INTERVIEW: Maria MacLachlan on the GRA and the aftermath of her assault at Speaker's Corner

My experience of court was much worse than the assault. I was the one on trial that day and if it hadn’t been for the clear video evidence that I’d been assaulted, my assailant wouldn’t have been convicted, even though there were over a dozen witnesses who could have said what happened. I was asked “as a matter of courtesy” to refer to my assailant as either “she” or as “the defendant.” I have never been able to think of any of my assailants as women because, at the time of the assault, they all looked and behaved very much like men and I had no idea that any of them identified as women. After he was arrested, the defendant posted vile misogynistic comments on his Facebook page that no woman would ever make. He was also filmed aggressively intimidating a woman on a picket line, shouting obscenities at her. In what sense is this person a woman?
The judge never explained why I was expected to be courteous to the person who had assaulted me or why I wasn’t allowed to narrate what happened from my own perspective, given that I was under oath. His rebuke and the defence counsel’s haranguing of me for the same reason just made me more nervous and I so continued to inadvertently refer to my male assailant as “he.” In his summing up, the judge said I had shown “bad grace” and used this as an excuse not to award compensation. One writer said, “It was as if the state had colluded with the defendant to take one last stab at the victim,” and that’s exactly how it felt.

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