Monday, 2 February 2015

Why I write about Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Violence in the home between partners is not about to go away. Just over the past holiday season, there were several incidents in Alberta involving deaths. One case, stemming from a marital breakup, was so horrific the headlines read "Worst Mass Murder in History" 

In an affluent neighborhood in Edmonton, a separated spouse went on a rampage, killing his wife, two of his children and some of his wife's relatives. He later took his own life. In total, nine lives were lost. The wife may have felt safe because she had a restraining order against her abusive husband. Neighbors later reported hearing a lot of shouting coming from the house. The bottom line is, if a partner threatens to kill you, get out of that house.

The judicial system, the police, can't protect you 24/7. If someone wants to kill you, they won't give up easily. Abusers get extremely angry when forcibly removed from their homes and often feel they have nothing else to lose. They won't just kill you, they may also kill your new partner, relatives, even your children. No house or job is worth your life.

The reason I left my husband, my house, a teaching position and the city I lived in for 16 years, is because I took my husband's threats seriously. I also had a young son to protect who was only a toddler at the time. I have a true story to share that made me realize this was the only safe option.

I got quite close to one of my students, who I will name Susan. I took Susan out for dinner as a thank you for working with me to run a school snack shop. That evening, Susan was wearing a stunning red suit and I remarked how nice she looked in it. Susan told me it had belonged to her deceased older sister, Debbie. Then she calmly related the story of her sister's murder. Debbie had been shot to death by her husband with a shotgun while she sat in a living room chair. Her husband was in a drunken rage when he came home at three in the morning and discovered she was packing up to leave him. Their toddler son was sleeping in a crib in another room. Debbie's neighbor, a mother of 3 children, was helping her at the time. Her husband also shot the neighbor lady to death. Susan's nephew ended up being raised by her parents. Needless to say, Susan's story about her sister was shocking, but also a revelation to me about my own domestic situation.

If you are in an abusive relationship and fear for your safety, be cautious when you decide to leave. Do not move in with known friends or relatives, it puts them at risk. Leave secretly while your partner is at work or out of town. A women's shelter can only help you for so long. Leaving the area is your best option. Severing ties with in-laws may also be necessary to keep you safe. An abuser is not going to change without professional help. 

You can read my personal story in more detail in an interview with Gill Andrews
There you an can also find an infographic detailing 7 signs you are in an abusive relationship.