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Lynn’s Story

Noellee Mowatt is nineteen years old, nine months pregnant, an immigrant to this country and currently in prison in Ontario. Why is she in prison? Because she will not testify against her boyfriend in court.

Yesterday I talked to a recent client of mine who I thought had some things in common with Noellee and asked her for her thoughts on this shocking turn of events.

With her permission, I would like to share some of Lynn’s experiences and thoughts.

Lynn, like Noellee is young. She was the victim of intimate partner abuse in ways that sound very similar to what has happened to Noellee. But here is where the two stories part.

Lynn’s partner was arrested by police and held in custody while he awaited trial. As it turns out, he waited 6 months for trial which gave Lynn time to process her experience, learn about the dynamics of abuse and feel strong enough to face him in court.

When I first met Lynn, she had many mixed emotions about her ex-partner. She was relieved to be free of him but she continuted to feel sorry for him. (Something abusive men are very good at eliciting.) She hoped he would get help and stop being abusive.

But Lynn had access to lots of good resources. The police officers were very understanding and supportive. They were available to her for advice when her ex did things like write her from prison.

She was given a social worker who understood the dynamics of abuse and free trauma counseling from Vicitim Services. She had family members and friends who were supportive and encouraging. She also entered into 20 weeks of Support Group with our program and read our book When Love Hurts.

It took time for Lynn to recover from all the abuse she had experienced. For several weeks she was concerned about her ex’s well being and held herself particially responsible for what had happened. We know these are things that women who have lived with abuse are taught to think by their partners.

But with lots of support, Lynn was able, after several months, to write a powerful impact statement. So powerful that her ex pleaded guilty and she never had to face him in court.

As I talked last night with Lynn about Noellee sitting in a jail her response to me was “that could have been me!”. Lynn instantly realized that if it had not been for all the support and information about the dynamics of abuse, she would have been unable or unwilling to testify. We both also reflected on how much more difficult things must be for Noellee who is 9 month pregnant. How invested she must be in hoping her boyfriend is the person he has told he is and will be the father he has promised to be. The honeymoon part of the Cycle of abuse is very powerful. (see page 10 of book)

It takes the right information, support, affirmation and perhaps most importantly time for victims of woman abuse to make sense of their experience and to free themselves of the entanglements of abuse. It is deeply disturbing that Noellee seems to have received none of these things but is being taught to fear the very “system” that is supposed to be there to help her.

Karen.

7 responses to “Lynn’s Story”

  1. […] There are gross, destructive inequities at work and they have to be fixed. What happened to Noellee Mowatt is not okay. […]

  2. Lynn in the above story says:

    In my own experience I was lucky to have an abundant amount of support to help me through such a scary, confusing, and traumatic time. I remember taking several days to give my statement because all I could think about was his well being even though I was the one who was hurt, assaulted, and abused. It took me weeks to put my well being ahead of his. For a long time I felt like he had me in a trance brought on by manipulation that had been poisoning my mind.

    I was lucky to have the victim assistance unit on my side, the detective in charge of the case was there to offer advice and convince me that any form of communication with the accused would only make things worse and it was best for my safety and well being not to let him have any foothold in my life. They were very supportive, always offering advice and encouragement, and were there with open doors during a nightmare.

    When a letter came addressed to me from jail, I had a difficult time not responding since it completely put me back into a place of feeling sorry for the accused and worrying only about him, forgetting completely about me. Again, the police department with its open doors offered me the support to see things clearly and not do what I was convinced I needed to do, but what would have been the worst possible thing to do.

    Finally friends and family were amazing supports. When the accused was on the run from the police and I was in hiding at a friends house, they were there for me with open arms and non-judgmental support. Their conditions were that I not have any communication with him while under their roof, reasonable though hard at the time, and in hindsight, a life-saver. I also was told I needed to look into counseling, which ended up being another life-saver to help make sense of the trauma.

    If you had asked me before I was ready to make a statement, to get up on that stand and testify, or to even sit with the crown to tell him my story, I may have had the same problem as Noelle. It was honestly only with time and support that allowed me to filter out the poison and think clearly once again. Because of that, I was able to stand strong, and do what needed to be done…sadly many woman have not experienced the same happy ending.

  3. Laura says:

    1) Can we sponsor book purchases?
    Is it possible, or can you make it possible so that people like me who’d like to sponsor a book for someone who can’t afford it–so there’s this “bank” of books either delivered to shelters, local libraries, doctors offices or online on an honour system–women likethis young Noelle can get it?
    2) Sent to a safe place?
    Also, since possibly these women may not be able to receive these books to their home, can we work with local libraries or doctor’s offices or ? so these women can come pick up the books without the possibility of coming to harm?

    Thanks!

  4. Bev Ross says:

    I found your article in Canadian Living perfect timing. My daughter has experienced abuse from her husband. Mostly emotional and verbal abuse. But he was either drinking or on durgs or both and went into a rage and threatened to burn down the house. Luckily my daughter and the kids ran out of the house but he destroyed most of their electronics and trashed the inside of the house. I am buying your book tonight and reading it and then sending it to my daughter. The sad part of this is not only is my daughter and children suffering emotionally but we as parents are also suffering. We can’t talk about to anyone. Is there a couselling group in Kamloops my daughter can attend.

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  7. Milan says:

    Once again, you have made excellent points.

    I was in Canada from the U.S. when my spouse began to abuse me. I had a child of 3 to take care of when he tried to choke me. I reached for the phone and called the police.
    The police came and arrested him. They did not take him to jail, they allowed him to stay the rest of the night at the police station.
    Because I was completely isolated from my friends and family and my home and country, I was dependent on him. He was very threatening to me, telling me that he would do everything he could to take my child from me and put me “in the nut house”. He had been working on all of the people we knew mutually, whom I thought were my friends, throughout the relationship, and manipulated them to believe awful things about me. Therefore I had no support from those people.
    He also knew that my family wasn’t a very supportive family, and had been talking to my mother behind my back and telling her lies, as well as telling her that I had been diagnosed with “BPD” (which his counselor had “diagnosed” me with, based on what my spouse had told him, though the counselor had never met me).
    All of this led to me being very afraid to really tell the truth to the police about what had happened to me. In addition, I was very exhausted because I suffered from extreme exhaustion and insomnia from dealing with the stress from the situation I was in. The police immediately put a no contact order in place which put a great hardship on me since my spouse had control of all of the finances.
    Then he began to work on me, doing his very best to make me believe it was really all my fault. He did his best to make me feel sorry for him. He also told me that if I pressed charges, and went back to the U.S., then he would never be able to visit our child because his travel priveleges would be revoked to the U.S. He even moaned about how he wanted to run for pollitical office and how it would ruin his chances for that! He kept telling me it was all because I was so unreasonable anyway.
    So when wrote my version of events in the police report, I watered down what happened until it seemed like almost nothing. I made it sound like his trying to choke me was merely a symbolic gesture to get me to listen to him.
    How I regret all of that! Also, because of his manipulations, getting me to feel sorry for him, and keeping me in the habit of believing the most important person in the relationship was him, he ended up getting out of all of it, and getting it eventually expunged from his record.
    This made it possible for him to go on grand vacations to the U.S. after I went back with our child. He has never paid child support, nor visited, although our child does not want to see him. He was far more abusive than I ever imagined at the time.
    Although I was amazed at the level of support for women in my situation in Canada, because the counselor that I was able to speak with after he got out of the legal ramifications of his abuse was just amazing. She is the person who gave me your book, and she is the person who helped me get away from him. I just wish I had known the information and support in your book before I had to deal with the RCMP, because I could have been in the same situation as Noellee if I had refused to make any written statement, however watered down and minimized.
    I just wish that every woman who is abused and all who are trying to help and are in a position to help could read your book.
    Probably the most eye opening thing, the missing piece, for me, is the chapter explaining about belief systems. It is that one core thing that shone a light on the subject and illuminated so much that I never would have known before, and it is the only thing that has ever made sense of things.
    I guess I’m going a bit off topic. I just wanted to say how true this is, that victims of abuse need time and the right information. I’m so glad that Lynn was able to get the right support, and so sad about Noellee.

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When Love Hurts