In discussions of violence against women, specifically domestic violence, there are themes that arise from peoples’ stories. These themes include; domestic violence within an intimate partner relationship, domestic violence as a reason for divorce, custody battles, involvement of police and the criminal justice system, decisions about leaving, children taken into the care of child welfare agencies, ex spouses and partners, the experiences of young children, etc. My experience sits on another side of domestic violence; one that is not part of the common narrative. My experience and position within this issue is one that likely would have been addressed by law enforcement if it took place within an intimate partner relationship.
This is something I have avoided writing about and I have never talked about it publicly. If I have written about violence against women or domestic violence, I have never included myself in relation to the topic as I have done with others such as disability. This was deliberate as I did not want to share this widely and did not want to violate my mother’s right to privacy as our stories are intertwined. Now that this blog has become involved in my experiences of domestic violence, as well as receiving my mother’s permission and blessing, it’s time to write about this topic and include my own experience.
There are currently seven Facebook accounts I have blocked; they were all created by or used by the same person with the intention to find me. These seven accounts have been created and blocked over an 8 year period with the last one being blocked this week. This person has shown up at my previous home numerous times, followed me to events he knew I would be attending and continues to make social media accounts to contact me.
This sounds like the definition of harassment, right? This is the kind of harassment that would make a person a great candidate for a “no-contact” order. I have no such order, nor have I ever had my own “no-contact” order to prevent this harassment. When I was 15, I was included in a “no-contact” order for my mother at her request; I was tagged on to hers because I was underage. That order has long since expired and while my mother has a new one, I do not. With all of the laws about harassment, domestic violence, etc. it may seem shocking that I don’t. The reason I don’t is because this person is my parent.
I am well aware of how law enforcement treats survivors of domestic violence in intimate partner relationships, but domestic violence involving an adult-child seems to be another ball game that lacks any rules. Law enforcement viewed his harassing behaviour to be in relation to my mother but did not consider that he was also looking for me. It was also considered to be loving gestures of a great parent. The incident that lead to my mother getting a new no-contact order happened to take place on a day I was visiting Toronto for Discover Ryerson. Even if I was there, I don’t think I would have been granted a no-contact order.
While I have had some good experiences with police around this issue, some woman-identified police officers have issued him a “warning”, the general response to this issue has been to make excuses for him. Most recently, a person who takes police-related calls defended him and said maybe he thought I had changed my mind about speaking to him. 8 years, 7 blocked Facebook accounts, avoiding him and his family, reporting harassment… I send real mixed signals in this area of my life, no wonder he is confused [sarcasm]. If this had been my ex-partner, would the response have been the same?
I have done everything right in the eyes of harassment law; I have responded to relay my wishes not to have contact with him and detail that I will contact police if it continues, I have ignored further attempts to engage in conversation, I have contacted police promptly when this happens and I save copies of the messages. I have done what I have been told to do and I’m still left with no legal assistance to deal with this harassment.
How did my job with this blog become involved in my experience of domestic violence? I hadn’t heard from him in 2 years until I wrote a blog about disability and absenteeism. I received a message shortly after it was published from a man saying that his daughter was experiencing similar problems at McMaster University. It’s not unusual for people I don’t know to message me about my blog posts so I didn’t think anything of it, but I never got around to responding. I’m really glad I didn’t engage in conversation because this was a fake account made by him to contact me. I only found out because my birthday fell shortly after and he messaged me, outing himself as the person behind the account. Another account that I assume is fake has contacted me since and I assume these will be the first of many.
As of now, I’m continuing to block the Facebook accounts but will not be contacting police anymore. I’m extremely concerned by the lack of response from the law and police to deal with this issue as there’s adult-children out there whose experiences of this type of domestic violence are much worse than mine. I’m extremely fortunate that he doesn’t know where I live in Toronto and doesn’t have my phone number. We need to move beyond the idea that children should talk to their parents no matter what because they are family. We also need to move beyond the idea that we may change our minds; some of us may and some of us won’t. This should not be a reason to deny us the tools to ensure our safety.
I wanted to write this blog for two reasons:
First, I wanted to share another side of domestic violence that isn’t always talked about and hope it reaches others with the same experience- I see you.
Second, since this blog has obviously been found; again, stop trying to contact me.