When I was a child growing up I was severely abused by my step father, in every way imaginable. I was as young as 4 or 5 years old, and the abuse continued until I was 15. I was not allowed to do normal things like have friends or go out and play. I grew up thinking it was normal for everyone's life to be so full of hatred and violence.
In 1983-84, when I was around 7 or 8, my step-father started beating me in the garage of the apartment building. He continued beating me all the way to the ninth floor where we lived. It was a bad beating and there were many witnesses, but no one stopped it. Instead, someone called the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS). Guess what they did? The Children's Aid phoned our home. Even before I could answer, my step-father told me to say “NO” to everything they asked. With his fist in my face, I obeyed him. Guess what happened after the call? I got beat up really bad.
When my step-father publicly beat me and the neighbours reported it, the CCAS actually had an open file on him. Court documents show that the Catholic Children's Aid Society first became involved in my step-father's life when his ex-wife charged him with assault and threatening to kill her (see pg.2 sec. 5 (K) of attached document, "Protection Order.pdf"). At the time, his two daughters (ages 13 and 15) also filed allegations of sexual abuse. My step-father became involved with my mother around the same time. My mother lived with me and my siblings in the same apartment building. While he was defending himself in court, and before the CCAS closed his file, he had started abusing and molesting me. Thus, when CCAS was called, they were very much aware of who my step-father was because they were fighting him in court! It is very unlikely they didn't know who he was and what he was capable of.
For the next seven years nothing changed. He continued abusing me until I turned 15. He almost killed me several times. He would attempt to drown me, threw me around like a rag doll, and used me as his special punching bag. I've had more head trauma then a man that is in hockey or football. How could they allow me to stay there? They're supposed to protect children, but all they did was sign my death warrant. To this day, I have no idea why I didn't die. I believe I lived so I could tell everyone what happened and help make changes to the government.
When I was 15, my step-father told me he was going to take me to the river and drown me. On November 27, 1991, I told a guidance counsellor at school and she called the police.
The day they apprehended me was so scary. I lived in York region, a different part of the city than where I went to school. The worker from the York Region CAS could not apprehend me at school because its not their jurisdiction . So the worker gave me a bus ticket and told me to take the bus to a certain point, and then transfer to another bus, and so on. I remember feeling very scared. I was not familiar with the TTC and I got lost. It was after 5pm and I ended up in an industrial area where everything was closed. When I got off the bus, the worker was nowhere to be found. It was December and I felt very cold. I was just wearing my school uniform - a coat, skirt and shoes. I remember falling to the ground in tears and feeling so alone. What was I going to do? My heart was beating so hard and my mind was racing. It was getting dark and I started feeling even more scared as I started walking down the street toward the buildings.
Then suddenly a lady came outside and asked me why I was walking around alone. She brought me inside and told me I shouldn’t be alone in this area since there was a rapist in the area. I told her what happened with CAS and she called the police. Apparently I had not reached York region yet so the police had to drive me there. The worker never apologized to me for what happened. We then drove for a couple of hours to an all-girl foster home.
The first night I was very lonely. I had no pyjamas, just my school uniform, my coat, and black shoes. I was given a tooth brush, a blanket, and had to sleep in my school uniform. I had nothing and my mother refused to give me my clothes. I went 3-4 days wearing and sleeping in my school uniform before getting a couple pairs of tops, pants, under wear and socks from CAS. This all happened within days of Christmas. I felt like I was being punished for what my step-father did to me and telling someone about it.
MY LIFE AS A CROWN WARD
Being a crown ward – Wow, that was the most isolating experience I have ever been through in my 35 years of life. The first several weeks and months were hard. I had to change schools and I had no friends. There were other girls who lived in the same foster home, but I was the outcast. After being placed there, I got a new worker. The Children's Aid never did anything to help me recover from that abuse and neglect I had experienced at the hand of my step-father. It took about 6 months before they put me in a group counselling program. I had no real support. No one ever took me to a doctor to make sure I was OK, I was never given an allowance, nor ever encouraged to go to college or university. I was not prepared for adulthood. The one thing about foster care that I can say, is that I felt safe.
Everything that I am today and the person I have become, I did on my own - with no guidance and no love from anyone else. I think it's pretty sad I had to go through all this so alone until I eventually aged out of the system. Since the society didn’t encourage me to have visits with my brother and sister, I lost touch with them. My sister has since died and my brother looks at me as though I'm a stranger. It really kills me. As an adult I feel that foster parents are suppose to guide you, love you, and support you through the most difficult part of your life. It makes me sad and angry that I didn't get this support from them fifteen years ago. Today, not much has changed for foster children in the care of CAS.
MY LIFE TODAY
I have suffered a great deal, both physically and emotionally. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as many unhealed injuries that have caused Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I also suffer from more head injuries than a full grown man who has played professional football. I am told that doctors will never truly understand the impact of the blows to my head and that I face a high risk of developing Alzheimer's because of it. There are also physical scars that my step-father left behind.
In January 1994, my step-father was charged and convicted with 5 counts of Sexual Exploitation, 5 counts of Sexual Assault, 2 counts of Indecent Assault, and 2 counts of Point of Firearm. He was sentenced to 7 years in jail and was released on January 20, 2001 (see attached newspaper articles). As you can see from the charges, the abuse I received from this man was nothing short of a tortured living hell. To this day, it has had lasting effects that I will have for life. See his obituary here
Today, the Children's Aid Society claims that since I suffered from extreme abuse, I will also abuse my children. That is so far from the truth. I have made it my mission to make sure that I have a husband who loves me and our children, who are happy and safe. So not only did the Children's Aid leave me to die with my abusive step-father, but today they like to come around and harass my family. They cite the cycle of abuse to justify their reasons to hound me. I have always told them that I'm not like that and that I don't want anyone to ever go through the hell I went through, but they still have me classified as “high risk”. I have no criminal record and I would never, ever, hurt a child in any way.
When I lived in a housing co-op, if you weren't part of the “clique”, your neighbours would use CAS to hassle you by making false allegations. As a result, CAS was always coming to my door for the smallest things. They weren't there to see if I needed help, but to force me to prove that I wasn't abusing my kids and that my husband had no criminal record. Whenever CAS came to my home, they would always talk to me privately, away from my husband. They would ask me if he abuses me, and each time I would have to prove to them that he does not. I would have to cite every agency in the area and how I would get help if he ever decided to abuse me. It was a horrible experience that felt like they were trying to break us up. We have wonderful children and a wonderful relationship.
My children are now ages 12 and 15, they have been interviewed by CAS so many times that it's unnatural. I feel their harassment actually hurt my children, who refuse to speak with them anymore. My children have never seen any type of abuse at home, but they are abused at school by bullies. When I've mentioned this to CAS, they told me, “We don't deal with stuff like that.” When I proved to CAS that the calls from the co-op were malicious, and demanded they charge the people making them, they told me they don't do that either.
So my concerns are that The Children's Aid Society failed to protect me when they had an opportunity to so. They left me to be raised by a paedophile who abused me in ways that are incomprehensible to normal human thought. How could they allow this to happen? I had a lonely experience with no support in foster care and then they harassed my children and husband. They are supposed to help children and families, not destroy them.