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Awareness is the path to change

Earlier in December here on 1 in Four, Cathy wrote a post about Jennifer Corsini's story that was shared on City TV news, titled "Well done Jennifer Corsini."

Through this blog post, I have been in contact with Jennifer's sister, Susan. She approached us with sharing a report her son had done for school.  I was thrilled at the idea of being able to share this with you, and then I actually read the report -- it literally brought tears to my eyes. He writes about the real events of his aunt's story, and he writes about the statistics and prevalence of Domestic Violence in Canada, but what really touches me are the words "Domestic violence has been going on for too long and the victims need to have a voice."  Such truth and insight from a highschool aged boy gives me real hope for the future!

Jennifer Corsini, CityTV image

Jennifer Corsini, CityNEWS image.

We will be posting links on how to sign Jennifer's petition to the Canadian government as soon as it is available. For now you can join her supporters on Facebook in the group Voice of a Victim.

Here I share with you the entirety of the email I received from Susan:

My name is Susan Corsini, the victims sister. My son, Domenic, wrote this
report 6 months after the sentencing, for his grade 10 religion class. He
was graded with an A+, which he well deserved as it was truthful, well
researched and very informative...

True Case History
A woman leaves her second husband after 4 ½ years of marriage. There was a
verbal restraining order against the husband for threats of violence
toward her 14 year old son and herself. She took her son and belongings
and moved into her own house. She was told by her husband that she would
never make it on her own financially and she had no friends, they were all
talking bad about her. With encouragement from her family and friends, she
felt good and safe about her leaving. The husband started stalking her and
making endless harassing phone calls to her. She let it go and figured he
would eventually stop. In the afternoon June 22 2008, the husband lured
the woman to their former matrimonial home saying they had to figure out
how to split their assets. That evening, alerted by a family member,
police found the couple inside the home. The woman was near death lying
face down in a puddle of varsol and blood. Her neck had been sliced and a
rag stuffed down her throat. There were slashes from an x-acto blade,
across her chest, chin, neck and throat. The estranged husband had his
belt cinched around the woman’s neck, so tightly that the buckle broke
with such force; it was found a few feet away from her body. He had doused
her in varsol, chemically burning 20 % of her body. Her right arm was cut
so deeply, severing tendons and main nerves. A main artery was also sliced
open on her arm. She had lost practically all of the blood in her 95lb.
body.  She was clinically dead. He also tried to kill himself by
inflicting a knife wound to his throat which was not deep enough to cause
life threatening damage. The family member that made the call that evening
was my Mother and the woman that I speak of is my Aunt, Jennifer Corsini.
She was airlifted from a Simcoe hospital to the Hamilton General where she
remained in a coma, on life support, in the Burn ICU, so badly disfigured.
She didn’t look like my Zia Jen…it can’t be her; but it was. Doctors said
that her chance of survival or having a meaningful life were grave. With
endless words and prayers, my Aunt eventually came out of her coma and had
months of rehabilitation teaching her how to walk, eat, and talk again. To
this day she has had 6 surgeries. She is living with her son, now 17, in
the house she had originally moved into. She still has many obstacles in
her way and in the future. These include more surgery, permanent brain and
physical damage, but, most of all FEAR.
Threatening, hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, harassing and stalking
another person are crimes. Each of the above is a form of domestic
violence. A person who commits any of these acts of crime can be arrested,
charged, convicted and put in jail. Domestic violence is a serious problem
and is a very common cause of injury, although, it is hard to know exactly
how common it really is as people don’t often report it. Domestic violence
does not discriminate, so there is no typical victim. It happens among
people of all ages and affects people of all levels of education and
income. Domestic violence affects more women than men; 1 in every 4 women
is abused. Every week in Canada, one or two women are killed by their
partners. On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women (along with
2,500 children) are living in shelters to escape abusive situations. Each
year 35,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported to the police.
Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of
physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. 61% of all Canadians say
they personally know of at least one woman who has been physically or
sexually assaulted in their life. More than one in ten Canadian women has
been stalked in a way that made them fear for their life. The cost of
violence against women in Canada for health care, criminal justice, social
services, and lost wages/productivity is calculated out to be more than
$4.2 billion per year. Spousal violence makes up the single largest
category of convictions involving violent offences in non-specialized
adult courts in Canada. Disturbing trends are still happening, despite all
resources that are available. In 2009, the rate of self-reported spousal
violence was the same as in 2004. Victims are less likely to report
incidents to the police. More women are experiencing violence, even after
leaving their abuser. Different types of abuse are: Financial abuse:
stealing or controlling money or valuables, for her to work or denying the
right to work; Spiritual abuse: using religious/spiritual beliefs to
manipulate, dominate and control her; Emotional/Verbal abuse: making
degrading comments about her body or behavior, destroying possessions,
threatening to kill her or her children, threatening to commit suicide;
Physical abuse: slapping, choking or punching, using hands or objects as
weapons, threatening with or using a knife or a gun; Criminal
harassment/stalking: following her or watching her in a persistent,
malicious and unwanted manner, invading her privacy in a way that
threatens her personal safety.
In our society, gender inequality is visible in areas such as politics,
religion, media, cultural and workplace. It has been believed that men are
more important and successful than women. It then becomes easier for a man
to believe he has the right to be in charge and control a woman, even if
it results in violence. There is no evidence that mental illness or
alcohol causes men to be violent against women. Women often stay with
their abuser because he has threatened to kill her, himself or the
children, if they leave. 25% of all women have been murdered or attempted
to be murdered within two months of leaving the relationship. Women may
also stay because they are financially dependant on their partner. The
woman may also have strong beliefs, from morals or religion, for keeping
the family together. Sometimes relatives blame the woman for the violence
and insist they stay with their partner. Domestic abuse is often a gradual
process. Abusers often promise to change and express remorse for their
actions; therefore it can take years for a woman to realize the violence
will not stop. In the meantime, this long-term abuse can destroy a woman’s
self confidence, find the courage to leave or manage on their own and to
believe they deserve better treatment. Victim Crisis Assistance and
Referral Services (VCARS) is a program that can send, with permission of
the police, a team of trained volunteers to provide immediate help and
emotional support. They can also help with referrals to agencies that can
give you longer-term support. VCARS is available 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. They provide immediate short-term counseling, funeral
expenses and emergency expenses such as transportation and childcare. A
team of volunteers went to my aunt’s house right away to counsel my cousin
and my grandparents, who were there with him. They also came into Hamilton
to the hospital to counsel the rest of the family. They did not and could
not provide details of the crime scene, but they were there to listen and
to help with our emotions and sit with us while we waited for news on my
aunt.
In speaking with my aunt, Jennifer, these next two things really trouble
her and she feels disturbed by them. The justice system, pertaining to
domestic violence, is failing the victims. The accused, Bill Gowling, was
charged with attempted murder, two counts of criminal harassment and one
breach of court order (he tried to call Jennifer by phone from jail
begging her to pick up). Gowling went to court over 20 times over the
course of 21/2 years for bail, psychiatric testing and sentencing. It’s
such a waste of tax payers money for something so obvious. Plea bargaining
is a big part of the judicial system. A criminal is very rarely ever given
the sentence they were charged with. Criminal charges are plea bargained
down because lawyers don’t want to see their clients go to trial. Gowlings
case was compared to other cases to determine his sentencing; this is
called case law in which all other cases are measured and compared. Case
law should be factored out because no two cases are alike or should not be
compared or treated the same as another. To sum this up, Gowling attempted
to murder Corsini in June 2008. The defense lawyer and the Assistant Crown
Attorney plea bargained the charge down to aggravated assault. They didn’t
go to trial, as they felt it may be too upsetting for Corsini. Gowling was
sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison minus 5 years for double
time served. He can apply for parole in 2015 and has a statutory release
in 2016. Jennifer is left with permanent brain and physical damage. She
lives in fear on a daily basis. She fears that when he gets out of jail,
he’ll stalk her again. Her worst fear is that he’ll come after her or her
son and kill them; she has nightmares of this. She has had to find the
strength to move forward in the best way she can. She has a personal
support worker come to her home each day; to shower her and help getting
dressed. Jennifer’s awareness has heightened, but, she feels so vulnerable
all the time. She has an alarm system in place bought by Victim Services.
One alarm goes to Brinks and the other alarm is a distress emergency
victim response alarm, which goes directly to the police. She will soon be
getting a guard dog that she will bring everywhere with her. Is it fair
for a person who was once so independent, had an outgoing personality, so
full of spirit to live in fear?
Some people think violence against women is not a serious issue. These
attitudes need to end and can be changed. Drinking and driving was once
treated as a joke. Thanks to strong advocacy campaigns, it is no longer
acceptable and is subject to serious penalties. Public education, violence
prevention programs and a strong criminal justice system can bring an end
to violence against women in Canada. Research shows that high school
students benefit from better dating relationships, have the ability to
recognize and leave an unhealthy relationship, and have increased
confidence, assertiveness and leadership. Local schools need to implement
a teen violence prevention program. Teens need to be aware of the signs
and know what programs are available to them. Violence against women and
girls is a serious problem in Canada. We need to get elected
representatives (MP’s and MPP’s) involved to let them be aware of the
seriousness. Jennifer Corsini has started a Facebook page called Voice of
a Victim. This allows her and other victims to help one another and to
speak of their issues and find ways to makes things better. Jennifer has
also started a petition in which she wants an MPP to present it to
Parliament. The petition is to end statutory release, so the convicted
serve their full and complete prison sentence to which they are charged
with, and to end plea bargains in cases of domestic violence. Jennifer
would like to see more safe houses for women and their children to live in
a safe but normal environment. Domestic violence has been going on for too
long and the victims need to have a voice. What are you doing to end the
violence?

She is a survivor and the voice of a victim

Work Cited:
Jennifer Corsini. Person to person interview. 17 May 2011

“Violence Prevention Fund.” Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Canadian Women’s Foundation. 8 May 2011
http://www.cdnwomen.org/EN/section05/3_5_1_1-violence_facts.html

Ministry of the Attorney General. Sunday, April 10, 2011.
Government of Ontario. 15 May 2011
http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/ovss/

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About cass

34y/o single mother of one. A survivor of Domestic Violence; an advocate for change to the current Canadian legal system -- stronger sentencing for perpetrators of DV crimes. I believe in advocacy as a means to change. I believe in using your voice to make a difference. I believe in standing up for what is right and standing up for those who can't. I believe in educating young girls and boys of the future generations that there is always a choice and that violence is not the right choice. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" -- Gandhi.

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One Response to Awareness is the path to change

  1. Sue January 4, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Thank you for sharing this information. I send love and healing to your Aunt and all of her family for what they have gone through and continue to go through every day.

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