What to Do
I am sorry that I keep going on about such a depressing topic as domestic violence. And god, I am beginning to feel that the phrase "domestic violence" is kind of a sugar coating. Well, it is like "sexual assault" which covers everything from an unwelcome grope to very violent forced physical intrusion, and I suppose that there is a point to bringing all violations up to the standard of being violations, rape or no. But in this case to call a spade a spade, it used to be called "wife beating" which is what it is most of the time (though I do not by any means wish to deny or downgrade the reality of very very nasty psychological abuse), though I think the thing that really has me going is that often it should be called "attempted murder" which is what it can be, spousal or not. Or perhaps "aggravated slow-motion poorly executed attempted murder."
What has set me off is the wretched cycle we seem to be in. Every few years, five or six, there is a particulary horrific instance of a murder, usually a murder-suicide, and the politicians make noises and the system tightens up and cracks down. But after a few years of women going back to their abusers no matter what sanctions the state applies, well, the state gets tired, and lets things go, until the next woman dies.
We are in the lax stage hereabouts these days. Just had a case, where the Crown Prosecutor decided to cut a deal, even though the case was in our special family violence court (set up after the last horrific preventable mess), against the concerns of the family violence worker, the child protection worker, and us. Because when he was arrested, it was back in the house; even though she wasn't there (seeing as how she was at the ER), and he was in violation of a restraining order being there, the assumption was that the only reason he was there was that she had called him and let him in. It had to be that, you see, because it so often is.
So he was out, because he pled guilty and had no priors, and it was probably her fault, sentenced to time served (4 days). The judge god bless him wasn't happy, but with a recommendation from the crown and not much other evidence, he went along.
For once the cops were on the side of the angels, I know because they called me, they had had a car going by regularly, and were terrified when they found her Not There. She wasn't there because we put her somewhere else. Because we think she has a very high chance of being a dead woman.
She is so frantic, child welfare won't give her her kids back, until she is safe, and the crown prosecutor has just seen to it that she won't be, at least until he attacks her again and can get charged with something again.
Actually, no-one concerned wants the guy punished, he no doubt has his own problems and really needs help. But she needs to be safe, and her children need her, and she really needs them, and we don't quite know what to do, with him on the street, probably looking for her. We complained of course, and got the inter-bureaucratic equivalent of a "fuck off," but that really doesn't matter.
You want to know how bad it has gotten? Look at Calgary Housing. Not only do they tell immigrant women who arrived under the Family Class program, sponsored by their husbands, that they are not eligible for subsidized housing because they are sponsored, and must ask their husbands for support, no matter how many restraining orders and outstanding charges and even convictions there are. In this case, they won't let her stay with her brother, because that means that there are too many people in the apartment. If he lets her stay there, they will evict all of them. Yes we complained, but we got the same old bureaucratic equivalent. And a bureacratic buck pass it's your problem, not ours.
And she has no money at all either: it takes about three weeks to get onto welfare hereabouts (the $50,000+ workers are overburdened you see, you'll just have to wait, maybe a church can help you in the meantime). One of the reasons he kind of kept her prisoner for the last three years was to get his hands on the Child Tax Benefit, which together with Student Finance for the Theology course he wasn't attending was what they were living on. It is going to take a bunch of work to get the CTB sent to her again, especially since she doesn't have much of an address right now. Bureaucratically, of course, not their problem, and since we are helping her, it is our problem, thankyou for your dedication.
Its a tired old phrase, but you know what? There is no justice. No justice at all, and we should all be ashamed.