* names have been changed to protect victim’s privacy
“Make sure you jump out as far as you can, Cass, there are some sharp shallow rocks at the bottom!”
Looking down at the shallow rocks Trevor was talking about, I took a moment to give myself a pep talk before the jump. I was still panting from the climb up. From the canoe, this had seemed like a very climb-able cliff. I thought it would be an easy ascent. I was very wrong. I grabbed the first small rock I could find from the top, took a deep breath, put one hand over my bikini top to ensure I wouldn’t be flashing the lakefront, and jumped as far as I could.
“That was awesome! Now swim back to the canoe, we’re gonna race Trevor, Mike, and Caitlyn back to the shore. Our rental time is almost up,” Jamie called out from the canoe that her boyfriend, Jon, was paddling towards me. Jon’s family went on their annual family portage trip the week before. The others stood no chance in a race. After ten minutes of basically no paddling on my part, our canoe pulled into shore just ahead of the others’. Trevor exited the losing canoe first.
“That’s impressive Jon, you still won even with two girls in your canoe.” He chuckled. Mike laughed, uncomfortably.
“Well, yeah but you had me in yours, Trevor, so you were probably more disadvantaged.”It was a very ‘Trevor’ moment. He was just an awkward guy. We loved him for his awkwardness.
“It’s getting pretty late; we should head back to the campsite and start on dinner. I packed Sloppy Joe’s for tonight.” Jamie, having planned this entire camp trip, was the group’s makeshift mom for the weekend.
Sitting in front of my computer, flipping the cliff’s rock over in my shaking hand, I cannot stop replaying that camping trip over in my head from start to finish. Thinking back on it from where I’m sitting, it seems much more like a Bud Light commercial I watched than a trip I went on. I flip the rock over again in my hand.
“Be careful how far you lean, Cass, I wouldn’t trust the stability of this balcony.”
Looking down at the graffiti-covered Grecian streets, I brought my body off the balcony that Trevor was talking about. He was right, it looked pretty weak, and I didn’t want fall into those streets from the hotel rooftop. I took a swig from the two- Euro wine and sighed.
“Trevor, you know what I think about this. She’s manipulative. She never loved you. You don’t treat people you love like this.”
He leaned out over the roof’s balcony, looking longingly into the sleepy streets. I knew that he knew the balcony was weak. I started speaking again quickly.
“But, you know, it’s not all about her. This hurts, I know it does. But it’ll stop hurting, I promise. Give it a few months. You won’t be alone. I’m here to talk. Judy, Jamie, Caitlyn. We’re all here.” He closed his eyes and took the wine bottle.
“I know, I just can’t put together what happened. She was the one who made our relationship about emotional intimacy. I had never done that. And then she just…stopped…”
My heart broke for the awkward boy standing next to me. He was so innocent and unknowing. He had never had an emotional relationship before, and she just took advantage of that vulnerability. I was angry for him. I wanted to protect him. We all wanted to protect him. He looked down at his watch, and then up at the lightening sky.
“Shit, I should get moving, I have to get to the airport pretty soon.” He then paused. He looked at his feet. Seeming unsure of what to do with his limbs, he leaned in for a hug. “Thanks for listening to me,” he said into my hair, “you’re a good person.”
After he had left, I sat alone in the chair I had brought to the roof, waiting for the sun to rise and thinking of the poor unsure boy with the broken heart.
I flip the rock over again in my hand. Still looking at the computer screen, waiting for it to make sense, I cannot stop thinking about that rooftop talk. I replay the words “You’re a good person” over in my head until the words no longer seem to mean anything, wondering if he had actually believed them when he said them.
I flip the rock over again, unsuccessfully trying to make the boy at camp, the boy on the roof, into the same person as the boy in the article in front of me. I look instead at my phone, hoping that it will ring and tell me that this is just the most fucked up practical joke of all time.
“As a result, Trevor Tvoksy, 19, of Toronto, has been additionally charged by police with voyeurism….”
We knew he thought women were stupid. We just thought that we were a different class of women to him because we were his friends. Women that were smarter. Women that deserved respect.
“…spy-like cameras and other electronic items…”
I remember the time that my dad was looking for interns at his software engineering company, and I told him that I knew a guy who was basically a genius with computers.
“…video that investigators strongly believe was recorded inside a Toronto household during the summer of 2015…”
I had been in his Toronto home two weeks before his arrest. I remember the summertime pool parties hosted in that home. I remember making fun of the drawings in the bathroom that had been made by a 6-year-old Trevor. I had asked him if he was a sociopath because his drawings had been so creepy. That joke seems both less funny and funnier now.
“…seven woman recorded in various states of undress without their knowledge…”
I remember the time I was told that, when asked who he thought looked best naked, Trevor answered me. I laughed and felt flattered. That was a compliment in his own, Trevor way. I flip the rock over one last time and then whip it out my bedroom window. But, I can still feel its roughness in my hand. It’s asymmetric edges still press into the meat of my palm, leaving a soft throbbing that I am always cognizant of.
Me and Mike sort of band together in the weeks following Trevor’s arrest. Everyone else who was close to him and affected by it are in Kingston, which is 6 hours away. We go out for dinner a lot. We talk at each other until the mediocre (and overpriced) chicken shawarma in front of us goes cold. Our first dinner is comprised of us repeating “this is so fucked” over and over until it seems to be spelled out in our rice.
The next dinner is an angry one, where I yell about how this has erased my trust in my male friends. How this means that anyone could be a threat and I wouldn’t be able to catch it. After that, Mike talks about how weird it is to him that he never caught this. They had spent the most time together. They were best friends for a long time. We talk about all the weird idiosyncrasies of Trevor that should have led us to suspect something was up. How he once tried to make the utilitarian case for sexual assault being morally neutral. How he reveled in outsmarting women. We move from that into telling “weird Trevor” stories, which mostly just left us laughing fondly. Overall it just left us going back and forth on one key question: was this a one-time incident or had Trevor been manipulating us for the entirety of our friendship? The rock scratches my palm.
This answer came two weeks after his arrest. We are all told by the detective that all of the tapes found were taken on one incident, two years ago. In a weird way, this brings relief. It assures me that I am not in the tapes, nor are any of my close friends. It also makes me believe that maybe parts of Trevor had been honest? Maybe it had not all been a manipulation? The rock becomes a little bit smoother.Breathing becomes difficult again only a few days after we are given this “good news.”
Right before I am about to give a speech in Edmonton, I get a text from Jamie. She had gone in to talk to the detective on the case and ask for the trial date. When she entered the station, he took one look at her and said,“Oh, I think I have a tape of you!”
She was brought in to confirm her identity in a video taken in Trevor’s bathroom. As it turns out, he had a whole file called “Jamie.” The detective did not think it important to tell Jamie about it until this point. This video had been taken long after the date that everyone thought all the tapes had been taken. It was on a date that I had also been at Trevor’s house and had used his bathroom.Jamie tells me all of this in a text, along with a recommendation that I call the detective and ask if there are any files with my name. I am left struggling to breathe.
We were told this was over.
We were told we were in the clear.
We were told it was a one-time incident.
The rock breaks through the thin skin between my thumb and my forefinger. Blood slowly trickles down my hand. After choking through a speech I could have otherwise given in my sleep, I find Caitlyn and run to a dingy one-stall bathroom. We sit on the floor with Jamie on speaker and apologize for not being there. I tell her, in a controlled voice, that I would not have come to Edmonton had I known she would be in Kingston alone. I say this while lightly rubbing Caitlyn’s shoulders, which look like they might break from the weight of her sobs.
That night, we each consume a bottle of Edmonton’s cheapest wine and scream into peeling hotel room wallpaper for three hours.
Fiddling with her wine’s twist-off cap, Caitlyn squeaks out, “Every time I go to the bathroom, I look for cameras.”My response is slow and slurred.
“Yeah…I even do it in my own bathroom…”
Then, in a wine soaked haze, I realize what the worst part about this is.We are always on guard against the men in the streets. The ones who whistle while we walk. We guard against the men at the bars, whose smiles turn to snarls upon rejection. We guard against the men online whose thumbs could spell “slut” without help from their eyes. We are almost always on guard. We almost never feel safe.
Trevor made us feel safe. He didn’t come packaged with pickup lines or slurs. He came packaged as an awkward boy in need of help. He came packaged as a person concerned for us and our well-being. He came packaged as a friend. And we, whose guards are always up, believed him because he didn’t show the signs of a usual threat.
So, now, it feels like our guard is broken. We allowed ourselves to feel so safe around someone who had no regard for us as people. Had he not been arrested, we would still be his friends. We would still be putting ourselves in vulnerable positions around him. That’s the worst thing that Trevor did. He took away our feeling of safety. He made us feel like nothing is safe. Like our guard should always be up, because clearly, we cannot properly judge when to take it down.
I still look at every corner of the room when I go to the bathroom. Even in my own home, I cannot feel entirely safe. It’s tiring.
This isn’t something that can be reasoned away. I cannot tie it into a neat ending because there is not a specific point where it ends and I feel better and safer, and everyone moves on. Life just moves on. We stop getting updates. We start focusing on exams and jobs. It just sort of gradually fades into the background, until eventually I’m not really bothered by the rock that is always in my hand.