The Canadian Justice System has let down the victims of domestic abuse and child abuse for years. I am a recent victim of the Canadian Justice System. Read my story, share yours, if I can not be personally helped, maybe we can put a dent in the system to allow for other victims to be well-represented and taken care of my those in power. Here is my story:
My name is Rachel Plamondon and I have been betrayed by the Justice system of Canada.
6 days ago, my ex husband showed up to his court date in Red Lake, Ontario, to make his plea of not guilty to the crown, Tara Schuck, for the domestic abuse charges that I had finally had the courage to lay. My lawyer had assured me that we had sufficient evidence that his plea of not guilty would at the very least send us into a trial, alas, she was wrong.
So, after 4 years of abuse towards me, mostly while I was pregnant, no less, my ex-husband walked and has retained a right to his children.
I suppose most will say that domestic abuse cases can never really be cut and dry and I understand that the wrongly accused need to have rights to protect the innocent from going to jail, but what of the guilty?
For four years, I endured an abusive man because my religious beliefs did not include divorce as a way of escape. My father in Law was pastor at a new church in the community of Red Lake, where my ex husband and I were living. When I told him of the abuse he suggested marital counseling, he insisted that I do not speak of the abuse. He instructed me that my husband would face charges if I told my counselor about the abuse, but that the charges would not stick. He suggested that we take our marriage counseling with him, Pastor Randy Hamel, in order to avoid having charges put against his son.
During our marriage counseling, I gave Randy Hamel detailed descriptions of many arguments his son and I had had that ended in physical abuse.
There was the time he head butted me in the face and broke my nose. There are witnesses who can state that my nose had indeed been broken, that as it healed, both my eyes became black. These witnesses have decided to “stay out of it” even claiming that Andrew had scratch marks on his face and that the abuse must have, indeed, been two-sided. I imagine that if someone was head butting you repeatedly while you were pinned down before finally getting you in the face, you would not try to push them away?
Two months after we were married I fell pregnant with my first child. This to me was a disaster as I was already working a full time job and coming home to do all of the housework and clean up after my ex-husband, who was playing video games almost 10 hours per day. A child added to all of this mess that I had gotten myself into was not a happy thought.
The only comforting thought to all of this is that I figured that, since I was pregnant, the abuse would stop. But it didn’t.
December 2009: he pushed me down the stairs.
January 8 2010 : (my birthday) he twisted my wrists and got me pinned down to the floor, face down and punched me in the head and in the back.
We moved to Red Lake in march 2010, living with Andrew’s sister, Liz Wight, where there were only “minor” forms of abuse such as pinching behind my arms until I shut my mouth about whatever issue I was having, or choking me so I couldn’t scream to alert anyone who was sleeping upstairs.
We then moved to Randy and Evelyn’s home in Red Lake (these are my ex’s parents). There, I could not ask Andrew to wake up, or he would yell and scream at me, even at 2 in the afternoon. He was unemployed and would even yell at his parents when they tried to get him to look for a job. Both Randy and Evelyn witnessed Andrew screaming close enough for his spit to come into my face and pressing his forehead against mine while pinching the back of my arms. They neither did nor said anything. They “prayed”.
Later we moved to Quebec, where the abuse was slightly less severe, this was my home and my parents were around to talk to when I needed them, but I never spoke of the abuse, I feared for my husband’s life if ever my dad caught wind of the way he treated me behind closed doors.
July 2010: Andrew pinned me to the ground and punched me in the back of the head, the legs, the back, this is two months after giving birth to my son.
August 2010: Andrew twists my leg at the ankle, because I yelled at him for buying cigarettes instead of diapers with the last 10 dollars we had.
September 2010: This is the month that we also find out that I am pregnant again.
October 2010: We move from Bristol to Shawville (about fifteen minutes apart). Andrew throws me down the stairs (about 13 steps), I asked him to wake up at 3 in the afternoon to spend time with our son so I could clean the house.
November 2010: I’m not sure if this is the right timing, but I call the police after Andrew spends 2 hours pinning me down, screaming into my ear, hitting the back of my head, choking me and breaking one of the drawers in the kitchen. By the time the cops arrive, Andrew has promised to leave me alone and never come back if I only don’t say anything. He says that I can keep the kids if I just keep my mouth shut, he won’t fight for them. I tell the cops that it was a false alarm, that he had hit me in the past and that I thought he was going to do it again and that it was not a regular occurrence. The cops ask him to leave the house for the night and Andrew spends the night at Stephany Moquin and Matt Lamarche’s house.
Andrew comes home the next morning, he grabs me by the hair and tells me that if I ever call the cops again he’ll kill me and anyone who tries to help me.
December 2010: Andrew drags me up the stairs by the hair and throws me on our bed where he holds me down by the throat and tells me he wants to move back to Red Lake regardless of what I think. This is after an argument where I said I did not want to move back and he said that he did. I spend the rest of our time in Quebec justifying to my family that we will have a better life in Red Lake, ON.
January 2011: (we move back to Red Lake in a month) It’s my birthday again and my husband is sleeping at 2 in the afternoon. I ask him to get up (he’s upstairs so I do have to yell a bit), I want him to come spend time with our son and myself on my birthday. I hear him stomp onto the floor and stomp down the stairs and watch as he goes straight for the phone and unplugs it. Then he grabs me by the arms, throws me on our couch. He then grabs me by the neck and I try to get up but end up on the floor. Now he has his hands around my neck and I’m looking into his eyes and I’m crying. He says “stop acting like the victim”. Then he grabs me by the bangs and slams my head into the floor several times before I tell him I’m sorry and that I should have let him sleep. We got to dinner at my mom’s house like nothing happened.
February 25th or 26th: The day before we are supposed to get on the plane to Red Lake. I tell Andrew that [name redacted] and my pregnant self will be staying in Shawville and that he would be going to Red Lake by himself. He’s standing behind the bed and he starts to chase me and I start running down the stairs. He catches me by the hair and he pulls me down so that I’m sitting on the stairs and he wraps his legs around me and grabs me by the throat, this time he screams into my ear, “ if I can’t have them, no one can”. And he chokes me so that I cannot breathe until I almost pass out. I struggle my way out and lock myself in the bathroom until he calms down. He pounds on the bathroom door for about 5 minutes before he starts apologizing and telling me he loves me, adding “can’t you see that?” We leave for Red Lake the next day and live with his parents for 2 months (again) where, again, the physical abuse is kept to a minimum, such as pinching.
April 2011: 8 months pregnant with our daughter. I make the mistake of having an opinion about our financial issues. Telling Andrew we don’t have money to spend on video games and that we are barely managing the bills as it is, just like the rest of North America. Andrew throws me onto the kitchen floor and kicks me with his heel until I throw up. Once I throw up, he says he’s sorry and then gets mad at me for crying and punches me a few more times in the head until I lock myself in the bathroom until I stop crying.
May 2011: I have our baby. 3 days later, I find a facebook message to another woman, where Andrew says he wants to divorce me. This message was sent 3 days before having my baby. I cry and I ask him about it. He pins me down face down on the kitchen floor and he hits me again in the back of the head in the back and in the back of the legs. He also hits me in the pelvis, he knows that it still hurts from giving birth three days ago. Our 11 month old son comes into the room and says “mommy?” and he starts to cry. And I tell my 11 month old son “it’s okay, [name redacted], mommy and daddy are just playing.” Andrew gets up and picks our [son] up and brings him to his bedroom. By the time he gets back, I have locked myself in the bathroom. This is when he informs me that I shouldn’t be “snooping through his things”.
June 2011: Andrew and I argue, it’s been 2 weeks since [name redacted] was born and he refuses to help me clean the house as we have all of his family coming over for [name redacted]’s first birthday. He refuses, unplugs the phones and pins me down, face down, as usual. I just let it happen and he gets bored and stops.
August 2011: His friend, Michael Armstrong is living with us and I asked Andrew to talk to Mike about helping out around the house. I was now doing all of the housework for 3 adults and 2 children while breastfeeding. I tell Andrew that if they don’t both start helping, Mike will have to move out. He gets mad and says that I don’t make the decisions. This becomes a common argument for months and almost almost ends with me locked in the bathroom.
November 2011: I lose 700 dollars gambling online. Andrew tells his brother in law, who then tells my father in law and his father in law shows up at my house while Andrew is at work and he asks me if this is true. I tell him yes but that I haven’t gambled since and that I no longer plan on gambling. He asks me what it is that makes me depressed enough to do online gambling and says that I “stole money rom his son” by gambling away the money. This is when I tell him about Andrew’s abuse. He says “that’s a separate issue.” I tell Andrew that I told his dad about the abuse and that his dad has agreed to help us seek counseling.
December 2011-March 2012: The abuse gets worse and worse. I tell his dad about it and he offers to drive me to the women’s shelter, but I don’t want to take my kids there, I say that I want to go home but Randy tells me that my marriage is still reconcilable, that he’s seen couples go through much worse. I’ve been lucky if I’ve gone 7 days straight without a beating. I can never call out for help because Andrew unplugs the phones and when I try to run out the door Andrew just drags me back inside. The abuse just doesn’t seem to be stopping.
*It is to be noted that the kids also often have bite marks on them from Andrew playing what he called “the biting game”. They laughed when he nibbled at them but then I would find bite marks after hearing them cry and scream just after I left the room and Andrew would say “well, I guess I bit down too hard”. Also, there was a night when we were trying to put my youngest daughter, [name redacted], down and I had walked away because she just kept crying and crying. I made her bottle and put it in her room while Andrew tried to calm her down. All of a sudden I heard muffled cries, like someone was putting something on her face and I ran in and Andrew jumped up. He said she was doing that because he tried to give her her bottle and that the screams were muffled from her bottle going in her mouth. I yelled at him that the bottle was still in the exact place that I left it and he attacked me because “how dare I say that he would hurt his kids”. *
April 2012: After all of the abuse and constantly finding out that he’s been texting other women and finding out that he’s on dating sites, I suggest that we have an open relationship. I know that this is the beginning of the end.
I start talking to other men and he starts talking to other women. The rule has been that it’s supposed to be “just sex” no relationship. Also, the second rule was that we only have sexual encounters with other people in Winnipeg.
When I saw how jealous he was getting of the men I was talking to and how jealous I was getting about the women he was talking to I asked him that we don’t do an open relationship. He beat me in the regular fashion and he told me that he wanted to sleep with other women but that he did not want me sleeping with other men. I told him that I would not accept a double standard and I begged him to go to go to marriage counseling to someone OTHER than his dad (who knew about the abuse and did not say a word, even though his pastoral position requires him to inform the authorities).
Andrew then told me “you can’t give a guy that kind of an option and then take it away.” He beat me as he always did but this time it was different, he reached down and grabbed a metal pole, I dropped to his feet, even kissing them (admitting this now makes me feel like a dog) and I beg him not to hit me. He hits me twice in the back and once in the back of the head. From there, I just remember crawling to my pillow as he’s yelling and falling asleep.
The next day, I get up and we pretend, as usual, like nothing happened, life goes on as usual. We make plans to go out for coffee with his parents. I got the kids ready and in the car and I received a text from one of the men I was talking to. As I was going to respond, Andrew got into the car and said that he’d been trying to get my attention and he’d been yelling to me from inside the house, saying he needed help finding socks. He then noticed that I was responding to this man who had texted me (he had just spent 2 hours texting back and forth between women) and grabbed me by the neck and bashed my forehead into the glove compartment and then put his arms so his thumbs were both in my eyes and he started “digging” out my eyes with his thumbs. He left a bruise and a scratch on one of my eyes, but this went unnoticed by his parents when we had coffee with them. He explained to me that he was mad because “you found it more important to text a stranger than to find your husband his socks.”
That same night, I tried to talk him out of the open relationship again. I told him we wouldn’t have even had that fight if it wasn’t for me having suggested the open relationship in the first place and he said he wanted to do it. He said he wanted to see what he was missing. Then I told him that if he wanted to have sex with other women, I would also be having sex with other men. He then picked up the broom from the corner and beat me with it. He hit me twice in the back and once in the leg, maybe more times, but those are the ones that hurt. When I continued to tell him I didn’t want the open relationship and he’d have to choose between marriage or the single life, he threw me down on the bed and held me there. He then punched me at the top of my spine and I felt the pain go right down my back. I kept struggling and he grabbed a knife (that had been let near the bed) and held it to my throat, saying, “I can just end all of this right now.” I responded with, “just do it, then” and he pulled back and said, “you don’t deserve anything that you want.”
And so that weekend we went to Winnipeg, Andrew had set up a date with a woman and he dropped the kids and I off at the hotel’s doorstep. We checked in and went upstairs to our suite when I realized that we had no diapers. I began texting, emailing and calling Andrew on his cell to try to get him to get some diapers, but we had no way to get diapers and I ended up making due with hotel towels. Once the children were in bed, I invited a stranger to my hotel room and we sat in the living room of the suite and talked. The night ended when I gave him oral sex, then I asked him to leave. Andrew did not return until the next morning at 10 am.
Everything seemed to be going okay and he told me he had not slept with his new girlfriend. I told him I had given a stranger oral sex, but that I didn’t want to have an open relationship anymore. It was too much for me I wanted a normal family for my children’s sakes. He then said that he didn’t want an “open relationship” but that he wanted to continue seeing this other woman and he began texting his friends, telling them he wanted them to meet her.
Finally I told him he had to choose between single life and married life, that I couldn’t do “both”. He threw me down and choked me. When I was down and crying on the floor, he took all of the credit cards and cash and debit cards and left. He returned 2 hours later and claimed that he had left his wallet in the hotel room, I told him that I would leave it at front desk, it wasn’t in the hotel room at all, he was just trying to find a way in.
Finally I went back to Red Lake, ON. His sister and his brother in law came to pick me up. I told them the entire story, I didn’t leave out the parts that made me sound like “the bad guy”. They said, repeatedly “well, you aren’t innocent in all of this, you know”. And they said that the smart thing to do would be to stay in Red Lake, as I would have support from Andrew’s family and I had just gotten a good job.
For 3 days his family tried to convince me to stay, his sister finally realized that it was necessary for me to leave and her and her husband finally supported me in my decision. My father-in-law told me, right before I left, to hold back on any divorce proceedings as he still found our relationship to be “salvageable”.
When my dad arrived with his Chevy cobalt, we took what we needed and nothing more, and we left.
Pastor Randy Hamel refused (and continues to refuse) to tell the police about Andrew’s abuse.
And on October 24th Andrew had to make a plea as to whether or not he was guilty. Andrew’s girlfriend (with whom he had been in Winnipeg) sent me this message on facebook (misspellings have been corrected but no changes were made to the message) :
Wow, you are so right about Andrew! He is an asshole, big time, for the way he is, how easy he gets mad and for his need for power and making people feel like shit just so he thinks he's the "man" he is not a father type guy, why? We got into a fight a while back, I said he was a loser, he told me " come say that to my face and see what happens" that scared me to no end, he likes it when ppl are scared of him, when he thinks he's in control of them, and he doesn't let you do or say anything g but he can, if I said anything bad he would use it on me and try to scare me on what he might do the next time he sees me, well he's fucking my "so called friend" now he's the one who's going to have girls in and girls out all the time and your kids don't need to see that or be around that, I wanted to say something to someone before court was over but he's kept scaring me, treating me so I didn't. Sorry I really could have helped you but you know Andrew
At this point, I had not been informed that the court process was over and I emailed my lawyer who informed me that:
All charges were dropped because
“The Crown stated that she did not have a reasonable prospect of a conviction if this went to trial. The Crown also stated that she felt you were safe since you were not in the area any longer.” – Susan Carter Ministry of Attorney General Victim Witness
Since then, I have been informed by a few people that he’s been making death threats about me and my boyfriend. Saying he wanted to kill us and then kill himself.
And so the crown feels that I am safe with a simple 6 month term Peace bond. He has kept his job as security at the Red Lake Gold Mine and he has been relieved of all the conditions other than him not being allowed to speak with me. Through all of this he has retained his right as a parent.
And so I retaliate against the Crown, Tara Schuck, who believes me to be safe because I am “far away”, against Randy Hamel, the “pastor” and “father” who refused to defend myself and his own grandchildren by not speaking up in order to protect his son and his reputation. Most of all, I retaliate against Andrew Hamel, the man who abused me for four years and neglected and abused his own children. I retaliate by making this case public, as the future victims of Andrew Hamel deserve at least the warning.
Sincerely and angrily,