“The lack of community and camaraderie enables harassers” – CF’s Story

I moved my family back to the capital region in late October of 2011 and I am intending to leave Ottawa this May.

The lack of community and camaraderie here works to the benefit of those inclined to harass, attack or otherwise make life miserable for others.

Both of my teenaged children have been attacked physically on a busy street in front of many onlookers. Neither experienced any sort of intervention from the community, and it is my opinion witnesses who don’t assist are just as guilty as the perpetrator and should be treated as such.

On busy Rideau Street at 11:30 on a weekend evening in front of a huge number of onlookers my 19 year old daughter stood at a bus stop with two girlfriends waiting for her ride. 5 men approached her, sexually harassed her verbally, she backed away as they started grabbing at her. When her ride arrived she turned to leave and one of the men punched her in the head, bouncing her head off the bus stop. NO she didn’t call police – it was all she could do to just get away! Lots of passerby’s witnessed this event. No one intervened.

My daughter is often harassed verbally walking through the mall to catch her bus, she is propositioned very regularly. She has come to the brutal understanding about what it means to be a female in our culture. By our lack of condemning it when we see it – we promote it.

Late afternoon on Canada day, my 17 year old son was waiting for friends to meet him on Rideau Street outside of the McDonald’s. Canada day – arguably the busiest day in downtown Ottawa. A man approached my son and asked him for a cigarette. When my son replied that he did not smoke the man punched him in the face. People just walked by, as before, pretending not to see.

Recently one of my daughters friends posted on facebook a reoccurring problem that she and other college girls have been experiencing. A man driving a white van, circling in the Algonquin College area is trying to get young women to come into the van with him.

Three weeks ago my son witnessed a homeless man pushing his cart of worldly belongings. The homeless man was hit in the head then robbed. My son didn’t have a phone and being young and without any protection for himself, he was too afraid to stand up for the homeless man.

My son has left the city already, citing that Ottawa is just a cold, nasty, unwelcoming place. I agree.

I myself was sitting in the common library of a building that I was recently (and only for 2 months) living in. I was the only female in the room, six young men were sitting in a circle nearby. Once I was settled in the men started making the most disgusting woman bashing remarks. My son and roommate then joined me in the library. The woman bashing continued. My son and roommate were so uncomfortable that they wanted to leave. I told the men that their language and topic was unacceptable. I explained that woman bashing was just as unacceptable as race bashing. One of the men got up and threatened to punch me out. I took pictures of the men to the security of the building. While the staff verbally sympathized with my situation, they did not look at the pictures and nothing was done.

Ottawa as a community is allowing for this sort of behavior to continue by it’s lack of willingness to get involved. I have never lived in a more detached community. Peoples lack of community spirit is witnessed while driving, when people wont let others merge and look straight ahead as if you don’t exist. It exists when you are waving down a bus that’s stopped to allow a man running for it the extra 3 seconds he needs to get across the bus, and the driver looks right through you, and leaves anyway (as happened this morning). It exists when people will walk right by a violent crime in action.

We are all in this boat together and must work as a whole to ensure safety and enjoyment of what this city has to offer. Posting signs to that effect, passing bylaws requiring residents to take action when there is a crime in progress (at least call the police), or doing anything to change the individualistic nature of this town may contribute to a better atmosphere for all.

I personally will just leave.