's no help and it's it's very it's very difficult place to work and it's very difficult situation to be in so have there. You had talked about in terms of institutional gatekeepers in your experience. Recall the incident with the nurse. Who basically blamed you for not knowing. Better that the course. This was something you were going to experience at at reinforcing. The culture of misogyny. Can you talk about what happened with that nurse. So i went up work and i was now speaking to a doctor with regards to what i had experienced. She had advised that it was in my best interest for my hell to not attend the workplace. And so at this time my workplace was coming to my house so there was police officers coming to my home. Even one of my abusers had been sent to my direct supervisor's to check on me. And i was already off work with my doctor. There was a medical note santana. Everyone had the information that needed to have it but they insisted on coming to my home and harassing me. And then they continued to send letters in the mail ordering need to the medical bureau at headquarters in. If i didn't attend. I would be disciplined. I also was told by union. They would have my benefits in my pay cut off did not attend so going against my doctor's order. Ns was when my post traumatic stress was simply at. It's worst when i needed support. They did not give it to me. And i was ordered under our policies and procedures. I have to speak to the nurse. At least so i was speaking to the nurse and when i was speaking to the nurse the nurse told me that at this was a man's world. I should have known this when i joined policing what else did i expect. And that if i didn't listen to her we're going to make my life worse and so when we had the hearing this nurse had left the service and they could no longer find her to be able to testify regarding information and no one's been held accountable for the words that she had said when i needed support most when my mental health was added at point of needing that those words of encouragement to get better. They weren't there she asked me. What else was i going to do with my life. I was too young to work. And so she put all the blame on me and not on the situation as to what it was. Okay for those of the audience. Who isn't really who hasn't heard of the different cases in the public around being had there's a law that allows police officers to hold someone in custody and if you engage in rape or sexual assault as long as the police officer says that there is consent. It's legal believe it or not in many many states across the country in the us at least thirty states that is the case. So it's not surprising that when you have that law still on the books that within the culture itself you're going to be experiencing you know people who are the nursery you experienced gatekeepers of that culture. I think she was being actually being intimidated by my supervisors by the ones in power that renamed in this complaint. We don't have those laws here. So i really do believe that. She was being intimidated that possibly she was anyways. Intimidation you know regarding officer involved domestic violence victims. It's not unusual at all when there's an incident in officer show up on saying it's not abnormal. All for an officer to pull a victim aside and say you know if you move forward with this if you if charges pressed we move forward with this. He's gonna lose his pension. He's gonna lose his paycheck. He's gonna lose his weapon. So harry you're going to pay your bills. How are you going to support your kids so there is intimidation that happens on scene with many. Oh i d be victims and that is why a lot of victims. Don't move forward that fear and intimidation peace and it's a way of silencing women just like the nba it's a way of silencing women so we don't speak out and i know for fact that those same insinuations are also made when officers are responding to domestic abuse incidents and the perpetrator. The alleged perpetrator is not a police. Officer officers are still going to be asking. What are you going to support yourself. Who's gonna pay the bills. Cetera et cetera. And so this is a great segue into some of the solutions that have been offered in the domestic violence community as well as and police reform community and one of them is. There was an article in his magazine. That's stated that what part of what we need and policing to address the fight to end domestic violence as gender parity so in other words the more women we have an police policing the better it will be so efi was talking about efi both and and heather how their experienced help them be more. Empathetic better understand symptoms of trauma in the people that they are responding to but the net. I want to ask you this concept of more women. has shown up in a book by an australian journalist named just hill who we also had on the podcast episode. She wrote a book. That's just been released in the. Us called see what you made me do. And in that book she talks about this idea of in the global south women's police stations so instead of treating domestic violence domestic piece. I something that needs to have a remedy where there's an arrest potentially and a conviction that the goal is providing signals accountability in some ways and hoping to have an ongoing mechanism for developing or enhancing survivor. safety plan. so the survivor basically has relationship with the women police officers who check on them regularly and have a relationship and kind of signal literally or figuratively to the perpetrator. Who might still live in that home. I have an eye on you So if you were in a situation where you were living with someone or in a relationship still with a officer is not something that would help you be more inclined to reach out and look to law enforcement for help. I think initially it would feel like a safe place. A trusting place trusting relationship. And it's an interesting model. It's an interesting concept. I would love to see more more women involved in the profession. I think there are so many benefits to that in many ways in all communities at the end of the day you know beyond that that one on one relationship with that female law enforcement officer moving forward through the legal system. How is that relationship it's beneficial. But how is that relationship going to carry forth beneficial to me getting through the legal system and being able to trust that legal system beyond my relationship with that female law enforcement officer. And i certainly think that it's easier to speak to feel enforcement officer when it's domestic violence rape sexual assault. I certainly think that that is a more comforting talk to have rather than speaking one on one with a male detective or amount officer. Okay thank you. So i'd like to address another policy proposal that i'm sure many of us have read about a specially post. George floyd and the strengthening of the black lives matter movement. There's term that has been very prominent in the media called quote. De-fund the police. I know that f. e. has has shared with me she'd rather the turkey perform the gleese so either way just to give some background for the attendees defined the police or reform. The police movement is about reallocating direct policing resources to strengthening in particular communities of color. Who have been over policed and so it may include allocating resources so that you're adding the presence of police in schools but increasing monies for social workers and other kinds of crisis services repair services to be those first responders when there are incidents of crises that might have a mental health considerations or behavioral consideration. There's also the possibility that the reduction in money might help to and enforcement of minor it is people have suggested legalizing marijuana possession and distribution for example so these are just a few of the high level ideas that have come out of defunding. The police and i wanna turn to heather now with regard to your or outcome which came out in june. If you can talk about with regard to societal change in policy. If any of the outcomes that you got from your case have been things that you would recommend. In addition to defend the police options or if you have objections or additions to make with regard to feel Those might be modified. I'll just share with you. The m the orders were from the tribunal it was developed a human rights strategy retain an external expert on policing and human rights to conduct additional training for supervisor specifically provide annual training for all officers on sexual harassment human rights in poison work environments chakma report on internal human rights complaints as this had not been done in the past so in my experience through this hearing of six years You know i had the opportunity to look outside of the organization itself and really understand in see a different perspective as to where we are failing ourselves and the public and so In my experience is that you know just even listening to the testimony of the officers on the stand was that they really had no idea. Some of them that are workplace had was poisoned. Work in place workplace. What sexual harassment was. They had become so used to the culture in the in the experiences that they were having that it had been normalized so the leaders at the top that have also gone through. This culture also have been normalized to the culture and don't have that outside perspective as to what is truly needed to effect change within internally and externally for the public and in it's not about ego. It's not about saying you don't know how to police or make changes or differences in people's lives. It's about bringing in the experts who understand problems both individually and collectively as a society as a whole for our health and well-being. You know we're gonna turn now to the question and answers by the audience. And i'm gonna just to follow up with a question with efi of listener previously asked. Why did you go into police saying. And i'd like to have you share with our attendees. What your personal reason was in what you knew about it before you started. Oh I come from a country where i grew up in war and and we left when i was young and we came to canada with my parents and my siblings and i saw the struggle as my mom was going through an immigrant. I saw the hardship that we were going through an isolated strong woman she was in she was still inspiring and was so amazing and so strong and joey's had Morals she had the good morals to do the right thing and she taught us the same. So those are some of the things that i relate to policing is that those characters and those those qualities and so. When my mom passed away i was. I was nineteen years old and before she passed away. I always talk about me. Wanted to be a police officer and she was always worried about the safety aspect. You know like. I don't want to get hurt. And all that. After she passed away. I had to follow my dreams and i wanted to make her proud so i became a police officer. You know i wanted to. I wanted to be a strong woman. I wanted to to help other women to help victims domestic violence victims children. That are being sexually abused. I wanted to do so much for the community. And you know there's nobody can really tell you what's going to happen when you go into policing nobody can warn you about this and you can't say to somebody will why don't you just leave. It takes so much for me to become a police officer dedicated so much to it. I love it so much better from me. Walking away is not an option. If i were to walk away. I'm failing everybody. I'm failing my colleagues failing women the public you know and it just it will just continue. It's not gonna stop if we walk away if every woman walks away. Who's facing these issues than is just continue and it's going to affect the public and it's gonna affect my communities my family my future so that's one of the reasons why i came forward knowing that it could possibly end my career but i didn't want to leave if i was gonna leave. I didn't want to leave it. Worst the worst than we had found it. So that's what it meant to me to be a police officer right. And i wanted to add a lot of people who are in the prison. Abolition and On the extreme end of the defunding police movement where they really do want to eliminate cursory state and they wanna eliminate policing their arguments that we don't need a criminal. Justice system is we have resources. Invested into helping communities. Economically thrive at grow is that we can't trust policing because of its racist manifestations will arguments also been made about the healthcare system. We had interviewed recently with author jennifer block and journalists who talked about the healthcare disparities between men and women but also of course between women and women of color being negatively impacted and if that system also has had terrible abuses perpetrated by doctors against black americans and black women. Nobody's saying hey let's defend the healthcare sector right. We want reform it and so. I think that there's room for having this conversation and fixing what isn't working and so to that. Let's turn to the questions michelle. I've asked michelle to sort of aggregate the questions. Certain themes so. Maybe if you have a question that we can give towards the net feel free to ask another question that has come up around accountability with police officers and how are. They held accountable for their actions. So can i ask you know your experience. Actually i think is so unusual. Won't it's it's such the exception. Not the rule. Was there anything in particular. What did you do differently. Was it the people that were involved. How was it that you were able to get an outcome where you're actually having conversations with police officers. They did an investigation and there was a remedy. That's i don't know if you find it satisfactory but at least wasn't hopefully unsatisfactory right well for me. I was vindicated. And i felt like in my case justice was served. He did not physically harm me. What he did was cursor control. Which in the united states of america is not a criminally punishable offense the verbal on the psychological piece so just having that audience with an investigator via the chief of police which is enough for me. Everyone's version of justice and accountability is different when it comes to domestic and so we need to respect that of each individual survivor and it is not unusual for officers to not be legally held accountable and that is surprising to a lot of people in the general public. Who don't understand what happens behind the scenes that they don't understand when unions get involved how they protect for lack of a better word. A lot of these officers who are accused Not just domestic violence or sexual assault embezzlement etc. There was a case recently with l. a. p. d. where a union actually decided not to back up officer who was accused of fondling a dead body in a war. He was caught on camera his own police cameras bodycam caught and the union. That's one of the rare cases where a union has decided. We're not going to help you weren't going to back. We're not support you. But it's not unusual like i said for intimidation tactics to be employed so that survivors back off. It's not unusual because it is a patriarchal institution Stomach within law enforcement for women to not be believe for women to be stood down for accountability to not be achieved. I guess what. I'm trying to say is extremely rare and has to be an extremely awful case for a perpetrator to be held accountable in the legal system within law enforcement and for oh i deviates extremely rare so yes my. My situation was rare. I think that it's because In part because iran ran into the right chief of police who was his boss and He's he's he's young. He's younger so i think that he has probably a different perspective. He hasn't been in the business for thirty forty years and has that that ingrained mentality was younger. Chief of police. I also think. Looking back i intuitively fouts during the relationship that there were other things going on with him within that department He was very paranoid. He was always paranoid that he was going to get fired. He would complain to me. That a lot of his officers didn't like him. And so i think my peace mike complaint was just a tiny piece of other things that were happening in that department concerning him. I would not be surprised if he had a file full of of citizen complaints. Because he would tell me you know a citizen cold because he was too groff to mean to to a citizen and they took offense to that so there were other things going on with him. And i think that's ultimately what that was his demise. He's no longer with that department. By the way he separated from that department. July twenty seventeen. And i believe that there were other things going on with him so if i may it. Sounds like one of the suggestions that you have and the other panelists have offered as well. Is that accountability requires that people speak up and the more people who speak up the more quote unquote evidence or documentation. There is against someone that will make it hard data. That will make it hard for people. Ed power to ignore. Does that sound right. Wanna forced anyone to report. That's an individual decision. Safety always has to first priority but the true more people have to speak up and that's the only way we're going to get things stuck putting files that's the only way we're going to create awareness. That's the only way we're going to. We have to demand change. We have to demanded anymore so Next question please. Michelle right along with talking about the union's question came up with was what are some of the steps of the footsteps in changing the dynamic with the powers that union have with as regards misogyny. So have there were f. You probably know more about this either of you. There is a decision right now in the supreme court. It's a weeber vs toronto hydro. This decision was in nineteen ninety five and basically if you have a union it says you have to go through a union. You have to go to tribunal. I have to go through them via grievance whatever you have to do it has to be through the union so we cannot go to court. If we were sexually assaulted we have to go through. The union filed a grievance and all the other stuff. And that's the problem. That's what's missing is that we are being or complaints are being taken apart at the initial stages. It's not an unbiased investigation. So we have that extra obstacle in front of us okay so this just as a reminder to the attendees and heather are based in canada but certainly in the us there are two guests a state this civic and union specific rules with regard to how these kinds of complaints would be Respond to chew. And i wanted to give an an update from the twenty eight gene. At least in new york city there is an organization that is like a hybrid a government entity independent entity called. The new york city civilian complaint review board and it wasn't until twenty eighteen that they started investigating complaints of sexual assault and harassment by which previously was being referred by the board to the internal affairs bureau. So it's you know what both i've heard. Fema heather say you can't have people policing themselves. You need to have independent as okay. How would you like to add anything to what he said. The as the association isn't being compliant. Our option is to go to the labor board into make a complaint about them not assisting us and so. I think the bigger picture here is that term for decades. This is how how they did it. This is how they felt was the best way to protect. The majority of their members of their male members at the culture's changed and more officers. Don't wanna work in a culture that is negative and so eventually the cycle will have to have to a full circle where the majority of officers have had enough of this negative culture and the associations can see that santa behind good officers in the end will be the best practice You know for less work for them. It might be hard now but in the end doing. What's right now. we'll eventually get easier. Okay thank you so in the remaining time i would like to have each of the panelists gives some final thoughts and maybe what we could do is michelle if you can give some high level questions that remain. That haven't been answered. Um and they can maybe choose to answer one of them in their remaining thoughts. And what i'd like to do also invite fema and heather to be on the podcast into any question that has not been asked already a were happy to ask them during our interviews In the podcast. And you can look for that In an upcoming episode. So michelle if you can just read out loud the remaining questions or themes and then we'll have each of the panelists close so One asked to do one around. Transformative models are justice What are your thoughts on. Formative models of justice specifically for sexual and domestic violence. Do you think that the state divesting sexual violence and domestic violence cases away from a male dominated force is necessary. Okay are there any other questions besides and one centers around the topic that you handled already which is around. How you you talk about evidence. How did you get the evidence. What evidence did you have. That helped you win with the union and with law enforcement officers lying and harassing you okay. So that was for heather that question. Why don't we start with the net. If you can provide a short closing thoughts on what you think would be the biggest lever for change that we need that. We can do and that he would recommend. I feel that the international association of chiefs of police need to play a bigger role in these issues. They need to be much more vocal about officers that in with domestic violence and sexual assault on their partners as well as the general public and they need to take more of a leadership role and be more vocal about this. I think that will carry a lot of weight. And i think we need to move past recommending this or that and making things mandated encouraging mandates encouraging policies already policies in police forces across this country only thirty three percent of police precincts have aid away de policy. Now having said that you can put anything on paper but it requires enforcement so they're aware of the situation that are where avoided. Oh i d. they just don't speak publicly about it and so the icp needs to make more ways about this issue. Thank you f. e. I think that we need to. We need to talk about this stuff. We need to specifically sexual violence. There's not enough talking. There's not enough information. Gathered is not enough studies done and the longer stuff stays in the dark. The worst it's gonna get on so we need to able to talk about this without fear of reprisal feel fear of retaliation. We need to be able to connect with other victims other survivors and hear their stories. And how they you know. Unused their expertise learn from them and also make women aware of what's possibly out there right now. We need to let women know what's happening. I had no idea that this was what i was going to be faced with. And you know obviously. We need to make public aware by. We also need to have a broader conversation with everybody and really look at how we can go about making changes because this stuff is affecting lives it's negatively affecting lies. It's destroying families destroying the communities. And so we need to act now and we need to get comfortable with having these uncomfortable conversations to make change. Thank you and finally heather your closing thoughts. I agree with the net and athy regarding what they've given forward with regards to change and with leadership you know. They've been in the culture for decades when they get to the top of that pyramid. They're not going to turn around and point fingers at possibly the people that have been part of the problem or perhaps they've been turning a blind eye to this the entire their entire career. So you know having outside leadership might be the best chance at change. Because they're not prepared they didn't do it in twenty thirty thirty five forty years of their service. They're not about to rock the boat now and allow that to happen. So the leadership is truly what matters and the leadership needs to be about integrity. It needs to be about. We took an oath to protect people. And that involves everyone and that cam everyday when we go to work. It isn't just the people outside that we that we respond to that. We're gonna make the difference in. It's the people around us and ourselves and the choices that were making every single day and who we're going to protect and serve and that means everyone with that oath it just doesn't mean we get to choose. Thank you so. I'm going to actually add my own personal response to address the question that michelle asked around transformative justice of we talk about that a lot in the podcast and it is something that is very controversial within the domestic violence movement. It's been used in juvenile justice in rape and sexual assault cases and in violent crimes. But there's hardly been any studies around whether or not it should be used or would work for domestic abuse because of the nature of the parent control dynamic and When you have is a very similar to what. I was sharing earlier about when you have a police officer being able to legally rape a detainee if they claim it's consensual but we all know that there's no such thing as consensual sex when you're in police custody right and so similarly for domestic abuse victims There are many of us myself. Included and members of the gender collective who believe that of there's no such thing as consensual participation restorative justice practices especially as an alternative to incarceration When you are in a relationship with the abuser try with who you are seeking to get away. It is potentially a very coercive act just to ask for participation and antiques center. Anything else other than the survivors. Safety and fredo to make a decision later. If they want to participate in those kinds of things are not but to make it an alternative to incarceration especially when they're multiple systems involved by criminal court at child welfare and family court makes it very muddies it and makes it something myself in my community members. Find his dangerous so we are happy to share more resources about this and just before we close. I wanted to point out that. Unfortunately angie rivers was unable to join us today because she became ill but she graciously a very last minute invited f. e. and heather of so very happy that both of you were able to join us at the and heather Just isn't f. y. I. for folks who are participating. This is one of five conversations that we scheduled for domestic violence awareness month. It's something that you conjoined individually but we would love if you can join more of because the themes are interesting and it builds upon one another in terms of the knowledge that we're gaining. But i would like to thank all of our panelists the net and heather for joining us today. I'd like to thank michelle for helping to moderate the question and answer. Okay so thank you all have a great afternoon. And let's stay connected. Thank you thank you thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of gendered. The show is sponsored by kenya. Qna appear base knowledge platform that connects social service providers in advice community and learning. You can join can do at. Qna for free at q. And a. dot. K n d. u. I t. dot com. I'd love to get your feedback here. Any questions or suggestions you may have for the show. Please email us at engendered. Podcast at gmail.com with your questions.