Testimonial by Aileen Joseph
This is the story of my life since 2004. I would never have dreamed that I would be where I am today. I am a wife, mother, grand-mother and great grand-mother. I have always been at home, taking care of my family. My education is Grade 11, but, not having the means to continue in school, I went in one door and out the other. I was married at 19 and have been married for 49 years to James, who is my best friend. We have been through a lot together.
Our youngest daughter Shelley was murdered in July of 2004. Her story starts in 1973 - the year our oldest son Jimmy died. She always felt Jimmy was the only person who cared for her and remembered him and everything about him. After a day of remembering Jimmy and drinking all day, she found herself home, lonesome, crying, and worrying about her youngest son who had gotten hurt that day. She was afraid he would die on Jimmy's birthday, July 1st. After many calls to me, pouring her heart out about this man who she thought was her friend, Shelley left on her journey to the other side. He stabbed her. One wound to the heart. We were told that, if it had been a half inch in any other direction, she would not have died. He was charged with second degree murder on July 2nd, her youngest daughter Amanda's 16th birthday. He ended up pleading guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to nine years.
As I write this, I wonder. I think it should be known just what some victims go through. First -learning of the murder - exactly what happened. Then, the waiting for the justice system to do its work. That in itself is an eye opener. I had no idea at all what was to take place. The talks with the Crown. Then, the hearing where all kinds of stories about the murderer take place and the fact that none of it can be used! I heard about blood staining. How the specialist can determine when and how; how far she walked, where she died, how long it took and then …
The effect this all has on family members. My grandson Ivan committed suicide 15 months after his mom died. He was so tormented by Shelley's death. His weeks after the funeral, I couldn't even describe to anyone - the crying, the drinking to forget, the depression. And through it all, he worked every day. He never accepted her leaving. His journey in those 15 months was total torment. He is at peace now, beside his mom. My oldest daughter had been working in a casino. She had panic attacks and had to quit for counselling. She has not gone back. My great-grandson Gavin started junior kindergarten. He panicked when the teacher left the room. She always had to explain to him where she was going and why. He was fearful when cars came in our driveway and would run around the house screaming:
"Lock the door! Lock the door!". I am amazed that, at this moment in time, Gavin is a very loving, well-adjusted young man of six who is his grampa's sidekick and tells us he loves us 20 times a day.
In my struggle to find a purpose to something in my life and after having been asked to be a part of the Sisters in Spirit family by the Native Women's Association of Canada, my grand-daughter Sheena and I started talking about abuse to women's shelters and anyone who asked. We also did a video for McMaster University. At the preview, I was approached by a lady who congratulated me on the video. She said she can't explain, but what we had to say helped her get out of a relationship she was in. It was such an uplifting moment, after my many thoughts about whether I was doing the right thing by keeping my daughter's name in focus.
I am so thankful for the Sisters in Spirit team. Had it not been for them and the bringing of everyone together, I don't know where I would have been. We had no means of support here. Knowing we are not alone in our sorrow certainly helps so very much.
I think for victims, it is a feeling of loneliness, hopelessness and helplessness. To find a place to share and feel loved is the best therapy we can find. Victims do matter. Every Victim Matters. Somebody does care.
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