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. !

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
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.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum