A prominent broadcaster based in Vancouver recently survived a long and traumatizing ordeal involving an online harasser, but she feels the justice system let her down.
Jody Vance is a radio and TV host, currently co-hosting Steele and Vance, but has also hosted shows on CKNW Radio, CBC, and Al-Jazeera. She also covered the Stanley Cup finals in 2010-2011.
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 are calling “a slap on the wrist” on social media; 12 months probation after agreeing to a plea deal for criminal harassment.
To @JodyVance and other journalists who are experiencing this kind of harassment, we stand with you.
— David Eby (@Dave_Eby) March 15, 2023
Harassment directed at Vance included hundreds of “threatening and sexualized messages to me, my colleagues, and guests on radio.”
The attacks seemed to coincide directly with Donald Trump being elected President of the United States.
Court documents reference emails sent when the pandemic started in 2020, criticizing her coverage of COVID-19-related stories. Police got involved and eventually got the suspect, Richard Oliver, to stop sending Vance emails, but he continued to email her guests and colleagues emails of a similar nature.
Vance told the court in her victim impact statement that the harassment forced her to deny many invitations to professional and charity events, her “bread and butter as a freelance journalist,” over concerns for her safety.
“There’s no justice here.”
We were able to chat with Vance about this latest development in her years-long harassment.
“There’s no justice here,” Vance told Daily Hive.
We caught up with her after she arrived at a place where Vance finally had a chance to process everything that had happened.
“I’ve literally barely had a moment to breathe,” Vance said.
“I’m still in shock,” she added, referencing the sentence that Oliver received.
“All of this time spent fighting so hard with all of the evidence with all of the people who watched it happen in real-time.”
She equated Oliver’s sentence to someone hit with a first-time shoplifting offence.
While the disappointment in the sentence shocked her, she found sources of light throughout the ordeal.
“Feeling unsafe in your own space is not normal.”
Vance reflected on other female journalists and women of colour who have been attacked.
“When I’m looking at these young women, I want to lock arms with them. I don’t care if nobody ever hires me again in there. I don’t care if being loud about this pisses off some corporate-whatever; that’s fine. Don’t hire me. I have the luxury of saying that. They don’t.”
Vance also had advice for young journalists entering the field.
“Seek help. Seek counsel. Reach out. It is abuse. Even if you feel scared once, it is abuse. Feeling unsafe in your own space is not normal. It’s not. It’s not normal. We’ve normalized it.”
Another thing that helped Vance through the process was some very close allies.
When the family of friends shows up, it is everything. ♥️ #court #criminalharassment #victimimpactstatement @drex @steeletalk @MBernardoNews @theFList @chapappay #shirleenvance not in pic @iantostenson #cathytostenson 🏻 pic.twitter.com/BYi0XbCXRD
— Jody Vance (@jodyvance) March 10, 2023
Vance even said that one of the people who came to her side at her court date was expecting a grandchild the same day.
Vance exclaimed, “Leave here right now!”
But her friend responded, “Oh no, I’m staying.”
In the end, Vance reflected on how she might have the title of a broadcaster, but just like all other journalists who have faced this sort of abuse, she’s human.
“I’m flawed, and I’m sensitive, and I’m loud, and I’m opinionated; I’m a lot, but I don’t deserve to be harassed.”