Sexual assault victim shares story of injustices with UWindsor students

Sexual assault victim shares story of injustices with UWindsor students

The University of Windsor's law school is marking International Women's Day by screening a new documentary called "Slut or Nut: Diary of a Rape Trial."

The film's central figure is Mandi Gray, a Toronto woman who learned firsthand how the justice system treats victims and alleged victims of sexual assault. Gray said she experienced difficulties from the moment she reported the incident to police. 

"I was told that I was drinking, I went to his apartment, that they weren't actually sure that I had been sexually assaulted. And I was very much challenged on my credibility," said Gray, adding that things only progressed in this way once her case went to trial.

"It's the people who report sexual assault who are on trial, rather than the people we accuse of sexual assaults," she said.

A fellow York University student of Gray's was charged with and found guilty of sexually assaulting her in his apartment in January of 2015. Gray was 26 years old at the time. The conviction was appealed and overturned.

The film's interesting title came from a conversation Gray had with a defence lawyer while they were preparing for her trial.

"He said 'There's two ways this is going to go — you're either going to be constructed as a slut, promiscuous, you wanted it and you regretted it the next day, or you'll be constructed as crazy and you don't know what you're talking about," she said.

Hear more from Mandi Gray from CBC's Windsor Morning:

Those two tropes are what the public often relies on when talking about sexual assault, said Gray, to justify the allegations a woman is making. Despite the way she has been depicted, Gray said she's happy she went public with her story but understands why others do not. 

"I don't think reporting is always the best action to take sometimes. There's all sorts of reasons why this system can't help us," she said. "I think that people need to be informed about what they're up against."

Gray said many can't take time off work or away from their children to attend court proceedings. She also understands the emotional difficulties of going through what she did. But ultimately she is glad that she took action. 

"All I really wanted when I first reported was to return to my Ph.D. program," she said. "In terms of justice, the reality of him ever taking any accountability for what happened never will happen."

Gray will be at the University of Windsor for the screening, and she'll take part in a Q-and-A session for students. The event is closed to the public.