Give Your Money To Survivors

Roslyn Talusan
Dec 3, 2017 · 4 min read
How survivors tryna be as we navigate a world that wants us traumatized and dead

People affected by sexual violence and trauma shouldn’t be shamed for needing financial compensation and support to survive.

Here is a list of things I am absolutely fucking sick of:

  • Rapists, abusers, misogynists, bystanders, and anyone who willfully maintains and benefits from the white supremacist, cishetnormative patriarchy
  • Sexual violence, whether it be rape, assault, abuse, or harassment
  • Systems and policies that prioritize paperwork and process over human lives
  • Carrying the burden of my trauma in silence while those that perpetuate violence against me live comfortably

Over the 6 months, but especially in the past few weeks, my frustration and anger as a survivor of sexual violence has infected and festered within me.

Long story short: I’m a Canadian federal public servant. In February 2015, a coworker raped me in the backseat of his car on our drive home. I reported the assault to our managers, and they called the police. He was charged with one count of sexual assault, that was later withdrawn by the Crown prosecutor in September 2015.

To the ignorant rape apologists who lack critical thinking skills: The prosecutor believed me, and the police detective believed me. My credibility as a witness was not the issue. Unfortunately, my rapist is white and was a first-time offender. There was no reasonable chance that a judge would convict him — so the prosecutor made him take a course on sexually transmitted infections instead.

When the charge was withdrawn, my managers made me work within 100 feet of him even though I told them it was triggering my PTSD. They forced me to work in a psychologically toxic environment despite my doctor, social worker, and union advocating otherwise. They had a duty to accommodate my mental health, and yet they failed to do so for 6 weeks.

In December 2015, I filed a harassment complaint arguing that my managers discriminated against me based on sex and disability. The department hired a third-party investigator who indeed found that I was harassed by my managers. It wasn’t until November 2017 when I received the final decision.

Apparently, the staff within my former department know better than the professionals advising them — the Director General went against the mediator’s findings. They told me that because I was ultimately accommodated into another position (after 6 weeks of wanting to kill myself), it couldn’t have been harassment.

In October 2016, that same department somehow neglected my paperwork, causing me to be underpaid by $165 every paycheque for 6 months, and $350 for 2 months after that. For a millennial graduate with debt, that is a lot of money to be missing for 8 months. That is a lot of money that I could not pay back to the institutions who capitalize on those of us who struggle.

Instead of helping my parents enjoy the rest of their lives and instead of living my life and building my future, my employer has severely damaged me financially and psychologically. They insist on my engaging in multiple bureaucratic processes that they know will take years to resolve.

If the rest of my life is anything like the hell I’ve gone through in the past 3 months, I will not survive to see the justice that I deserve.

My doctor recently suggested that I have Complex-PTSD, an accumulation of trauma over an extended period of time. This diagnosis isn’t surprising given:

1) I work for an employer that clearly does not care that a coworker sexually assaulted me or that my managers protected him and violated my human rights,

2) The same employer does not care about the financial damage they’ve caused me by failing to pay me properly for the duties I performed,

3) I recently walked away from an emotionally abusive relationship,

4) My ex-boyfriend, who broke up with me 3 years ago but still wanted to be friends, gaslit me out of anger because I started seeing someone else, and

5) I am constantly triggered by the never-ending nightmare that is the Harvey Weinstein newscycle and #MeToo.

On top of all of this bullshit, my mom just received a stem cell transplant to treat her blood cancer. The stress of an ill parent and the trauma of my existence culminated in an emotional breakdown at my office at the end of October that gave me no choice but to file a Worker’s Compensation claim.

That’s right, folks! The only solution to bureaucracy is more bureaucracy!

These systems and policies are in place to “protect” us, and yet all I’ve experienced while engaged in them is further violence and trauma.

I was always too scared to be vocal about asking for money as a survivor because I didn’t want to be perceived as a “gold digger.” I didn’t want to ask for financial compensation and risk jeopardizing my credibility.

Capitalism serves and maintains the patriarchy. Without economic power, women and femmes remain oppressed, and cishet men can continue wreaking violence and trauma.

I’m over it. I’m done playing by their rules. I’m tired of complying, I’m tired of being silent, I’m tired of being suffocated. I’m in pain, I’m angry, and I am dying. Enough is enough.

Despite what bureaucrats and policymakers believe, life doesn’t just stop to accommodate for paperwork. I am tired of suffering and witnessing other survivors suffer while our abusers and bystanders get to live comfortably.

People affected by sexual violence shouldn’t have to wait until we’re broken and nearly dead for justice or support. Put your privilege and your money and your apologies where your mouth is, and give directly to survivors in need now.

Roslyn Talusan

Written by

Former administrative employee of the Canadian government reporting on my managers’ gross incompetence in responding to workplace sexual violence.

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