Jessica Martel’s common law husband murdered her on Apr. 29, 2009. Seventeen months later the Morinville man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. We must never forget this or that it happened in Morinville.
Friday marked the seventh anniversary of that tragic loss of life, and we have not forgotten, nor has the organization that carries her name forward in the hopes of helping others.
From the first hit to the fatal last, the life of the domestic violence victim is ugly, and, as an American friend once remarked on the topic, “It doesn’t get better after the first black eye. That is a great sign to get out!”
Sadly, too few women do. Too few women feel they can leave because domestic violence is not merely about fists in faces, rape, and physical violence. That is horrible enough. It is about control and subjugation, about turning a partner into a possession. Financial, psychological and emotional abuse is part of the master plan of weak men — and weak women — as men are also sometimes victims of such abuse.
We must not condone this. And yet some do.
A survey commissioned by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and released earlier this year indicated one in five men in Alberta had witnessed abusive behaviour towards women in the past year.
Though the number is shocking, so too are those willing to condone violence against women. Too many people are willing to use justification as if lifting a hand to blacken a woman’s eye or break her arm is a momentary lapse in reason. He was drunk. He was high. He lost his job. He had a bad day at work. She made him angry. She pushed him too far.
A couple can overcome minor breaches in trust, but once the trust of basic human safety is broken, evidence in shelters and in coffins shows that personal safety can and should never be taken as a future certainty.
Some numbers we should all know: Family Violence Info Line 310‑1818; Child Abuse Hotline 1‑800‑387‑5437; Sturgeon Victim Services 780-939-4590 and most important of all is 9-1-1.
And please visit and support The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation and the work they continue to do in Jessica’s name — www.thejessicamartelmemorialfoundation.com