Warning: this story deals with topics that some might find distressing
A Canadian veteran denounces being sexually assaulted during training, telling CTV National News he felt “completely betrayed” by the chain of command when he reported it to his superiors.
Justin Hudson says he was repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted by two other male soldiers while training to be an aerospace officer 10 years ago.
He alleges that during one incident, one soldier held him down while he slept while another groped him.
“At that time when I was going through this, I felt fear,” he said. “When it was over, I just tried to bury it.”
Hudson alleges other incidents where the same people at different times followed him to the toilet, pinched his buttocks, exposed themselves to him, and at other times pulled out their genitals and rubbed their penises exposed on his leg or rested their clothed genitals against his arm in class.
“I think I yelled at him, and I think I told him to fuck off,” Hudson said. “It’s a sexual assault.”
The ordeal hit him hard.
“I went from a healthy state of mind to a fundamentally worthless feeling, as if my human dignity was trampled, totally attacked. [and] feeling completely embarrassed, ”he said.
Hudson alleges that when he reported the situation to his superiors at the time, the lieutenant just “looked him down” and “acted like he didn’t care.”
He also claims he was unfairly punished with poor performance reviews after reporting what happened.
Hudson says he was so upset by the alleged assaults and the response he received from his superiors that he left the military, left Canada and changed his name.
“I felt completely betrayed by the chain of command,” he said. “Part of the reason it took me so long to recover and part of the reason I left Canada is that I felt completely betrayed and hurt, deeply, deeply hurt. I felt like the chain of command had turned on me, they betrayed me.
“I felt like the Canadian Armed Forces had betrayed me.
Hudson said he recognizes that both men and women are affected by sexual assault, but that men can find it difficult to accept and deal with it.
“A man can feel like he doesn’t want to talk about it because it’s kind of like tying up his manhood or his masculinity, so he hides it in a different way,” he said. “I didn’t want to talk about it because of the state of mind I was in. I didn’t want to bring up the memories of it… you just start from a point where you’re completely destroyed inside, completely destroyed, to rebuild yourself again.
Hudson said the assumption or societal expectation that men should just ‘take care’ or be able to handle sexual assault is not the reality.
“It doesn’t… it could affect any man,” he said. “Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you’re safe from sexual assault or sexual misconduct, if you are ganged up by a few people you will be mentally affected. “
Hudson’s story comes at a time when the Canadian Armed Forces are held to account, as the institution has been rocked by successive scandals of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, sexual harassment, mismanagement complaints as well as allegations of cover-up, obstruction and misconduct.
Several high-ranking officers have been the subject of these allegations, leading to a veritable revolving door of senior officers retiring or retiring, including former defense chief Jonathan Vance and the human resources officer of the army, lieutenant-general. Steven Whelan, who succeeded Vice-Admiral Haydn Edmundson who stepped down due to a police investigation into allegations of sexual assault.
New Defense Minister Anita Anand, in one of her first acts in the post, announced this week that she had accepted the appeal of retired Supreme Court Judge Louise Arbor for the transfer of inquiries and prosecution of military sexual misconduct cases to civilian authorities.
Arbor recommended that all criminal cases of a sexual nature in the Canadian Armed Forces, including historical cases, be referred to civilian authorities, including cases currently under investigation, unless such investigation is almost finished.
A joint statement released Friday by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and the Director of Military Prosecutions acknowledged “the current crisis of public confidence in the military justice system” and “therefore … will implement Ms.’s interim recommendation. Arbor immediately.
Charlotte Duval-Lantoine of the Canadian Institute of World Affairs said the new process for handling cases of sexual misconduct in the military still leaves questions unanswered.
“What if allegations are made during deployment? She told CTV National News. “We wondered if this really removes the reporting barrier, because the influence of the chain of command is still there.”
And while Duval-Lantoine said the armed forces “finally see a change” that will “send a shock wave” through the institution, there is still a lot to consider.
“The part that is not addressed with this recommendation is prevention,” she said. “We’re asking questions about how sexual assault is recognized and how we can better support victims… but we’re not talking about the root of the problem that would lead to such sexual assault.
Military law expert Michel Drapeau called this decision a “game changer”.
“I think they’ve drawn the attention of the brass and a potential mugger that there’s a new sheriff in town and things won’t be run the same way they’ve been for about 20 years or so.” , did he declare. on CTV National News.
Hudson is cautiously optimistic about the changes, but says the culture shift in the military is happening “at a snail’s pace.”
“I fully support his position on this,” he said of Anand, referring the transfer of cases of sexual misconduct to civilian authorities. “It just seems to me that there have been too many people across the military, including the DA’s office, who just don’t take this sexual misconduct seriously.”
Going forward, Hudson says he wishes to resume the military career he was eagerly awaiting before his ordeal.
He filed a new complaint against his alleged attackers.
“I’m in a good state of mind,” he says. “I am mentally ready to join the army, I want to join the army. “
Here is a list of resources and helplines dedicated to supporting people in crisis:
National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
Hope for Wellness Helpline (English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut): 1-855-242-3310
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
ShelterSafe (a national list of women’s shelters and halfway houses): sheltersafe.ca
Canadian Resource Center for Victims of Crime: Dial 1-877-208-0747 or Text: 1-613-208-0747
Hope for men: espoirformen.ca
Men and Healing: menandhealing.ca