Fighting Back Against Violence

I’ve just come across a a remarkable blog by a remarkable woman: Holly’s Fight To Stop Violence.

This is the story of a woman who was the victim of a sexual assault by a repeat offender in 1998. Her assailant was a serial rapist who had already assaulted at least one woman before emigrating to Canada and who was to later sexually assault other women while living in Canada. Like many women, Holly was advised not to prosecute. However, Holly found that she could not live with allowing this crime to go unreported and unpunished.

Holly kept the rape secret, but the trauma was deep. She never felt clean enough. She showered up to three times daily, scrubbing herself until she was raw. Each time she passed a police building, she froze. She wanted desperately to report the crime, but she could not even say the words “I was raped.” At last Holly found the courage to go to the Red Deer RCMP. On March 1, 1991, Const. Rick Taylor tape-recorded her 90-minute statement.

Her assailant was arrested but granted bail and in due  course fled the country. He managed to stay a step ahead of international police agencies for some time and then fought extradition back to Canada for another year.

In September 1996 — nearly six years after the rape — he finally faced Holly in an Edmonton court. On September 11 a six-woman, six-man jury convicted Rasai of sexually assaulting Holly and two other women. He was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison and last June lost his appeal against the sentence.

In the interim, Holly went public with her story, including authorizing Reader’s Digest, America’s Most Wanted, and other media outlets to use her real identity to press the point that victims like her and potential future victims deserved better protection and better treatment by our courts and our governments.

Those who know Rasai’s case (the name of the rapist) attribute his arrest to Holly’s fight not to let the file be forgotten. “Holly actually forced institutions to do their jobs,” says Scott Newark, executive director of the Canadian Police Association. Holly’s case and others like it also helped change Canada’s Immigration Act. Would-be immigrants like Rasai can now be turned away if officials believe they committed a crime outside Canada punishable here by a jail term of ten years or more.

Holly’s blog is one result of her lengthy battle for justice. In it, she continues her fight for victims of violence everywhere. Read it here.

victims of crime, sexual assault, rape, criminal justice, immigration, police

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