Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Apology for Sexual Misconduct Can Help Victim Heal, but Only If Sincere: Experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Apology for Sexual Misconduct Can Help Victim Heal, but Only If Sincere: Experts

Article excerpt

Does an apology have the power to heal?


TORONTO - What's the power of an apology?

For victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, experts say receiving acknowledgment of wrongdoing can help the healing process and allow them to find emotional closure -- but only if the expression of regret is sincere and includes the perpetrator taking responsibility for their actions.

On Wednesday, former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi issued an apology in court for "sexually inappropriate" conduct towards co-worker Kathryn Borel, who had accused the "Q" star of grabbing her from behind and grinding his pelvis into her at work.

"I want to apologize to Ms. Borel for my behaviour towards her in the workplace," Ghomeshi, 48, said in his statement to the court about the alleged 2008 incident. "I now recognize that I crossed boundaries inappropriately... I did not appreciate the damage that I caused."

The statement was part of a court settlement in which Ghomeshi signed a peace bond, leading to a sexual assault charge against him being dropped by the Crown.

Judge Timothy Lipson said the fact Ghomeshi signed the peace bond "does not amount to an admission of guilt on his part to any criminal offence."

Ghomeshi's lawyer, Marie Henein, also said the resolution was not an admission. "With this apology, Mr. Ghomeshi has done everything that the Crown and the courts have asked him to do," Henein said.

Dr. Suvercha Pasricha, a psychiatrist who works in the women's inpatient unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said experiencing a trauma, such as physical or sexual assault, can disrupt a person's sense of self, destroy their ability to trust others, harm relationships and cause ongoing depression and anxiety.

"The impact of a trauma on human beings, whether it's a sexual assault or any other form of trauma, it can erode people," said Pasricha, who works with women who have suffered childhood and adult abuse or mistreatment.

"It would be very powerful to hear an apology from a perpetrator if they truly feel that the perpetrator is taking ownership of their actions," she said.

"The first and foremost thing for a person who goes through trauma is just to be validated and to be heard; that their experience actually happened to them, and this was not something that was created in their own head."

Outside court, Borel read a statement to the media, saying she agreed to accept Ghomeshi's peace bond and apology arrangement in order to forgo a trial, which would have "maintained his lie, the lie that he was not guilty, and it would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I'm currently trying to stop."

"Jian Ghomeshi has apologized, but only to me," continued Borel, 36. She said there were other women who came forward to the media and made allegations.

"And yet Mr. …

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