A prominent Vancouver-based broadcaster recently survived a long and traumatic ordeal involving an online harasser, but feels the justice system failed her.
Jody Vance is a radio and TV host and currently co-host Steele and Vance, but has also hosted shows on CKNW Radio, CBC and Al-Jazeera. She also covered the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
Since 2016, Vance has been dealing with an online harasser, and the situation came to a head with a court date this month. The results of that court hearing amounted to what people on social media are calling a “slap on the wrist”; 12 months probation after agreeing to plea agreement for criminal harassment.
That @JodyVance and other journalists who experience this kind of harassment, we are with you.
— David Eby (@Dave_Eby) March 15, 2023
The harassment directed at Vance included hundreds “threatening and sexualized messages to me, my colleagues and radio guests.”
The attacks appeared to coincide directly with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Court documents refer to emails sent when the pandemic began in 2020 criticizing her coverage of stories related to COVID-19. The police got involved and eventually got the suspect, Richard Oliver, to stop sending Vance emails, but he continued to send emails of a similar nature to her guests and colleagues.
Vance told the court in her victim impact statement that the harassment had caused her to turn down many invitations to professional and charity events, her “bread and butter as a freelance journalist”, out of concern for her safety.
“There is no justice here.”
We were able to speak with Vance about this latest development in her years of harassment.
“There is no justice here,” Vance told the Daily Hive.
We caught up with her after she arrived at a place where Vance finally had a chance to process everything that happened.
“I barely had a moment to breathe,” Vance said.
“I’m still in shock,” she added, referring to the sentence Oliver received.
“All this time spent fighting so hard with all the evidence with all the people watching it happen in real time.”
She equated Oliver’s punishment to the hit he committed the first time in the store.
While the disappointment of the punishment shocked her, she found sources of light during the ordeal.
“Feeling insecure in your own space is not normal.”
Vance referred to other journalists and women of color who have been attacked.
“When I look at these young women, I want to hug them. I don’t care if nobody hires me there anymore. I don’t care if being vocal about this pisses off some corporate-whatever; that’s okay. Don’t hire me. I have the luxury of saying that. They don’t.”
Vance also had advice for young journalists entering the field.
“Get help. Ask for advice. Reach out. That’s abuse. Even if you get scared once, that’s abuse. Feeling insecure in your own space is not normal. It’s not. That is not normal. We normalized it.”
Another thing that helped Vance in the process was some very close allies.
When a family of friends shows up, that’s it. ♥️ #court #criminalharassment #victimimpactstatement @drex @steeletalk @MBernardoNews @theFList @chapapay #shirleenvance not pictured@iantostenson #cathytostenson 🏻 pic.twitter.com/BYi0XbCXRD
— Jody Vance (@jodyvance) March 10, 2023
Vance even said that one of the people who came to her trial that same day was expecting a grandchild.
Vance shouted, “Get out of here now!”
But her friend replied, “Oh, no, I’m staying.”
In the end, Vance thought about how she could have the title of broadcaster, but like all other journalists who have faced this kind of abuse, she is human.
“I’m flawed, and I’m sensitive, and I’m loud, and I’m stubborn; I am a lot, but I don’t deserve to be bullied.”