A woman who was sexually assaulted and forcibly held by her former partner says she is both afraid to go outside and fearful of being in her home, where the attack occurred.
In a victim impact statement presented in NWT Supreme Court on Tuesday, the woman wrote: “I have lost that sense of safety and feeling that my home is safe … it hasn’t felt safe to me since the attack took place.
“I find myself on the guard all the time now. I am fearful of my surroundings. I am afraid to go out and I am afraid to stay home.”
The woman was attacked by the man as she slept at her Inuvik home in April 2020. She had been at her apartment with friends when the man, on probation and ordered not to contact her after earlier assaults, showed up with wine and liquor.
She let him in and later woke to find him violently raping her. The attack only ended when she became sick and had to use the bathroom. The man then refused to let her leave or use her phone.
She pretended to drink with him until convinced he was drunk enough for her to dash for her door and escape.
The man, who is not being named to protect the woman’s identity, was found guilty of sexual assault and forcible confinement after a four-day trial earlier this year in Inuvik.
Crown prosecutor Brendan Green told the sentencing hearing the man’s criminal record includes two sex crimes in the ’90s. Green argued for a sentence of between five and five and a half years, which would send the man to federal prison.
“All these factors make this among the most serious sexual offences,” Green said, documenting the impact on the woman of going through the court process to see justice done.
“I am forever fearful that he will retaliate because I went to police and court,” she wrote in her statement. “I have so much fear inside me right now. I have a fear of being alone. I find myself on the guard all the time now.
“I want to just drink it all away, but I can’t.”
The woman described herself as an alcoholic as she described using alcohol to try to sleep after the attack and the health issues that followed.
She now has a group of sober friends helping her and takes care of an Elder in the community.
“Because of Covid, it has been hard for me to get counselling,” she wrote. “I had to get myself out of drinking on my own, so I stopped drinking and went through two weeks of feeling sick.
“I have managed to stay sober on my own. I have decided to deal with what I have to deal with, because I know it is important to myself.”
The woman’s statement described being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and refusing to sleep in the bed where she was raped. She could not face returning home for a month after the attack, instead staying with a friend.
“Why should I be the one to go through all of this? Why am I the one who should be so scared? His words still haunt me – that I am owned and nobody else will have me,” she wrote.
“I just want my sanity back.”
Defence lawyer Baljindar Rattan said her client, now in his mid-50s, is Inuit and had a damaging upbringing as he was sent to a residential school in southern Canada as a child.
Between 1951 and 1991, First Nations and Inuit children were taken into care and placed with non-Indigenous parents in a process now called the Sixties Scoop.
“He was raised by white people,” Rattan said. “He never knew his father, but came to know his mother when he returned to the North.”
She asked for a total sentence of between 36 and 42 months followed by supervised probation.
“You can’t throw away the key on him,” said Rattan. “There is still a possibility of rehabilitation.”
Asked if he had anything to say, the man apologized for his actions.
“I’m sorry for the way things happened … people make mistakes on the outside,” he said, noting he might move to Yellowknife when eventually released.
“I’m sorry for how [the victim] feels. She’s still a good friend.”
Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau reserved her decision until Thursday afternoon.