Quebec, a fine place for psychopaths

QUEBEC. A LITTLE after Christmas. And when the ice storm broke, Marie-Claire had been awake for four days and nights, writing for her life. Sleeplessness and terror lent a glittering, fragmented urgency to her words, because Benny was standing over her and she knew that, as soon as she stopped typing, he would kill her.

Beat her to death, probably; that's what he would do. Punch her and kick her, probably rape her a few times, one way or another, because a man has to have his fun, wouldn't you say? And in Quebec, the law has its priorities right. Publish your web-site in English and you'll never see daylight again; but a woman? You want to flog, pummel, torture and sodomise a woman at will? Oui, d'accord, comme vous voulez, m'sieur.

Benny was a big man. She described him as a saturnine god with dark impenetrable eyes, and when they first met he gave her a look which just melted her, made her little and helpless ... which was fine with Marie-Claire because she kind of liked the notion of a dominant, masterful man; love, protection and desire taken to their logical extreme.

Benny didn't see it like that. Benny saw her as someone to objectify, to use, to blame. He was clever enough to play into her desires. Then it started. The broken bottles, the hands at the throat, the hunting knives, the violations, face down in the snow, screaming. People like Marie-Claire don't scream blue murder. They don't scream, "Stop! Stop it!" People like Marie-Claire scream, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I love you, I'm sorry. " And Benny thrives on those screams.

By the time she started to realise that Benny was ... damaged, frozen, splintered, fucked, it was too late to walk away. It wasn't just her three kids to think of. It was that he'd follow her and kill her, or maybe kill himself. And in any case she was addicted. Benny was subtler than heroin. When he beat her it must be because she was bad; when he wasn't beating her, the relief was so great that she felt warm, safe, loved. In a cold place the temporary absence of violence could make her feel warm.

I know a lot about Marie-Claire but I don't know where she lives. Rural Quebec, somewhere. Endless roads, following the riverbank then veering off into nothingness past little townships strung along the roadside, tar-paper rest-stops with flat-eyed men eating chowder and silent women slowly losing their looks in the desolation of rural gritstone asensuality. Twenty miles from town, and no neighbours to hear her screams. "Sorry, I'm sorry, I love you, I'm sorry."

If the ice storm had broken a day or two sooner, Marie-Claire would probably now be dead, because the telephone lines went down and it was the telephone lines that saved her. In desperation she had begun to trawl the Internet for people who might help, advise, understand, tell her what to do. Her initial approaches were hesitant and disguised, and she was pounced upon by a pack of masturbators who (up in their bedrooms, with purse-lipped wives or beetle-browed mothers prowling outside) attempted to incorporate her, by e-mail, into their lonely sadomasochistic fantasies. Then, by sheer luck, she stumbled upon Karen, a woman I know in America. Karen has had her troubles; but strong and good- hearted people, under prolonged unhappiness, become more, not less, compassionate. Karen set out to help, and for several days corresponded with Marie-Claire almost non-stop.

Then the ice storm broke and so did Marie-Claire. She couldn't take it any more. Called the police, made her children call the police, screamed, did what it took to be taken seriously.

And then she found what manner of place Quebec is, and how its public servants attend to their task of promoting the security of the people they serve. Because Marie-Claire had made two mistakes. She was a woman, and she was distressed. She was taken to a psychiatric hospital, forcibly injected with powerful anti-psychotics, stripped and locked in a padded cell with a reinforced glass wall, so that her humiliation was visible not just to passers-by but to her children. She wasn't even allowed to relieve her bladder in privacy; instead these "doctors", led by God knows what twisted impulse into a trade whose overmastering motive should be compassion, allowed her to befoul herself and lie exposed in her own ordure. This was in Quebec, a few weeks ago.

Then she was taken before another doctor. "Shut up!" she remembers him shouting. "If you don't shut up I have the power to keep you here for life." This was in Quebec, a few weeks ago.

Finally, after 11 days, one doctor, a man who knew what his profession was for, listened to her, cancelled the inappropriate drugs, released her.

Benny was waiting for her. "Call the police and you're dead," he said. Marie-Claire called the police anyway. "Oh yeah," they said, "You just got out the psych ward, right? Quit wasting our time. Hope your kids ain't with you ... we could have them removed." She asked for a restraining order against Benny, a man with assault-and-battery convictions, in breach of parole, a man who, made to attend a men's viol- ence group, so frightened his therapist that he came to visit Marie-Claire to warn her. The request was turned down. The man who turned it down said he had given his reasons in writing to the officer concerned, Monsieur Crottin. She rang Officer Crottin. He said he had had no such letter and if he had he wouldn't tell her what it said and if she didn't stop annoying him he'd assume her psychological condition was deteriorating and have her kids taken into care ...

Everything's documented. All her phone calls recorded. All the names have been changed. Except Quebec. This is in Quebec, now.

The most perilous time for people like Marie-Claire is after they've pulled the plug, but before action against the abuser has been taken. Benny is still there, biding his time. Nothing has happened except the contemptuous belittlement of the victim. So we know where we stand. All you abusers, all you rapists and sociopaths and woman-haters and inadequates, just pack up, head on out to Quebec, and have yourselves a ball. It's a hell of a nice place, if you don't mind the stink. !

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?