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JONESIE: This isn't how to start a conversation on domestic violence

February 17, 2015 - 1:20 PM

If you didn’t know the name Selina Morrison before, chances are you do now. The Vernon woman, originally from Kelowna, has thrust herself into the spotlight and inspired a conversation we all need to have about domestic abuse.

After enduring a frightening exchange with a boyfriend earlier this month, she lit up Facebook with personal videos explaining her situation, calling out her ex-boyfriend, declaring she wouldn’t be a victim and vowing to help others through the situation. Her posts went across B.C. after it was picked up by several news organizations.

It’s about damn time someone started a conversation about domestic abuse. While Kelowna has the honour of leading the province in rates of domestic violence, it pales compared to Vernon’s history on this subject. We’ve all had enough of this. And this. And this. 

So yes, this is probably the best place to begin and hopefully the articulate Morrison inspires someone to reach out and get help and be safe. It looks like she already has and in conversation with her this week, she is buoyed by her newfound fame and intends to keep pushing on that side with her #nomorevictims campaign.

She has my support for that. Unfortunately she loses me with the other side of her campaign. She made sure her ex-boyfriend’s name and photo were carried with the momentum. In speaking with her this week, she has no regrets about that and from her singular perspective, perhaps that’s justified. If that’s the case there will be an abundance of evidence to put before a judge, not that Morrison is waiting for that.

But the right to a fair trial shouldn't so easily be shoved aside and Morrison doesn’t see that; she is entirely too cavalier about due process. Forget the judge, she has found power in social media. I’ll let you decide if she wields it responsibly.

Is it revenge? She told me half of this campaign is about her specific ex and ensuring her own safety and the result is near frenzy. She informed her followers that her ex was released on bail yesterday, Feb. 16, with new conditions and “praying he doesn’t make bail." Most responses simply want him left in jail, others encourage her to be safe then there's examples like this all over her page.

Misty Spate: “What are the laws for self defence like in Canada? Would you go to jail if you shot him in self defense? Just curious. That bastard has to be stopped somehow.”

Joy Bee: “…If he tried anything like that he would be hunted down like the animal he seems to be….”

This “conversation” looks very much like a lynch mob, so far. I did look into the background of this story a little bit and no, I’m not about to defend—or even name—this guy in particular. I did give him an opportunity to respond—the first opportunity anyone has offered him. I’m not getting into specifics of their relationship or why this particular incident started from her side or his, but here is what he said:

"I was so mad I started to yell. Never once did I touch her, or give her any reason to feel as if I would hurt her. A few hours later I am torn from my home, losing every possession I own. I just spent three horrible days in prison for being an "abuser". I have been publicly shamed across the globe via Facebook and CTV news. I can't go anywhere without some guy trying to be a hero wanting to fight me, or some woman who doesn't even know me call the cops on me, or spit at me. My name, my face are plastered everywhere. Not a soul will listen to my side of the story, not even the police. So there you go, do with it what you will.”

So who’s right and who’s wrong? Don’t answer the question because this is my point—you don’t know and it’s not for you to decide. An objective judge is more than capable of making that determination. Leave it there and butt out. Save your energy to support abused women, make them feel safe, give them resources. Find out what it takes to make that happen. Know this is one of the most complex problems we face—nothing is simple about it. To this guy in particular, a little friendly advice—just stop and go away. Your road to a lengthy jail term is paved with breaches. Follow your orders, manage your anger. 

More importantly, to Selina—please consider your course. We need someone to elevate this conversation and all the complexities it entails and you have the power to do it. But it won't work like this.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of infonews.ca.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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