Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Unspeakable Burden

"In addition to the sexual assaults, the offender controlled the family through angry outbursts, arbitrary rules, and childish but serious physical assaults, which he masked as corrective or disciplinary action for his arbitrary rules."
"The offender established himself as the person in charge of every aspect of the life of this family."
"The offender's inexcusable treatment of [the eldest daughter], in particular, after she turned 16, and of the other girls, deprived them all of tremendously important formative years. They are truly lost years."
Ontario Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray, Ottawa
Ottawa courthouse Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen

To protect the identity of a woman and her daughters, the name of their abuser has been withheld from public view. The violent degradation involved in mental and physical abuse went on for years, during which time the children of the woman who had remarried were subjected to a family life that resembled hell. Their mother could not possibly have been ignorant of the strain and stress her daughters were living under, even if she could claim ignorance of the sexual abuse.

When the man she married turned out to be a ruthless disciplinarian who used physical assault and violent ridicule to enforce his idea of discipline, displeased if they laughed or disobeyed his orders, abusively insulting them, physically attacking them, forcing the girls to eat soap, the actions he submitted her daughters to could not possibly have been hidden from her knowledge. For fourteen long years the girls lived in misbegotten misery.

If her own innocent daughters' punishment for their mother's ill judgement in marrying such a man were not enough evidence of a household's private Gehenna, then the stepfather's behaviour toward the mother in raping her when she failed to agree to his demands for sex alone, should have propelled the woman to police and charges against her husband.

When one of the little girls was in Grade 3 the man, now 49 years of age, screamed at her for a failing mark in math, pinning her to the wall with his upper arm. He would often push the girls against a wall, slapping or hitting them. He poured liquid dish detergent into their mouths. From the age of seven onward the girls were exposed to this horrible abuse.

It took the eldest daughter's decision to move out of the house, warning her sisters to be on guard against the man they considered a father-figure, and his designs on them once she left and never turned back. She had suffered unspeakable and wretched attacks beginning in her mid-teens when he forced intimacy on her, even as she slept in a lower bunk bed with her youngest sister above her.

The oldest girl testified at trial that her stepfather would step up his abuse of the rest of the family if she resisted his sexual advances, so she stopped resisting his demands and, according to the judge who passed sentence on the man allowed him to "do what he wanted to her so that he would not be mean to everyone else".

The stepfather denied committing the offences he was charged with, other than forcing the children to eat soap, when he underwent a sexual behaviours assessment at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. He denied ever having had sexual contact with the eldest daughter. According to him, the young girl had been attracted to him.

A jury convicted the man of sexual exploitation, sexual assault and assault after considering the graphic testimony of his having abused the children, having forced himself on his 16-year-old stepdaughter, raping her and repeatedly raped his wife. He was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison for terrorizing his family.

It doesn't seem like a very hard punishment for ruining the lives of four people, particularly young vulnerable girls who were dependent on him. After serving his time in prison he can get on with his pathetic life. Their journey to any kind of fulfilment in life will be far more difficult after their bitter betrayal, demeaning experiences and life of fear.

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