Professor Emerita Christine Boyle, was the lawyer for the interventer Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) and Women's Legal Edcation and Action Fund (LEAF) in the Supreme Court of Canada.
In Nicole Ryan’s case, she was separating from her husband and we know from our work with battered women that women are tremendously vulnerable to retaliation while separating from an abusive man. Criminalizing Ms. Ryan for her attempt to protect herself and her daughter is effectively punishing her for the state's failure.
It is well known that men pose a higher level of danger to women in the first eighteen months after choosing to end the relationship. On average, women requesting police help have experienced multiple attacks by their husband. Calling the police is often a last resort. In my ten years as an anti-violence worker, numerous women told me that police instructed them to report again “when things get really bad.” Generally, in those cases, as in Sherry’s case, things were already bad enough to warrant an arrest and charges.
Abuse works because many of us continue to pretend it does not happen to “good” women. So anyone who is abused must be “bad”! We blame the victim for her own abuse by calling her codependent. We expect her to prevent the abuse instead of why the abuser chose to abuse. In short, we collude with the abuser. Abusers succeed because they are not abusive all the time. In fact, sometimes they are fun and charming. They are almost always charming around other people.
By Linda A. Osmundson, Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA)