This article was written in response to recent stories about the Victoria Police Department's decision to withdraw one of its two officers from the Regional Domestic Violence Unit. The Times Colonist is not publishing the woman's name at her request, but has confirmed that the unit handled her case.
I am a victim of criminal harassment by the father of my children. My situation was going from bad to worse. I was becoming a prisoner in my own home, afraid to leave even to go to work. He had faced charges and was found guilty, but it didn't stop him.
When the Crown prosecutor told me in 2011 that the Regional Domestic Violence Unit wanted to take my file, I didn't realize at the time what a huge impact it would have. My experience until then had felt overwhelming and hopeless.
I had spent a year logging information, making countless police calls, repeating my issue to different officers and ending up with a Rolodex of police cards.
When you are trying to manage your daily life and raising children on top of being continually tormented, you begin to break on the inside. Nothing seems real anymore.
These people [in the Regional Domestic Violence Unit] saved me. They protected me from something that is unimaginable to the average person. They took something that seemed impossible and made it stop. They went at it with everything they had, and took it as far as they could go to protect us.
They made my tormenter realize that they weren't going anywhere. I truly believe to this day that things would have been worse for me; he never would have stopped, because he knew no one had the time to pay attention.
What will become of those they will not be able to help now? The officer who was cut was my officer. That officer put everything into the job. That person knew me and my children, and treated me as a person, not a file number. When you are going though something so personal, those little things are everything.
Domestic violence is complex on so many levels. The justice system and the people who manage this system need to know that nothing will ever change if we don't make change possible.
When I made my first call to the police, two younger officers came to the house. One seemed fairly even-keeled; the other made comments such as: "Well, if it was so bad, why didn't you just leave with the children?" This type of reaction is the very thing that deters women from fleeing abuse.
The Regional Domestic Violence Unit makes sure its officers have proper personal abilities and training. The unit gave me access to a support worker and a social worker who knew exactly what was in my file.
Not only have they protected me, they have taught me to be patient and strong. They have become a part of my life, and when you go through what I have been through, you need people like this to be there.
I have been a part of this system for so long now, I see where it fails. I see where all the holes are. I know there must be thousands of women who fall through the cracks. I know three of them personally. With nothing there like this [unit], they just faded into the background.
My support worker is still by my side while I am dragged into the family-court system by the same person who has repeatedly committed crimes against me. It's dehumanizing to even have to be in that room. But without her, I would have no one.
This is the one thing that the system got right - the one thing that makes sense to me - and they are slowly taking it apart.
My journey is far from over and my life will never be the same, but I know for a fact I never would have made it this far without them.
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