A famed Canadian novelist says the Jian Ghomeshi trial is retraumatizing abuse victims across the country because of the aggressive tactics defence lawyer Marie Henein has used.

Henein has been blamed of "whacking" the alleged victims confessing at the trial — legal slang that refers to aggressive questioning some say prevents abuse victims from coming forward in the future.

Her tactics have sparked widespread debate about how sexual assault complainants are treated, with many arguing that the tactic contributes to the retraumatization of victims.

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of All the Broken Things, says she is among those feeling traumatized.

"[Henein] cross-examines the accusers in ways that seems fifty years out of date," she wrote in a recent blog post

"By her cross-examination, she seems to articulate that they wanted it, that they produced the violence, and then when it happened, they came back for more." 

In an interview with On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko, Kuitenbrouwer further explained what she expressed in her blog. 

"It's so age-old that the woman has to be this hygienic, innocent, perfect bystander in these cases that it's getting a little time worn," she said. 

Instead, Kuitenbrouwer said the women on the stand are "complex" people with differing sexualities — just as the accused — yet they can only be seen in black and white terms: innocent or guilty.

She said women, when unable to either use fight or flight in a dangerous situation, sometimes placate their way out of danger.

"So you get a situation where a woman is trying to please a man so he won't hurt her," she said.

'I can only imagine what these women went through'

Kuitenbrouwer is a survivor of sexual abuse herself, and empathizes with the women who took the risk of testifying in the Ghomeshi trial.

"Even for me to come and talk today, I went through a kind of process of deliberating whether it was the right thing to do, and whether I should worry if my mother listens to this show or whether my children will hear it," she said.

"I can only imagine what these women went through to gird themselves to the point where they felt they could do this incredibly brave thing."


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Author says Ghomeshi defense re-victimizing women on stand