Friday, June 10, 2011
I AM SO PROUD OF THE WOMAN I MARRIED
On my first posting I had mentioned that some of this journey may be "rocky". This is one of those times. Hang on for the ride if you can. I met Karen in the very latter part of 1983. We became infatuated with each other almost immediately. It showed so much that the bar we went to occasionally would play the song "Key Largo" knowing that we would get up and dance thereby getting the rest of the patrons to join us. We confided all our personal life to each other as the weeks of our dating progressed. I informed her of my accident (May 27, 2011 posting) and she let me know that she had been sexually abused and raped by her own father as a child from age 8 to 16 (1965 to 1973) when she finally was able to flee her home. She married the first guy that showed an interest in her so that she would be safe. Incest, what a terrible word. I mentioned to Karen that there was maybe an agency she could go to for advice on how to cope with her phobias relating to her abuse. She found one in Kitchener not far from where she lived so she attended their sessions and found out that she was not alone. This place was called Justice Initiatives. After many weekly meetings she came to realize that she had to confront her father to put the blame where it belonged. That would be through the legal system. Karen felt it would maybe be better if she got a female attorney but once we spoke to one she informed us that we were "out of time" as there was a statute of limitations on her lawsuit. In other words , Karen, or anybody else had only 4 years from the last abuse or 4 years from her "age of majority", being 18 to file a suit. If Karen was over 22 years of age it was too late. She was 26 years old. When I went to see my divorce lawyer, Mr Neeb, I mentioned that I was now dating a woman named Karen and relayed to him Karen's predicament. He thought it over for a bit and then he said," The next time you come to see me next week bring her in with you". I did. The "whirlwind "was now starting. He knew the statute of limitations was against us but he felt that that law was outdated since it had been on the books since the late 1800's. The fight was on. It was now 1984. A million dollar lawsuit was filed against her father and the case came to court in 1987. After a 3 week trial a 6 panel jury found her father guilty (Mr Neeb had found, buried in old school files and lawyers notes, that Karen had been complaining of this since she was 12 but nobody did anything about it. They kept sending her home for more abuse). The next day the judge withdrew the juries verdict and told Karen that she had filed her case 4 years too late. The jury was stunned as was I. It was then realization hit us that I wanted "revenge" against the father. I was angry at the judges ruling. I could not understand why Karen was not upset. She was happy because six people (the jury) had finally beieved her after all the years she had tried to tell people that had "deaf ears". Her headaches and other phobias left that very day. Unreal. When we went back to our lawyers office they were celebrating. I could not understand why until he said that now we apply to the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling. Two years later in 1989 there we were at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto. They only give you about one half hour to present your case and then the fathers lawyer has the same amount of time for rebuttal. The judges agreed with the first judges ruling and also ordered Karen to pay her fathers legal bill. That hit me like a Mack truck did in 1980. This had cost us quite a bit financially even though our lawyer had been overly fair with us as he had his heart in this case as no other. The bank I dealt with knew that when I needed a loan what it was for so they waived a lot of fees and interest to assist us. When my boss at work knew I needed money he told me not to go to the bank anymore but to go to him. I did. There were times when I would go in and say to Herb, my boss, that I need ten thousand this month or that month over the years he would pull out his cheque book and give me what I asked for no questions asked. He knew I would repay him and I finally did by 2004. A lot of money. Well worth it though. Anyway, the lawyers were celebrating again. This time they said that we would apply to THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA in Ottawa. They were excited even though 1 percent of 1 percent (one in a thousand) are accepted. We were. Hooray! It was now 1991 and off we went to Ottawa. Our lawyers flew. We drove. I believe our lawyers had half an hour to show why the statute of limitations was outdated for incest and the opposing lawyer the same amount of time. Within one hour we were done. Now we had to wait. 359 days later in October of 1992 the verdict came down in our favor. The judges ruled that there would still be a statute of limitations but the 4 year period to file a lawsuit would now begin after the victim had sought counselling and therapy.This was now the best law regarding this issue in the English speaking world. All because a brave, gutsy gal named Karen singlehandedly took on the Canadian law system and the government through petitions to Queens Park in Toronto. Before we went to the Supreme Court we knew that if we won we would not get any money from the lawsuit as we had already bankrupt her father. My revenge. We proceded anyway because it was a law that had to be changed. After we left the lawyers office and the media had finished their interviews I took Karen to work at her bank. As soon as she stepped in the bank everyone started clapping their hands for her. News travels fast.When we first embarked on this journey every newspaper in the country and other countries had news of her trials. They were fascinated by the fact that here was a woman, not ashamed to have her name in print, suing her father for this horrible ,whispered about crime. I have hundreds of clippings. In this eight year fight(ironic that the abuse lasted the same amount of time) Karen had done many TV shows for her plight and we have both done many speaking engagements to civil groups and to a room full of psychiatrists to get them to understand the mental damage this abuse can cause. We were even flown to British Columbia for the show Front Page Challenge with the legendary Pierre Burton. I am very fortunate to have Karen in my life. She has made it interesting and so rewarding. If people only knew what she had done they would be amazed but incest is such an abhorrent word that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. At least Canada has seen her worth and named Karen as one of the Ontario Women's Directorate, Woman of Change. Since confederation there are 40 women that have helped to make a change for the good in our country and Karen is one of them. Posters with pictures of these women were installed in schools and government offices in 1994. Now you can understand why my chest puffs up a bit when I walk next to my lady. Thanks for reading this far.