Adult survivor of child sexual abuse warns parents about ‘grooming’

Within Canada’s overall population, research shows one in three girls and one in six boys experience an unwanted sexual act

It is recommended that survivors report sexual abuse they suffered as a child - for support and possible criminal charges. Photo illustration: APTN

This story contains references to child sexual abuse. Please read with care.

A First Nations band councillor has filed a complaint with Manitoba RCMP alleging she was sexually assaulted at the age of nine.

The woman said the unwanted conduct happened after a 16-year-old boy – she considered an “uncle” – moved in with her family.

She said she kept the abuse to herself all of these years and only recently told her mother.

She said she went to police in December 2022 after learning the alleged perpetrator was overheard describing her as a sexual conquest in the remote community.

“He was saying, ‘I was easy’,” she said. “That is so sick. I was a child.”

Legal consent

Canada’s Criminal Code says 16 is the age of legal consent for sexual contact. It says also that children under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual contact when the other person is in a position of trust or authority.

The woman said the man is aware police are investigating. But RCMP wouldn’t confirm that to APTN News.

“The RCMP cannot confirm or deny who may or may not be the subject of an investigation,” said Cpl. Julie Courchaine, a spokesperson for Manitoba RCMP, “this is done to protect the integrity of an investigation, the evidence obtained and the privacy of those involved.”

The RCMP does have information for victims on its website.

The woman, who APTN is not naming because criminal charges may be laid, said her mother commented on how she and the “uncle” spent so much time together when they were younger and seemed to have a good relationship.

But the woman said that should have been a red flag.

“He spent a lot of time with us…playing games, watching TV, wrestling,” she said. “That was grooming, I know [that] now.”

Sandra DeLaronde is the director of the MMIWG2S Implementation Committee in Winnipeg. Photo: Supplied says grooming is how perpetrators gain safe access to children. Parents relax when everyone is getting along, become used to seeing an older person among children, and trust that everything is OK, it said.

“My mom went to work and left me alone with him, kind of like a babysitter,” said the woman, who has provided her medical records to police. “That’s when it happened.”

She said she remembers several instances of “inappropriate touching.”

“He should not be around our youth,” she alleged.

The Criminal Code defines sexual assault as kissing, touching, intercourse and any other sexual activity without consent.

Tell their story

Sandra DeLaronde, director of the MMIWG2S Implementation Committee in Winnipeg, said it’s important to give victims a space to tell their story.

“It’s important victims feel heard, that they feel like they’re not alone,” DeLaronde told APTN. “I also think that for every story of pain there has to be a story of success and strength.”

In a 2014 study for Statistics Canada, more Indigenous Peoples than non-Indigenous Peoples reported experiencing some form of childhood sexual contact before the age of 15.

The study said some of that abuse may have been a direct or indirect impact of residential schools.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs 

DeLaronde said she has spoken with the woman and discussed the case with Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs [AMC].

She and others have been asking the First Nations lobby group to acknowledge the problem of sexual abuse in Indigenous communities and address the lack of resources for victims and perpetrators.

Victims in rural and remote areas are an underserved population with a low rate of reporting, DeLaronde added, noting they can make a third-party report at a recognized agency if they’re afraid to contact authorities.

Meanwhile, sharing her experience is only the beginning of her “healing journey,” said the woman. She feels more people will listen now that she holds a political position.

Within Canada’s overall population, research shows one in three girls and one in six boys experience an unwanted sexual act, with 30 to 40 per cent of victims being abused by a family member.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, based in Winnipeg, provides information on child sexual abuse and resources on its website. 

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