Women's rights advocate saddened, not surprised by Precious Charbonneau's murder

As friends of a couple try to come to terms with their murder-suicide last Sunday, a women’s rights advocate says she’s seen similar cases far too often.

Women in abusive relationships may not feel they have "the courage to speak," activist says

Precious Charbonneau, 33 and her husband Robert Giblin were found dead outside the 21-storey balcony of their Toronto apartment on Sunday. Police say Giblin killed his pregnant wife before killing himself.

As friends of a couple try to come to terms with their murder-suicide last Sunday, a women's rights advocate says she's seen similar cases far too often.

Toronto police say Robert Giblin, 43, a Canadian war veteran, was responsible for the homicide of his pregnant wife, Precious Charbonneau, 33, who was stabbed several times before being thrown off the balcony of a downtown apartment building.

The couple died after falling from the 21st floor of a building at 111 Raglan Ave. Giblin had served with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, Department of National Defence officials have confirmed.

Harmy Mendoza, executive director of the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto, told CBC News that while she is shocked by the incident, it is a reminder that violence against women is rampant in Canada.

"A woman is murdered by her intimate partner every six days," Mendoza said. 

"The reality is violence against women is rooted mainly in the rationale of a woman's life being controlled," Mendoza said. "She may not be able or may not feel that she has the courage to speak."

'Power and control'

"It's about power and control," she said.

 On Tuesday, a friend of Giblin's, who didn't want to be identified for fear of upsetting both families,  told The Canadian Press he met Giblin in 1999 when they were just beginning their military careers and deployed to the Persian Gulf on HMCS Regina.

The friend said talk of Giblin suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder seems just that.

"There's no way he has PTSD," he said. "We've been going over that and surely all of his friends couldn't have missed that .... But with (Charbonneau), I've never seen him so happy. "

In 2011, a CBC investigation found a disturbing rise in domestic violence among soldiers returning from deployment in Afghanistan.

But a non-profit organization that supports Canada's ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans warned against speculating that Giblin had PTSD.

"The danger is we think that everybody with PTSD is some kind of ticking time bomb and that's just not true," Philip Ralph, Wounded Warriors' national program director, told CBC.

With files from The Canadian Press


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