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

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before