My Mom, Joanne.
The Face of Domestic Violence
On a Sunday night decades ago, September 22nd, my younger teenage brother had just left the house for his part-time job. Little did we know that this night would be unlike any other, as it marked the tragic night when our mom was brutally murdered by her husband, Bob. It’s a night etched in our memories, painfully highlighting the harsh reality of domestic violence in our country.
In Canada, every week, two women are killed by their partners or former partners, affecting 51% of women and over one million children annually, regardless of their financial status, ethnicity, or education.
I am one of those children. As a young man, my life was forever changed, burdened by a pain I had concealed deep within my memories for years. Yet, I am just among the million children impacted by domestic violence every year across our nation.
My mother, Joanne, was an extraordinary woman. She worked full-time, raised her three boys independently for many years, and even pursued her dream of becoming a nurse when she turned forty. She epitomized strength, always there to lift us up when we stumbled. Life was far from easy for us, but she made us feel special and taught us to be grateful for what we had, no matter how little it may have been. There were no limits to her strength, and she instilled in us the belief that we could achieve our dreams. She was the rope that held our family together.
But behind closed doors, she suffered in silence. Like countless other victims of domestic violence, she grappled with the fear of survival, the dread of being unable to provide for her children, and the terrifying prospect of speaking out. Her story mirrors the stories of thousands of women trapped in the cycle of abuse.
I vividly remember the day we confronted my mother’s murderer in a federal prison boardroom for his early parole hearing. Listening to him rationalize his actions shattered the walls that held back our painful memories/ We learned about my mother’s desperate attempts to seek help, her visits to shelters, and the horrifying reality of her daily life. Like many women today, she lived in constant fear, sleeping with one eye open.
I choose to speak out about domestic violence to honour my mom’s memory, to be a voice for those too afraid to speak, and to inspire courage in other children to share their feelings, knowing that it’s not their fault.
Domestic violence knows no boundaries, and it’s a pervasive issue that affects countless lives. My mother’s murderer spent less than half his sentence in jail, a disturbing message about the value placed on the victims of such a heinous crime. Most men who murder their partners are released early, with the majority spending around 12 years behind bars. Sadly, my mother’s husband was no exception. He was granted parole because he didn’t pose a threat to society (only women he is in a relationship with) – a chilling notion given his history of violence against women.
My mother lived with abuse because she wanted to provide stability for her children after not having any for much of our lives. She faced unimaginable fear and a lack of support when she sought help. Our system often fails victims, providing insufficient resources and tax breaks for shelters while trivial projects receive more funding and attention. This must change.
My story, our family’s story, is not unique and happens to families across North America. We must put an end to domestic violence. We protest over not enough bike paths but remain silent when a murderer is released into our communities after taking a life.
Domestic violence affects generations, leaving deep scars. It’s time to end the silence, offer greater support, and reduce the fear of public perception of victims and family members of domestic violence. We can make a difference by talking to young people, sharing stories, and ensuring victims know they’re not alone.
Domestic violence knows no gender, age, or social status. Men and seniors can also be victims. If you’re in a violent situation, seek help now-don’t wait until it’s too late.
I urge you to break the silence, create a safe environment for those around you to ask for help, and consider donating to a shelter in our community. Together, we can make a difference and save lives.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for your support in ending domestic violence.