On Aug. 24, Denise Robinson gave a powerful victim's impact statement in a Kuujjuaq, Que., court as her police-officer colleague, Joe Willie Saunders, was sentenced to an 18 month jail term for a sexual assault he perpetrated against her.
Here is what she told the court.
This crime has significantly impacted my life and my health. I suffer from stress, two and a half years of flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares panic attacks. I’m coping with the event itself but also the aftermath.
I’ve sought help coping with this trauma. I'm getting stronger every day but I still battle with thoughts at times.
I stand here not sure what to actually say. I'm not sure if Mr. Saunders understands the seriousness, the impact this event has had on everyone - this community, his own family, the police force, and most importantly my family and me.
I've suffered psychologically, as I said. I’ve been confused by guilt, humiliation and feelings of defeat.
I've tried to keep my head up and moving forward. My family has had to accept this happened to me. They struggled to cope with their emotions. They’ve had to watch me crumble to pieces and felt helpless.
I've had my whole turned upside down for two and a half years.
Every fear a rape victim should not have to feel -- remorse, shame, abandonment -- I have had to repeatedly endure. It started by the fact that I was betrayed by one of my fellow officers -- on duty -- sworn to protect the public, and not just that, we swore to protect each other.
I was led to believe there was this code, this unwritten code among police officers. That no matter what we take care of each other and support each other. I believed it strongly so much I was torn about reporting this.
I was torn about disappointing my fellow officers. I was torn about the impact it would have on Joe Willie's life. I was torn about the impact it would have on his family's life. This police force.
I didn’t take that decision lightly. I shouldn't have to think of those things.
I didn't do anything wrong. I drank some alcohol one night. Too much.
I asked him to take me home, or was taken home, where I should have been protected and safe.
I have to live with the guilt for my own actions too. Despite the fact that I didn't do anything wrong I am still plagued with guilt about how this situation could have been avoided.
To understand the full impact of this event, is not only did I experience this rape but I feel my experience is that I also had my colleagues turn their backs on me.
After I reported this crime, which took every ounce of courage I had -- I gave Joe Willie the opportunity. I tried to talk with you. I tried to get you to acknowledge it happened. But you left me no choice. You wouldn't address me and you wouldn't talk to me.
After reporting this crime, I was booted out of my residence, I was sent off to Montreal and abandoned. I was suspended from my job. I lost my entire financial support. And now my career is ruined.
And what's happened to you?
You've gotten to return to your family for the last two and a half years. You've been allowed to return to your job with full pay.
For to and a half years I've been fighting. The same force that we both swore an oath to. I feel like I'm still paying. Still paying the price.
You'll have to forgive me but I'm not ready to let go. To let this move on. This isn't right.
I don’t think you're a horrible person. ... But I’m done paying. You have to stand up and take responsibility for your actions. I do have total respect for you, that you've come forward to acknowledge that what you did wasn't right, and that you know that as a police officer. And I thank you for that.
I hope that that your life turns around. I do. I really do. I honestly do.
I hope we can all put this behind us.
I don't know what else to say.
Nobody wins here today. No one. Not your family, not the police force, not me, not your children.
I just want to move forward. Thank you.