Protection order breached 78 times in Manitoba domestic violence case
Abused woman lives in constant fear; says protection orders, police, and courts do little to help
A domestic abuse victim from a small Manitoba town worries she will be the next Camille Runke.
In that year, the man breached the order 78 times. According to Francis, he was fined and put on probation by the courts for the violations.
"They just don't offer enough protection and they don't take things seriously enough until something bad happens and then everybody starts making changes," she said. "I haven't been able to get that woman who got shot four weeks ago out of my head. And that one breached 22 times. And court will be coming up again. All this stuff worries me. I feel like I have to be on the watch after we go to court because that will be the time something bad happens."
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Francis said there were many more breaches, which she did not report to RCMP because she said police wouldn't do anything.
Francis wants Manitobans to understand how much danger she's in.
"Work all this much and juggle this much for three years and fight and fight and fight and take care of my kids and keep my job going and stuff," she said, fighting through tears. "And all for what? To have my brains blown out one day? Nobody's going to save me from this person."
Francis met her partner almost six years ago. He moved in across the street in her small community. He was handsome, owned a house and had a good job. She thought he was a good catch. But others didn't.
"I lost my job. I lost all my friends. I developed super low self-esteem. And this person took advantage of it. I ended up leaving because of the extensive abuse." That's when Francis decided to stick up for herself. "I left. And it's just been a battle ever since."
Francis remembers her ex was always mad. About a year into the relationship, he hit her the first time.
Nobody's going to save me from this person.- Abused woman
"First he hit me with a rear view mirror and I had to get nine stitches and had to go to the hospital. When we went to the hospital I protected him. I don't know what I was so afraid of. And that's the worst part of it. I got this belief that I needed this person in my life and couldn't do anything without this person."
Another time he threw a bottle at her so hard it cracked two of her ribs. When Francis was seven months pregnant he slammed her into a wall. She left him when their son was two-months-old. Six weeks later she found out she was pregnant with their daughter.
Now they're in a court battle over his visitation rights of the two toddlers. Francis said she can't get away from him.
"Family court is wanting him to be able to communicate with me during this assessment via email. All this person does is abuse me through email. But we have to wait until we go back to court in three months. So I have to put up with all this crap until we go back to family court."
I can't get away from him
While the battle over visitation continues Francis can't move without applying to the courts. But her ex can live where he wants.
"He rents out our house, which is across town. And he moved to the apartment building right across from my workplace," she said. "I can't get away from him. He just bikes by my house all the time. He'll watch me and the kids go wherever and yell at us. And then I call the cops and they say, 'Was he talking directly to you?' He could approach me because I have the kids. These protection orders are a joke, especially when you have kids."
Francis is in counseling at a nearby women's shelter. She wishes she could move far away from her ex. The idea of a monitoring him with a GPS device has some potential.
What is stopping him from walking into my office and just putting me to rest? - Francis
"Yeah. I never even thought of something like that. How do they know the limits?" she wonders. "Will an alarm sound off if he gets within a certain footage of my house or my place of work? "
Francis constantly searches for the strength to battle her fear of her ex. But it's what happens after their next day in court that has her most worried.
"I work alone in my office three days a week. When we go to court, and he realizes that he has nothing to lose now because I know court's not going to go the way he wants it to go, it's going to be my fault. So if he figures he has nothing to lose, what is really stopping him from walking into my office and just putting me to rest, right there?" Francis asked. "There's nothing. What am I going to do, hold up the protection order and call 911?"