Friday, September 25, 2015
Violence Against Women...Once Again...
When the news began to filter out about the multiple murders of women in the rather remote Wilno area of Ontario my heart sank, not just because of the terrible loss of life but because of the dread about what probably transpired.
When I spoke with Ruth, my wife, at the end of the work day we had come to similar conclusions. For nearly a decade Ruth worked as an outreach counsellor for a women's shelter and listened to countless stories from the victims of domestic violence. Many of these women had left their abusive situations, yet they lived in constant fear that former partners would search them out and kill them. These were not unfounded fears. The partners has assured them that this would be their goal.
The alleged perpetrator this week had connections with all three women and been in relationship with two of them. He was recently released from jail for violence against women, but these former partners were not informed. I heard an interview with another former partner of this coward who said that he had a huge chip on his shoulder about women in his past and was prone to violence.
This was ugly, cowardly slaughter, pure and simple. And there is something terribly wrong with a judicial system that does not protect women from violent men. This perpetrator refused to sign a probation order that prohibited him from contact with the women. Why then was he released? Wasn't this enough of a red flag? Every aspect of our society has to change to ensure the safety of women.
I have listened to two women sitting in my study recently who have been stalked and harassed by men over the summer. In both instances they were counselled by police to leave their residences for a time for their own protection. These men had been cautioned by police and one had a restraining order against him, but these only work with those who will exercise restraint. Often they live in rage-filled fantasy worlds. In the Spring I talked with an anxious grandmother from the congregation whose pregnant daughter has a verbally abusive partner. This isn't "out there" somewhere.
We need to pray for the safety of all women and to regularly inform our congregations about the issues of domestic violence. Over the decade Ruth worked at the shelter she was approached by a number of women in the congregation who were in abusive relationships. It's unlikely that the people they sat beside in the pews had any idea. That's the reality for so many.