Friday, April 30, 2010

Victim Impact Statement

If anyone is interested, the following is my Victim Impact Statement which I read to the court the day that two of the three accused were sentenced. One of the attackers received 8 years while the other received 7 years. Very emotional day to say the least.

"To completely articulate the impact that this attack and stabbing of Jim has had on us is really most overwhelming and near impossible. You would think that twenty one months would be more than enough time to complete this task, and in my head, I’ve easily written my victim impact statement at least a thousand times now, but when it finally came time to get serious about it, the task felt daunting at best. I wondered how I would be able to adequately convey the physical, emotional and financial traumas we were forced to suffer because of this event. The physical, emotional and financial impact that this attack ended up having on me has forced me to live a life I barely recognize anymore and become a person I don’t know.

In Sept of this year, Jim and I will have known each other thirty years – he was 14 and I was 16. For most of this time, he has been an integral part of my life. Both of our personalities just clicked and in no time, we had forged a strong friendship. Right away I knew he was someone that would always be an important part of my life. He made me laugh and cry and angry like no one had before or since. He was someone I knew I could always trust and depend on him no matter what. He made me feel safe and secure and gave me self-confidence and poise as a result of this. To me he was fearless.The day of the attack called all of what I believed into question. Everything I thought I knew was ripped away. This fearlessness, boldness, audaciousness that made up a large part of Jim and myself was torn from us that day. We are, and continue to be, in therapy because of the attack. Since the attack, I have had feelings of total loss and disparity. I have not really slept a full night. I require medication to assist my sleeping. I now have panic attacks and flashbacks that causes me to freeze. I have a fear of people in general. I will cross the street, rather than to meet and face people. I now have fears of something terrible happening to another family member, and am fearful for my safety and the safety of my family.

The attack itself was frightening but them to have to wait for hours to hear how Jim was doing was doubly so. He was so severely injured that he required over six hours of emergency surgery. I didn’t get to see him until close to 1am the next day. He was unrecognizable hooked up to all of the hospital’s machines. His body was bloated and initially he was unable to breathe on his own. He looked like the Frankenstein monster with staples all over his upper body, face and head. It was just short of a miracle that he even managed to regain consciousness and then finally return home. His physical recovery has been slow to say the least, but I will let him speak to this.

It has been our psychological recovery that is taking its time and toll, as well as the financial difficulties that have resulted because of the attack. In many ways, this has been harder than the physical and emotional recovery especially as none of this financial duress was a result of our own making. For something we had zero control over as well as nearly having to sacrifice a life for, it has been unduly stressful. It certainly has been a very bitter irony that one of the more dramatic consequences of the attack has resulted in affecting our family’s bottom line. While it is fairly easy to give a dollar value to our loss of income over these past twenty-one months, it is slightly more difficult to calculate other monies lost as a direct result of this attack.

As the attack occurred while we were fulfilling one of our job duties, our immediate supervisor was able to submit the appropriate forms necessary for us to qualify to receive Workers Compensation. Its another issue entirely though that the company we work for delayed almost three months in actually doing this. As neither Jim nor I were able to immediately return to work, we both began to receive Workers Compensation benefits which equal approx two thirds of our normal salary. Now, as part of our compensation package with our employer, not only did we receive our own two bedroom apartment, we also had our telephone, cable and internet paid for by them. Once we started to receive WSIB, our employer no longer covered the cost of the above. It was now our responsibility. So suddenly, not only were we receiving about a third less pay than we were used to, but from this reduced amount, we now had to cover these additional expenses of over $1000/month. This added stress is just one more thing that we’ve been forced to deal with because of the attack.

It hasn’t been just Jim and myself that have suffered because of the attack. Both of our daughters were teenagers at the time of the attack and as much as we tried to shield them from its effects, this proved impossible. They ended up being greatly affected because of the emotional and financial stress weighing heavily on me. While Jim and I attempted to adjust to each new change as it presented itself, I found myself getting increasingly angrier and bitter with our circumstances, and these feelings were then that much more difficult to hide from the girls. I was overwhelmed with feelings of self doubt and started to feel that I was failing them as a parent. I started to fall into a depression especially as relationships with my daughters started to change.

I have also just recently discovered that I may face yet another obstacle as a direct result of this attack. Currently, I have no job to return to as it has just been phased out of the company that employs us both since the beginning of the new year. Once again, we are victims not of our own making. Certainly, this will no doubt present another fairly large financial challenge to us – now just one of many. I really had begun to believe that we would soon be able to start to put all of this behind us, to make it a thing of the past. Yet, this seems near impossible as we seem to be faced with additional obstacles far too frequently.

Certainly the therapy that I continue to receive for my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at Victoria Hospital has greatly benefited me, and is starting to alleviate a number of my symptoms. Jim has also started therapy with a different therapist and I believe that he too is finally starting to feel some benefits. Still, this offers only small comfort. Yes, we are all starting to heal, but in the end, this attack has fundamentally changed me as a person as well as the way that I now look at the world. I no longer recognize my reflection in the mirror and am not the person that I once was, or will ever be. This experience has so altered my life forever, as well as how I view life.

I Can Almost See Our Ship On the Horizon...

In another couple of weeks, it will be two years since Jim ans I were attacked, and Jim stabbed. In many regards, this event seems like it happened a lifetime ago, while at other times, it feels like only yesterday. To say that its been a challenging two years most certainly is an understatement. Yet, at the end of the day, no matter what we've had to go through, both of us are still standing and standing fairly darn strongly! Whew...anyway.

Financially, these past two years have certainly been some of our hardest, and there have been so many times when I have absolutely felt utterly gutted by it all. So, what does one do? What can one really do but soldier on? Apparently, this was the right thing to do, and when they say that good things come to those that wait, they may very well be spot on. Found out today that WSIB made an error in the disbursement of some of Jim's benefits and that they have corrected this error by putting a cheque for $6 500 in the mail to us as of yesterday. YES!!! We also found out on Wednesday that the company that looks after group benefits for the company we work for also made an error and will be correcting this very shortly - this was a $6 900 error by the by!!! So by the end of next week, our bank account will have over $13 000 more than it did this week. Thank you very, very much.

Don't get me wrong. No amount of money will ever be able to erase the events of two years ago, nor even begin to compensate us for what we've had to endure. This is so not the way to go about receiving money, but at the same time, I've not got so much pride that I'll refuse it either. HELLO??!! All this means is that we'll be able to finally start replenishing our savings account that we were forced to drain while waiting for our WSIB to kick in - thank heavens we ended up having a bit of a cushion to deflate back then as we would have been so royally screwed.

So, starting our weekend off on a bit of a high note floating through the rest of my Friday.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I can hardly believe that we are now more than halfway through the month of April and that I've literally only gone near my computer, never mind surfing the net, about three or four times!!! Busy, yes, I guess I must be. I know that so far this year, there have already been a significant number of changes in my life. Where to even begin...

Very, very briefy, and in point form right now - plan on elaborating on each and every point over the next few weeks. PROMISE!!!

  • daughter moved out of our home into her first apartment with her boyfriend of close to three years, then moved back home after this relationship broke up, and then moved out again all on her own to her very own apartment
  • two of the three accused that had attacked my husband and I,  plus stabbed my husband multiple times, decided to plead guilty right before we were about to proceed to trial so we had to attend both of their Sentence Hearings where I had to read my Victim Impact Statement
  • accused number three has decided that he wants his day in court and has elected for a trial by judge and jury although so far no date has been set so this whole ordeal is still so not over yet
  • spent a good, long month actually working on my Victim Impact Statement for real as opposed to continually composing it in my head
  • my baby brother, and his wife, who just had their fourth child a week and a half before Christmas decided that there was no real employment future for him anymore in Ontario so he accepted a job in Halifax, NS, and within a three week period had flown out for a job interview, accepted their fairly lucrative offer, found room and board for himself in a pretty decent house at an equally reasonable rent, moved his arse and whatever stuff he needed out there to start work, while having to leave his family behind to get their house sold and packed up, allow the kids to finish out their school year at the only school they've ever attended - their ages are 11, 9 and 7 currently - and generally just adjust to  a very foreign situation for them as a family
  • decided on my own that I simply did not want to attend anymore PTSD therapy as I felt that I realistically was as well and recovered as I could possibly be, so had the hospital discharge me stamped READY TO RETURN TO WORK - boy, could I have been any farther removed from the reality of my situation???
Now, these are all of the major changes I've encountered so far in 2010. There are all sorts of minor and by far, less significant stuff I've also dealt with but compared to this heavier stuff, barely warrants a mention right now. Later, maybe. And, just in case, anyone is even still out there keeping track, I've muddled through all of this with nary a stumble. I am still on Methadone Maintenance Treatment - MMT - with a current dose of 40ml/day. At one point, I had actually gotten my dose down to 30ml/day but found that once I had returned to work, this dose was simply incapable of sustaining me for even a 24 hour period so I was forced to increase my dose - for now, anyway, or at least until my body has gotten used to its increased physical activity level which has obviously changed pretty dramatically  since I've been back to work. Even though it seems to be rapidly flying by me so far this year, all in all ,though, life seems to be pretty sweet right now whicg suits me just fine!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

She's Leaving Home

Today Sara moved out for the second time! She had moved out last November when she and her boyfriend of close to three years decided that they were ready to get an apartment together – Jim and I thought otherwise but knew to keep these opinions to ourselves! When she phoned us in mid February I could tell that she was struggling with something and suspected exactly what that something was! A mother always seems to know, n’est pas? When she was finally ready to unload on me, I made sure that the only thing I did was listen patiently and empathetically. I knew that it was very difficult for her to share with me the fact that she had made this hasty mistake of moving in too soon with her boyfriend, and knew that the absolute last thing that she needed to hear from me was “I told you so!” Mean and petty I can save for others, certainly not my daughter!

Once she realized that I wasn’t going to take over with the feared stereotypical MOTHER lectures of well intentioned advice, etc she was really able to relax with me and be completely honest and truthful about her current living situation. She even was able to ultimately ask for my advice, as well as seriously consider what I had to offer, not to mention follow! Felt like huge MOM victory to me let me tell you!!! In the end, her situation was really nothing more than a rather uncomfortable one. Soon after moving in with her boyfriend, she realized that she had made a big mistake and was afraid of making it even worse the longer she stayed living there. Unfortunatley, she wasn’t entirely sure how the best way to solve this would be. Her big obstacle in her mind was the fact that her boyfriend had done nothing wrong. The whole three years that they were dating he has been nothing but a complete gentleman.

I told her that she didn’t need an excuse like infidility or battery or something equally heinous to end a relationship. Sometimes, there is nothing more than the relationship had simply run its course, and what may have been there at the beginning, simply wasn’t there anymore. Over time relationships change, and this had ended up happening to theirs. They may still have had strong feelings for each other, but these feelings had obviously changed over the years. Instead of being passionate lovers they now seemed to be more like very close and dear friends. I told her that there was never going to be a good time to approach her boyfriend especially if he wasn’t ready yet to end their relationship – he wasn’t. Told her the sooner, the better, but to make sure that she allowed adequate time to talk to him about what she was about to do, and to make sure that she didn’t introduce this serious topic if they were in the middle of a  squabble as this wouldn’t be fair to either one of them in the end.

In the end, I think that she handled herself the very best that she could. She moved home with us for the past month while she got herself sorted out. Obviously, we told her that she was welcome for as long as she wanted or needed, no matter if that meant not leaving for months, or even years to come. She decided that the best thing for her right now though was to get her own apartment as soon as she was able to find a suitable, as well as affordable, one. She also decided that she didn’t want to have a roommate, but that she thought she would like to live on her own, or at least give it a try. I don’t blame her either as she had to share her bedroom for her last four years at home with us with her foster sister, and then when she did finally move out, had to share her first apartment with her boyfriend. I’m sure the thought of having her very own space is thrilling if nothing else. She can always get a roommate later on if she finds out that she doesn’t like living on her own.

For me, personally, I think that she will thrive beautifully on her own. She has blossomed into a wonderfully mature, level headed young woman whom I couldn’t be more proud. She has a fantastic job where she earns a better than decent salary, plus she also has the financial support of Jim and myself, as well as her Granny so money is not an area she has to worry too much about – except in ensuring she try to stick to a reasonable budget and not spend beyond her means. We have hopefully given her all of the tools she’ll need to get by in the world, plus she knows that we are always here for her no matter what, no questions asked.

So, I end this day on a bit of a melancholy note as once again, I’ve had to watch our daughter move out to start her life as an adult. She is no longer my baby! Of course, this melancholy is mixed with pride and happiness as I am also able to witness the beautiful young woman that my daughter has grown into.